Aug 27, 2010

Unique Savannah, Georgia

Savannah was unique from the very beginning. When General James Oglethorpe founded Georgia in 1733 he created a city of small, interconnected squares that are now graced by live oaks dripping with Spanish moss. Chris, our trolley-tour guide explained, “Spanish moss is not Spanish nor is it a moss. And, it is not a true parasite. It is an epiphyte that gets its nutrients from the air.”
1. Savannah History Museum: Start at the beginning. The Savannah History Museum is housed in the old Central of Georgia Railway building, a National Historic Landmark. It affords an overview of Savannah’s history from its founding to the present day.
2. On & off: Step on one of the trolley tours of the historic district. With more than a dozen stops the best plan is to take one complete trip for an overview. The guides are full of interesting tidbits of history and local lore.
3. A walk for everyone: Walking tours abound dealing with a variety of topics from haunted pub tours to Civil War tours to architectural tours. Movie buffs will enjoy tours that highlight the many movies made in Savannah.
4. The traditional way: A horse-drawn carriage ride is the time-honored way to see Savannah. It is most ambient in the evening when the gaslights twinkle and homes have their interiors lights on affording glimpses of their lavish interiors.
5. The River: No visit to Savannah would be complete without taking one of several narrated cruises on a replica paddle wheeler. They cruise past the Waving Girl, the riverside statue honoring Florence Martus, who waved at passing ships for forty years – supposedly waiting for her lover to return from the sea.
6. Dimes for Daisy: Juliette Gordon Low called her friend and said, “Come right over! I’ve got something for the girls of Savannah and all America..!” With those words the Girls Scouts began. Low’s Victorian home was restored with the help of dimes raised by Girl Scouts. Many historic houses are open for viewing including the Mercer House and Flannery O’Connor house.
7. To Worship: The newly renovated Gothic cathedral Saint John the Baptist is the oldest Roman Catholic Church in Savannah and inspiringly beautiful. The First African Baptist is the oldest black congregation in America. The church was built by slaves for slaves and was a refuge for slaves seeking freedom on the Underground Railroad. Air holes in the Church’s floor are still visible.
8. To Remember: Colonial Park Cemetery is where, Button Gwinnett, a signer of the Declaration of Independence is reposed. Bored Civil War soldier changed dates on the headstones so some indicate that the interred lived for hundreds of years.
9. The arts: The best artistic expression in Savannah may be the architecture. But not to miss is Telfair Museum of Art, the oldest public art museum in the south. Made up of three buildings, each of the museums offers a distinctly different experience.
10. Dining and imbibing: From Paula Deen’s to Wet Willies there is no shortage of places to eat and imbibe. Many restaurants feature Lowcountry cuisine with steaming platters of fresh seafood.
Savannah is unique. It is elegant, romantic, historic, and never fails to charm. Before visiting read “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” and watch “Forest Gump” or one of the other movies filmed in Savannah.