Vacation June 2014 next stop Savannah

charlton street retreatWe used Homeaway to find this sweet little house in Savannah near downtown. I took a walk through the neighborhood to take in Savannah’s famous squares, a series of small parks throughout the city. Every one has huge oaks and honors a historical event or figure. Driving Savannah was a little more frustrating because of all the one-way streets and the fact that that the squares are positioned in the middle of streets so you have to drive around them. forrest gump forsythe parkForsythe Park is the largest park in Savannah’s downtown. It includes recreation areas, walking paths, art, rose garden, and lots of benches to sit and relax. Of course I had to make a pilgrimage to Forrest Gump’s bench.

More beautiful trees in Savannah
More beautiful trees in Savannah

 

We went down to River Street, a historic district with bars, restaurants, shops, live music, in historic buildings. After a good, but not remarkable, seafood meal we walked along the river as buskers played guitar or sax, and juggled for tips. We went on a weekday so it was relative quiet compared to the Austin nightlife we would expect to encounter downtown here. refreshmentTybee Island is a great little beach town minutes away from Savannah. The beach was pretty, clean, and full but not crowded. The waves we just strong enough to toss us around a little. After sunning and swimming we browsed shops and stopped at Wet Willie’s for some icy refreshment.

Pelicans at sunset near Tybee Island
Pelicans at sunset near Tybee Island

Later that evening week took a dolphin tour with Captain Derek. Dolphins are common in this part of the Atlantic. According to our guide its illegal to feed them but fishing boats sort onboard and discard trash fish overboard. Dolphins have learned that a good place to get food is in the wake of a boat, so dolphin tour boats stir up and wake and that attracts the dolphins. We enjoyed several sightings, the best was when we ran alongside another dolphin tour boat and three dolphins leaped between the boats in the large wake created by the two boats. It briefly occurred to me to take a picture but  focusing on recording a moment makes it impossible for me to feel fully present in that moment. For about five minutes the whole crowd on both boats were caught up in pure joy, hearts leaping with the creatures in the waves.  I don’t need a picture to remember the delight I felt in those moments. We also saw pelicans fishing and later resting at sunset.sweetgrass basket

Ted played his second bucket list course, Hilton Head, while I took a Gullah Heritage Tour in my quest for the sweetgrass basket my mother-in-law requested. She collects baskets and asked for one before we left. From an anthropological perspective the Gullah tour was very interesting.  A man of Gullah descent described how the culture was preserved for centuries only to virtually disappear over the last fifty years after the island was connected to the mainland by a bridge. While there are efforts underway to build historical replicas of Gullah homes- we stopped and looked at a couple of historical markers that will eventually be part of the attraction- but the tour basically involved driving around and looking at current modern homes of Gullah families. There were a few preserved buildings but the best thing about the tour was information rather than the sights. I expected to see some craftspeople and buy a basket for my mother-in-law but there was only one guy at the museum making baskets and his were several hundred dollars more than the ones I passed on at Charleston Market. I probably should have done more homework on this one.

The best place we ate in Savannah was Lady and Sons, Paula Deens restaurant.  I had the best chicken pot pie I’ve ever eaten. It’s big, has flaky, and, of course, buttery, crust, and is chock full of chicken and veggies. Ted had the buffet. Because we were willing to be seated at the bar, we didn’t have to wait too long. We ended up having great conversation with the bartender and a couple of waiters. The restaurant has a friendly, casual atmosphere and everyone seemed to be enjoyed themselves. We did.

We left Savannah heading for our friend Tim’s wedding outside Atlanta. Charming. I think that’s the best word for Charleston & Savannah.