On our way out of Wilmington this morning we drove through a historic district that increased our opinion of the town even more. It was a shame to leave it without exploring further as we both agreed it was one of the rare places we could imagine living. There was just something about its laidback southern feel mixed with a picturesque seafront and historic old houses. Of course, this was just our first taste with this type of town as we discovered by moving into state number 38: South Carolina.
Another of our last minute add-ons, the stop here (in Charleston) was based on the fact that I’d often heard it referred to as ‘the Paris of the South’…although I couldn’t find any similarities with it’s Parisian brother. That alone wasn’t enough of a reason to make such a drastic change to our regimented plan, but we have also spent this trip learning a lot about the Civil War and it always came back to Fort Sumter in Charleston. And like Alcatraz, to get to the fort, you have to take a 40 minute boat ride run by the National Parks Service (Yep, them again!).
The fort was originally set up to defend America from foreigners and pirates coming into Port Charleston (Black Beard was caught and hung near there), but it became famous for dealing with unrest at home. Not only is it where the Civil War all kicked off, but its also where the first fatality of the Civil War occurred, not in battle – it was due to an accident during a 100 cannon salute…oops...
You get an hour to walk around and see the crumbling site that was bombarded by the Southern Confederates all those years ago, and it still shows signs of its war-torn past with shells and bullets lodged into the walls. The structure used to be three storeys high, but couldn’t withstand the constant battering from the onslaught of cannon fire. At one point, it was bombed for 22 months straight!
It’s a cool place to visit, but the time you’re given there is just enough. They have a lot of weaponry and a small museum that has a few artifacts from the war, but it’s a small plot of land in the middle of the sea. Any longer than an hour would make it a bit much if you left your picnic basket on shore.
Once you’ve learned all you can about the history of Fort Sumter you’re just left looking back at Charleston harbor. Not a terrible view, being the first major city that we’ve come across that isn’t dominated by skyscrapers. You can also see nearby where Fort Wagner used to be (it’s the fort made famous in the movie ‘Glory’. A classic, so check it out! – ‘Give ‘em hell 54!’)... Time to get back on the boat…
Charleston itself has a good looking historic district known as the French Quarter. We had a quick spin around town and it definitely has an old world charm. The buildings are all closely stacked together and scream out for a time gone by, but all the horse-drawn carriages trotting down the thin streets make for a difficult drive – not to mention all the complicated one way streets!
After a few hours in town, it seemed like time to get a move on, so we travelled down some pretty highways with the trees hovering high above us to get to state number 39: Georgia. Our stay here is one I’ve been looking forward to: Savannah. Supposedly one of the most beautiful places in America, all we had time to find tonight was a place to eat before bed and we settled on an English pub called Churchill’s. It made us really nostalgic for home, Joe with his bangers and mash, me with roast chicken. Just like back home in Blighty. Even the brussel sprouts were welcome! *Sigh*