Saturday, October 24, 2009

Savannah, GA

Our family in Hilton Head gave us some sage advice for touring Savannah. With just one day to see this town, they suggested we make our first stop the Savannah Visitors Center and catch one of the trolleys for a hop on/hop off tour. So, we did just that with Old Savannah Tours. (It was the best $46 we've ever spent!)

Savannah is a very walkable town, but it is a bit spread out. One of its most prominent features are the 21 squares that dot the landscape in the various districts. This monument to William Washington Gordon, the first president of Georgia's earliest railroad, stands in the center of Wright Square. A visitor could spend a few days in Savannah seeing all of these squares, but our trolley made sure we saw the most notable in just a couple of hours.

Several books and movies have been set in Savannah. Its antebellum homes and big oaks draped in hanging Spanish Moss have served as the backdrop in the '90s for the films "Forrest Gump" and "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil", which was based on the book by John Berendt. Our tour included lots of tidbits about "The Book" as it is known here.

Here's a pretty typical row of townhouses in historic Savannah.

As a long-time member of the Girl Scouts, I took particular interest in this former home of its founder Juliette Gordon Low. As every Scout knows, she started the organization here in 1912.

Savannah has a reputation for being America's most haunted city. Pirates House is the city's oldest building, and - reportedly - its most haunted. In the 18th century it served as a rendezvous point for pirates. Today it's a popular restaurant.

Savannah's City Market is a two-block area filled with restaurants and art galleries. It looks like a great place to hang out. But, we had to keep moving!

Today City Market hosted a Halloween costume contest for dogs. We saw many dressed up mutts, including this spotted hula dancer.

Fans of the Food Network know Savannah as the home of Paula Deen. When we passed by her restaurant, Lady & Sons, it was booked for lunch and dinner, as it is most days. Reservations are not accepted, so patrons line up at 9:30 a.m. each day in hopes of getting a seat sometime later in the day.

Savannah is also known for its City Hall topped with a 23-karat gold dome. A local philanthropist donated $200,000 to the city to transform the dome from green paint to shiny gold. In 1987 the job was complete, and the town's mayor declared the gilding "a jewel on top of this lovely place called Savannah."

Just down the cobblestone steps from City Hall is River Street, which is lined with shops, restaurants and nightspots. We enjoyed some tasty Mexican fare for lunch, which was served by a waitress who was sporting a "Rock Chalk Jayhawk" t-shirt. Very fun! (And, yes, I forgot to get a picture.)

The Savannah River Queen is a replica of a 19th century stern wheel riverboat. Visitors can choose from a variety of cruises to experience Savannah from the river. Their "Murder Afloat" mystery cruise is just perfect for this town!

"Waving Girl" is a charming sculpture near the river's edge that commemorates Florence Martus. According to Savannah lore, Miss Florence lived with her brother in a lighthouse on Savannah harbor between 1887 and 1931. During that time, she waved hello and goodbye to every passing ship in the harbor. Historians estimate she waved some 50,000 greetings. And for that, she gets a statue!

After we waved so long to downtown Savannah we headed to the outskirts of town to find quilt fabric. I missed Alabama and had yet to spot a quilt shop in South Carolina, so I decided to shop for three states in one! Clockwise from upper right are the fabrics of Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina. The clerk at Colonial Quilts asked if I was from out of town, and gifted me with an additional fat quarter from their "hospitality basket". Nice touch!

We enjoyed our brief stay in Savannah very much. We're already looking forward to a time when we can come back. Next time we'll definitely stay awhile.

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