This spring had been really crazy for me and I realized that I needed to get out of town to escape the New York weather. For the past 3 weeks, we had been getting more rain than Seattle and Portland combined and I couldn’t take it anymore. It was time to take an extended weekend trip to get some warm weather! I thought about a few places I hadn’t been yet and it seemed that the south was beckoning me again. There are still a few states that I hadn’t hit and to tell you the truth, I am a huge fan of the South, I really am!
This time I decided it was time to visit Savannah as I have heard that it’s a beautiful place with a lot going for it.
My friend Ashley had been there before and it was one of the states on my 50 State Project that she wouldn’t mind going on. Score!
So, on Friday, we grabbed our carry-ons and off we went. I have to say, I am not a fan of the small planes that Delta uses for their flights to the south. You have to take a shuttle, walk to the 50 seat plane and off you go. These planes are so tiny; it just doesn’t seem natural. Though I have never had a bad flight on one of these things, but still, it messes with my head!
When we left NYC, it was a rainy 68 degrees, when we landed in Savannah, it was 95 degrees with full humidity. Talk about extremes, my body wasn’t quite ready for that drastic of a change. Still, I couldn’t complain, the wet weather in NYC had begun to kill my soul and I wasn’t going to complain about the heat, yet.
Our hotel, the Marriott Courtyard was in the Historic District.
A Whale, Yes, a Whale
Though it wasn’t close to the major touristy locations it was still very nice. It was a little bit of a walk but very nice, especially at night. In fact, this was one of the first things I noticed about Savannah, it is completely a walking town, which I love. So as soon as we dropped off our bags, we started to explore.
Savannah was built in Squares starting around 1733 in anticipation of its growth. Using this square system they would be able to build more squares around the originals. Twenty one are fully functioning and three are “lost squares” which are being worked on. These squares are named after people or historical events and are very beautiful. As you stroll through the squares, there are statues in the center and trees and benches everywhere making it a nice place to rest and beat the afternoon heat. The trees are beautiful! My favorite part was the Spanish Moss that was in almost every tree. Spanish moss is the coolest canopy and I must have snapped 50 photos of the trees alone just because I loved it so much.
After taking in some of the squares, we decided that the first place to visit was River Street which is right by the river.
Daughters of the Reveolution
Huh. We figured this would be a good place to get acclimated to the heat as it was cooler and had a slight breeze. When we arrived, the sun was setting and the sky was a bright orange. As the sun continued to descend it turned into a huge sherbet pink orb that was breathtaking to look at. Simply amazing! So far, Savannah was surpassing my expectations and that was just the first three hours!
After the sun set, we began walking along the river. There, you will find a lot of shops and restaurants. I ended up buying two summer dresses from a shop that were very reasonable and very cute. I realized rather quickly that jeans were not the best thing to wear in Georgia in mid June and knew that a sundress would be the answer to cooling off. I had no idea it got that quick so early on. It was still 68 and raining in NYC, this was insane!
After a while, we realized we were getting a little hungry so we decided to put our name on the waiting list at Huey’s Restaurant and walk along the water some more.
With the evening came more street performers which brought a lot of entertainment. I have to say my favorite performer was the older gentleman with glasses that lit up who was singing and dancing while his partner played guitar. His song pick was “New York, New York.” We had to tip the guy; he was a fun showman and singing our theme song! After we gave him the money he asked where we were from. We told him NYC, which brought a few chuckles from crowd.
Besides enjoying the street performers, we found out we could also enjoy our favorite beverage
on the streets of Savannah. What?!? Yep, you can drink out of a plastic cup on the street. Insane! If they tried that in NYC there would be a riot by thousands of stupid drunks, the butt grabbing would be even worse that it already is!
By the time our name was called to eat at Huey’s, we were both slightly feeling the drinks, dehydration will do that to you! It took about 55 minutes to be seated which was a bit long.
These Were Pulled out of the Ground by the Union During the Civil War
Apparently, Huey’s is a hot spot. The drinks were great, the food was okay, but the staff was wonderful and took the time to speak to us and joke around. They really were great!
