I am a lawyer from Miami and this past week had to be in Charleston to take a deposition. I had been to Charleston only once before and vowed that the next time I would make time to take an official “tour” of this unique and charming city. My only regret is that I didn’t book it as the FIRST thing that I did there, rather than the last.
If anyone is reading this who travels more on business than for pleasure — like me — I can only suggest that when business requires you to be in Charleston, contact Laura Wichmann Hipp first, and book her tour. Make time in your schedule to do it, if at all possible. You will thank yourself for doing so. Her intimate knowledge of Charleston, coupled with her substantial education and experience in historical matters particular to Charleston make her a veritable treasure chest of information you could not possibly get elsewhere. She is also the only ticket in town to get you literally inside some of those incredible grand houses and gardens that one usually merely drives or walks by and wonders what it would be like to really see. This is truly an “insider’s” tour.
Laura herself is the epitome of southern hospitality. The tour ends in her own home, with the same exceedingly rare intimacy that she brings to the tour itself. At the end, she serves a luncheon which, remarkably, she has prepared herself and serves. Our salad came from her own garden, which she picked at the end of the tour. The marinade for the perfectly poached chicken was from marinated loquats in her garden — a recipe I asked for, but was ever-so-graciously advised that if she told me, she’d have to kill me. It was one of the best meals I ate in Charleston — which says quite a bit given the incredible number of fine restaurants there (which I can also attest to). She makes it all look easy — as only certain people can. I was late for my flight and couldn’t stay for the tea and (home-made) scones. Laura took me aside from her other guests and wrapped up a warm scone from the oven in foil and sent me on my way.
This is not a tour for the fast and furious. But, if you you desire — as I do — the rare opportunity to step back from the burdens of schedules and life for a few rare hours, this is the tour you want to take. It is a feast for all senses — and a folded hand of grace in these times.
Thank you Laura. I will return.
Virginia S. Forbes