40th (Ruby) Wedding Anniversary Cruise
Charleston - South Carolina - USA
DAY 25 & 26 - 1st - 2nd March 2018 , Landed Charleston, South Carolina, USA
It was our 40th Wedding Anniversary treat, what you might call our Ruby cruise! We absolutely loved Charleston, mostly for its lovely archicture and spanish moss and abundance of churches. We took the supposedly Charleston panoramic tour organised by the ship first, although since out guide was a 'Nam Vet, Bigot, Sexist, racist and denialist this didnt prove to be a great "Panoramic" view, we saw mostly weapons and Army training grounds. In the end Annie & I stopped listening to him. We did the horse drawn carriage trip after that which was whole lot better on the sight seeing front and Jacob and his driver took us through some lovely areas.After that we did lunch and called Alan & Lorraine into Henrys as they past after their horse trip. Nice local ale and fish & chips . We went through the market and the next day we visited the Old Slave Mart (Market) museum, which was Ryan's Mart. Over 9m slaves passed through Charleston. It was the capital of trade in the southern states. Sad reading but I guess part of the towns legacy. The Exchange in East Bay Street was also a slave mart. These words are from the Heritage plaque outside " SLAVE AUCTIONS - Charleston was one of the largest slave trading cities in the U.S. In the 1800s, the area around the Old Exchange Building was one at the most common sites of downtown slave auctions. Along with real estate and other personal property, thousands of enslaved people were sold here as early as the 1770s. Most auctions occurred just north of the Exchange, though some also took place inside. Merchants also sold slaves at nearby stores on Broad, Chalmers, State, and East Bay street. Enslaved Africans were usually sold at wharves along the city harbor. Some Africans were sold at the Exchange , but most people sold here were born in the US, making this a key site in the domestic slave trade. In 1856 the city banned auctions of slaves and other goods from the Exchange. Indoor sales grew elsewhere, and Ryan’s mart, a complex of buildings between Queens and Chalmers Streets became the main downtown auction site." At the end of our day and a half we saw bottleneck dolphins in the harbour and met Clive & Lauren , our cetacean experts for the 1st time. If you would like to read the detailed BLOG of the trip including the Captain's log please CLICK HERE Fort Sumter is an island fortification located in Charleston Harbor that we saw from various vantage points. Originally constructed in 1829 as a coastal garrison, Fort Sumter is most famous for being the site of the first shots of the Civil War (1861-65).
Your Guide to Charleston
To many, the city of Charleston conjures up images of the Civil War and Scarlet O’Hara, but this city is also rich in history dating back to 1670 when the first settlers landed. Along with its intriguing past, Charleston has much to offer visitors, with beautiful tree-lined streets, immaculately preserved plantations and gardens and an abundance of shops and restaurants.
The historic city of Charleston is situated on the Atlantic coast in southeastern South Carolina. The city (population approximately 124,000) is on a peninsula between the estuaries of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers, and has a fine, almost landlocked harbour. It is unquestionably one of the most attractive and fascinating cities in the southern United States.
In April 1670 the first English settlers landed on the west bank of the Ashley River and founded Charles Town, named in honour of Charles II. Ten years later the small settlement moved to its present site and, despite the attempts of the unfriendly Spanish, Charles Town soon became an important commercial and shipping centre. This prosperity was partly based on the rice and cotton plantations but the port had the less meritous ‘distinction’ of being a centre of the slave trade.
The rise in the city’s fortunes somehow survived a disastrous 1699. Charles Town was hit by outbreaks of yellow fever and smallpox, then a major fire destroyed a large area, and finally an earthquake and a hurricane wreaked more havoc. However, not even the threatening presence of the infamous pirate Blackbeard in 1718 could stem the city’s growing reputation as a centre of culture and the good life.
The British captured Charles Town in 1780 - three years later its name was shortened to Charleston - and held it for the next four years. These were difficult times and in 1790 the city ceased to be the state capital, an honour now held by Columbia.
On 12 April 1861 a Confederate force fired on the Union-held Fort Sumter at the entrance to Charleston Harbor. This event started the Civil War, during which South Carolina suffered very heavily. Charleston endured a blockade by Union land and
sea forces from July 1863 to February 865,
during which the city was shelled almost every day. Finally, on 18 February 1865, General Sherman’s army entered what was left of the once proud Charleston. The abolition of slavery then had a devastating effect on the plantation system and on the port of Charleston.
