Charleston

Courtesy of the airlines, we arrived in Charleston at 6 pm instead of the scheduled 10:30 am, and thus, lost a whole day of sightseeing. The only thing on our original plan we had time to do was eat dinner at Husk, a farm-to-table restaurant, featuring such local specialities as pigs’ ears and fried chicken skins. We went all out and ordered both. Our sensitive Northern stomachs did not take well to the copious fat content in the aforementioned delicacies, which somewhat spoiled what would have otherwise been an excellent meal.
The next day we had to have an early start to cram a two-days-worth of sightseeing into one.
At first glance, Charleston did not deliver. North of Broad Street, Charleston is somewhat a cross between South Beach and San Francisco – nice, but no distinct personality. The main shopping drag, King Street, has a serious shortage of coffee shops and bakeries, but an abundance of antique shops, popular brand name chain stores, and cheap chic boutiques.
South of Broad, and west of King, the picture is totally different. Both areas are residential and charming to a fault. Southern mansions, featuring several tiers of porches (called “piazzas” here) flanked by luscious, shady, secluded gardens, grace hunchbacked cobblestone streets. The promenade along the sea stretches for miles and the mansions facing the water are even grander. The oldest church in Charleston, St. Michaels, boasts fine examples of carved rosewood and Tiffany windows. The church miraculously withstood the 7.3 earthquake of 1886, having only lost several inches in height of its steeple, which sunk 8 inches deep into the roof, but stayed intact and erect otherwise. Sadly, we had no time to visit any of the mansion-museums as everything here closes at 5.
For dinner, we went to FIG (not fig, but FIG- an acronym for Food Is Good), and it was good indeed and quite refined.
The restaurant happened to be on the same street as the oldest Charlestonian synagogue. This being Friday night, we walked in on the Shabbas services. We always like to see what our tribe is up to in foreign lands, and the South can certainly qualify as such.
The synagogue’s president greeted us warmly. SHe is a 9th generation Sephardic Jew, whose ancestors were expelled from Spain in 1482 and landed here in the 1700’s after more than 200 years of being wandering Jews searching a safe harbor. They found it in South Carolina. Amen and shalom y’all.

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