Tuesday, September 08, 2015

How I Fell in Love With Savannah

The Texan and I took advantage of a long weekend to road trip down to Savannah, Georgia. Ever since reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil for book club, I'd been dying to go. To the point where I was irrationally jealous of anyone who casually mentioned that they had once been. I mentioned to The Texan that it might be a fun weekend and the next day a hotel reservation confirmation showed up in my inbox.

The drive is nothing to talk about so I won't bore you with that. Just know that there is always traffic in Hotlanta.

We stayed at the Mansion on Forsyth Park  and were immediately greeted by the most adorable valet guy, Matt. One of us was mean and called him Fat Matt. That was not me. I would have baked Matt his favorite cookies and read him a bedtime story.

Since our rooms weren't ready, we went to the bar for a drink. The whole lobby and bar areas were beautifully decorated with chandeliers, artwork, and my favorite fresh lilies. I had a delightful champagne cocktail with an edible hibiscus. One of us was less adventurous and ordered a Jack and Coke. Or two. We had a free drink voucher each but our Southern California bartender didn't charge us for the third drink.

When we made it up to our room, it was all I could do not to jump up and down on the bed. It was so soft and everything was so lovely. The only thing I wouldn't want in my own home was the glass door in front of the toilet. It was like wavy, marbled glass but I still wouldn't come close to calling it private. If you have a shy bladder, this is not the bathroom for you.

Since I was still fighting a cold, we took the free hotel shuttle down to the riverfront for dinner. One of us chose wisely and ordered the delicious, fresh-from-the-sea-hours-ago crab legs and one of us chose badly and ordered the bacon crab mac n' cheese which was really light on the cheese and completely skipped out on the crab. At least the bread with hot cheese dip was good.

We wandered around to a bar or two after dinner. The really cool thing about Savannah is their to-go policy. You can have your drink poured into a plastic cup to go if you're ready to move on. I took my plastic cup back on the shuttle so we could finish the evening in the upstairs bar at the hotel. I think it's in the part that was the original mansion. I finally, finally (!) after a year of being in the south, got a good Manhattan. Or three good Manhattans. We won't talk about how much they cost; they were worth every delicious drop.

The next day we headed out to Hilton Head, SC. It's supposed to be all fancy and beautiful and beachy. It certainly wasn't when we were there. After finding a public beach, we resolved to ignore the rain that was starting to come down and take a look at The Atlantic Ocean. Up until now, I have only seen the Atlantic from Ireland so my impression of it is cold and uninviting. Still, from Ireland it is beautiful. Not so much over here. Hordes of people were making their way back to their cars; we were clearly going against the flow of traffic. As soon as we hit the sand I knew why. Windy, windy, windy. Do you know what sand feels like when gale-force winds are blowing it at your bare legs? It's like being hit with tiny little bee-bees. It fucking hurts. So while one of us wanted to enjoy a stroll along the shoreline, the other one of us thought he was insane and refused. I'm calling it. The Atlantic can't hold a candle to the Pacific. They're not even in the same league. Like no contest. None at all. Even the sun prefers to go to bed with the Pacific.

After that fiasco, we wandered The Head (is that what people call it? That's what I'm going to call it.), looking for a nice place to hide from the wind and enjoy an adult beverage. Oh, but guess what? Every place we tried didn't open until 5:00. What, they don't day-drink on The Head?

Back to Savannah then.

Oh, while we're talking about driving from one to the other, the roads between Glorious Savannah and The Head are a little creepy. It's like going through marsh and woods and trailer parks and questionable side streets. One of the streets was actually called Burnt Church. I don't even want to know how it got that name. That was probably the biggest sign that we were in the deep south and I'm glad the car didn't break down. I'm also glad I'm white. And that's a completely fair thing to say in an area like that.

After arriving back in a normal part of the world, we decided to just go adventuring and walking around. We wandered into a gorgeous church. Meandered through parks. Sauntered through the cemetery. Which I wish was open past 8:00 p.m., but I guess people can't be responsible enough to adult after that time. We zig-zagged through neighborhoods admiring the spectacularly built homes. Most have plaques stating when they were built. Many have other notes of historical significance. There are memorials to soldiers, city founders, governors, and more. Everywhere you look in Savannah there is a piece of history. There is even a 300-year-old tree that has been preserved.

Oh, and the trees. The amount and beauty of trees in Savannah makes Nashville look like a desert. There are ginormous oaks and magnolias, all dripping with Spanish moss. Because it rained most of the time we were there, it felt like we were in this otherworld where branches and leaf canopies protected us from the clouds.

After stopping into a couple of stores and finding a near-perfect copy of Aesop's Fables from 1897, we dined on more crab legs and then continued to wander through the streets. We found City Market, which is next to yet another park, only this one was a bit more open and swarmed by families playing in the water fountain. We got a peach sangria to-go and then found another restaurant on a quiet street with live music where we ducked in for a bit to have another drink.

Wandering the streets at night is different from the daytime. I didn't mention it previously, but Savannah is one of the most haunted cities in the country. Maybe the most haunted. It's been around for nearly 300 years and has been in the center of the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the Civil Rights Movement, not to mention the crimes committed against the Native Americans. There are bound to be restless spirits. Yes, we encountered a couple on the way back to the hotel. I would have liked to have known the stories but this was a spontaneous trip and we didn't do the ghost tour to find out any specifics.

The morning before we left, we again explored more of the neighborhood around the mansion walking in the rain. I insisted on finding the Mercer House, in which the events described in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil occurred. It was as beautiful as I thought it would be. I'd be hard-pressed to choose any house above any of the others though. They're all stunning.

I think every description I had previously heard about Savannah is true. It is charming, romantic, historic, inviting, and imaginative. It's one of those places that I wouldn't even recommend a specific restaurant or activity because I think everyone should just find their own connection with this bewitching little city.


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