The best thing a Chamber of Commerce can hope to achieve is becoming a destination city, a place everyone wants to come - and spend money. Well Charleston's Chamber should be giddy with their success.
An article recently came out in the New York Times titled "36 Hours in Charleston". As with most travel logs it goes into the charm, the beauty, the food, and quaint boutique hotels Charleston has to offer. It doesn't really talk about anything new - but then what is new here other than all the recently opened houses of gourmet gastronomy. Yada, yada, yada.
It doesn't mention the facts:
- Parking spaces are rarer than hen's teeth
- Getting a table at one's favorite old ratty eatery is impossible -thanks to some article in Gourmet magazine that gave away how good the food was and how to find it
- Locals plan out of town excursions the weekends of the Bridge Run, the Garden Tour, and the Tour of Homes when the peninsula is inundated with even more tourists - if that were possible
- Residents of the lovely homes South of Broad now feel like rare animals in a zoo - as tourists stand outside their homes peaking through the fences and windows
- King Street is packed with unruly children, as well as visitors wearing fanny packs and cameras
- Rents are sky rocketing because so many who visit decide to stay
- Traffic is miserable even when not held up by a carriage full of gawking guests listening to guides telling Charleston lore and embellishing the history (just exagerating a bit to keep their attention)
Only once I wish they would publish an article pointing out the little known facts - that the city has been infested with the plague. The Confederacy has risen again and all the residents South of Broad have armed themselves to defend their homes and gardens against trespassers. (There is a bounty on the heads of tourists, extra money paid for a trifecta - one with a camera, tacky t-shirt, and a map.) The hostelry beds are infested with bed bugs - OK only a rumor but it sounds ghastly. Tourists on carriage tours should be wary of bands of vigilantes lurking behind walls in the older parts of the city. And that the city is closed Monday, Tuesday, and Satudays.
OK, OK, yes Charleston is one of the most beautiful, graceful, and polite places. In the spring one can smell the heady scents of Confederate Jasmine and Magnolias in the air. Living downtown gives one the ability to just walk several blocks and find a restaurant or bar that has national recognition and James Beard Award. Walking the pups in the morning on small (one way) side streets lined with the well known single homes (even though the ones around me are in the process of being renovated) gives one a that wonderful feeling that wake up every day in this most special place
But I still wish the secret had never gotten out. I yearn for the days when Charleston was just the destination for history buffs and garden clubs. Oh, how I wish one could find a quaint carriage house south of Broad street that an older couple just wanted to rent for a ridiculously low price just to have "someone nice" living there.
Alas the Holy City has become a victim of her own success. The secret is out and like the Jeany who escaped, it is now impossible to stuff her back into the bottle, secure the top, and throw it into the harbor.