Saturday, November 27, 2010

Talk of the Town

When I visit a new place I always like to take a motorized tour to familiarize myself with the lay of the land and to get some special tips and tidbits from the drivers. My visit to Charleston is no exception.

I signed up to take the owner-operated Talk of the Town City Tour, and I'm glad I did. The 21-passenger minibus was roomy and comfortable, just right for the 90-minute tour, which covered six miles of Charleston's Historic District. Included along the way were drives to the Battery and Harbor, the Market and Rainbow Row, by churches and their cemeteries, museums and historic homes and hotels, shops and restaurants.

Our driver and guide was Alan Hartley, dubbed "the best in the industry" and, true to reputation, he turned out to be a walking-talking reference book. His knowledge of Charleston, its history and its people, was extraordinary.

Hartley is the author of a great little travel book, Walking Tour of Charleston, which features 100 points of interest and a centerfold map. At $5.95 each, all visitors to Charleston should pick one up!

In addition to the usual historical stuff he spouted off with ease, Hartley told us about Pat Conroy's newest book, South of Broad, and the title's reference to Charleston's Broad Street. I learned that homes South of Broad Street are some of the most prized (and expensive) in the city, that those who live south of Broad are known as SOBs. Those who live Slightly North of Broad Street are known as SNOBs. Fun to know!

In the Battery, Hartley pointed out the large and impressive house comedian Stephen Colbert lived in as a kid. Back then, the celeb attended Charleston Day Elementary School and was simply known as Stephen, the funniest kid in school. And, way back then, the "t" in Colbert was NOT a silent letter!

As mentioned, I like taking city tours. Always, I learn so much. And, once in awhile, I learn the darnest and most interesting things!

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