After walking and drinking some more, we realized that we should get some sleep. We had a full day ahead of us and wanted to get up relatively early to see as much as we could, so we headed back to the Marriott and were surprised to see that the sun setting does not equate a cool down, not at all.
The next morning, we were up pretty early hoping to beat the heat and humidity; not possible in Savannah in June, it was already in the 80s with 70% humidity and a UV index of 10+. I realized it was time to go to the local CVS to take care of business. There was no way my pale white ass could survive this without intervention from the strongest sunscreen available to man. Otherwise, I would be burnt to a crisp and left for dead by Sunday. We also decided to get some water to carry with us, as well. I did end up getting a slight burn on my shoulders, but I truly believe that without that sunblock, it would have been a lot more.
Trees of Savannah
I was spraying myself every 45 minutes to insure sun safety.
After the dousing, we headed to the Café Express for a quick breakfast; the one thing I didn’t like about the Marriott was that they didn’t offer a free breakfast like every other hotel I have stayed in. I can’t really complain, because if they did offer the breakfast, I would have missed this fabulous café. Everything is fresh to order and very good. In fact, we enjoyed it so much we returned the next day. The Eggel Bagel pretty much rocked my lame ass and made me rethink my Dunkin Donuts egg and cheese addiction. Take your time here, because there is no rush. That is one of the many things I like about the south, it is okay to take your time and you won’t get dirty looks for it unlike NYC where they want to turn their tables as fast as possible and still get a generous tip with mediocre service. That and the people are very polite, which I am a huge fan of.
After breakfast, we decided to take a tour of Savannah and choose the Oglethrope Tour. There are several tours in different forms, from trolleys, to mini vans and carriages.
I have to say I am personally against the carriage ones as they use the horses for most of the day even in the stifling heat. I can’t imagine how those poor babies feel after carting a carriage full of people around in the sun all day. Yes, they get breaks, but they didn’t look happy. No, I am not a PETA crazy, but I am a fan of animals, so I felt the trolley tour would be pretty humane, well except to my hind end, the seats were kind of hard.
I’m not going to lie, the reason we choose the Oglethrope Tour was because it was the cheapest, ran for 90 minutes and got pretty good reviews. It turned out to only be a 60 minute tour which was kind of disappointing. That and our tour guide was from New Jersey. Now I am all for hiring out of towners for tourism, but maybe not these specific tours, the reason being they probably won’t have the same background as a local. He told us his favorite places to eat which I researched before I left and these places were not rated well. I wasn’t on the tour for food advice, I was there for the history of Savannah.
We went by the William Mercer House without so much of a peep. Needless to say, I was not pleased, but sometimes you have to take a gamble. Next time I am in Savannah, I think I will try another company as I feel like I missed a lot about the history in Savannah.
The funny thing was we learned more about the history from the other Trolley providers when they were stuck at a stop sign or light which made us die a little bit more. Lastly, we were provided a free shuttle service until 5:30 that day, I can honestly say we saw one shuttle bus the whole 6 hours after our tour; just one. Nobody is waiting around at a trolley stop in 95 degree weather, especially when there appears to only be one to service the whole city.
Anyway, maybe it was just a bad day for the company, but in the future I would check out a different option.
After the trolley tour, we decided to check out Savannah’s shopping scene.
Yo, Mr. Poop Was Here
There were a few standouts. Along the river there are mostly tourist shops for souvenirs and such, which is fine if you want to pick up gifts for people, but we wanted something with more substance. We found that at the River Street Market Place along the water. I loved this place. It is made up of several vendors who sell their various wares, many handmade which I always like. Some of it is overpriced, but a lot of it is very reasonable and very unique. I ended up getting some beautiful smelling soap. The scent is so amazing that I have put one of the wrapped bars in my lingerie drawer and transformed it into a melon smelling fiesta, ah yeah! Ashley ended up walking out with an amazing necklace with matching earrings for under $20. This place is really wonderful and definitely worth checking out.
