finally, a new post! Listening to Andrew Duhon as I edit this post and fondly remembering an incredible birthday trip to New Orleans. He’s singing Girls from Other Countries as I type this. For me, it’s boys but the song resonates strongly and that trip was one of many that proved the serendipity and magic that comes from leaving your comfortable home base can make your life feel rich beyond your childhood dreams. I check myself when I am about to say something obnoxious like “yeah, I am kind of bored of Paris”. As a child growing up in the middle of nowhere, getting to Paris even ONCE seemed like a fairytale. Paris was one of those fantastic places that taught me to just be more adventurous, Stay in a cheap hotel near Gare du Nord, which was way too dangerous the first time I went, but now just provides a new, fresh Parisian experience 🙂
If you read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, you will also gain an understanding of why Savannah has such an Austin feel. If you stay in the Historic District you will likely pass the building that really shook up Savannah several times. John wrote the book because cheap airlines were new and he started travelling from New York to Savannah on a regular basis and became more or less a local. One of the other developments happening at that time was a push to expand the Savannah College of Art and Design. According to him, Savannah was the conservative southern place you likely envision at the time and there was a definite clash of cultures but the college expanded and added a layer of hip to sleepy Savannah.
What you get now is a fascinating mix of genteel southern manners and modern 21st century comforts and enticements. For me one of the most delightful parts of Savannah was just wandering the streets from square to square. It’s worth going into the Cathedral of St John the Baptist. It was dedicated in 1876 and is one of the most spectacular in the region.
The other area worth checking out is the riverfront. There are lots of options for eating and drinking and plenty of shops catering to tourists. Two of the best options are River Street Sweets for pralines, salt water taffy and other sweet treats and the Arts and Crafts Emporium (up a staircase) for local arts and crafts you can take home as non-edible souvenirs.
Two places to check out in this neighborhood are Chart House and the Bayou Café. Chart House is right on the water and you can have a meal on the patio. The Bayou Café has live music every night so was where I spent my Monday night birthday. It’s more Louisiana than Georgia but in the ‘hood and with basic but delicious seafood and Cajun fare.
I decided to try snow crab for the first time. It took a few tries (and several stains on my top) to get
the hang of it but it was delicious and I acquired a new skill. The singer noted that I was eating alone, found out it was my birthday, sang me “happy birthday” and bought me a shot of bourbon. As already noted, there are a lot of friendly Americans.
He had recently broken up with his girlfriend so to make sure things didn’t get weird after last set, I left a bit early and encountered a young late night busker so ended up listening to him and then conversing for quite a while as he gave away some of his earnings to beggars. I kept giving him money as I didn’t think he could probably afford his generosity. He insisted I couldn’t walk back to the hotel (I had been doing it every night) so I waited for some sort of Uber arrangement he had made. I gave him money for that too so he had a great night but I remember being young and poor and am very generous to young people if they treat me well and I like them.
For shopping, the other street to check out is Broughton Street. It’s the main thoroughfare. Nearby is a wonderful restaurant that is a Savannah institution, Belford’s. The restaurant only arrived in 1996 but is housed in a historic building and is one of the best rated restaurants in town. I managed to indulge in happy hour, which is a great bargain. I also discovered that, like New Orleans, you can get your wine to go as long as you stay within a certain part of the Historic District so you can indulge in happy hour prices while strolling the historic streets with your beverage of choice.
One final suggestion if you like local history is a drink at The Desoto. It’s now super modern 21st century complete with mixologists but its origins come from 1890 when it opened as a luxury hotel that became known as the Dowager Empress of the South.
Beaches and resorts are not far away if that is more your scene. For me, pretending to live in different century is always a delightful adventure. Of course, I prefer my experience to not be TOO authentic. I love the glamour and romance of the 17th and 18th centuries but I also totally enjoy actually living in my own. Savannah offers you the best of both 😉
I started this post a long time ago and then realized I forgot to mention the most surprising discovery of my trip to Savannah to listen to music. Apparently they do St Patrick’s Day better than maybe anywhere else in the world. One of my best friends had a dream of seeing it in New York City so I’ve done that. I would love to check out Chicago but I’m not sure it will surpass Savannah. It is so huge they sneak in and practically every fountain is green a few days before March 17th. It is also WAY nicer weather in Savannah in March so that is part of the reason it is so successful. Northerners are happy to come and celebrate in a climate that is much more hospitable than Ireland 😉
Any proper Irish person would consider them pussies 🙂 Being partly Irish, I have discovered it is more an Irish-American thing than an Irish thing. I’ve been an immigrant a couple of times and totally understand that nostalgia for home.
So, what are you waiting for? Savannah in March has so much to offer. As I was heading to the airport, my taxi driver (who looked like a character from the Dukes of Hazzard 😉 teased me… “you don’t really want to leave, do you? Quite honestly, I said, “no, especially as I am leaving just before St. Patrick’s Day. Next time I stay longer…”