A different side to Savannah…..

Ethereal Savannah with its stunning Antebellum architecture and cobblestone laneways, magnolia blossom and live oaks all make for an unforgettable city.  When FB and I first visited Savannah, it was in the very cold and wintery month of February 2014.  The second time I saw Savannah was on a road trip with my mum and Rob who were visiting from Australia.  That was in September 2014 and on both visits we stayed in the enchanting pedestrian friendly town center.

And my third sighting of Savannah.  Well that was on a whim when we decided to hit the road once more.  This time however, there would be no sweet tea, stately mansions or Spanish moss for us.  This time we were in search of a different side to Savannah.  We were looking for estuaries, tidal marshes and the beautiful wetland prairies.  We were heading to an island or two just off the coast of Georgia and we were on the lookout for a fort.

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Estuaries, marshes and wetlands are rich wildlife reserves and the most valuable of ecological landscapes.  These around the outskirts of Savannah happen to be inhabited by fish, crustaceans, dolphins, otters, alligators and an abundance of bird life.  I love these sorts of areas which are often called ‘the nurseries of the sea’.  They are wonderfully serene places to find yourself in.

After a day of exploring and bird watching we headed for dinner at a great little place called Marker 107.  This restaurant is located on Kilkenny Creek with views of St Catherine’s and Ossabaw Islands.  This charming little place is way off the beaten track but it is definitely worth the trip and it is open Wednesday and Thursday night 5 – 9 and Friday and Saturday night 5 – 10.  And do try the blackened scallops!!

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The freshest and sweetest shrimp (prawns) all come courtesy of a working shrimp boat named the ‘Grey Ghost’ which is docked at the wharf, just a stones throw from the back door of the restaurant.

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After a good nights sleep it was off to Fort Pulaski.  This five-sided masonry fortification was built in the 19th century and it is a National Monument located on Cockspur Island. Originally built to defend Savannah against foreign attack, construction of the fort began in 1829 and it took almost 16 years to complete.  The history of this fort is long, detailed and fascinating.  It has been a confederate post, it has witnessed monumental battles including civil war bombardment and it has been a prisoner of war camp.

Set aside a good day to do this tour and the park is open daily from 9 – 5.

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Tybee Island is also known as Savannah Beach and is located about 18 miles from Savannah.  Believe it or not……and you have to believe this because it is true, Tybee Island is one of the few locations in the world where the U.S. Air Force accidently dropped an atomic bomb in a botched military exercise in 1958.   Although the bomb did not detonate, the lost bomb has never been found.  Interesting and down right bloody scary!

Tybee Island is a very, very popular spot with locals, tourists and holiday makers and in the holiday season the population of the island swells considerably.   I do love my oceans passionately and I will pretty much take a dip wherever and whenever I can however FB thought my judgment clearly circumspect when I mentioned (very casually as I was stripping off to my underwear) that I was going in for a swim.   He alluded to the fact that:

  1. I did not have my togs with me (clearly not an issue though)
  2. I would be wet and somewhat sandy for the long drive home, and
  3. The clincher….he just pointed to the sign!

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Now, I can honestly state that I am a very strong and experienced ocean swimmer however as I scanned the length of the beach as far as the eye could see (which was probably around 5 miles), I noted there were no another surfers or swimmers in sight.  In fact, apart from the odd seabird, we were the only two people on the beach.  Point taken!

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No swim but a late lunch in a local Tybee café before heading home.  This was not the Bundy Bear, but he was pretty familiar and it was nice to see.

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Wanderlust is in my blood and that will never change.  You can always travel the well worn path or search for something new but either way, the best part will be that you will return home to find yourself a little better a person just for having been there.  Swim or no swim….. xx

It’s all relative……….

Oh dear!  The productivity level on the blog has been a little lower than usual so my apologies for my lack of attention.  In my defense however, it has just been an extraordinarily busy time for me.  Within two hours of arriving back from Panama City Beach in Florida I was eating Tim Tams, Mint Slice and Freddo Frogs.  I had no choice in the matter!  Morally, I am duty bound as an Australian girl to do so and the above three things are items I have certainly missed since leaving Australia.  Ditto on vegemite too!

After all that, it was then onto Savannah, Papa Buck’s BBQ just off the interstate 16, a visit to Stone Mountain, hanging out in a Dublin boot store, going to a classic car auction, a day at the Ocmulgee Indian Celebration, 18 rounds of mini golf, cocktails etc. etc. etc.

And all that plus more, was packed into a ten day time period.  Why!  Well we had family all the way from Australia visiting.  Mum and Rob arrived from down under to spend some time with us in sunny downtown Warner Robins, Georgia – home to a sea of chain restaurants and all-you-can-eat buffets, two Wal-Mart stores (and yes, as Mum and Rob discovered, the ‘ethereal’ Walmartians really do exist!!), Robins Air Force Base, pecan orchards and cotton fields.

The visit……. 

Stone Mountain:  This is one of Georgia’s most visited attractions.  It is also one of the largest exposed masses of granite in the world.  Native American Indians originally used this mountain and its surroundings as their meeting and ceremonial place.  Now, it has become a major tourist attraction due to the massive ‘Confederate Memorial’ which is carved into the side of the rock.  During our time at Stone Mountain we rode the Summit Skyride to the very top of the mountain, travelled the scenic railway, saw the amazing laser light show in the evening and Mum and Rob got to see their first glimpse of a couple of very cheeky raccoons – little bandits who sleep during the day and play (up) at night.

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Ditto 🙂  

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 Classic Car Auction:  most of the cars at the auction came with an attached sign which read – *runs and drives*!  Well frankly, so do most of my friends!!

