I hopped on a commuter jet to Charleston, SC, a few weeks ago, not having visited the city since I was a student in 1985, visiting for a few days to attend a concert for an esteemed colleague. Tropical storm Andrea stirred things up of course. High winds and rains coursed through the city the night of the concert, and I was quite surprised that my plane was able to take off the next morning since the skies were boiling when I got up. The cabbie who took me to the airport knew why; I'd be in trouble if the air was hot and humid, but it was cool, a sign that the storm had passed over. As it is, I flew over it, landing at JFK, just as it was starting to rain.
Charleston is still the beautiful city that I remember as a graduate student. Bursting at the seams with beautiful houses, porches with doors and gas lanterns, it radiates a quiet charm. If there was one disappointment in an otherwise splendid two days, it was not being able to see the interior of the Unitarian Church with its fan-vaulted ceiling, since it is closed from May to September. I did, however, snap a few pics of the adjoining cemetery, its fading grandeur fit for an Ann Rice novel, all the while hearing the organist practice a Bach fugue behind locked doors.
The magnolia trees were full of huge blossoms which cast their wonderful fragrance for many blocks, reminding me of a long-ago Charleston romance with a lovely man named Richard, later taken as so many were in the late 1980s by the plague. He introduced me to another fragrance: Eau Sauvage. I wore it the whole time I walked down memory lane.
If you go (and you must), do visit a wonderful wine bar on Meeting Street: O'Hara & Flynn. With its European feel, superb selection of wines and attentive staff: it's a great find.