Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Day 171 - Summerville & Charleston, SC

We took our time packing the tent and camping equipment for one final time, making sure everything that was coming back to the UK with us was dry and tightly packed away. We had a few camping items which we knew we were never going to get back on the plane including our camping chairs, some gas for the hobs, an extensive collection of lighters and a badminton set. We hoped to find some fellow travellers in the Myrtle Beach KOA that we could handover our camping possessions but sadly after driving around the site twice, we couldn't find any tent campers or any RV campers which looked like they enjoyed a more basic approach to camping (most had Meet the Fockers style RV's with every modcon!).

We hit the road out of Myrtle Beach, driving past many crab shacks and tat shops before hitting the road towards Summerville, our next stop. A talking point on our trip was the terrible infestation this part of America has with car sized crabs, and I don't think they were Halloween decorations!

Summerville is a town in South Carolina, one of those ones that most tourists probably wouldn't stop at but I love seeing these little parts of small town America.

The town was actually the summer retreat for the plantation owners in Charleston and has that air of luxury about it with the huge colonial-era houses, picturesque high street and quaint little shops.

But there was another reason for visiting Summerville, it is the birth place of Sweet Tea. This drink (also known as Iced Tea) was a staple for me before the trip to America although I often drunk normally hot tea cooled down in the fridge rather than the sweeter, fruitier American version of the drink.

We visited the site where the largest Sweet Tea was ever brewed. 2,524 gallons were made in the giant 15 feet tall mason jar in 2016, taking the town into the Guinness World Record. If you don't believe me, you can see it being 'brewed' here!

For lunch, we found a little coffee shop down a pedestrian side street called The EcLectic Chef. We both ordered a sandwich and a freshly brewed, made on site Sweet Tea and we ate outside underneath the Spanish moss hanging from the trees. It was lovely and we could have both lazed around here all day but we had a road trip to complete!

Back in the car, we headed 30 minutes South East to Charleston.

Charleston is a port city founded in 1670. It was one of the must visit places in South Carolina but we didn't really have a plan for what to do during the couples of hours we were visiting. Very unlike us I know but after nearly 6 months planning every move, we decided to wing it just this once.

We drove around town until we found a reasonable (ish) public parking lot where we could safely leave Fin before seeing where our walking feet were going to take us.

The town was beautiful with cobbled streets, horse-drawn carriages, pastel coloured houses, art and antique shops and history all around from the churches and cemeteries to the historic buildings from the Colonial era, American Revolution and Civil War. Our 2 hour visit was clearly not going to be enough time to really experience this town and learn about the history.

Our walk eventually took us to Waterfront Park where there were piers and boardwalks that overlooked Charleston Harbor.

After all that walking, we needed to grab a drink! One thing we did struggle with in Charleston was finding a bar with some outside seating. It could have been that we were in a rush and lot looking in the right places but we eventually found a roof top bar called The Rooftop Bar & Grill @ The Vendue, an upmarket hotel bar with an arty vibe and some amazing cocktails. Luckily for me, Lee agreed to drive! 

We were back in our car and after one final drive through the streets of Charleston, we were on the road to our stop for the night in Savannah. 

We usually try to avoid arriving at a destination after dark as it makes it that more difficult trying to find where you're going and there is always a feeling of being more safe when you arrive somewhere in day light. Unfortunately today we had just packed too much in and the sun quickly came down, providing us with the most colourful and romantic sunset.

The area we were staying at in Savannah actually felt very safe even in darkness and after a quick call to the hotel as we got lost trying to find the entrance, we were pulled up outside with a bell boy taking our bags, a valet taking the keys and a lovely lady checking us into the most amazing room but... more on that in the next blog!