Category Archives: South Carolina

Charleston | Hampton Park

The Citadel cadet seated next to me on the flight to Charleston was excited that I had already tagged The Citadel as a sight to see on my one-day visit. She also pointed out, since I would be in the area anyway, that I should take a walk through Hampton Park just to the east of campus. She also recommended Park Cafe, a little further east, as a destination for lunch after exiting the park.

Hampton is a small but beautifully manicured park which I imagine is the setting for many a picnic or outdoor weddings. While no one seemed to be willing to brave the December temperatures for the sake of having a picnic by one of the many fountains, there was a steady stream of joggers , bikers and walkers.  The draw here for me was an abundance of huge moss covered trees with branches that seemed to defy gravity and any sane growth pattern. Some of the trees had such huge, twisted and  low hanging branches that in spots they were held up by metal support beams cemented into the ground.

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The other item of note is the Peace Wall at the eastern most edge of the park, a structure composed of tiles all in the theme of stopping violence. I liked the message. It looked like some of the tiles were made by children; good to start that message early so it permeates future generations. Or so we can hope.

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Charleston | The Citadel

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One of the sights I tagged to visit in Charleston was The Citadel, one of the largest military colleges in the country. Mostly I was intrigued by the comments on Trip Advisor about the architectural style, statues and an actual fighter jet which was apparently a permanent fixture in the center of the quad. Fortunately, I sat next to a Citadel cadet on the flight out – a bright, well-spoken 20 year old girl who gave me quite the comprehensive rundown of what to see on campus and off. I was under the impression The Citadel was all-male but she was quick to point out that policy was changed in the late 90’s. When I asked how she liked it, I was impressed with her answer.

“I love it! It’s always been my dream to graduate from The Citadel like my dad. I realize I am not your typical southern girl”. Then she giggled like a typical southern girl for emphasis. Irony duly noted.

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Typically the campus is very active with a student population of over 3000. Fridays are busier still since they hold a much publicized parade, basically mimicking battlefield drill maneuvers. The Friday I visited the campus was shutdown for holiday break and I was the only person walking the grounds, save a few administrators and guards. Next time I will make the Friday parade but this time I rather liked having the entire Citadel campus to myself.

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Charleston | Persimmon Cafe

Sometimes I tag interesting restaurants I want to try before I travel, other times I ask the locals after I arrive. Since I had success with asking the local teen crowd in Santa Barbara for their favourite spot, I did the same in Charleston. The result was a trip to Persimmon Cafe.

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Persimmon is located near one of the many in-town colleges. Its also housed inside a laundromat. There are a few stools at a window-side bar next to a row of washers. However I noticed most patrons come in to start a set of wash then order takeaway on their way out. Should you decide to eat in, the window-side stools face Calhoun St., a heavily traveled street, which makes for good people watching. The constant swish-swish  of washers and clank-clank of jeans tumbling around a dryer may not appeal to some but I found it quirky white noise.

The menu wins for simplicity – paninis, soups, sides and cookies; most of the paninis were some variation of grilled cheese. The lump crab panini appealed but the ‘adult grilled cheese’ was recommended by a college student I met earlier in the day. An interesting and delicious combination of smoked Gouda cheese combined with thinly sliced green apple and prosciutto. Tartness of the apple combined beautifully with the smokiness of the cheese and the saltiness of the prosciutto. The melty cheese and crispy bread were good textural contrast all the way to the last bite.

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I couldn’t resist trying the peanut butter and candied ginger coleslaw. It sounded just too odd to pass up and I was curious how the flavours would play out. Short answer – they work. The secret seems to be in using small amounts of peanut butter, which added a subtle nutty flavour, and candied ginger adding a sweetness which complimented the otherwise bland flavour of purple and green cabbage. I rarely eat coleslaw since, to me, it usually tastes like crunchy mayonnaise but I would definitely order Persimmon’s version again.

Its counter-order setup and if you do eat in, they’ll walk it out to you. I’m pretty sure patrons eating in get preference since I got my order before the takeaway crowd that came in before me. The people working here are young, knowledgeable and exceptionally friendly, which seems to be the case everywhere in the city.

Reasonable. Adult Grilled Cheese + Peanut Butter and Candied Ginger Coleslaw = $9

If you’re looking for great-tasting, low-cost and casual fare with  quirky atmosphere in the inner Charleston area, Persimmon is good choice.

Lunch: December 2014

Persimmon Cafe | 226 Calhoun | Charleston SC 29401

Charleston | Marion Square

On the way back from touring the churches of Charleston I walked through Marion Square just as the Christmas decorations were lighting up. Tandem a church group was just starting to carol their way into the evening.

I still don’t know what Marion Square looks like during the day or without its holiday wrapping but I liked the hollow light tree covering the sidewalk through the middle of the greenspace.

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Charleston | The Holy City

When I travel to see family in the South East there are a variety of airports within driving distance. Its a shell game every time I make my plans which airport will have the lowest out of pocket costs. Until this trip it was never Charleston, South Carolina.

Since I had never been, I decided to stop for a day and investigate. Glad about that and I definitely will return.

I was curious why it had the nickname The Holy City, I kind of thought that name would be reserved for someplace like Vatican City. The locals explained that in the past it earned the name from the large number of church steeples that once dominated the skyline. In present day they have reshaped the moniker to represent the city’s openness and tolerance. There are a lot of churches in present day Charleston, some are extraordinary. In my brief stay there I did find the local population to be exceedingly friendly and surprisingly accepting for a smallish southern city.

Emanuel-7-LRESI did a blitz one morning of all the must-see churches in town but my hands down favourite was Gothic Revival styled Emanuel. Emanuel is an African Methodist Episcopal church or AME, a term I did not know existed before Charleston. I have to admit I was a little confused since ‘Emanuel’ is a Hebrew word meaning ‘G-d is with us’, so I Googled up a bit whilst touring the outside. The church has a very interesting and somewhat dramatic history in Charleston – it was burnt to the ground under suspicious circumstances, damaged by a earthquake and for a time its members were forced by law into underground worship – but it stands today as a testimony to freedom and perseverance.

There are, of course, many other sites to see in the city, including other churches. Some highlights below including the interesting Ravenel Bridge and some homes I discovered while walking about.

More on Charleston this week.

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