As published on The Huffington Post
I know it sounds odd for a Yankee (I’m originally from Boston) to be craving some true southern hospitality, but such was the case a few months back. After just a short flight I disembarked to explore all things southern in Charleston, S.C.
I made it in time to catch breakfast at Andrew Pickney Inn where I was staying. The buffet was chugged full (southern for full & overflowing) of mini quiche, pastries, fresh fruit, and eggs, and nothing says southern more than good biscuits and gravy. I sat on their enclosed balcony and let the sun warm me as I planned out the next couple of days.
When I think of the good ole South, I think plantations, so my first trip was to Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. With over 390 acres of natural beauty and chosen as one of “America’s Most Beautiful Gardens,” it must be on your to do list. From there I headed to Boone Hall Plantation where I had heard about its Avenue of Oaks. I think I stood there for 15 minutes staring down this spectacular entrance of canopied oaks with their moss hanging like muslin drapes.
I decided I wanted to get settled in at the inn, but was dying to sit on a porch with a glass of sweet tea in true southern form. What better stop off place than Poogan’s Porch, a wonderfully restored Victorian house on Queens Street named after a neighborhood dog that ensconced himself on the porch as official greeter.
“Now, Honey, what can I get you?” After a couple of days here I realized people call everyone Honey and the word “now” attaches itself to every conversation. “How you doin’ now?” “Now y’all come back.”
Back at the inn I met my new best friend, concierge extraordinaire, Sandy. With his dapper bow tie, Sandy gave me the ins and outs of Charleston. As we talked, I grabbed some more tea and a cookie from the sideboard, settled in by the fireplace and picked Sandy’s brain. Being that Andrew Pickney Inn is in the middle of the historic district and one block from the city market, I took off on foot the next morning. I browsed the market and then took a carriage ride through the streets of Charleston, learning all the little secrets one would not pick up just walking around.
Sandy’s recommendation for lunch was Cru Café and he was spot on. The front steps creaked as I approached the porch of this 1886 home converted into (what I was soon to find out) an exceptional restaurant. I had the fried green tomatoes, which have to be the best in Charleston, and their homemade mac & cheese, which was pure decadence.
The afternoon called for a nice long walk to head off the weight gain, so I took the two hour Shem Creek History Tour where I learned about the Lowcountry and got up close and personal with the shrimping boats on the creek. I guess I missed the part about the shrimp boil afterwards (more food), but what a pleasant surprise.
The street lamps were coming on as I strolled along The Battery – such beautiful, antebellum homes looking out over the water. A ghost tour was assembling as I passed, and I wondered how many southern belles and gentlemen of years gone by walked along with them on this night recounting their memories as I was making mine.