Friday, October 10, 2008

Savannah Trip 2008

You've been missing out on the details of my daily life since I've not written a major update since August.


Let's begin there and slowly cover the gap between then and now over a series of notes.


At the end of August, for Labor Day Weekend, Jon and I drove down to Savannah, GA for a little Holiday getaway. We stayed at a simple motel in one area of the city not too far from the historic district.


We arrived on a Friday afternoon and our first stop was Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House. Every insider's guide to Savannah listed this historic restaurant as a "must-experience" event. Website is here: http://www.mrswilkes.com/ . Jon and I definitely agree with the experts- this place is not to be missed! The historic boarding house serves up authentic Southern Cuisine for lunch and dinner family style. As we came into the restaurant, we were seated with other guests around a communal table. Then the food procession began. There was fried chicken, sausages, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, grilled corn, beans and rice, stewed green, fried okra, baked beans, summer squash casserole, sweet potato casserole, fresh rolls, coleslaw, black eyed peas, butter beans, succotash, and a whole bunch of other dishes I can't remember. And fresh sweet tea [that was everywhere in Savannah!] and lemonade. Once we had eaten our fill, they brought dessert. Woo boy it was all so delicious. And affordable. We had lovely conversations with the other guests at our table - a couple from Chicago, a couple from Texas, and a single lady from I-don't-remember-where.


After lunch, we walked around the neighborhood where the boarding house was and admired the beautiful mansions before heading back to our hotel for a nap. It had been a long drive and the heavy lunch left us sleepy. Plus the southern heat was really oppressive.


Once we had a chance to nap and swim at the motel we were ready to head back to the historic district for our evening activities. We did some sightseeing of the squares closest to our dinner destination [the square that holds the John Wesley statue] as well as the riverfront area. For dinner, we enjoyed a spectacular meal at the Olde Pink House, another "must-see" from the travel guides and local advisors. We both had the company special which was flounder cooked Thai-style in a ginger sauce. It's a very unique presentation - the chef scores the fish with a diamond pattern on each side and then pan fries the fish (skin on and not deboned) with the special sauce. The scoring allows one to use a fork to puncture a particular diamond section which then perfectly and cleanly separates from the bone ready for eating. It was something new for both Jon and myself and tasted delicious. We found the entire staff to be so kind. I've been to a lot of places in the USA and I've honestly never met such nice people in my entire life. Even in the rest of the south. That was a repeated pattern we noticed in Savannah- how generous and good-spirited its residents are. The chef from the restaurant was truly top notch- he competed on Iron Chef [the series on the food network] a few seasons ago against one of the Iron Chefs.


After dinner we wandered through the downtown district for a bit and then returned to the hotel to sleep.


Next morning, we were up bright and early to go back to the historic district for a tour. We drove to the address for the Grey Line tour since they are the most affordable and recommended and all we found was the office of Old Savannah Tours. The lady behind the counter told us that the Grey Line tour company was out of business and so we could tour with them instead. They were a bit pricier, but we didn't have any other options [we thought]. So of course, after boarding the trolley, which raises our viewpoint over the skyline, we see that the Grey Line tour company is right across the fence and we had just driven in to the wrong side of the parking lot. Old Savannah Tours= scam artists!!!! There is no way though could be right next door to their major competitor and not know that they were still in business. I wanted to throw a tantrum and get off and demand a refund but Jon asked me not to make a stink over a few dollars. The tour itself was fine. Took us by all of the historic squares (Savannah was a planned city whereby mansions were planted around squares every few blocks.) We took a lot of pictures, got off and did a lot of walking (the trolley has on/off privileges all day) and toured the Juliette Gordon Lowe home which was special for me, having been a girl scout for 10 years. (Juliette Gordon Lowe was a childless woman who God gifted to serve with her husband in other ways in her community, including the founding of the Girl Scouts based on the Boy Scout model.) Another point of interest on this day was witnessing the spectacle of police and onlookers in front of the Cotton Exchange building. It seems some lady fell asleep at the wheel, plowed her car through some hedges and into a very old and valuable terra cotta Lion Statue. Once her car hit the fountain the force propelled the car into the air and it crashed into the front doors of the Exchange. The impact was so strong it shattered the windows on the second story of the Exchange and crushed the top of her car. The driver came away with nothing more than a few scratches. But city officials were wringing their hands over the historic and priceless statue.


We had a simple lunch by the riverfront (hot dogs) and saved our appetites for the dinner we were anticipating at Paula Deen's restaurant. I love the lady, and Jon enjoys watching her as well. We've seen her in person a couple of times as she has come to Washington, D.C. for the annual Metro Cooking Faire. She's an amazing cook and another example of God empowering someone to excellence as her beginnings were humble and her life fraught with struggle for most of early years. Her signature restaurant however was a disappointment. The food was merely average compared to the boarding house the day before and combined with the price (>$20) and the wait time (we had to stand in line for a half hour in the morning to get tickets for the buffet in the evening, plus wait 30+ minutes to be seated once we got there in the evening) made it a dinner I regretted.


After dinner we toured the riverfront area again, stopping to sample and buy fresh pralines for our friends back home and stopping at Wet Willie's famous frozen drink bar for a quick refresher. Eventually we made our way back to the motel for the evening, spent.


Sunday morning we drove to Tybee Island to spend the full day at the ocean. The city was having a Labor Day celebration with live music and other activities under their pier, but we spent most of the day relaxing on our blankets/towels a few yards from the water. The relaxing pace continued into the evening when we took some candid photos of ourselves before heading back to the hotel for the evening.


There are pictures documenting our entire weekend, including the squares, the mansions, and even the car accident, online. Just click here to go to my facebook album:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=62526&l=67be1&id=603259739

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