Another standout is the Paris Market. I loved this place and went back both Saturday and Sunday, 1) because it was hot outside but cool inside and it is a fun place to browse and 2) the infused fruit water is so good and refreshing. You can get it at the little bar at the back of the store. It's basically cold ice water with fruit and mint sprigs left to soak for several hours. Oh man it was good! Especially since I had probably sweated half my body weight by the time I got there. They also have beautiful Tocca perfumes in the back to sample and I used them generously to “freshen up” after walking around for hours. Let me tell you, this place had it all!
A word of warning, if you are a male, you will most likely dislike this place.
It is chalk full of estrogen as it is a French Boutique and many men would probably find themselves getting an urge to run as fast as possible after five minutes. There were a few guys when I was there and they had that caged animal look all over their face; hey at least the place was air-condition! But if you are a person who likes boutiques you will love this place, I promise. It kind of reminds me of Anthropologie but minus the clothes. There are two full floors filled with great things for the house, jewelry, candles and other quirky things. For me the soaps were the highlight and I bought a few to add to my collection. Yes, I bought even more soap…at least I will smell really good for the next two years. This place is a little on the spendy side, but most of the items are imports which would explain the cost. Definitely worth checking out if you get the chance, it really is special.
At this point, we decided it was time to eat so we went to B&D Burgers for their cheap prices. That and they were voted the best burgers in town for the last zillion years. Now, I would like to say we went there for the burgers, but that would be a lie. We were there for the fried pickles. Ashley had had them before; I never had and was told I had to try them. I have to be honest, the idea of a fried pickle sounds absolutely disgusting to me but I decided to try them to appease the masses (my sick friends). I didn’t quite know what to expect at first, but soon realized they had not let me down. They were as gross as I had expected! They were really greasy, salty and not right. Ashley on the other hand quite enjoyed them.
Relaxing in Savannah
At least the turkey burger was good.
I won’t lie, the fried pickles took their toll on my stomach as I am not a fried food person and fried pickles were just not for me. So we decided to rest up at the hotel pool before going out that night. The pool was in the shade and was a great break from the long, hot, day though we got a rowdy party a little later who was drinking and smoking in the pool. Hmm…
After the pool, we freshened up and got ready for a ghost tour. Now, I have never been on a ghost tour before, but was told you should if you go to Savannah. After looking at the reviews, we decided on Tara Tours. It was considered a pub tour but for half of the time we walked the streets of Savannah stopping at places of interest. We also stopped at three different places to refill our drinks and hear stories about the haunted locale.
In Case You Were Looking for Forrest...I Wasn't
I have to say, it was a very good tour! Tara is a 6th Generation Savannian and knows her stuff. Also, her personality is just wonderful and she paces the tour just perfectly. Our group was full of fun personalities too which made it even more fun, so all in all this was a big hit for us.
While on the tour, we took photos of various places in hopes of catching something. I did get a few “orbs,” but I think many of them are just dust, though there are a few that may be the real deal if you believe in that stuff. Whether you are a believer or not, it is a great way to learn the history of Savannah on foot, it isn’t just ghosts. To be honest with you, I learned more through Tara then I did though the Trolley tour earlier in the day. I highly recommend this tour; it was a lot of fun!
After the tour, we grabbed another drink and walked around the city.
The night was less humid then the night before and was very beautiful. The one thing I noticed about Savannah is there are a LOT of bugs. I first noticed this during the Ghost Tour when in the middle of Alice Riley’s hanging story, we had a big ass roach come charging at us, it took all my strength not to scream and run. Instead I lifted up my feet and prayed it wouldn’t find a way on the bench. Ashley tried to convince me it was a Palmetto bug, I told her a Palmetto Bug equals = roach, she wasn’t fooling anyone. These things were everywhere including the trees! There also is an abundance of wonderful mosquitoes. Fabulous! I got bit at least five times on my left foot that night. Fantastic! I think I also may have spotted a bat, but it could have just been the liquor so I can’t be sure.
