Savannah is a mixture of so many worlds, such as the taking of its name from the Native American Shawnee Tribe that migrated there in around the 1680s, and the influx of Spanish Explorers all the way up through the “Northern Aggression” aka the Civil War.
With such a broad and rich history, there’s little wonder this city is a tourist dream location, so riddled is it with numerous squares and plantations acting as a time portal to safely let us tour back-to-the-past and glimpse what life was like for both the slave and the plantation owner.
Yet, Savannah is also a savvy and modern city, having a wealth of fine eats, treats, great books, music, and fine art. For the adventurer at heart, there’s even ghostly hauntings, lots of seafaring activity, and the feel and look of Mardi Gras on the river street too!
There are many top notch hotels surrounding the river and bay area and Tybee Island as well. One beauty with a great view is the Savannah Marriott Riverfront, whose wonderfully friendly staff is accommodating and at your service 24/7.
The 8-story hotel offers a balcony view that whether from the atrium or right on the river is amazing. Another plus, is that the hotel is just a minute’s walk from the Waving Girl’s ferry ride, and the calming sounds off the waterfront provide such soothing invitation, you just want to sit back and enjoy the relaxing scenery.
From the waterfront, cross over the beautiful ballast and cobbled stoned river street where mouthwatering cuisines await, hosted by the city’s welcoming hospitality and delightful aromas drawing you in before your nose knows what’s hit it!
Flavored in the various choices, there are mixes of lively music, wafting in from dive bars like Bernie’s whose excellent bartender and waitresses with names like “Peggi” provide sassy and excellent dishes of oysters to die for along with a side of horsey sauce sure to clear the nasal passages of even the likes of a Fran Drescher! Believe me, you won’t find anything like it! Then there’s the Shrimp Factory that more than lives up to its reputation in quality food, service and pricing…Oh, and their house Chardonnay is THE choice. You also can’t go wrong with eateries like Spanky’s Pizza Galley & Saloon, or the Bay Street Blues either!
Don’t leave Savannah without visiting the Olde Pink House…I met a nice elderly blue-haired lady named Mary across the street from it in Reynolds Square, who had the most beautiful dog with her. Like me, she was taking pictures of the square and the Old Pink House. We struck up a conversation, and she began telling me details about her life as if we’d known each other for more than just a few moments in time. I listened attentively as she regaled the story of how she’d met her husband so many decades ago and how they’d first come to Savannah some 15-years prior and eaten at this very restaurant (the Old Pink House). She said it had been one of the very best meals of her lifetime (that she hadn’t cooked herself 🙂 … “It’s like that when you’re in love,” she said, smiling.
Sadly, her husband recently passed away, but she wanted to come back to a place that had brought them so much joy…and to have a meal at the Olde Pink House in his memory. It was a very sweet and touching story. It’s one I’m sure I’ll always remember too. I want to think that her story made mine and my husband’s meal that much more special at the restaurant.
For all the avid readers out there, a visit to the Book Lady Book Store is essential. It’s located at 6 E Liberty, Savannah, GA 31401 in the downtown historic district www.thebookladybookstore.com(between Bull St and Drayton St). Joni is the owner, although, I met Chris, an English gentleman. Entering the bookstore was like stepping into book heaven for me. It seemed as though they had every book imaginable; more importantly, they had rare volumes not easily found in the US, and at great prices. For books of interest, the store can be contacted as follow: books@thebookladybookstore (912.233.3628). This is a great place to shop for the upcoming holiday season too. I purchased a beautiful hardcopy of poetry by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1916)…if that gives you an ideas. In any event, the personnel at the store were helpful, knowledgeable, and oh so nice. I could have spent my entire time in Savannah there!
A Piece of History:
1. Madison Square
Of all Savannah’s numerous tours, Bulls street’s Madison Square was one of my favorites. Its namesake is taken from James Madison, the fourth President of the United States (1751 -1836). Not only does it house two of Savannah’s historic homes, the Green-Meldrim House being one and the Sorrel Weed House the other, but here, one is able to read the historical monument documenting the three part Order decreeing the 400,000 land strip to former slaves (albeit its later revocation by President Johnson). The Order decreed “a strip of coastline stretching from Charleston, South Carolina, to the St. John’s River in Florida, including Georgia’s Sea Islands and the mainland thirty miles in from the coast,” The Order is named: “the History of Emancipation: Special Field Orders No. 15” commonly referred to as: “40 Acres and a Mule” whereby, The islands from Charleston, south, the abandoned rice fields along the rivers for thirty miles back from the sea, and the country bordering the St. Johns river, Florida, are reserved and set apart for the settlement of the negroes [sic] now made free by the acts of war and the proclamation of the President of the United States.”
2. First African Baptist Church
More than worth a tour is the First African Baptist Church located at 23 Montgomery St., Savannah, GA.
“After the Revolutionary War started, in 1778 George Leile, a slave, made his way to the British-occupied city of Savannah, to ensure his security behind British lines. The British had offered freedom to slaves who escaped their rebel masters…”
The spirit of the church as well as its beautiful architecture and artistry has weathered the test of time and centuries, whereby the woodwork and instruments such as the baptismal pool and 1832 pipe organ attest their original origins. As do the pews that were built by slaves in the dark, and whose wood is still inscribed with writings by African dialect called
“Hebrew Cursive.” The nine (9) patch design of the ceiling is a telling sign of their map building and coding skills as well unification and activism in the underground railroad movement. Artistic ‘Holes’ in the floor represent the symbol known as the Congolese Cosmogram, which is the African prayer term for: “Flash of the Spirits” and represents birth, life, death, and rebirth.
It is simply too moving for mere words to have an opportunity to see history unfolded in front of one in this way. To know for fact that an enslaved people, oppressed and deprived in every way of the most basic freedoms and dignity possible, were in fact a learnedly intellectual people so highly trained and skilled.
The Green-Meldrim House served as General Sherman’s headquarters, an is absolutely a beautiful home so well worth photo logging and a tour. Notably, at the time of its construction the house was considered the most expensive residence ever built in Savannah. It was later sold to prominent Irish lawyer and politician Peter Meldrim. Presently, the Green-Meldrim is open to the public and is part of the St. Johns Episcopal Church, a gothic style parish built in 1850, and is located next door to the house.
Built around 1830 by Charles B. Cluskey, The Sorrel Weed House is considered the most haunted house in Savannah. It has been investigated for its haunting on shows like: TAPS during a special 2005 Halloween Special episode of Ghost
Hunters, “If Walls Could Talk” in March 2006 on HGTV, and the Ghost Adventures crew in 2014. Also, in 1994, the acclaimed movie Forrest-Gump rooftop scene was filmed from the Sorrel Weed House.
All the souvenir shops had superb gifts; however the old-timey look of the Five & Dime General Store was just too precious to pass up!
There are so many enchanting views and places to see in Savannah like the Mansion on Forsyth Park, The Ballroom in the Olde Pink House, Forsyth Fountain, Reynolds Square, Savannah’s Waving Girl on the River, St. John the Baptist Cathedral, and so much more that one trip is not enough! It is a Beautiful, Unforgettable City…A Must See Site!