I made a comment at work the other day about how I hadn’t ever had a job for more than two years before going a bit stir-crazy and moving on to something else. A friend asked me why this was and I hadn’t ever really thought about it before. That’s when I realized that this is the longest I’ve been in one place in the last decade. In the past 10 years I’ve lived in 4 different countries (including the U.S.) and 4 different states. Between two colleges and marrying a soldier, I guess that’s to be expected.
Needless to say, at the 3.5 year mark here in Augusta, I’ve been getting a little antsy. My sweet husband has been so patient with me and though it’s difficult for him to take off from work and we don’t have a money tree growing in the backyard, he’s been so willing to go on mini adventures with me.
Columbia, South Carolina is about an hour and a half drive from Augusta. Where I come from that’s considered close enough to justify about any day trip and we’ve recently been taking advantage of the proximity when fun events are available. Bernie got super excited about a Food Truck Festival (see last week’s post!) that was located at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds and I figured if we were going to go all the way to Columbia, we might as well explore the capitol of South Carolina a bit more.
Having studied art in college, the first thing I look for in any city is an art museum. No matter how big or small it might be, it’s pretty much guaranteed that I’m going to want to go. Lucky for me, not only does Columbia have an art museum, but they had a special exhibit on Salvador Dalí, my favorite artist of all time! He’s definitely on my list of historical figures I’d love to sit down with and have a conversation if I could.
The Columbia Museum of Art is located downtown, right down the street from the capitol building, and a beautiful walk past old trees and old buildings. I doubt my love will ever fade for the old and beautiful, or my ability to find the beauty in the old. The crumbling wall of a theater is a reminder of the stories that have been told. The damaged statue of a past president continues to stand and watch over starry-eyed prom-goers. A boarded up building is a reminder of days before online shopping was even a thought and face-to-face customer service was the norm. Every town has its own story, some older than others, but all are important.
Columbia, South Carolina was established in 1786 as the capital of South Carolina. According to the city website, there was some serious consideration to naming it Washington, I assume after the president who’s statue stands outside the capitol building. It has big lots and wide streets and tall trees. Having grown up in a state that didn’t even join the Union until 1845, everything in Columbia seems fabulously old and historical. Apparently the streets were purposefully designed to be 100-150 feet wide because it was believed that mosquitos could only fly 60 feet before dying of starvation. If you’ve ever visited an area that has a mosquito population like much of the south, you understand that this is actually viable reasoning, even if its based on false information.
Despite having lots of cool history, the city itself still has a really youthful vibe. Maybe it was all of the teenagers I saw in one place at one time but I really think its because of the presence of the University of South Carolina that is located nearby. There are lots of cool new restaurants and pieces of modern art throughout that really allow the city to thrive and feel exciting. Many old buildings have been renovated to retain their history but still manage to serve a modern purpose in a beautiful way. I really was impressed.
The best part of the evening was capping it off with dinner at a restaurant called Bourbon. Honestly we picked it for two reasons. One - it was conveniently right down the street from the capitol so was easy to get to, and two - I love bourbon and really just picked it because of the name. It did not disappoint! We decided to just share a charcuterie board (always a good choice) and, of course, a couple of bourbon based cocktails. Turns out pickled strawberries are actually really good and bourbon really does go with everything.
After filling our bellies we wrapped up our evening and started the drive home after a full day. The capital really is a beautiful city and I must admit I’ve under-appreciated its proximity up to this point. No, Columbia is not Florence or Amsterdam or London but it is beautiful in its own right with its own history and set of stories that have shaped the area I live in now and created the culture that I am currently a part of.