Sunday was our final day in Savannah and we wanted to hit things we had missed starting with the Cathedral of St John the Baptist. This cathedral had been pretty hyped so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
I had recently just been to the CzechRepublic and was still reeling from St. Vitus, so I wasn’t expecting much. So after eating another Eggel Bagel, we headed over to Harris Street.
You can’t miss Cathedral of St John the Baptist, it is large and visible from many parts of Savannah and is very beautiful.
When we first got to the church, they were having a service so we had to walk around to keep ourselves busy. After about an hour we returned and I am so glad we did. As soon as I opened the door, I knew this place was very special. No, it isn’t as large as some of the cathedrals I have seen in Europe, but it doesn’t need to be.
Cathedral of St John the Baptist is absolutely beautiful. The first thing I noticed was that a tranquil color of blue was everywhere making it a serene experience. The windows were lovely and the stations very unique. We were lucky that the organist was in during the time we were there which added to the whole ambiance of the experience. I could have stayed there for hours, but I get that way with cathedrals. It was also interesting to watch other people’s reactions to the cathedral when they first entered; yep, right there with you buddy.
After the cathedral, we were worried that anything else would pale in comparison so we decided that ice cream was in order, so we stopped in to Leopold’s. Leopold’s is supposed to be the best ice cream in the universe so we decided to try it for ourselves. I couldn’t make an opinion off of just one scoop, so I ordered two: Mocha Chocolate Chip and Huckleberry Cheesecake. The Cheesecake was very good, though the Mocha Chocolate Chip was just okay.
Stairway to Heaven
The ice cream is very good, the greatest ever? No. Still, I would eat if for lunch a couple times a week if I lived there, so yes, it was good.
After Leopold’s, we headed to River Street Sweets to pick up some candy before we went to dinner and then to our hotel at the airport. But before we made it we snapped a photo of the best sign in Savannah. Apparently, if someone asks you for money you are supposed to call 911. They don’t like panhandlers so much. I don’t either, but felt that calling 911 was bit extreme. I mean would they get there quickly enough to get “the perp” if you called? Very odd… We did get asked for a quarter by a man in orange, I guess I could have identified him in a line up, but we decided to let him go.
I have to be honest, during the whole trip Ashley and I went to all three of the candy shops a few times during the day, the reason why was because you could get free samples of pralines if you did, also there were samples of taffy and popcorn too at times. I did end up buying some pralines to take back home so we weren’t being too greedy. I also bought some of the best turtles I have ever had, though they call them gophers at one place and bear claws at another place.
A Ghostly orb, Perhaps?
They were damn good no matter what you call them!
Before we headed to the hotel we decided to go to a nice dinner as a goodbye to Savannah. We choose a place called Garibaldi’s, which was slightly, excellent! We didn’t want to go in at first because we had been out all day and were wearing casual clothing and the pictures out front were beautiful and we felt we were under dressed. The hostess assured us we were fine so we were lead upstairs to main dinner area. We started with the cheese platter and then I had the Shrimp Gang Curry while Ashley had the veal. The cheese platter was out of this world! The mango chutney and the accompanying sauce were amazing, if we could have licked the platter, I think we would have, but we have manners, so we used the bread next to us instead, it really was that good. The Shrimp Gang Curry had quite a kick to it and was pretty good, Ashley was in love with her meal so all and all our experience was a huge success. Seriously, if you want a very nice meal for a decent price, this is the place, I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to going back one day.
We hated to leave Savannah so early in the evening, it was only 8PM, but we had a 6AM flight which means we had to be up by 4AM so we knew we had to get to bed relatively early.
The Day After
It ended up being midnight thanks to the Food Channel. I have to say that Savannah may be one of my favorite trips in the US so far. I still have 30 states to go, but seriously, it was amazing!
I can’t really describe what makes Savannah so special. Yes, it is beautiful, the people are hospitable and the food is incredible. But it really has a certain charm to it that I can’t explain. In fact, I am thinking of going back again this year in the fall when the weather won’t be as unkind, though it did not take away from our fun at all, it just made us take things more slowly and really enjoy them. I may even come back for a few days by myself to kick back and have some me time, from my experience there is no better place than the south to do just that, with plastic cup in hand!