The city is now a very different place from that which would have greeted a visitor in early 1865. Universities have been established, the container port is one of the largest in the United States, and tourists are attracted in great numbers by the stunning architecture, the superb shopping, dining and recreational opportunities, and the city’s renewed reputation as a place of culture. A visit here is most unlikely to be a disappointment.
The Charleston Visitor Center at 375 Meeting Street has leaflets on places of interest, tickets for many of the main attractions, a useful map and schedule of the Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH) and many publications, including a Visitor Guide Map, the Charleston Walking Tour, and the Civil War.
The best way to really appreciate Charleston’s Historic District, if possible, is on foot. This lovely area at the foot of the Peninsula is full of beautifully preserved and majestic houses, many churches and museums, and there are outstanding views across the harbour. And all of this is in a comparatively small area. Further afield, although still within no more than 15 miles of downtown Charleston, many former plantations can be visited.
Here is a selection of some of the city’s outstanding places to visit. It is, of course, not a comprehensive list, and personal choice will decide which particular attractions are of the greatest interest.
Unless otherwise stated, all attractions in summer are open from 9.00/10.00am - 4.00/5.00pm Monday to Saturday and on Sunday afternoon. These times, however, may change and should be taken as general guidelines only. Please be aware that a sales tax of 7.5% will be added to the cost of any purchases.
Around the Visitor Center
The Charleston Museum
Across the road from the Visitor Center in Meeting Street is America’s first museum, founded in 1773. There is much to see and enjoy in the collections of cultural and natural history, of particular note are the 18th century Charleston silver.
In the same part of the city is this palatial residence in Elizabeth Street. The house, now preserved as it was in about 1850, was built by a wealthy merchant in 1818 and then turned into an even more splendid place by William Aiken Jr 15 years later. The Aikens brought many of the chandeliers, classical sculptures and paintings from Europe. The original outbuildings include the slaves’ quarters.
Joseph Manigault Museum
Just a short distance from the Visitor Center and in the same street is a graceful Adam-style house built in 1803. This distinguished house is renowned for its cun/ing central staircase, the Gate Temple in the garden and especially for its collection of American, French and English furniture.
South Carolina Aquarium
Charleston’s most visited attraction overlooks the harbour and children, especially, will enjoy a visit here. River otters, sharks, alligators, jellyfish can all be seen as well insects and snakes.
Historic Southern Charleston
The Battery and White Point Gardens Here is a pleasant place for a relaxing stroll. Apart from the views over the harbour, many impressive houses are nearby, including Calhoun Mansion and Edmonston-Alston House.
The largest single residence in the city was built in the late 19th century by a wealthy merchant and banker. The highlights are the ornate ceilings, splendid chandeliers, detailed woodwork and the ballroom, which rises 45 feet to a glass skylight. Not surprisingly, the house has featured in several films. Guided tours of this Victorian mansion in Meeting Street last for about 45 minutes.
Facing the harbour at the tip of the peninsula is this lovely stylish early 19th century dwelling. It contains a veritable treasure trove of family furniture, documents, silver, china, porcelain, books and paintings. The house was built by a Scottish cotton trader and then sold to Charles Alston, a Charleston rice planter, in 1838, who redecorated it in Creek Revival style.
Nathaniel Russell House
Here is yet another splendid dwelling on Meeting Street and was the townhouse of a wealthy merchant in the early 19th century. Considered to be one of America’s most important neo-classical buildings, the outstanding feature is a freestanding spiral staircase leading from the hall to the third floor. The house has antiques, works of art, and ornamental garden. Heyward-Washington House
Dating from 1772, this brick-built double house in Church Street was the home of the lawyer and patriot Thomas Heyward, one of the many signatories of the Declaration of Independence. George Washington actually did sleep here, as he was so taken by the house on a visit in 1791 that he rented it for his stay. The house has a remarkable collection of furniture by Charleston craftsmen, most notably a valuable Holmes bookcase. The exquisite garden is full of plants that were available locally in the late 18th century.
St Michael’s Episcopal Church
Near Heyward-Washington House is the oldest church (1751) in the city. George Washington worshipped here in 1791. The impressive steeple rises to 186 feet above street level.
St Philip’s Episcopal Church
Charleston has a number of lovely churches and St Philip’s is certainly one of them. The present church dates from 1838 and was known as the lighthouse church as a light was put in the steeple to guide ships into port. Dubose Heyward, the author of Porgy and Bess, is buried in the churchyard.
Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon Historically one of the most important buildings in Charleston, the British-built (1771) Exchange and Customs House later served as a prison for American patriots in the Revolutionary War.
The Powder Magazine
Now restored to its mid-19th century appearance, the former munition store was built in 1703 and is the oldest public building in Charleston. It subsequently served as a printing house, general store and even as a livery stable.
Gibbes Museum of Art
This museum in Meeting Street has one of the finest collections of American art in the South, with particularly notable views of Charleston, portraits of leading South Carolinians. The gift shop has excellent art prints, posters, cards, jewellery and books. The museum is closed on Mondays.
The Citadel is one of the last two military state colleges in the United States. The museum in Moultrie Street details the history of the college from 1842 to the present day. The Citadel achieved wide publicity - and some notoriety - when it finally admitted a female cadet in 1995, albeit under protest and a court order. This particular cadet only lasted a week, but other female cadets have passed out with considerable success at the previously all-male establishment.
The nearest (and the best) beach is at Kiawah Island, some 21 miles from Charleston. Kiawah is widely regarded as one of the top 10 beaches in the United States. A small fee is charged to enter the white- sand beach, which has showers and refreshments. Local Walks
Some of the most interesting walks are in the grounds of the plantations along Ashley River Road. The Battery and White Point Gardens at the tip of Charleston Peninsula are also a pleasant spot for a leisurely stroll. The gardens are a peaceful place now but 18th century pirates were hanged at this spot.
Charleston is a very popular shopping destination for South Carolinians, and deservedly so. The main shopping streets are Market, Meeting and King Streets. The city has long been renowned for its antiques and the ‘Antiques District’ is between Beaufain and Queen Streets. Also worth a visit is the King Street Antique Mall, where 75 dealers offer a wide selection of fine antiques and collectibles.
Art galleries can be found throughout the city and more especially along Queen and Broad Streets.
Charleston Place (and the Riviera across the street) is located on the ground floor of the Charleston Place Hotel in Market Street between King and Meeting Streets. Here are 30 good quality shops, including boutiques and jewellers, and the Palmetto Cafe.
Best Buys: T-shirts and other clothing, Antiques, Handmade jewellery, Sweetgrass baskets, Lowcountry cookbook
The first shots of the Civil war were fired at Fort Sumter on 12 April 1861 by Confederate forces. After a 34- hour bombardment the Union forces surrendered and the Confederacy held this fort on a man-made island at the entrance to Charleston Harbor for the next four years. A call at the Fort Sumter Interpretive Center on Concord Street is a useful introduction before setting off to the actual fort. The fort can be reached by boat trips from Charleston (Aquarium Wharf) and Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum.
Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum
Three miles north of Charleston, at Mount Pleasant on the other side of the harbour, is a chance to visit the USS Yorktown (aircraft carrier), USS Laffey (destroyer) and USS Clamagore (submarine), all of which saw service in World War II. Other attractions include vintage military aircraft, a United States coastguard cutter, a reconstruction of a Vietnam Advance Tactical Support Base, the Congressional Medal of Honor Museum, and many other exhibits and displays. On 16 February the H.L. Hunley, a Confederate submarine, achieved fame in Charleston Harbor as the first submarine to sink a warship.
Unfortunately, the exploding torpedo also sank the Hunley. Raised from the seabed in August 2000, the Hunley is now on display at 1250 Supply ST Warren Lasch Conservation Center, North Charleston, SC 29405.
Charles Town Landing
Here over 300 years ago, colonists established the first permanent European settlement in the Carolinas. Today, the park -10 miles west of Charleston - has a re-creation of a small village, a replica of a 17th century trading ship, tram tours and plenty of opportunities for walking.
Four Magnificent Plantations
The large brick-built house was completed in 1742 and, unlike many other houses in the region, survived both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. It is a fine example of early Georgian architecture and is one of the oldest plantation houses in America open to the public. The unfurnished house can be visited on a guided tour, and selfguided walks will introduce visitors to the marsh and garden. The museum shop has a wide choice of gifts. Drayton Hall is the first of three great plantations on Ashley River Road and is nine miles northwest of Charleston on Highway 61.
