John and I went through a phase where we drove everywhere. Everywhere. Across the country, to weddings, to Nebraska for holidays. So a two hour road trip is like running to the store for milk.
I was surprised when we moved here how close Savannah is. So close that a lot of people confuse where we live (Savannah and Charlotte are the usual picks). It’s just on the border of South Carolina and Georgia, so we chose another grey Sunday to explore.
The eeriness of the south isn’t lost on the drive there. With no straight shot we had to take a four lane highway most of the way. Abandoned buildings and tiny towns are dotted between vast open swamps and woods so thick that if you walk in for 5 minutes you’ll never walk out.
Our drive was consumed with what we’re going to do when we win the Powerball billion and which one of our friends we’re going to hire to do what. (You’ll want to get in on this deal, friends). While we never decided what we’re going to do or where we’re going to have our mansions, we did decide to redo our wedding with George Strait as the entertainment.
Two hours later, we crossed what looked like Charleston’s famous bridge–the Ravenel–into downtown Savannah. The similarities to Charleston are striking. An early, coastal, southern town turned tourist destination with sea food restaurants, historic tours and horse and carriage rides. But Savannah is a lot sleepier than Charleston. It might have been the chilly weather or the time of year, but the streets were empty and we even had to wake our parking garage attendant to pay to get in (I’m not kidding, she was asleep).
Usually John does research to confirm the best places to eat, but since it was more of a spur of the moment day trip, we went to the only place he knew, 22 Square in the Andaz Hotel. Hotels are usually a safe bet and it was right in the middle of downtown. It was also completely empty. I’m hoping we missed the rush, because their farm to table breakfast buffet was creative and fresh and they sell cold pressed juice (for an extra 8$ on top of a 20$ buffet, we stuck with coffee).
We always try to get a feel for what see by asking our servers what they recommend. I’m a little jaded from living in the one of the most historic US cities, and the thought of going on another tour of some merchant’s house from the 1700’s makes me want to stay home. The waitress suggested we walk down to the park and the waterfront, which was enough for us.
On the way we walked past Paula Deen’s restaurant, the Lady and Sons, which I didn’t know was in Savannah. Her food is the opposite of what we eat, but I wanted to see the inside.
The park was only a block away, so we stopped for a quick look at the historic signs.
Our first view of the waterfront was through an alleyway a block down. And it was first time that Savannah felt different from Charleston. The waterfront reminded me of the small river towns I’ve visited in the Midwest. Steamboats, beautiful brick paths and small, local restaurants.
But we couldn’t figure out how to get down.
Savannah is built on a hill, and the waterfront is at a lower elevation. The shops and houses were built up with little bridges attaching them to downtown.
We had to backtrack to find a hill cutting under the bridges. The cobblestone on the way down set the stage for a gorgeous riverfront with an expansive view of Savannah.
The baby decided she had to be carried, so we decided to head back, and find a café to feed her in before driving home. The Goose Feathers café was right near our parking garage and was extremely busy and uncomfortably warm. I splurged and got a mocha while the baby drank her milk. (I also saw a group of teenage girls who were a complete B-list version of ALL the Pretty Little Liars…literally there was a Spencer, an Aria, an Emily and a Hannah. I’m not sure if it’s sad that I can name them all or if it’s really exciting because the premier is this week!).
Being so close, Savannah was worth the visit, but honestly, with only two hours spent there I don’t feel like we missed much. It would be a great experience for someone who hasn’t experienced the history of the south–there’s a lot of authentic history left and the scale of the city makes it easy to get a real feel for what it was (and is) like there. But we see enough of that living in Charleston, and there wasn’t much that stood out as unique to either. I wouldn’t seek out a return trip without a reason, a restaurant or family that wanted to visit. (Or the Savannah Rock ‘n Roll marathon…).
On the way back we confirmed that we probably wouldn’t buy a house in Savannah when we win the Powerball. But we are definitely going to hire a driver.