Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Charleston Report

Hello! Hello!
We Fishy's hope everyone had a blessed, merry Christmas Day.
We sure did! Charleston was a wonderful city to visit for the holidays.
The families who live in the Historic District clearly love their homes, their city and each other.
That joy is shared with the many visitors, even the masses who disembark from the cruise ships.
What I loved is the locals do not give way to the demands of  commerce and tourism. No. They live in their homes, their neighborhoods , their city in a very European, very pedestrian way.  Also with an obvious joy and love of place.

One of the things I  adored about Charleston's French Quarter is .... the same sense of order I loved about France! It is there in even the tiniest garden patch,  in every beautiful window box, in every storefront, in every natural swag, wreath and tree on gates, fences, columns and porches. The entire district was a present. You could breathe in the essence of Charleston right along with the tangy sea air.

Just as the sun was turning the waterfront golden on the morning of the 26th, I went forth with the camera to explore; without traffic or crowds or the drizzle of Christmas. The families who live in this area are up, out walking dogs, fetching croissants from the corner bakery, watering the home patch,  or clearing the porches from the revelries. Everyone I met was gracious from a nod of welcome to an introduction to their pets to an offer of breakfast. I can admit I was not your typical camera draped tourist schlepping around in aging jeans and dismaying footwear. No, NO! In honor of Charleston and in respect for the families whose privacy I would be photographing, I went forth in classic black and white wearing my pearls and dress boots.  This is no doubt why I was not arrested or run down for standing in the middle of intersections to get a particular shot.

What I did not photograph was the food.
All of which was good, not stellar, but really good . Fresh, crisp, fragrant, local, beautifully plated foods. Every place was packed to the max so the noise levels were high. Mermaid  takes after Blowfish and is a foodie. By the time I had rejoined them in the lobby, Mermaid had already sussed out a great lunch spot. We had no  lunch reservations  with  Cru Cafe but they set a table for us on the Porch and brought delights to the famished quickly.  It was warm and sunny enough to eat outside comfortably which was a treat in itself.

 At Hanks on Christmas Eve, our confirmed reservation minimized the waiting, What was interesting is there were a good many visitors present but probably 65% of the patrons were locals. Many there with their extended families. It looked to me the young professionals or the college students of the local families had gathered here early evening  to show off their finery and share their recent histories. It was actually more  the atmosphere of a holiday at the local club than a public restaurant. Decorations were simply masses of poinsettias.

Christmas Day we were very lucky to have reservations with  Poogan's Porch. They had every seat reserved from 11am until 9:30 pm. While they were accepting walk-ins  for the bar, the porches and the courtyards... those waits were already up to 1.5 hours by early afternoon. Again, what I really liked was the mix was more local that not. My dinner began with Butternut squash bisque and was so rich and creamy it could have ended there happily before the prime rib and Southern sides.

I could write volumes about the architecture but I will not.
What I do recommend is a visit to experience for yourselves the delights of Charleston!
I came home with a collection of real estate books which I keep by my bed and review before turning the lights out. I am dreaming of winning a big lottery so my architectural fantasies  can come true. Charleston is probably the closest I will come to living in France without leaving America.


Happy New Year !


Sharon Rudd said...

Oh, Fishy, what a charming place to spend your holiday! Glad you enjoyed it, and thanks so much for sharing your spectacular photos. A warm weather Christmas is so foreign to me I had to laugh at the Christmas on the balcony in that one shot. Welcome home and happy New Year!

xoxo, eggy

chickory said...

many beautiful shots! I love the fancy wood houses the marriage of formal old world with beachiness. I have been to Charleston once -and I ate at S.N.O.B which you posted! I believe I had an amazing bowl of hot red bean soup - pureed and creamed with an awesome blend of flavors and heat. mmmmmmmm

the empty streetscape was very french looking. I wish your food experience was more stellar but wow - it looks like a beautiful weekend and the homes..the gates, the bricks...the gardens. *sigh*

happy new year!

Aunty Belle said...

I'se having as gate attack! Gimme!

This is one our loveliest cities, but most lovely is that its residents love it an their care and romance fer their pretty city is evident.

Reckon this will be one of yore most memorable Christmases. Jes' gorgeous.

moi said...

