With a direct route to Charleston launched last month, Peter Ellegard visits the South Carolina city to discover its countless gems
Sitting in a grand room of Charleston’s S venerable Old Exchange building, I’m spellbound by historian and author Ruth Miller as she brings the city’s chequered past to life during a guided walking tour themed around the area’s Gullah culture.
Thanks to Ruth’s wealth of knowledge and easygoing, schoolma’am style – she was formerly a high school teacher in South Carolina’s coastal Lowcountry – I am learning far more about Charleston and its African American culture on this tour than on numerous previous visits.
Now linked by direct Dreamliner flights with British Airways from Heathrow, Charleston has been lauded as America’s best city to visit by esteemed US publications Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure for several years in a row, and it’s easy to see why.
At every turn, there are hidden gems to discover in this graceful Southern Belle: streets and passageways crowned by soaring church spires (it’s nicknamed the Holy City for its numerous churches); rows of traditional single houses in assorted pastel shades with their narrow fronts and long, covered side porches; and decorative, wrought-iron gates framing fountains and exquisite secret gardens.