Fleming family Christmas trip to Charleston, SC

Continuing our tradition of taking a family trip with Alan's parents around the Christmas holidays for 2010 we chose to check out Charleston, South Carolina: Interesting history, great food and plenty of southern beauty. We stayed in a Bed and Breakfast based in a historic antebellum home right downtown and then ventured around the area to see some of the sights.

Here are some of our favorite photos from the trip:

1) Our B-n-B was just a couple of blocks from White Point Garden so we were treated to a colorful sunset when we went out for an evening walk to check out the neighborhood.

2) On Christmas day we found a local guide who was doing a walking tour of the downtown so even though our first full day was a holiday we got to learn a lot about the history of the city. This grand Georgian building is the Old Exchange which has served many functions throughout its history including a prison, a city hall, a military headquarters and probably a slave market (though the guide was a little hazy on that part.)

3) Charleston is a beautiful city, even if that comes with an economic and racial division that is both obvious and at times uncomfortable. This the area around E Bay and East Battery streets where the historic homes are colorful but are also staggeringly expensive.

4) This is the Robert William Roper House which is right on the waterfront on the edge of White Point Garden. It is historic and is considered a National Landmark because of its Greek Revival Architecture but I took the picture just because I thought it was an interesting looking building with the mix of brick and tall classic columns.

5) White Point Garden is a peaceful place but for most of Charleston's history it was a defensive battery. Among the beautiful fountains and gazebos in the park are some reminders of this history, like this massive columbiad cannon which was part of the east battery during the Civil War.

6) Even in the midst of the Christmas season the rose gardens of Charleston have a few delicate blossoms on display.

7) Artsy shot of one of the storm shutter catches on the wall of one of the old buildings downtown.

8) We drove over to Fort Moultrie National Park just north of Charleston in order to see this Civil War gun battery and also to walk the nearby nature trail. The tide was out so we walked along the beach and looked for sea critters among the sea wall pillings.

9) Back at the B-n-B Jonna relaxed in the morning sun on the upstairs porch.

10) The day after Christmas we went for another walk the downtown area and checked out one of the many church graveyards that were in the French Quarter.

11) Another artsy shot this one showing old bricks and shadows.

12) The B-n-B was a nice looking building.

13) One bit of history which we couldn't pass up was the boat tour out to Fort Sumter where the first shots of the Civil War were fired.

14) Alan's dad demonstrates how thick the brick walls were in the interior portions of the Fort Sumter fortifications.

15) Most of the damage done to Fort Sumter during the Civil War bombardment was repaired but there are still a few areas where the intensity of the shelling and the effectiveness of the then modern rifled cannons is seen.

16) A defensive position that was restored back to Civil War condition with a period appropriate cannon in place.

17) The view back towards Charleston, looking out over the 1850s era brick walls, from the top of the much newer 20th century fortication.

18) We headed out of town to visit the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens - a sprawling 450+ acre historic plantation. The myriad gardens are beautiful, the landscape sublime and the architecture is classic. Sadly, the plantation bills itself as historic but it is conspicously quiet on the topic of slavery. This was very disappointing since we wanted to see all aspects of the local history, both good and bad, openly presented.

19) Just one of the many, many trails that wind through various gardens on the plantation.

20) Another one of the manicured gardens, this one between the main house and the Ashley River.

21) A moss covered oak tree is about as iconically southern an image as it gets.

22) One of the long lakes on the plantation which were originally used to hold water for rice fields. The brick building in the center of the photo is the gate house that was used to manage water flow into the pond.

23) The pride of the gardens are the thousands of world famous camellia plants which have been cultivated throughout the property. Luckily for us, many of these bloom in December so we got to see them in their glory.

24) One of the fancy old horse barns on the property.

25) Our final sightseeing stop was at the Charleston Museum where we saw a replica of the HL Hunley - the world's first combat submarine. The original sank in Charleston harbor after successfully sinking a US Navy ship. This replica was built in the 1970s and is on display outside the museum.

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Alan Fleming