Those homes and gardens are breathtaking. Makes me want to go visit right now! I'm like that in New Orleans, always peeking into someone's garden, seeing if I can sneak around to the side yard—nothing fascinates me more than how people make a home for themselves. And I'm stealing your idea of traveling next year for Christmas. Great idea and I'm so glad you all enjoyed yourselves! Welcome back and Happy New Year!

Pam said...

Oh Fishy, thanks for the Charleston Report! I have always wanted to visit. Am feeling much more refined and genteel just reading your post and savoring the wonderful pics. Am wishing I had some champers in my O.J. that I'm sipping while reading. Don't you love it when a place gets in your soul?

fishy said...

How was your destination Christmas?
I thought of you when they brought out the lunch at Cru Cafe....I should have taken pictures as the food was beautiful! I did notice the owner of the restaurant, although very busy, visited every single table within minutes of food delivery to ask if all was great. That involved approach was evident all over town.

The empty street scape was taken early morning on the 26th, before the sun was fully up. It has a sort of quietness that is a robust contrast to the chaos of the post Christmas bargain shoppers a few hours later! I really did stand in the middle of one of Charleston's busiest intersections to take that picture. We did not dine at S.N.O.B. but it was packed when we passed by in mid afternoon on the Eve. The smells wafting forth from there were glorious.

The architecture?!?!??!The gardens? The beaches? The grassy wetlands???? I want to move!

I am going back to take a series of photographs of just architectural detailing. There were so many gates to love I was just beside myself. Wrought iron, wood and the rare combinations .... oh be still my heart.

Iffen you can't get us all organized for a bloggy summit in France, this might be a fine alternative!

I started visiting New Orleans as a child, I love the culture and architecture of the French Quarter there. Truth is, I like the Charleston French Quarter more. The love and attention to even the narrowest garden patch between lots is .... captivating.

Best of all, the early morning joggers have a great route all along the waterfront and Battery Park. Even the dogs of Charleston look proud.

We all loved our destination Christmas. I highly recommend this for you and SB. It is so great to be somewhere awesome where homies and visitors alike are joined in celebration and joy.

Make a Charleston visit a priority! I know your vacations are mostly spent abroad ( lucky you!) but maybe you could get away to Charleston for a long weekend. Everything about Charleston was delightful. And.... in Charleston they have a custom of "endless mimosas" ... which I enjoyed regularly
And yes, I do love visiting places which speak to my soul.

Caroline said...

My husband, the Architect, got to visit Charleston on business, I got to stay home. I can see from your photos why he loved the "details"! He didn't have time to mosey and bring me back pictures like yours. What a charming place!

fishy said...

Welcome to the Pond,
come often :-)
I cannot imagine any architect not loving Charleston. The architectural history is not just detailed, it is absolutely amazing in it's range and diversity. By my reckoning, your hubby owes you a trip to Charleston.

Jenny said...

My eyes runneth over! I love so many of your photos (you are doing well with your camerea!) I love those mermaids. Where did you come across those? Love how you captured the local feel of the Holiday..... not like anything close to my world whihc makes it so fabulous to see. Mostly? I'm glad you had time with YOUR mermaid and Blowfish. :-) Great post.

fishy said...

Hey, Hey Boxer!
Happy New Year to you and your loves. Thanks for the kind commentary, I love this camera.... I need to take a class but am having fun with the experimentation along the way.

The Mermaid mirrors were offered by a vendor in the open air markets of Charleston's French Quarter. I did not buy any as we were there just as they were closing early on Christmas Eve . I did not want to delay anyone . I thought we would get back by the markets on the 26th but we did not. This just gives me a fine reason to return!

The use of natural materials for our garlands, swags, wreaths and window boxes is one of the benefits of living in the South. I do quite literally walk out my back door to harvest a truckload of greenery from Hollies, Magnolias, Pines, Hemlocks, Laurels,Cypress, Gardenias, Boxwoods and Nandinas. I did tell Blowfish and Mermaid I could happily live in Charleston with a little cottage industry of planting and maintaining window boxes. Maybe too, I could offer all those natural greenery creations and installations for the holiday season. They were polite, they turned their heads before rolling their eyes Heavenward to beseech a divine intervention. Sometimes I wonder if they really do think i am c.r.a.z.y.

grins said...

I doubt if I have seen a more beautiful place. We have nothing to compare except maybe the Rosemount Mansion and some in Denver like the Molly Brown, but they are mostly stone. If it had more snow I might opt for Charleston.