The South, Part 2: Savannah, Georgia

After the wedding in Charleston, Rocco and I had planned an escape-à-deux from the wedding hordes. We took a Greyhound bus two hours southwest, following the Atlantic coast, to Savannah, Georgia. I'd booked a room in the Forsyth Park Inn, a gorgeous little B&B with two resident cats. We both felt weirdly grown up to be staying in a B&B with 5 other 50+ couples, and apparently we weren't the Inn's usual customers. The guy who greeted us was fairly shocked that we arrived by Greyhound and further upset that we grabbed a cab from a cab company "owned by blacks and they only employ blacks". Huh. Thanks for the tip, asshat. I worried that we were about to see the dark side of the south and be surrounded by racism and prejudice, but really that was the only remark about race we heard the whole time.

Savannah is very different from Charleston which I found surprising since they are so close geographically and share a similar economic, social and political history. It's obvious that Savannah was the seat of industry, receiving, processing, and selling cotton, while Charleston was the seat of luxury where the rich had their sprawling homes and went boating for pleasure.
The map above shows you the historic district of Savannah - the area is gridded and inlaid with little gorgeous public squares. Each square is in honour of an historic figure like civil war heroes, politicians, etc. It's very lovely to encounter a treed green space every couple of blocks and each square has a distinct feel and surrounding neighbourhood. The Forsyth Park Inn is just to the left of Forsyth Park, about halfway up, and it took us about 20, 25 minutes to walk to the waterfront from there.

Down at the water, the city splits into two levels: water-level streets where cotton was hauled off the boats and brought into the warehouse buildings that line the row, and city-level streets two or three flights up. The cotton was brought in from the boats by slaves, then processed as it moved up the buildings, finally being sold at auction at the city-level. Here's a view of the city-level street bridging across the water-level street.

The architecture in Savannah is mostly brick, very austere, and few yards or verandas in sight until you get towards Forsyth Park, unlike Charleston.

Mostly we walked and walked, checking it all out and trying to walk off the ginormous southern breakfast the Inn offered every morning. The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is a large and respected institution that is very hard to miss around town. SCAD has bought and refurbished many of the historic buildings in the downtown core so the name and student and faculty art are everywhere. We took advantage of one tourist trap - a ghost tour! It was the most bizarre and hilarious thing; we rode around in a 1981 hearse that they popped the top off to make room for eight swivel seats in the bed.

It was just so corny! The guide drove us all around town, stopping in front of random buildings and trying to freak us out with gory stories and fanciful phantasmagoria. No, I didn't see anything spooky, but it was still kind of cool. The guide is a maniac, some dude from New York City just trying to make a buck and trying to make us believe that he believes in his stories. He also spotted a car he used to own and we stalked it from the hearse for a few minutes. Rocco and I got trapped for much longer than the tour should have lasted and ended up in the hearse for 1.5 tours. The stories and buildings changed in the subsequent second half-tour. Take of that what you will.

Things we missed out on while in the South: grits - it just didn't happen and I don't mind; mint julep - didn't see a dram of bourbon even once. Things we really loved and had in excess: verandas! Sitting on verandas with cats and wine or cats and breakfast or cats and books.

After two nights in sunny Savannah, we boarded a plane for New York. Big Apple, here we come!

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