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
Next to Drayton Hall is a world-famous 300-year-old plantation, with the country’s oldest garden. There is much to see and enjoy here: nature train and boat tours, petting zoo, wildlife observation tower, maze, restored slave cabins, herb garden, art gallery, gift shop, rental bikes and canoes and the Audubon Swamp Garden.
The main attractions, however, are undoubtedly the colourful gardens, with their splendid collection of azaleas and camellias, and the guided tour of the house.
A few miles up Ashley River Road is a carefully preserved 18th century rice plantation, with colourful gardens, terraced lawns and ornamental lakes.
Against a wider background of forests and the Ashley River, it is quite understandable that scenes from The Patriot (2000), starring Mel Gibson as a South Carolina planter, were shot here. The restored south wing - much of the original mansion was destroyed in the Civil War - can be
visited on a guided tour. Visitors are free to wander at leisure around the formal 18th century gardens and can watch demonstrations by weavers, carpenters and blacksmiths in the stableyard. Other attractions include kayaking on the Ashley River, guided tours on horseback, and exploring on a rented bicycle. The museum shop sells plantation-made craft items and lunch is served in the Middleton Place Restaurant. This plantation has something for everyone and can be visited on an excursion organised by P&O Cruises. Boone Hall Plantation
Nine miles north of Charleston on Long Point Road is a plantation that still produces commercial crops and has served as the backdrop for several major films. The famous avenue of majestic oak trees leading up to the house was planted in 1743. The house, with classic columns, was only built in 1935, and the nine original slave cabins form the only slave street still intact in the south eastern United States. The splendid grounds were the inspiration for Scarlett O’Hara’s beloved Tara in Gone with the Wind. An original cotton gin now serves as a gift shop and snack bar.
The city’s main office is at 83 Broad Street, at the corner of Meeting and Broad Streets. Opening times are 8.00am - 5.00pm.
Several banks can be found in Meeting Street (BB&T at No. 151 and the Bank of America at No. 200) and on Broad Street (First Federal Bank at No. 34). ATMs are scattered around the city.
The unit of currency is the US dollar ($), divided into 100 cents.
Notes: $1, 5,10, 20, 50 and 100.
Coins: c (penny), 5c (nickel), 10c (dime) and 25c (quarter).
Major credit cards are accepted in most shops and restaurants.
Calling the UK and Locally
International calls can be made from most pay phones, using coins, credit cards or phonecards (available from post offices and kiosks). To telephone the UK, dial 011 then 44, followed by the area code (omitting the first 0) and the subscriber’s number. South Carolina time is 5 hours behind that of the UK.
All-purpose emergency telephone number: 911
Tourist-Information----- *---- —
The Charleston Visitor Center, 375 Meeting Street (Tel. 853-8000), is open daily from 8.30pm to 5.30pm.
Metered taxis are available at the pier. Drivers expect a 15% tip.
Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH) operates several routes around downtown Charleston. The trolleys are free. DASH buses carry a small charge.
DASH - or a taxi - is the easiest way to get around the Historic District. The visitor centers have details of current fares, services and a route map.
Charleston has a great choice of eating places, from fast-food pizzerias to some of the best restaurants in South Carolina. Many different cuisines - Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Italian, Mexican, Greek, Vietnamese and, of course, the specialities of the local Lowcountry cuisine - are represented in the downtown area.
Unquestionably, Charleston deserves its reputation as one of the great restaurant cities in the South.
Seafood is one of the state’s specialities, in particular such delights as roasted oysters, she-crab soup, shrimp and grits, and grilled grouper. Rice and seafood, often accompanied by tasty sauces, are the staples of Lowcountry food, a cuisine which reflects British, Caribbean, African and European influences. Great use is made of fresh, locally grown vegetables.
Two popular dishes are gumbo (a spicy chicken or seafood soup thickened with okra or rice) and jambalaya (a spicy dish of rice with shrimps, chicken and vegetables).
The huge portions in many of the steak houses will satisfy the hungriest visitor.
Local Dishes and Drinks
Grilled chicken with Carolina rice and vegetables Oyster sausages
Caesar salad with spicy fried oysters
Fried green tomatoes
Peach praline cobbler (fruit pie)
Two quite different but popular drinks are the local Palmetto beer and tea from the Charleston tea plantation. Bars and restaurants usually have a good selection of wines and fruit juices. The minimum age for buying and drinking alcohol in South Carolina is 21. Inevitably, Coca-Cola is found everywhere.