We took a Delta flight from JFK down to our next stop, Charleston, South Carolina. It was HOT.
We knew the pace had slowed down when we arrived in the South; Alamo car hire was only open at the airport until 3pm(!) so we had to take a taxi downtown. Talking to each other in the back, the driver asked us what language we were speaking. English, but with a fast northern accent: we were to have a few more language barrier issues on our journey.
Our first stop after picking up our Mazda 3 (once we’d worked out how to start it) was to an electricals shop for a Sat Nav. This will save many heated map reading moments. Money well spent!
We were staying on John’s Island, at an Airbnb 10 miles from Downtown Charleston and near to Kiawah Beach. This was our first experience of staying in an Airbnb as a B&B, rather than just a private apartment, and it was faultless. We really enjoyed meeting our hosts, a young couple called Dan and Sophia and their dog, Cocoa.
It felt like a home from home in typical American suburbia and we got some great recommendations for things to do.
We got another introduction to Southern hospitality on our second day here. Someone pulled over to tell us our tail light was out, so we went to the Alamo office to try and get it fixed. They couldn’t help and suggested we call roadside assistance, or head to a Halfords equivalent to do it ourselves (thanks Alamo). With no one to fit it at the auto shop, and with us having no tools, we tried the garage next door. They were lovely and not only did they fix the light, they wouldn’t take any money for it!
Downtown Charleston is very colonial and historic. It was named after Charles II and everyone, from tourist shops to trolley bus tour guides, is quick to stress its significance as a colonial settlement. The old French Quarter has typical southern houses with white shutters, columns, verandahs and rocking chairs on porches.
Charleston is also a college town so there is quite a bit going on. The weather was really bad and we made the best of it wandering around in the rain, but unfortunately the nearest we got to Kiawah beach was the local shopping centre on the island.
The weather did not let up and the rain and wind seemed to get worse. Local roads were flooding and it was a bit miserable, but still uncomfortably hot. It all came to a head when we were woken up at 1am by a text alert letting us know that tornado warnings were in place for the Charleston area.
The thunder and lightning was incredible. Obviously, I was ready to get dressed and evacuate, but no one else seemed too phased by it, and after following updates on Twitter we saw that the tornado had hit about half a mile away. We watched as the storm passed; luckily no one was injured and there were only a few houses damaged. An experience!