When I left off from my last blog, we had just had a fantastic weekend in New York, and after we got back to DC on the bus (after some horrible traffic), we pulled out from Union Station and looked to our left to find the glistening Capitol Building seemingly welcoming us back. Although the Capitol is under construction/repair at the moment and is therefore covered in scaffolding, there is something that is still so beautiful about it at night – it looks to me like a croquembouche decorated in spun sugar. Actually, that’s what I have been calling it since we first went on the tour inside it – the croquembouche building.
After a theatre-filled weekend in New York it seems that I was just not ready to have it stop as I headed back to the Kennedy Centre for another Tuesday night at the theatre. This time I went to see ‘Gigi’ with Nicola, another Australian exchange student, and Elif, an exchange student from Turkey. As this was the show’s preview before hitting Broadway, I was curious to see how it was – as much as I have seen at the theatre, this was my first time seeing an out-of-town preview, so that was pretty exciting, at least to me. I was also really eager to see ‘Gigi’ having seen the movie before and knowing that it is one of my grandma’s all time favorites.
The production was filled with seasoned Broadway veterans, some who I had seen before in other shows, as well as having Vanessa Hudgens as their celebrity name. On a whole the show was really well cast and, on a separate note, the set-design was great. I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed the show and how well it translated from screen to stage. I hope it is as well-received by Broadway audiences as it seemed to be in DC!
After only a few short days (in which I crammed in four assessments!), Mads (Australian exchange student/my best friend from home) and I were off again for the weekend, keen to take advantage of it being a long weekend. We went down to South Carolina where one of my really close friends lives to visit and explore two states of the US I had never been to before. After flying into Charlotte, North Carolina we met up with our friend, Marissa, and drove down to Columbia, South Carolina.
Whilst Columbia isn’t known for being the tourist hub of America, we definitely enjoyed seeing the sights it had to offer on the Friday that we were there. The state capitol building was definitely an impressive structure surrounded by a variety of sculptures each symbolizing an important event or individual. We also saw the Supreme Court building as well as a couple really pretty churches. Next we went in search of a little district known for its boutique shops and once finished there we made our way to Finlay Park. Although too chilly to enjoy the park in its entirety, we saw some really lovely water features and enjoyed ourselves on the three person swing that sits above the park’s main water fountain.
The next day we continued our exploration of the historically significant Carolinas but heading down to Charleston, South Carolina. We began our morning there by taking a carriage tour (with our driver Baba, and our two horses, Butter and Grits) from which we were able to get a lay of the land as well as a great introduction to the history and myths of Charlotte from our very knowledgeable driver. From the carriage we saw some lovely churches, gorgeous cobblestone streets, amazing mansions, the harbor, other historical structures and the much-anticipated Rainbow-Row.
Having only ridden through the historic district, at the conclusion of our carriage ride we embarked on foot to see the rest of the town, as well as to revisit some spots that we wanted to investigate further.
We started with the slavery museum, which is housed in an old slave auction house, adding to the significance and horror of the information presented in the displays. Comprehending the information within that environment really enhances its reality as a horrific mistreatment of innocent people and a total violation of human rights. As we learnt, more than 40% of the African Americans brought to America as part of the slave trade went through Charleston’s port – that’s approximately 200,000 enslaved people going through the one, relatively tiny, town. The statistics meant a lot more to me standing within Charleston and especially within the museum than they have ever meant to me before.
From the slave museum we walked up in pursuit of the Dock Street Theatre – the first theatre ever built in America. As a total theatre nerd, this excited me greatly and I was desperate to see the birthplace of American theatre! It is a beautiful theatre from the outside and if I find myself in Charleston again, I definitely want to go on a night that they are performing a show!
We had a look around the beautiful mansions, as well as the harbor and the houses along rainbow row. We explored a nice market and had some lunch there and then later, at dinner, I tried she-crab soup and grits and therefore now consider myself a true Southerner- if only I’d had something monogrammed whilst there! All-in-all, Charleston is a really cute little town and a great day-trip if you are somewhere nearby – I would definitely suggest seeing it, although I don’t think that your stay there needs to be too long.
We spent the next morning in Columbia before driving back to Charlotte (perhaps with a slight detour to a couple malls on the way) to spend our last night and day there. Charlotte definitely came across as more of a business hub than anything else. Unfortunately, as we were there on the public holiday, the city seemed rather empty and the cold disrupted our plans of seeing the parks that Charlotte has to offer.
And so ends another wonderful week in DC! I can definitely feel that the cold is about to kick in even stronger which I can’t say I’m looking forward to! I just hope it passes soon – so ready for spring and sunshine - I am Australian after all!
Until next time…