From December 17th to 28th, we nested in Savannah, Georgia, hoping to escape the dreaded Winter. Ha! There were several times when we had to don the heavy coats we brought with us. While we experienced mostly overcast days the temperatures stayed in the low 50s to low 60s. We resided in a loft half a block off the main street of Old Savannah (established in 1733) in walking distance to the many interesting sites.The highlight of our stay was simply living there and immersing our selves in the city. Savannah’s Historic District did not disappoint, City Market (music and good eats), famous River Street (waterfront) with the Waving Girl statue, and the First African Baptist Church.
We did take advantage of Savannah’s location to visit Tybee Island and Hilton Head Islands as well as some newly discovered relatives in Sandersville.
“The colony of Georgia began on Savannah’s waterfront in 1733. The riverfront has always played an important role in Georgia, whether as colonial port, exporter of cotton, or tourist destination. The first commercial house below the bluff opened in 1744. Cotton dominated Savannah’s exports throughout the nineteenth century. Construction began in the early 1800s for the multi-storied warehouses and “Factor’s Walk,” named for the cotton brokers whose offices were in the upper floors. River Street was created in 1834 and cobbled with ballast stones. The last cotton office on the waterfront closed in 1956. River Street’s revitalization began in 1977.:
Georgia Historical Society
We stayed in a comfortable cozy loft right in downtown old Savannah. It had to be one of the best locations ever as we were near everything worth sharing with interested friends and family.
We managed to crowd into Paula Dean’s eatery for fried green tomatoes and everything else fried. Of course “shrimp and yellow grits” is a popular frequently requested menu item.
We visited an art museum to see the original of a favorite painting (of which we have a copy) and also visited newly found family members.
One of the historical landmarks of Savannah, the First African Baptist Church was a memorable tour/visit for us. Contrary to myth (as reported in Wikipedia), our docent, a Savannah College professor, the church did not hide runaway slaves beneath the sanctuary floorboards. The decorative air holes in the wooden floor are designed to prevent the wood from rotting. It still is awe inspiring.
Located an easy 16 mile drive from Savannah, Tybee Island’s history goes back to 1736 and the Civil War. The Union Army used it in their successful bombardment and capture of Fort Pulaski on April 10–11, 1862.
The Tybee Island Light Station is one of just a handful of 18th-century lighthouses still in operation in North America. We climbed the many steps to the top and had a personal tour of all the structures on the island by a most gregarious gentleman. (He had a daughter living in Farmington Hills.)
Located between the lighthouse and and the ocean are remnants of Fort Screven,. First commissioned in 1899 and decommissioned in 1947, it is one of the six original batteries still accessible to the public
The island boasts a most wonderful beach. Alas, it was Winter when we were there.
We took a day trip to Hilton Head Island in search of the Gullah people; West African slaves who were brought to South Carolina in the 1700s. By being in an out-of-the-way area the descendants were able to maintain a unique culture and traditions, including a highbred language based on English and African. While there may be actual “Gullahs” still living on the island, outside of our tour driver I don’t believe that we encountered any. It appeared that most Gullahs had either melted into the modern island life or moved away with proceeds from the sale of their real estate holdings on the island. The tour is not recommended, at least not in winter temperatures. Perhaps in summer, the tour might feature actual Gullah life. We saw a few remnants of the Gullah life: historic former schools, and property.