We’re about halfway through July’s all-Southern content on the blog and I’ve shared plenty of reasons why I love my home region. But, it’s always good to get an outside perspective, so I enlisted the help of Sally, creator of the truly swoon-worthy blog Magnolia Charles, who may not be from the South originally but whose passion for the region makes me so happy! I first became acquainted with Sally on Instagram after seeing her featured on the Gal Meets Glam story wearing one of their dresses while on a trip to Winter Park, which is nearby me and somewhere I spend a lot of time.
I was so glad to be able to chat with her about the reasons she loves the South, some of her local favorites, and what’s next for her when it comes to her exploration of the region.
Can you start by telling us where you’re from and where you are currently based now?
I’m originally from a very small town in the North of Germany and grew up in the country. I always wanted to venture out and moved to Hamburg for university and after finishing up to the capital of Germany, Berlin, for my first job. That’s where I’m based now for the last three years working in the fashion industry. Still I do have the feeling this is not where I belong. The big city is too big for me and the life here is hectic - comparable to New York City. My heart is definitely somewhere else.
I relate to that so much after living in New York City and feeling so strongly about coming back home to the South. So, what is it that you love most about the South?
The first thing coming to my mind while thinking about the South are oak trees, the ocean and waterways and the architecture. I have this painting in my head of those serene trees and a colonial style house with of front porch and colored window shutters. Next to the fairytale aesthetics of the South, I love the more relaxed lifestyle and friendly people. They really enjoy life in all its glory. It’s such a different life to one in a big city and much more appealing to me. And the weather is wonderful and sunny year round. It’s its own special world that I’d love to be a part of.
Being from Europe, what is it that sparked your initial interest in the South?
Sadly, I can’t remember what exactly, but it must be at least 6-8 years ago that I saw something, a book or a picture of the Lowcountry that sparked something in me and from that day on, I consumed everything I could find from books, to blogs, to movies, to documentations to fictions. It was as if I have found the place I have dreamed of and only thought would exist in fairytales. Luckily, it’s very easy these days to find inspiration and dream.
Whether it’s restaurants, shopping, or sightseeing, can you share a few of your favorite spots in the region?
I’ve only been in Charleston and Savannah yet.
Restaurants: For me as a vegetarian the Southern kitchen is not the easiest to find something in. That’s the only thing I really don’t like. Luckily, there are wonderful alternative restaurants to the traditional kitchen. Basic Kitchen in Charleston was my favorite and Public Kitchen in Savannah.
Shopping: Lake Pajamas, Beckett Boutique, Candyshop Vintage, Amanda Lindroth, all in Charleston.
Stay: Montage Palmetto Bluff (the most amazing special place that embodies all the Lowcountry has to offer), The Kehoe House in Savannah (an old inn with the friendliest atmosphere and amazing classic interior design), The Inns Charleston (stylish Airbnbs in Downtown Charleston).
Sightseeing: Magnolia Plantation, Boone Hall, Sullivans Beach
You’re so right about it being a bit of a struggle to find good plant-based food here, but thankfully I see that starting to change. Overall, what is your favorite southern city you’ve visited so far and what makes it so special?
As I said I’ve only been to two, but Charleston was my favorite place in the whole world the first time I saw pictures of it. Traveling there has confirmed all of my dreams. It combines the aesthetics of the South and a relaxing Lowcountry lifestyle with a city that has tons of culture, history and a wonderful restaurant scenery to offer. Just walking through the streets around South of Broad at sunset finishing up at the Battery overlooking the ocean and having a glass of wine in a sweet bar is the perfect evening.
The next day you can venture out to the plantations with their wonderful oak trees or the beach within 15 minutes. Everything is really close so even on a normal working day, I imagine myself biking home and sitting on the porch reading a good book. The city is so friendly and really embodies the Southern lifestyle to me.
That all sounds so perfect! What’s up next on your southern travel bucket list?
What’s actually next is hopefully moving to Charleston within the next few years and make my Lowcountry living dream a reality. Sadly, it will be a very long and difficult visa process since I’m from Europe. From that day on I want to explore all that the South has to offer. Returning to Savannah and stopping in Beaufort on the way would be great.
Also I’d love to get to know all the islands on the coast of South Carolina and Georgia: Seabrook Island, Tybee Island, Hilton Head Island, Cumberland Island and so on. Next I’d love to get to know Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana more. I’m sure there are a lot of places I don’t even know of yet and I’m keen to find them.