Mixed views on Charleston
I'm glad Alice Short highlighted the most troubling aspect of visiting Charleston, S.C., in her cover article ["In a New Light," April 13].
What is on the surface one of America's finest historic towns was built and maintained by enslaved African Americans whose history is mostly hidden and unspoken, while the Confederate past is celebrated.
The only thing that "saved" our stay in Charleston was Alphonso Brown's wonderful Gullah Tour (www.gullahtours.com) that explores and celebrates the culture of those black Charlestonians who were so brutally treated in such an outwardly genteel place yet maintained their rich culture.
It's a shame these folks remain disrespected by a city that still largely fails to confront its ugly past directly and honestly (much like our nation as a whole).
Charleston is a wonderful city, and I found Short's articles quite good, although I do have a nit. The Old Slave Mart museum had "almost no memorabilia," but the "Confederate Museum is chock full," and it is described as a "perverse" curiosity shop located over the city market where African American vendors sell their baskets. My issue is with calling Civil War memorabilia such as flags, weapons, etc., "perverse" probably because of the association with the horrible institution of slavery.
As a Civil War historian of sorts, I find that people often wrongly portray the Civil War and all things Confederate as closely linked with slavery and even attribute the war as a crusade to free the slaves.
The root causes for the war had more to do with the battle over states' rights, with the industrialized North versus the agrarian South. Slavery certainly was an issue but one that is given too much importance in explaining that worst war in our history.
Playa del Rey
Charleston is so much more than its past slavery history, and Short's article presents a somewhat short-sighted view of a city whose history extends back to the 1600s. The city had the first synagogue in the U.S. And the Charleston Library Society is one of the oldest lending libraries in continual operation (260 years old) in the U.S. Attendees from all corners are drawn to its Piccolo Spoleto and Spoleto festivals.
Tiff and tips
With great disappointment and anger, I see that the L.A. Times has run its annual Carrizo Plains "exposé" because, I'm assuming, the writer and The Times are clueless of its real and ruinous consequences ["What Continent Are We On, Again?," by Chuck Graham, April 13]. That, or they simply don't care.
Kit fox and pronghorn antelope, for starters, have life difficult enough in what has been, until The Times' annual stories, a somewhat pristine (unpeopled) environment without having to deal with more vehicles, more wildlife poachers and the ever-increasing hordes of self-entitled, littering, off-roading louts who will forever degrade it as a result.
Tell me, is any worthy, unspoiled part of California safe from being exposed or revealed by you people? Of course, given the "nature" of The Times' Travel section, the question was merely rhetorical.
The couple who prompted the On the Spot column on last-minute travel and travel savings have a nice advantage in their ability to travel on a moment's notice ["The Science of the 11th-Hour Bargain," by Catharine Hamm, April 6]. You offered some good suggestions. I'd like to mention a few others.
Besides looking for discounted package deals, I suggest looking at airfare and hotels separately. As was suggested, sign up for airline email, which often includes discounted last-minute destinations. If you see a destination that is interesting at a price that is attractive, you can then look for hotel deals. Hotels often make rooms available at a significant discount through last-minute websites such as www.wotif.com, http://www.hotels.com/hotel-deals/last-minute-hotel-deals, etc.
Also mentioned was a London hotel that was close to Paddington Station and thus the Heathrow Express. For those on a budget, the Heathrow Connect is about half the price. The trip from Heathrow to Paddington takes only 10 minutes longer on the Heathrow Connect, but be aware that it runs every 30 minutes, while the Heathrow Express runs every 15. If you do want the convenience of the Express, you can get a discount when buying two or more tickets and for buying online (you print a boarding pass).
Also, some airline affinity credit cards offer discounted award travels. For example, the Citi American Airlines cards offer discounts on award travel to a list of domestic and international destinations that change every quarter.
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