I loved Savannah! It was one of the places the guidebook recommended, so we went down the coast from Charleston. Even the journey was an adventure, as part-way there, we decided to stop at an IHOP (pancake house) for lunch, so came off the highway at a service area. We parked the car, and walked to the restaurant, ate our food (including a rather delicious ice-cream sundae) then returned to the car to continue our journey. As we backed away from the space, I pointed to a sign warning us to ‘Beware of Gators’ and said how stupid it was! There we were, at a service station, where 2 major roads crossed, surrounded on all sides by major roads, and there was a beware of gators sign. So obviously just for tourists. Except, as we backed away, I noticed a large pool of water, fed by a river, a few yards from where we parked. . . and there, sunning itself, was a rather large alligator! At first I thought it must be plastic, but then it walked forwards a few steps. Nope, not plastic, very alive, very near where we had parked. I decided the signs were a good idea.
Savannah has a large river, which is lower than the rest of the city, so we walked down some steep steps. The river is lined with old red brick buildings, once part of the docks, many of which are now gift shops or restaurants or bars. It was a fun place to walk, especially when large boats, weighed down with massive cargo, edged past us.
There were several statues, including one to commemorate the slaves, who would have been unloaded onto the docks, and sold. A sad reminder. The street was cobbled, with the remains of old tram lines. When the slaves were unloaded, they would have been auctioned immediately, and sold, individually, to the highest bidder. This meant that even if families had been captured together, and survived the journey in a slave ship, they may then have been separated, never to meet again. Husbands and wives sold separately, children taken from their parents. I cannot understand how people ever thought that this was okay.
We ate at Huey’s, a restaurant in the docks, so we could watch the boats while we ate. I had fish roulade, with mash and green beans—it’s not always easy to find somewhere that serves vegetables here. It arrived with a salad and cornbread. The cornbread was nice, but sweet, like syrup sponge without the syrup.
The following day we got up early and went for a run. We walked down the stairs, and there, squashed, was a dead snake. . . except Husband helpfully pointed out that it wasn’t a dead snake, it was a discarded snake-skin, and the snake (a rattle snake) was still lurking somewhere. Not a great start.
The air outside was crisp and cool. It was the best run ever, watching Savannah wake up. Originally, Savannah was built during unsettled times, by a general, and he built it defensively, on a grid system with forts at every junction. Those forts have now been replaced with parks, so at every block, there is a pretty square with trees and fountains and benches. We ran through them. There were lots of roads to cross, but most had crossings where pedestrians had priority, so we rarely had to stop. The only thing to be careful of was the uneven paths, where tree roots had pushed the brick paths up into mounds and gullies. The streets have old, 3-storey brick houses, with flat roofs and painted shutters. It’s very pretty, and early in the morning you see real people doing real things: coffee shops full of workers collecting their take-out coffees, firemen sorting out their fire trucks, workmen on building sites, street cleaners and homeless people.
Back at the hotel, as we went down for breakfast, a woman joined in our conversation. This is normal here—everyone is very chatty. Even the lift talks! I took my china mug into breakfast, and had waffles and fruit and coffee–it all tastes better when it’s not in disposable cups.
We spent the day wandering around, admiring the squares. The weather was warm in October, but pleasant enough in the shade, and there is a lot of shade. All the trees are covered with Spanish moss, and there are trees everywhere. If you have watched the Forest Gump movie, you might remember a scene where he sits on a bench chatting while waiting for a bus. This was filmed in Savannah, and the square behind him is typical of all the squares here.
We returned to the river in the evening. There are lots of plaques, describing the slave trade, and one mentioned a book, written by a slave: Olaudah Equino. I bought a copy, and will tell you about it another time. Savannah was one of the main ports that traded slaves.
We ate at Huey’s again, and finished with pecan pie—another traditional dish. It has sorghum in it, a cereal grain, which looks like corn and is made into a syrup. It was probably introduced from Africa, as it grows well in drought conditions. . . another whisper from the past about what the slave ships carried.
We walked back to our hotel. All the crossings have very bossy lights (honestly, Savannah is a very chatty place!) The lights speak to you, as soon as you press the button, they start to shout: ‘WAIT! WAIT!’ In my other ear I have husband, saying: ‘Right, get ready, we can make a dash for it after the next car…’ So hard to know which one to obey.
I hope you stay safe today. Thank you for sharing our adventures, our next stop is Amelia Island and all things pirate. . . Take care.
Love, Anne x
Thank you for reading. If you enjoy my travel blogs, you will love my travel book: The Sarcastic Mother’s Holiday Diary. Available from an Amazon near you.