Fall in Charleston, SC ~ Road Trip Series

I’m going back to dignity and grace. I’m going back to Charleston, where I belong. ~ Rhett Butler, Gone with the Wind

Staying on the outskirts of Charleston’s downtown left an impression not unlike the scenes from Gone With the Wind.  Though the story was set in Georgia, Charleston is the historical destination along South Carolina’s coast where the Civil War began.*

The grounds surrounding The Inn at Middleton Place survived the battle, and just down the road, the sprawling Magnolia Plantation and Gardens could have been a setting from the period drama. Here, the Plantation House, “the core of which was built prior to the Revolutionary War near Summerville, South Carolina and floated down the Ashley River to Magnolia after the Civil War, is the third to grace the site in more than three centuries of Drayton family occupation.” With its wide porches fringed with flowering hanging pot plants, and an outlook over palatial gardens, it’s not hard to imagine how the likes of Scarlett O’Hara managed to navigate their way around with those voluminous skirts.

South Carolina’s low country provides a low-key, old world existence to those who live here. If you want to taste it, it helps to slow down, turn off the main highways, and you can step into a unique way of life. ~ Andrew Zimmern, host of Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel

This isn’t to say that Charleston’s downtown should be overlooked. Located along the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean, its streets are decorated with palmetto trees. It’s an area infiltrated by a growing epicurean scene, despite being filled with rows of brand name stores interspersed with pricey plus star hotels. For the architecture buff, the residential area that abuts downtown is defined by gorgeous well-preserved homes in Georgian and Federal style. With some dating from the 18th C, their colourful exteriors, shutters, planter boxes, and ‘secret’ gardens are well worth a lengthy leisurely walk, even if its under the rain.

Here’s a tip: if you’re hankering for a piece of something sweet and buttery, head into the Peninsula Grill at the Planter’s Inn for their coconut cake. The hotel’s restaurant is so used to tourists stepping in to order a piece of Chef Carter’s multilayered cream sponge based on his grandmother’s recipe, that they have slices wrapped ready-to-go.

Lovers of history and southern elegance could find no better place than Charleston to spend a weekend or an extended vacation. This city truly has something for everyone. ~ L. Woodrow Ross, Anderson Independent Mail

*DeltaSky Magazine

The Inn at Middleton Place

The Inn at Middleton Place

Overlooking the marsh from the Inn at Middleton Place

Overlooking the marsh from the Inn at Middleton Place

DSC_0565PSPlantation House

Magnolia Gardens

Magnolia Gardens

March areas like this one used to provide the Plantation's source of wealth - rice culture.

March areas like this one used to provide the Plantation’s source of wealth – rice culture.

Plantation House at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

Plantation House at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

Spanish moss at Magnolia Gardens

Spanish moss at Magnolia Gardens

Charleston's downtown

Charleston’s downtown

Downtown piazzas

Downtown piazzas

Historic Homes

Historic Homes

DSC_0582PSDSC_0591PSThat coconut cake

That coconut cake

The Essence of La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia really needs to be seen to be believed. Whilst photographs do it some justice (even my amateur snaps), its essence is truly felt when one is standing in the thick of it all. From the intricacy of its stonework (those detailed facades!), to its Gothic inspired stained glass windows that leave the interior of the church awash in a myriad of colours as the afternoon sun streams through, to the feeling of vertigo that sets in once you’ve descended (by foot) from the top of one of those high bell towers to the base of its spiral staircase. These are the moments that leave you in wonderment… and in need for a sit down from the over-stimulation of it all.

Spiral Staircase

The grandeur of Gaudi’s vision is easy to spot from any high point in Barcelona – whether from Montjuic or from the rooftop of Casa Mila, another one of his landmarks, where the church is perfectly framed by one of the building’s undulating arches. As if watching over the city, La Sagrada Familia does not impose. Rather, it stands emblematic of Barcelona – the city and its beauty.

Overarched by the Casa Mila, La Sagrada Familia stands tall in the background

As fantastical and exquisite as La Sagrada Familia may seem to one person, there have been the obligatory naysayers… and renowned artists at that.

For Picasso, Gaudi’s famous church, the Sagrada Familia, was something of a joke – more to Salvador Dali’s taste, he once commented, than his. In the living room in La Californie there used to be an enormous panettone that mice had reduced to a ruin: ‘Gaudi’s model,’ he would say.*

George Orwell thought it to be one of the ugliest buildings he had ever seen and was said to have “wondered why the Anarchists hadn’t wrecked it in the Civil War”.**

The decorative canopy of La Sagrada Familia's interior

The church “could be finished some time in the first third of the 21st century”, states La Sagrada Família website. The final result will be a variation of the artist’s vision. Though the aforementioned Anarchists had spared the building during the Civil War, in 1936 they had set fire to the crypt and destroyed the models, plans, drawings and photos in Gaudi’s former workshop. Construction goes on based on reconstructed plans and there’s comfort in the thought that perhaps Gaudi continues to watch over the building’s progress from within. After all, he was buried in the Carmen Chapel in the crypt of La Sagrada Família in 1926, where his remains still lie today.

*Taken from ‘Gaudi. A Biography.’ by Gijs Van Hensbergen ** ‘Barcelona’s 25 Best’ by Fodor’s

Amazing photos can be found within the blogs below:

Barcelona: La Sagrada Familia | Amy Davies

La Sagrada Familia photoblog by Angelo Samarawickrema.

The Nativity Facade