Monday, April 4, 2011

Travel Diary: Savannah, Georgia

Only two weeks ago, Anthony, his mother and I were enjoying our first visit to Savannah, Georgia.  I'd never been to the south before (save a trip to Orlando almost ten years ago) and it was a four-day vacation full of new experiences, including the first long-distance trip we've taken with Anthony's mom. 

In very little time, we saw much of the Historic District, which is extremely walkable and unbelievably beautiful.  We took a tour with Old Savannah Tours on our first morning in the city; our guide was extremely knowledgeable and shared anecdotes about every street, house and park we passed.  Just riding around in the open-air trolley, we learned so much about the history of Savannah and the history of America.  Coming from freezing Connecticut, it was a treat to explore without wearing a heavy winter coat. 

As with every trip, there were highs and lows.  We were only in town for three nights so there definitely things that we weren't able to cross off on our list.  Perhaps there is another Savannah visit for us in the future?  I'd love to spend a few days there and then head over to Charleston, another place I've heard is beyond lovely (coincidentally enough, I just read this feature in UK Conde Nast Traveller about a combined Savannah/Charleston trip).   

Some highlights:
  • We stayed at the Mansion on Forsyth Park and I don't think we could have picked a better place.  The staff was so nice and the rooms were large and beautiful.  There was complimentary valet service so that we didn't have to walk through the park in the dark, the restaurant attached was great and I love the gallery attached to the lobby.  The Mansion really made us feel like we were on a luxurious, relaxing vacation in classic Savannah.
  • The Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen.  As someone who has visited Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York City dozens of times, I can honestly say that I enjoyed this cathedral just as much.  I especially loved the unique three-dimensional Stations of the Cross.  All visitors should add this stop to their itineraries. 
  • The influence of SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) in the city is undeniable.  The school has renovated old buildings and warehouses all over the Historic District and converted them into offices or classrooms that are used daily.  Plus, the shopSCAD store was one of my favorite places, selling original goods made by students, faculty and alumni of the school.  I bought some adorable silver stud earrings and a few vintage button magnets.  The best part is that everything in the store is a one-of-a-kind creation. 
  • We knew that Anthony's mom would love afternoon tea so we made a reservation at the Savannah Tea Room.  The parlor itself is filled with heavy wood furniture and flowery decorations, and there is a neat store in the front room.  For $20 a person, we were served four courses of fresh baked goods, sandwiches and delicious, piping-hot tea, transporting us back to a time when afternoon tea was a daily event.  
  • The squares themselves are a good reason to visit Savannah.  There are 22 of the original 24 squares left and we visited almost all of them, sitting on benches under trees or just walking through to read the plaques.  The larger squares that are along Bull Street had tall statues or fountains and a lot of foot traffic.  But Anthony and I found that we enjoyed the smaller squares more.  Pulaski Square and Orleans Square were especially quiet and had a subtle beauty that was perfect for an early morning stroll.  The flowers were in bloom and all I wanted to do was have a picnic on the grass.  
I'd also suggest checking out Paris Market (on Broughton Street) and Kitchens on the Square (right near Ellis Square), two really cool home/kitchen stores.  In my opinion, a walk through Forsyth Park, which I've been calling the 'Central Park' of Savannah, is also necessary, and you'll get an up-close view of the most photographed fountain in Savannah.  Overall, we had a lovely time.  Check out our photos below!


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