After a few hours walking around the city, my son made it a point to tell me how nice he thought everyone was. "They all wave, smile and say hello." A little while later he said, "Dad, Charleston feels like a mixture of Savannah and Baltimore." He was right! Not only was I enjoying this great little state capitol, I was noticing something about my son: He was discovering the essence of travel. He was becoming a traveler! He has been to enough places to make informed comparisons, but he was also learning there is a "feel" or "vibe" associated with a place travelers come to know. It is an intuition developed only by getting outside your comfort zone and seeing the world, and it clearly excited him. He was learning to tune in.
Charleston is clearly a small city who cares about itself. It has a bustling pedestrian friendly downtown area with tree lined streets (a rarity in America) and just a few block away has a enormous mall and convention center. Taylor Books (above) is a thriving book store and coffee shop. Immediately upon entering you can smell the espresso and hear the whir of the milked being steamed to make latte's for the endless local customers wanting coffee drinks. This is exactly my kind of place! Lots of books, coffee and ambiance. This isn't one of those sterile Starbucks or Daily Grind kinda places, but a place no two tables or chairs match, many looking like their were bought at a garage sale or school auction. This is a place local people - all ages and classes - come to meet in the mornings and at night, and sit and talk.
The public library is a stately looking building right in the heart of downtown. This city has several little parks in the downtown area with mature and old trees, as well as faded bronze and copper statues with that green, weathered patina marking their age. You get a sense of going back in time in this little city, and liking it a lot.
Views from an old 1930's era iron bridge across the Kanawha River (above and below).
Sunset, and that golden evening light.
The local Masonic Temple
What you notice about downtown Charleston is the 19th and 20th century architecture has been preserved among several smaller, more modern buildings. If they ever decide to take down these old buildings, they will lose their greatest asset: the "feel" of their little city.