Monday, December 5, 2011

Charleston And The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island-Somewhere In Time

In 1980 (Wow, time really does fly by quickly), Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour starred in the romantic science fiction film "Somewhere in Time." To make a long story shorter, Reeves portrayed a playwright who receives a watch from a mysterious woman many years his age accompanied with the plea, "Come back to me." Eight years later, he becomes obsessed with her after finding out who she was in earlier times while staying at the famous Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan. An obsession that would take him on a journey back in time.

No machine, like the kind you would see in other movies of this genre and subject matter, was employed to carry him back. All he needed to do was dress himself in clothing of the era, close his eyes, and with complete concentration immerse his thoughts and psyche into the time and place he desired to be at, which was 1912, where Jane Seymour awaited his coming. The story has both a tragic and happy ending, if you believe in such things as life after death.

I have always been fascinated with the theory of time travel, though I do not believe it to be attainable and theoretically is impossible for us mortals. It still boggles my mind that when you look at a mirror you are looking into your past because it took time for the light to move from the mirror back to your eyes, no matter how minute that movement is perceived to be. It all has something to do with gravity and the speed of light spattered with quantum physics. Perception plays a key role both in the movie and this article.

The Grand Hotel was the perfect setting for this film because it possesses a mystique that has the ability to capture your imagination and for the brief moments you are there transplant you into its charming and elegant past. The Grand Hotel was built in 1887 and has accommodated presidents, foreign dignitaries, and famous inventors and writers. It is visually stunning. The hotel boasts having one of the longest porches in the world at 660 ft. At its opening, nightly rates ranged from $3 to $5. No two of the 385 guest rooms are designed alike. Rates today range from $433 for a guest room to 798 for a named room, which include a full breakfast, Grand Luncheon Buffet, and five-course dinner daily.

The Hotel possesses a long list of honorable mentions from Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure including the designation as a four-diamond resort and one of the top 10 U.S. historic hotels. If the credentials don't peak your interest, every October the hotel hosts an annual convention for fans of the cult-classic "Somewhere in Time."

Charleston, like the Grand Hotel, possesses that mystique. Position yourself at any entranceway or street corner in the historic district and merge your senses into the surroundings. If you concentrate hard enough you will be able to hear the commotion and sounds of its storied past and for that brief interim of time, maybe have an experience like the one in the movie. Close your eyes, can you feel it, can you hear it.

Families chattering about the days activities while sipping afternoon tea and basking in the coastal breeze on their porches along the waterfront of the Battery. Breathe in the nostalgic smells of the produce and goods while strolling through the Old Market area. Looking out over the harbor and seeing the tall masts and sails of the ships entering and leaving the busy port. The spectacle of cannon and motar fire bursting over Fort Sumter that early April morning. The snapping of the rope on which Stede Bonnet, the Gentleman Pirate, was hung in 1718 at White Point. Lavinia Fisher crying out before her hanging at the Old City Jail, "If anyone has a message for hell, give it to me-I'll deliver it," so the story goes. We will need verification of this one, so if you actually do travel back in time, send me an email.

The history of Charleston was not always charming and glamorous. There was a time when Charleston had fallen into near decay. A time when many of the restaurants, hotels, taverns, and buildings we enjoy today were empty and disintegrating structures foreboding doom, until a rebirth to preserve the past for posterity became the prime objective of city planning and historic Charleston was rescued.

Now, Charleston is the top destination in the nation among this countries many cities. No, Charleston doesn't have a hotel with a 660 ft porch like the Grand Hotel, but the Market Pavilion Hotel and Venue Inns both have roof top bars and enough hospitality to go around.

You don't actually have to close your eyes to experience the past, in Charleston you are surrounded by it. The clip-clop of horses hooves and the rattling of carriages from the numerous tours are everywhere. Women in hooped skirts greet you with a southern smile at the many historic plantations, dastardly pirates with their tall tales will amuse you, the Antebellum history will inform you, and its residents will invite you into their homes and gardens for a glimpse of its style and grace.

Charleston also has a savy nightlife with its many theaters and nightspots for drinks, music and dancing. While you are here, make sure you say hello to Alabaster, he resides at the South Carolina Aquarium.

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