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Savannah:  Just a beautiful part of the world!

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Ocmulgee Indian Celebrations:   Each September, the southeast of Georgia becomes the largest gathering of Native Americans.  This amazing celebration is a joyous sharing of culture, dance, storytelling, singing and history.  If you are ever in Georgia around the third weekend in September then I can very highly recommend this festival to you.

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More random photos from the visit:

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And you know, that’s the funny thing about family.  Sometimes you love them and sometimes you don’t.   Sometimes they make you laugh and sometimes the ones who you think should be the closest and kindest to you make you absolutely miserable.  But be they the blood you are born into or if you are lucky enough, the family you make for yourself, they will always be significant in your amazing life.

Thank you both for a lovely visit and thank you again for the incredible stash of Aussie goodies (which also included ‘snakes’…..Allen’s, not the live scaly kind) you managed to bring over with you.

And just like the demise of this fabulous crab………. that’s all folks  xx

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Enchanting Savannah

Another road trip and this time we headed to the beautiful historic township of Savannah.  And the best thing about this road trip – we were fortunate enough to spend two nights here.

Our accommodation was an incredibly beautiful Inn, The Ballastone, which was built in 1773 and is located in the heart of the historic district and comes complete with its own ghost.  The Ballastone is one of many B & B’s of the district and they host an afternoon tea for their guests every afternoon at 4pm sharp.

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The Ballastone Inn

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The Ballastone’s sitting room

The beautiful southern belle town of Savannah has a reputation (thank goodness for that) and it is all courtesy of her beauty, history and charm.  Once in Savannah you will find there are two types of people:  those who are true Southerners’ and those who wished they were.  This is a lovely town that has been settled along the Savannah river about 32 km upriver from the Atlantic ocean.  Savannah is surrounded by swamps  and it is one of the oldest townships in America.  It is full of stunning Antebellum architecture, beautiful mansions, avenues of live oaks dripping with Spanish moss, incredible history, antiques, ghosts – Savannah is one of the most haunted towns in America and original cobblestone and oyster shell streets and lanes.

We visited in winter and it was cold.  Very,very cold in fact which was possibly due to the remnants of the polar vortex.  Given that, Savannah also experiences equally hot humid summers.  One old local told us ‘summers are so hot an’ sticky that walkin’ around is like wadin’ through quick sand.  You have to go real slow ’cause if you go any faster than an old turtle you’ll just die’.  

Things to do in Savannah:

1)  Walk!  Savannah is a great walking destination and her charm lies in the ‘historic district’.  And the best way to see it is on foot.  Walk and you will see so much more.  Walk and you can take in and appreciate the true splendour of Savannah’s historic mansions and Antebellum homes.

2)  After the historic district, stroll the waterfront on tabby streets.  Tabby streets are the old streets made of old primitive concrete and oyster shells and River Street is where you will find the old cotton warehouses which now accommodate restaurants and galleries.

3)  If you are unable to or don’t want to walk, take a trolley tour.  This is a great way to get around Savannah to see and hear about her history.  The Oglethorpe Trolley Tours (they are the blue trolleys) are the only company endorsed by the Savannah Historical Society.

3)  Walk the squares.  Around the historic district are Savannah’s squares.  These squares are like little parklands with a fountain or monument in the centre surrounded by lush green magnolia trees or oaks and grass and plants.  Each square varies, some are more glamorous than others and all are  encompassed by beautiful houses and buildings.  There are about 22 in all to experience.

4)  Eat!  See below.

5)  Food – some of these I can personally recommend, others come courtesy of the locals. Here’s mine:  *Dine out at Vic’s – great wine list, great cocktails and really really lovely food (definitely try the lump crab cakes) plus you get a wonderful view of the Savannah River with its passing cargo ships.  *Leopold’s Ice Creamery – pretty darn good ice cream and do try the butter pecan…..although the rum bisque is right up there as well.  *Zunzi’s – a fab little ‘hole in the wall place’ with great food and absolutely try their ‘conquistador’.  *Green Truck Pub for the best burgers this side of I have no idea where!

The locals recommendations:  *Goose Feathers café – get in early though and don’t be put off by the line as we were.  Americans will happily line up for pretty much anything. *The Olde Pink House – built in 1771 and swathed in pink stucco this is the restaurant the locals love to dine at and recommend.  We tried it but were very disappointed.  It is overpriced and over-rated and the food was rather average for such a sophisticated (and expensive) dining facility.  *Paula Deens ‘Lady and Sons’ restaurant (I’m not a fan of commercialised ‘celebrity’ places such as these), *Papillote (French food to go) and *Sweet Spice (Jamaican).

6)  See the churches – just beautiful and very serene

7)  Walk through the cemetery – not a spooky as it sounds with plots dating back to 1700.

8)  Visit Forsyth Park – a stunning park where the line of oak trees forms a tunnel that leads to the parks magnificent 1858 fountain.  On a very cold winters day we sat on a park bench, our hands warmed with a steaming cup of coffee and watched the world pass by.

We were out day and night in Savannah and fear we only scratched the surface of this lovely town.     

Scenes of Savannah:

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The streets of Savannah are lined with beautiful arching live oaks that drip with Spanish moss.  It is a hauntingly beautiful sight but don’t touch the moss – chiggers live in it!

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Afternoon Tea

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Forsyth Parks’ 1858 fountain

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In one of the many Savannah squares

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Cocktails at Vic’s

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This is an outlet for a drainpipe – one of the loveliest I have ever seen

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Footnote:  Chiggers are the larvae of harvest mites and they feast on human skin cells.