Thursday, September 1, 2011

Travel Traditions And Legends Abroad And Here In Charleston

Would you like to have the ability to deceive without offending? If you do, this ability can be acquired by simply kissing a stone, but not just any stone, a particularly popular stone, and simply is an understatement when it comes to the dangers involved in doing so. If you are a resident of the Lowcountry, you will have to travel over 3700 miles to do this.

The place is Cork, Ireland where Blarney Castle is located and the infamous stone is the Blarney Stone. People from all over the world descend upon this castle to kiss the stone built high into its battlements. Of course, all of this supposed ability obtained by caressing a stone with one's lips is in itself nothing but a bunch of blarney, so to speak.

Still, visitors to this castle brave the dangers involved in this practice. To touch the stone with one's lips, you must ascend to the castle's peak, then lean over backwards on the parapet's edge to reach the bluestone. Presently, bars you can grasp have been installed to make it safer, but before safeguards were installed, the kiss was performed with real risk to your life. Participants were held by the ankles and dangled bodily from the height. Another sobering thought is the idea of putting your lips on something millions of other people have planted their lips on. Before doing so, you may want to ponder this question: Did all past participants brush their teeth and goggle with mouthwash before performing the ritual?

This is just one of many practices or traditions travelers engage in for fun. Another famous allegory involves the practice of throwing coins into Trevi Fountain in Rome. The traditional legend states if a person throws a coin into the fountain they will return to Rome, throw two and you will experience new romance, a third and you will get married. Depending on what results you want, the idea would be knowing when to stop.

Charleston has a fountain of its own located in Waterfront Park called Pineapple Fountain, which represents the welcoming hospitality for which Charleston is so well known, but I don't know of any practice of throwing coins into it, and to take it a step further, I don't know of any practice of kissing any stones either. However, I have become aware of one tradition in Charleston, if that is what you want to call it.

The place is the Vendue Inn and the custom is writing a letter and sticking it into one of the bedposts in the room. The specific room I will leave a mystery. I first heard of this while sitting at the pool in my neighborhood talking to a lady whose daughter was staying there.

The Vendue Inn is a downtown Charleston hotel located right in the heart of the French Quarter of the Historic District not far from the Battery and Waterfront Park. It is a small boutique hotel with wrought iron beds, exposed brick walls, and Egyptian cotton sheets, to name just a few of its unique features. It is host to a popular rooftop bar that overlooks Charleston Harbor, which is a local hot spot in the evenings. There is live music six nights a week with no cover charge. Hotel specials and packages are available including a "Charleston Romance Package" and a "Hysterical History Package".

So, make your mark in history. Stay at the Vendue Inn and write a letter to stick in the bedpost for future occupants to read, but try not to get too personal or descriptive. If you know of any other customs or practices unique to Charleston, I would like to hear about them. Send me an email describing it.

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