Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Savannah, Georgia: Day 1

This post has been a long time coming! We had planned a trip to Savannah, GA to get away for a couple of days. Typically, we try to plan at least two trips a year: a smaller one in the spring and a larger one in the fall. So, we knew this spring we wanted to visit Savannah. After going to Charleston last year, we were told that if we loved Charleston, than we would really love Savannah. And they were right!
Savannah, Georgia is beautiful. It is historic and charming, and with about half the cost of Charleston, South Carolina, a much more budget-friendly location for those looking for a getaway at a cheaper cost. As they say "Savannah is about 10 years behind Charleston". The big housing and commerce boom is still in its infant stages, which means you can enjoy visiting at a more affordable cost. From the abundance of hotels and AirBnB's available, there are many options for those looking at coming to visit.

One thing I personally suggest is trying to get your hands on a copy of the movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Not only does the story take place in Savannah, but the movie was filmed in the city. So, if you want a sneak peek at the city, it is one of the best references you have. Besides, the story is true!

Savannah, GA is built on a grid-style system, much like Charleston. The focus was on the individual neighborhood square that united together. All 22 squares in Savannah were for public use. From festivals to joint neighborhood parties, they were created for markets, festivals and statues. Chippewah Square can be seen from the movie Forrest Gump. These 'green zones' are abundant in the city, they serve also as mini-parks for families to gather and enjoy the summer days outside on a park bench while children play. It was for social gatherings as well as to seek shade in the hot summer heat.
We opted for an Airbnb - close to Forsyth Park. It was perfect for us as we needed it mainly as a launching pad to where we were going to be visiting. While we didn't use our car much, we did take two side trips I will post about later that we left the city limits for. However, most time was spent in the city. Between the pedi cabs, Uber, bike rentals and bus system, we really never used our car.
Once we arrived, we quickly dropped off our bags and left on foot. Savannah is a walking city so wear comfortable shoes. It is also quite hot in the springtime- as we were there in May, it was quite humid so light layers are recommended. Our first stop was walking through Forsyth Park to see the fountain. This beautiful fountain is one the landmarks of the city and for good reason. It is enormous! This park is so full of life- from the children playing soccer to families sitting by the bench to enjoy the shade, it is a must stop on our list.
We had scheduled our first stop to be at Electric Bikes of Savannah (we suggest checking Groupon as they always have deals). We rented two electric bikes to do a self-guided tour of the city to get our bearings where we would be the next few days. This is a great way to see the city without killing your feet! I was really happy we did this as our first day was the hottest. We biked the entire two hours we had rented and were quite happy the bikes were self-propelling at some junctions. However, word of caution, Savannah drivers expect you to know the laws of the road when maneuvering the squares, so bear that in mind.
Mid-way though our bike trip we stopped for a drink at Mirabelle Cafe, across from St. John's Cathedral. We sat outside on their patio enjoying iced coffee and admiring this beautiful structure. The cathedral was almost completely burned down in 1989, but was rebuilt. It is also one of the top 10 historical sites to visit in the US, so check it out. It is an active church, but you can take tours. They accept a $2 donation per adult. We opted to not take a tour since we already had two other tours lined up for the weekend.
After finishing our bike ride we ran over next door to the E. Shaver Bookstore to browse. This locally owned bookstore is one of the oldest in Savannah. They had a book signing going on while we were there. Next up, we stopped into one of the most famous chocolatiers: Chocolat by Adam Turoni. We stopped into the "Library" location. Let's just say by the end I wanted to be a book club member! With my mini- tin of treats in hand, I had my box of chocolates in Chippewa Square - just like Forrest Gump.
Next, it was time to head to the riverfront. River street is truly where Savannah started. The old warehouses and river stone streets was once a part of their bustling cotton industry and these historic buildings housed the cotton. With great views of the Savannah river and beyond, it is a mecca for tourist. If you head to the end you can see the statue of the Waving Girl. We hopped on over to Rocks on The River for happy hour to grab a drink and split a burger. After all the walking we had done, this was a welcomed treat.
We continued our stroll down the river front and sat for a bit before hearing about a massive cargo ship that would be coming through - one of the largest in the world. So, we knew we had to get a better look (and since we wanted a killer view of the river as well), we headed to our next stop: Top Deck! We  were so excited to get an amazing view of the Talmadge Memorial Bridge  and have such a perfect spot at sunset. While the food and drinks were less impressive, the view was the main reason we came and it did not disappoint. Another great option for sunset views, is to take the Savannah Belles Ferry round trip on the river. It is FREE and it will take you to the Convention center and back.
After dinner, we strolled up river street and back along Factor's Walk, a series of foot bridges connecting the city streets to the warehouses. Be mindful that cars still drive along river street and these side areas for parking so beware. The area is named for the factors (agents who dealt with sale of cotton on behalf of growers) who used these bridges. They can be quite steep and slippery, especially when it rains. Then it was time to head back to our Airbnb (which was about a 20 minute walk for us).

This ended day one of our trip. We were quite exhausted after waking up early that morning for the long drive but it was well worth it since we made it in time for lunch and strolling. Stay tuned for Day 2 and Day 3 next!

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