Home again, home again, jigety-jig!
Yes, we’ve been gallivanting around again, those of you who have been with me a while might remember that we like to head South at this time of year in search of some sun. Our destination is usually the Isle of Palms in South Carolina, but this time around we decided to add a couple of days in Savannah, Georgia at the start of the holiday, and then finish up with a week on the IOP.
Savannah is billed as America’s Most Beautiful City because of it’s old buildings, cobbled streets, green spaces and it’s beautiful city squares, everyone we talked to said how wonderful it is. So after a terrible 16 hour drive in topical pouring rain for over two thirds of it, we finally arrived at our hotel in Mid-town Savannah.
Typically at this time of year Savannah enjoys temps in the 80’sF (high 20’s to early 30’sC), but that rain we drove through (for well over 600 miles) ushered in a cold front more reminiscent of December than April! We topped out at 53F (11C) on our one day looking round the old city, and we just weren’t prepared for that at all! Still, we made the most of it and had a long, but interesting, day.
Don’t be fooled by the “I’m happy to be here” grin, it was Michigan temps and I was wearing a thin long sleeved tshirt and capri’s. I had nothing else. Andrew was wearing shorts!
The city is up-river from the ocean but was still a major and bustling port back in the day. Now the river is more a source of tourist entertainment than trade.
The city is incredibly green, but it was also very dull and overcast making photos difficult, but I liked the old cobbled streets and the iron walkways spanning them. The buildings to the left are the back of the old warehouses that front the river.
Needing a warm up we soon sniffed out the best coffee shop around. Savannah Coffee Roasters started out as a coffee importer and roaster many moons ago in 1909. They used to be just a supplier of fresh coffee to other establishments until a couple of years ago when the company was bought out by an Australian lady who renovated a fantastic old building and opened it up as a cafe. Now, they still roast their own coffee but they also bake fabulous cakes (Limoncello Cake for me and Tiramisu for Andrew), and have a great lunch menu too. Their executive chef was the last to train under the formidable doyen of American cookery, Julia Childs.
Founded in 1733 by General James Edward Oglethorpe representing King George II, Savannah was originally settled to stem the Catholic flow of the Spanish and French Northwards from Florida and Louisiana. The original city plan and layout was even mapped out before Oglethorpe set sail from England. This included the 24 city squares that the city is perhaps most famous for.
Like many cities old cities though Savannah has seen its fortunes rise and fall over the years and two of the original squares were lost to redevelopment in the 1950’s before the formation of the Historic Savannah Foundation preserved them and the historic buildings around them.
Oglethope’s original design had trust lots on the East and West sides of the Squares for churches and public buildings and tithing lots on the North and South sides for colonists homes.
Some of the Squares are wonderful, peaceful oasis’s from the bustle of a big city, others now find themselves on the main routes in and out of the city and take a lot of vehicular traffic. None of the roads go though the squares, so even the big buses and lorries have to negotiate the large evergreen oaks, narrow streets, parked cars and tourists as they make their way gingerly around them!
But I’ll be honest… perhaps it was the cold weather that did it, or the very touristy section by the waterfront, or all the traffic in the city or maybe all the walking we did, but I was seriously beginning to wonder what all the fuss was about. I know with warmer temps and some sun the place would look amazingly different but I was already beginning to turn my thoughts towards Charleston, the Isle of Palms and South Carolina….