Monday, November 10, 2014

From the surrey

How could a lover of southern architecture not fall in love with a city that has street after street and neighborhood after neighborhood of classic homes? 
While in Charleston last year, we considered renting bicycles so we could cover more territory. Instead, we walked mile after mile because we were spell-bound by the history and beauty of the historic city and couldn't seem to stop looking to see the hidden secrets found on each new street. A few surrey rides helped saved our feet, and we became a repeat customer of one specific driver who told the best tales from Charleston history.

There is diverse architecture in the city, although the unique Charleston single houses are what visitors seem to remember. Many of the homes are passed down through generations. The historic foundation exists for many reasons, one of which is to help keep some of these houses up to current standards by raising money that helps homeowners complete necessary renovations.

A walk through the streets is like being transported back to another century. The thick brick walls, gas lanterns, mix-matched sidewalks, and limited parking speak of an era when there wasn't an abundance of automobiles that needed elaborate garages and parking spaces. Many houses had mere feet between their walls and the walls of the house next door.

But the little space that was available seemed to be dedicated to garden spots of beauty. Spring was in bloom when we visited and the gardens were magnificant. They were almost as fun as touring the houses that were open.

A surrey ride is worth the money if you want to see more of the city. Make sure and ask about the routes before buying your tickets. Every single morning the surrey companies draw routes for the day. That keeps an abundance of horses from overcrowding the residential streets. If you want to see a specific area, then it's wise to try to find a surrey that has drawn that route for the day. (An alternative would be to stand somewhere on that route, and watch which surrey and driver is going down that street.) However, the ticket sellers are trying to sell as many tickets as possible and many don't like to take the time to answer your questions. They just want your money so they can get another sale. You might have to graciously insist on not buying tickets unless you can be assured of the route.

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