Thursday, 3 May 2007

America #2

Myrtle Beach is characterised by, among other things, diners and shops. These establishments generally subscribe to the idea that, in order to best make us aware of their existence, they should make their frontages big and bold. All of this goes on for quite a few miles along the coastal road and it gets a bit much after a while. It isn't pretty.

Travelling south on Highway 17 you notice the shopfronts becoming less gaudy. You pass through a few pleasant looking towns. Georgetown in particular, with it's antebellum (before war - look at me learning Latin!) houses, was very pretty. That's as long as you stay down by the waterfront and try to ignore the steel works. After this there is about an hour of countryside before you reach Charleston and it was during this time that I felt that I was really seeing America for the first time. There's a fantastic feeling of well being to be gained by driving (or being driven - Becky was driving) in the sun in the American south with the radio playing Lynryd Skynryd and other rock classics, like a nostalgia for something not yet experienced. Some kinda wonderful.

Charleston is where the first shots of the American Civil War were fired. The city has retained much of its architecture from before that period and has encouraged later buildings to fit in with the existing surroundings. The result is a real step back in time, the kind of place that I could not imagine existing here, although modern encroachments are apparent and will probably only get worse. It's also very beautiful and has joined the small list of places where I'd be happy to live should England drown. (Though I don't imagine the local alternative music scene to be up to much but, hey, you can't have it all)

Becky and I ate She-Crab Soup and Fried Green Tomatos (a tasty first for me) in a restaurant that had the names of famous diners engraved on small plaques and nailed to various tables. At my table, quite thrillingly, the Beach Boys had sat! We then went on an entertaining and informative guided tour by horse drawn carriage before taking a slow walk around and then settling at a hotel's rooftop bar. It was one of the few occasions in a place up high where I've felt that the view wasn't as good as at ground level. I think that's a compliment. I had a very enjoyable day.

At this very second I'm watching Fox News ("Fair and Balanced" If you say so...). In Dallas last night one woman was killed when struck by lightning and another drowned when her car was swept away by flood water. We don't get that in England, that's real weather. We think it's an emergency if a roof leaks. And now Fox News is reporting the outrageous news that gas is hitting $3 a gallon. $3 a gallon! Ours is $9 a gallon, deal with it!

I'm still enjoying every minute here but New York is looming quite close on the horizon and if I'm honest I'm a little nervous. I have the guidance of my hosts here but will be all alone in the big city. I'm not worried about my personal safety or in fact anything specific at all, more that a developed sense of initiative a) would be useful in New York and b) is something I'm lacking. I know everything's gonna be cool though.


Katie said...

I can't believe gas is that expensive in England! I feel I have no right to complain anymore. It sounds like your journey continues to be entertaining which I am happy to hear.

As for New York, I could go on for days as to places you should go and things you should eat! I just recently pretended to be a tourist with my sister and brother-in-law visiting and had a blast. The Staten Island Ferry is something I would recommend, it's free and you get a priceless view of the city, the statue of liberty, and the surrounding areas. If you go down there on a weekend I suggest wandering around downtown NY for a bit, it's quite dead down there when all the suits have gone home...I find an eerie peace to being in a city of 8 million and finding a quiet nook to hide away in. The buildings down there are also beautifully old. I love it.

Definitely go to the museums, my favorite is the MOMA (museum of modern art) but that depends entirely on your taste in art :)

Eat a hotdog from a vendor, and don't you dare stop to wonder what's in it! They are delicious without question! And if you are a fan of smoothies get one at one of the many Jamba Juices in the city. I am obsessed with smoothies which is why I am throwing that in!

Grand Central station will make you feel so small and will take your breath away with its grandeur.

If you find a bench to rest on, snatch it up... they are few and far between unless you find a good park (which I also recommend)

And here is my favorite piece of info that I will share with you...

go to that website and I encourage you to explore some of the bars. If I recall you like beer right? I am a huge fan so I love to explore old bars here in NY. I work in the village so that is the area I cling to most often. It lacks some of the chaos that the rest of the city is riddled with. My personal favorites are Chumley's (although not sure if it's opened yet after a construction incident), The Ear Inn, and White Horse. Beer gardens are also great fun

Ok now that I have talked your ear off, feel free to use any of this or none of it! Also feel free to ask me questions whenever you want!!

~Katie :)

Katie said...

You are very welcome! I do love this city, I'm not sure I'll live here for years and years to come but for now, it is fun to explore. :)

Luke & Catherine said...

The moaning about 'GAS' prices got to me a little bit while I was there!

Luke & Catherine said...

The fact it is actually priced in gallons, rather than litres speaks volumes!! excuse the pun!!

Ian said...

Thankyou so much Katie, your advice was a great help!