Today was our last day of vacation. However, we knew that one thing we had to do before we left was take a carriage ride through historic Charleston. Everyone we know who had been to Charleston said it was a must-do while here. Fortunately when I booked our resort through Expedia, I received a voucher for one for a free carriage ride from Carolina Polo and Carriage Co., which is located in the Double Tree hotel diagonal from the Market in downtown Charleston. What is interesting about the carriage tours in Charleston (and there are definitely several carriage tour companies), is that not even the carriage tour guides/drivers know which tour they will take you on. The Charleston Dept. of Tourism has developed a system based on lottery. Before your carriage leaves for its tour, the tour guide brings the carriage to this pit stop which has a cage of balls with numbers on them (similar to bingo). The city worker pulls out a ball from the cage. The one you draw is the tour you will take. There are apparently 3 tours you can take. 2 out of the three go right by the Battery. We fortunately one one of those 2!
The carriage tour was definitely worth it. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable about the history of Charleston, and answered our questions diligently. Most importantly, he was a great storyteller which made hearing so much history entertaining. The tour included much discussion of the city’s history during the Civil War (obviously…Fort Sumter is right there!), architecture, Charleston culture, and ghost stories (our tour guided added his own experience in his former house in historic Charleston when we voiced our experience about the previous night’s ghost tour!). For those not interested in history, you’l marvel at the many million dollar homes along the tour line, which are also included in the tour narration. One such home was that of John Calhoun, which is who the story Gone with the Wind was inspired by. You’ll also see the house of John Calhoun’s daughter, which is called the “wedding cake house” and has a “Arc de Triumph” at the top of it!
Lesson Learned: We can still make progress while preserving the past. Charleston has preserved its history and in turn its architecture, which makes it one of the most beautiful cities I’ve seen.