After the amazing night seeing Dierks Bentley blow my mind in Charlotte, reality came quickly in the form of a 5AM wake up time to get to the Greyhound station. It was the only time I was thankful for jet-lag.
Arriving at the hostel in Charleston at around 2, check in wasn’t until 5 so I took the opportunity to walk downtown. Strolling down King Street, the main historical shopping street in Charleston, it was immediately obvious that unlike Charlotte, which didn’t have any shops in uptown, Charleston was very much orientated with tourists in mind, with all sorts of upmarket boutiques mixing in with coffee shops and bars/restaurants.
Approaching the ocean was when the town started to really show it’s character, with beautiful churches sitting grandly alongside residential houses and gated well-kept gardens. However, it was the coastal boulevards that were the highlight for me, with some beautiful walks around the peninsula, including some pristine parkland ideal for sitting down and having a refreshing iced tea!
Back at the hostel for the evening, I was fortunate enough to bump into a history teacher from Virginia by the name of Dallas. He seemed to know just about everything about US history, so I attempted to pretend to keep up as he went off talking about General Westmoreland and Charleston’s defences against his onslaught at Fort Sumpter. Eventually talk turned on to European politics, which inevitably he knew more about that me, but at least I was able to dominate a conversation about cider! Being originally from Baton Rouge, he talked me through what I need to do in New Orleans, a place he describes as one of the most unique places he’s been to. Now I am most excited about that part of my trip, particularly visiting the bayous and doing a Crawfish boil with the Cajuns!
Today I went on the bus to Folly Beach, a popular location for surfing, bathing and general ‘beach stuff’. Little did I realise that the bus stopped about 3 miles down the road from the town, in the middle of a swamp, so I had a beautiful walk in the bird sanctuary. Fortunately this was only 9 in the morning so the weather was ‘only’ about 25 degrees! The way back however…
Folly beach was pretty nice, with the fishing pier providing welcome shade and breeze 200 yards out into the sea, with the view of sharks and dolphins in the water being a particular highlight. The cafe on the shore was also impressive, especially the breakfast which gave me my first taste of grits and biscuits and gravy, making an epic breakfast! The county park however, was not worth the boiling two mile walk, since it turned out it was only an extended wilder version of the beach rather than an actual sanctuary, so in hindsight I should have gone to the lighthouse on the other side of the bay.
So far I’ve been struck by just how true many of the Southern stereotypes are, whether that be how friendly everyone is, or just taking a long time to ponder anything! It is certainly a very different atmosphere from moody England! After a night of authentic American food (pizza and beer) with a friend from the hostel I have one more morning left in Charleston before moving on to Savannah, Georgia!