Comments by Mary Gallagher
We read and hear warnings about scams of all sorts especially related to travel. While none of us can know everything about every place no matter how much research we do and so often we’re lead astray by television, magazines, newspapers, bloggers and even docents! I think I’m pretty smart and I’ve traveled more than 80-90% of people but I still get fleeced now and then. So here is my personal rant on a few less than honest situations.
We’ve lived in downtown Charleston, SC (purportedly the greatest city on earth, that award from people who obviously have never traveled anywhere) for several years now and we get asked for lots of visitor and restaurant advice. The same happened when I lived minutes from the National Mall in Washington DC (truly a top world class destination).
We could never eat in all the restaurants in this or any other city due to cost, time and potential weight gain! But we can have a few experiences and also gather information from other locals. Local people don’t eat at a “flash in the pan” or if they do it’s only once. Locals haven’t saved up all year for this one week's splurge so we want consistent value for our dollars. We also know the history of a restaurant and its chef. I like to use City Paper in many cities, TripAdvisor and get away from the touristy areas.
In Charleston it’s easy to recommend art museums because technically there is only one The Gibbes. You can tour the historic homes, take a carriage ride through the historic district or any number of themed walking tours. But be choosy because trust me they all tell the same story and after you’ve heard about a dependency for the 3 millionth time in one day your brain shuts down. That’s not just the case in Charleston but how many “truthful” twists can be put on historical events?
Before moving here, I remember walking tours and carriage drivers pointing out various neighborhoods. One that intrigues everyone is the French Quarter but in this land of history I don’t recall anyone ever revealing that this became the French Quarter in 1973! That’s right not 17or 18 but 1973 and specifically to promote high end shopping in that area.
This is remindful of a cruise that allowed me a day in Ecuador and a visit to a “branch”of the famous “Murano Glass Factory”. Trust me Barnum was rolling over in his grave as busload after busload of gullible tourists are trekked out to this totally fake glass blowing facility in the middle of the jungle and shown rooms of seconds they could buy at a supposedly rock bottom price.
I’ve been pretty consistently on the road for newspapers, websites and television for 20+ years and seen a number of glass blowing studios of which this was not one.
How many basket markets have you been to? The Bahamas, Asia, Panama…and Charleston's sweetgrass. Go to the Gibbes and look at the baskets there and then go back on the street and look again before you spend extravagant sums.
On the other hand we buy magnets, spend more than what a pound of hamburger costs on an ice cream cone but hey it’s vacation and a little splurge is fine.
Travel and destinations are like politics, each of us has our own interpretation or definition of what Trump or Hillary said. I heard one thing and the commentators at PBS apparently heard something else. It’s the same with travel advice all in your individual definition. Add to the sordid news regarding YELP and the documentary being produced about their very very questionable reviews and ways. Yelp is accused of manipulating reviews to bad if you don’t advertise with them. Now if you look at a lot of the travel publications or any publication especially local magazines, they also have ads for the same people or companies that feature stories are written on and that didn’t happen by coincidence.
Magazines and websites are always listing the ten best beaches, burger joints, hotel room views and cities. Who are they talking to? No one asked me about the best little BBQ place in Scotland Neck, NC where they still roast the whole pig, make their own cracklins or the Olive Branch mediterranean restaurant in Paris. Charleston is a nice place to visit but the best in the world... who paid for that award?