I thought I was going to fall in love with Savannah, which would have been a bit inconvenient as I’d then want to find a spare month each year to live here as a local. Luckily, I’ve liked it enough to enjoy my week as a southern belle, but not so much that I feel the need to return.
It’s a small town if you discount 90% of the city where it’s not safe to stay as a naïve visitor from out of town. Gun violence is a real problem. Just in the past week there have been three shootings that have left two kids dead and one injured.
It’s suggested that visitors confine themselves basically to the area between Forsyth Park (in the centre of the Google map below) and the Savannah River, with a side visit to Bonaventure Cemetery. You want to be a NOG, which stands for "north of Gaston", the street that runs from west to east across the top of the park.
My friend Sarah and I were booked into two cottages in a lane near the bottom of the park, where we felt a bit exposed and vulnerable. After two days we cut our losses and moved to an inn near the river. We then started ticking attractions off the must-do list for tourists. Once you’ve done that, there’s not much to do other than eat and shop.
We saw two vintage Gregory Peck films (“To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Roman Holiday”) at the wonderful old Lucas Theater, which actor Kevin Spacey helped rescue. I think it’s a shame the theatre doesn’t have regular screenings of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”, as I would love to have seen it again here. A high percentage of visitors to the historic part of town have read the book or seen the film, and it’s become Savannah’s “brand”.
We visited the art museum, a mansion-turned-gallery and Bonaventure cemetery. A Sunday morning service at First African Baptist Church was a highlight for me. I loved the music and singing, the physical worship and dancing, the sense of community and the very warm welcome we received as visitors from Canada and “Down Under” (as the pastor called Oz). We pedalled our way around the historic streets for an hour in a pedal-powered vehicle with a bucks party from Florida, and we walked the grid that encompasses about 20 city squares complete with live oak trees and Spanish moss.
As I’m not on holiday, I also worked each day from early morning and during some of each afternoon.
Prior to arriving in Savannah we spent a couple of days travelling from New York by train through North Carolina, where I caught up with Dead Runner friend Rietta and my much-missed New York friend Brigitte, and South Carolina, where I regret I didn’t have time to visit Charleston.