Musing and boozing in Bluffton
By: Louise Hudson, freelance travel journalist and travel author
Many years ago when I was a summer season worker on the Greek island of Kos, I saw an older woman sitting alone at a café table with a glass of Retsina and a notebook in front of her.
Fascinated by the lone female in a bar full of leering Lotharios, I discovered through the local gossip grapevine that she was a writer. What I didn’t realize was that I was looking at my own future.
Right this minute I am reposing at a wrought-iron patio set on a rustic deck in the quaint Old Town of Bluffton, South Carolina, perched with pen and paper and an ice cold glass of Zonin Prosecco – alone. Penning a piece about Hilton Head Health (http://www.hhhealth.com) for Silver Travel Advisor (www.silvertraveladvisor.com), an over-50s travel magazine, I’m also earwigging fellow patrons’ conversations in strong SC and German accents, watching a sparrow mouthing morsels to its offspring in a roof-corner nest and generally appreciating life, nature and nemesis.
Now that I am that woman writing in a holidaymakers’ bar, solitary and mysterious, I realize how happy she probably was whereas, at the time, I worried about her loneliness. But, like me, she probably had kids, husband, friends elsewhere and was enjoying some down time.
It is merely circumstance which has sent me to Vineyard 55 alone. If it had been warm and sunny today as April 21 usually suggests in SC, I would be reposing and recreating on the long and sandy Hilton Head (http://www.hiltonheadisland.org) beach by our Omni oceanfront hotel (http://www.omnihotels.com/FindAHotel/
&gclid=CP-Q9bnP3rYCFcdU4AodUEUAYA). If it hadn't been small-town Sunday I would be doling out dollars at Gigi’s, the Bluffton boutique I had Googled earlier. As it is, today is overcast with 50-mile per hour winds; my husband has a business meeting at the Holiday Inn Express in Bluffton; my kids are pursuing their own travel plans; and the thought of exploring the art and antiquities of the Old Town sounded like something a travel journalist should do. Little did I know it would be largely shut due to Sunday syndrome. How did I forget that everyone but everyone goes to one church or another in SC’s Creationist culture?
As I move onto a Mulderbosch Rosé which the cute and courteous waitress assured me was German but turned out to be the South African wine I had anticipated, I’m looking at Gallery Without Walls – one of those forested, hippy enclaves with erudite etchings nailed to trees and arbitrary flotsam re-fashioned into furniture which could be blamelessly mistaken for a yard sale. Next door is The Store – ramshackle, rustic and closed, of course, with a “Count Your Blessings” sign confirming its religious routine. Is this my church then, a one-off wine bar where I worship faithfully at the shrine of Bacchus and Epicurus with fervent fellow Hedonists, I wonder?
Just then, two golf carts draw up on Calhoun Street, spilling out animated people and puppies. And strolling along behind them is my handsome husband back with business partners from the meeting. End of reverie; beginning of a great gourmet dinner at V55.