Anyhow, back on topic. Charleston is famous for it's unique architecture, history of slavery, the civil war and of course it's top notch restaurants. Unfortunately, when you have a two year old, it's difficult to get the full experience. On the first full day there, we visited the world famous Boone Hall plantation. The avenue of Oaks there is truly impressive. The way they portray slavery, less than impressive. It was almost as if they were glorifying slavery, claiming there was solid evidence that the slaves ate better than even their masters. I find this hard to believe.
It was also a bit disappointing to learn that the plantation house is less than a hundred years old and twice the size of the original. We (mistakenly) took the house tour, which consisted of only the first level and literally three rooms. To top it all off, another family had three kids who were acting terrible and their lack of parenting skills was really off-putting to everyone else on the tour. This got my little munchkin riled up and made it harder to keep her under wraps. Half way through the tour a man asked the tour guide to kick them off the tour. I agree they should've left the tour, but he was quite rude about it. Things got awkward after that as I felt like we were being lumped in with the bad guys. I nearly left the tour myself but my husband insisted we stay. My kid wasn't being bad, she was just excited to be there.
Aside from that odd event, both plantations were really enjoyable. The grounds and gardens were beautiful. However, it was apparent that the tours were geared more towards the families who owned the plantations than the slaves themselves. The real subject at hand was "Swept under the rug," so to speak.
We also visited the Naval and Maritime Museum on the Charleston Harbor which houses an historic battleship, air craft carrier and submarine from vietnam, WWII and the Cold War, I think. Like I said, hard to get the full experience with a wily two year old who wants to touch everything and run wild. Still it was the highlight of the trip for my husband. During our tour of the battleship, a two hour long downpour started and we got stuck inside the ship for the better part of an hour. Interesting, for lack of a better term.
Back on land, they had a section dedicated to the Vietnam experience. It was set up like an actual American base would have been in the heart of Vietnam. It was complete with sound effects and a watch tower with a machine gun. The rain really added to the experience. As Forrest Gump said "it rained in Vietnam every day." Disclaimer: I don't think this is his exact quote from the movie.
The next day, we jumped on a ferry out to the ruins of Fort Sumter for a history lesson on the civil war and South Carolina's secession. As a child my mom was constantly dragging us around to national parks and museums, so I have a learned appreciation for all things history and nature. I hope to instill this in my daughter as well. Luckily and surprisingly to me, my husband enjoys the historical stuff too, he just doesn't have the attention span for all the details. Fine with me as long as he's willing to attend!
Overall, the visit was really enjoyable. Good food, good bonding and good learning experiences. My only regret is doing this trip while my child was still in toddlerhood. It didn't feel at all kid friendly anywhere we went and I was disappointed at the lack of "southern hospitality." Would I go back? Yes, but in the very distant future.
Anybody else been to Charleston? Would love to hear your take on the plantations, etc.