Savannah, GA

One of the Historic Squares in Savannah
May 11, 2012       Driving south along the coast, we headed into Savannah, the oldest city in Georgia.  Founded in 1733 by James Oglethorpe after landing along the waterfront bluff.  Oglethorpe developed a relationship of mutual goodwill and respect with a local Indian chief, Tomochichi.  This friendship resulted in the settlers being allowed to not only settle but to flourish.  Oglethorpe laid out Savannah in a grid with 24 squares (parks,) intertwined with wide streets and business areas.   22 of the squares still exist in the historic district.  They include grassy lawns, huge, old live oak trees covered with Spanish moss (which is an air plant, not a parasite,) monuments, fountains and even a few playgrounds.

Savannah Cotton Exchange
Our first day in town found us walking along the River Street District, starting at the Cotton Exchange.  The Exchange, finished in 1887, was built at a time when Savannah was one of the largest cotton seaports in the world.  Now, the Exchange and the numerous warehouses that fronted the water have been transformed into over 80 shops, galleries, boutiques, pubs and restaurants lining the Savannah River.  

The Tall Ships Challenge, an annual event alternating, over 3 years, on the Great Lakes, the Pacific and the Atlantic coasts of North America was starting to organize for the next 3 days of festivities.  All 14 of the ships were already moored along the waterfront.  The Challenge is organized by Tall Ships America with the hope of sustaining the art of sailing.  Most of the ships offer apprenticeship programs in sailing, seamanship, navigation and boat maintenance. 

The following day we opted for the narrated Historic Savannah Trolley Tour.  This is an all day, off and on trolley with 15 stops highlighting the most popular areas.  Hundreds of buildings with architectural and historical significance, including the River Street area and the remaining 22 squares, were designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1966.  Considered, by many, to be one of the most haunted cities in the South, there are also a large number of ghost tours and walks offered.

The City Market was originally built in the 1700’s for farmers and fishermen bringing their products to town.  Time, fire, weather and the wrecking ball destroyed the original, and subsequent markets.  The current four-block market was a rehab project started in 1985 due to the efforts of the Historic Savannah Foundation.  As one of the highlights in downtown Savannah, the Market is home to galleries, shops and restaurants.

Best ever Crab Cakes with Lemon Aioli
Hopping off the Trolley at the Market, we decided to enjoy lunch at Belford’s Restaurant.  We concluded that a restaurant with 4 items rated as the Best Menu Item in the “Taste of Savannah” by Southern Living Magazine was something we needed to try.  I ordered the shrimp and grits with collard greens—can’t get anymore Southern than that.   Alan ordered the Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes.  The crab cakes were filled with large chunks of crab meat and minimal filler; he pronounced these delights as the best crab cakes he has ever eaten. 
Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
Stained glass in the Cathedral

The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, a Roman Catholic Church, is not the oldest church in the city but certainly one of the most beautiful.  First established in 1799, it was rebuilt for the second time by 1899. 

Birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low
The birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts, is one of the most visited sights in town.  Each year thousands of Girl Scouts from around the nation make the pilgrimage to her home.  In fact, the first time I visited the house was about 14 years ago with our daughter, Nicole, and her Girl Scout troop.  The organization, first launched in 1912, boasts more than 59 million alumnae.

Tybee Island Light Station
In the evening we drove out to Tybee Island, once the beach for the rich from Savannah. The primary reason for the trip out to the Island was to find the Tybee Island Light Station.  The original lighthouse was built in the 1730’s, upon the order of James Oglethorpe.  The lighthouse has been rebuilt 4 times through its history but has guided boaters safely into the Savannah River for over 270 years.

Remembering The Crab Shack, on route to Tybee Island, where the Girl Scout troop had feasted many years ago, we decided to head there for dinner.   Having missed out on blue crab at our last two stops, we were looking forward to a crab feast.  But, they had run out of crab!   We moved on to Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House, to snag some local oysters.  Owned by Paula Dean and her brother, Uncle Bubba, this restaurant is popular with locals and tourist alike.  Grilled oysters topped with Parmesan cheese were my dinner; Alan indulged in the fried oysters.  Both meals were delicious and we had a front row table overlooking the coastal marshlands.  A perfect combination.

Moving south again, we are headed to another historic city, St. Augustine, FL.
Barge moving along the Savannah River
 Picton Castle

 HMS Bounty (Replica)
The Crab Shack

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