All the Georgians say how beautiful Savannah is. The riverside city, is known for its “antebellum”, or pre-civil war, houses and nearly two dozen plazas, or squares.
The visitors’ center in Savannah offers overnight RV parking which is free on Sundays. It’s otherwise $8.00 for 24 hours. We did see a couple of thrifty people arrive after the parking lot shut at 5:30 PM and leave before it opened at 8:00 AM to avoid paying altogether.
I have been reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which Neil’s mom gave me. It certainly gives a lot of context to the historical sites and the streets that you walk.
Savannah lives up to its reputation as adorable. The historical district is small and walkable. We strolled through plaza after plaza, each one small, beautiful, distinct.
I have now heard the word “antebellum” many times in positive context, as if it evokes fond memories of when life was good and people could afford gorgeous houses. Yes, owning slaves does make life easy, doesn’t it.
I am impressed with the historical society that, in the 50s, helped save those famous houses when they were in disrepair. Gentrification indeed. But it sure looks nice, and I have no idea why no other early city planner copied its design.
We spent a lot of time on River Street the first night, climbing down the steep historical steps to the promenade and watching huge freighters which forged ahead under the dainty Talmadge Bridge.
We read the displays along the river, like the one below. I was somewhat proud of James Oglethorpe, the founder of Georgia and urban designer of Savannah. He stood against slavery and forbid it, until the antebellum Georgians said “Waa! How come everyone else gets slaves and we don’t? Waa!”
The next morning I put on some lentil and kale soup in the thermal cooker for later.We vowed not to spend money eating out; we have been spending a lot on food lately and it was not the reason why we came to Savannah.
Edd went inside the visitor center to pay for Monday’s parking pass (our first time paying to park!). He asked the guy behind the desk what the best cycle route was to Bonaventure Cemetery, where the famous song writer Johnny Mercer is buried.
“It’s impossible to do,” the man said. “I don’t recommend any cycling there at all.”
Edd pointed out on the map that there were plenty of small streets that would take us there, and that we just wanted to know the best way. The man tried to justify his initial response.
“You have a ‘D’ on your hat, right? For Detroit. Well, you wouldn’t cycle in certain neighbourhoods in Detroit, would you?”
When Edd told me this, I laughed. I can’t believe he was comparing Savannah to Detroit, and what did he mean by that? We had to find out for ourselves.
We cycled all the way there. Some of the houses had been left to weather or were abandoned. It was mostly black neighborhoods. Was that why the guy tried to discourage us? Seems a bit shameful. When we passed the smaller bungalows on the outskirts of the historical district, we joked, “Uh-oh; it’s getting seedy!”
The thing Savannah is lacking are dedicated bicycle lanes. The city is flat, small, and parking is expensive.
The cemetery has an unorthodox appearance due to the contrast between spiky palms, sandy roads, and angel statues. We found a quiet bench to eat lunch. Edd sparked up a joint. We wandered, read, and took pictures. It’s a huge site.
The cemetery was no more than 30 minutes by bike, and the ride back along Bonaventure Street was beautiful.
We also visited the Colonial Cemetery in town, which is now a city park!
We found out that several southern cities have these great lax open-alcohol rules: bring it in a plastic or paper cup (as long as it’s a reasonable 16oz or smaller), and you can bring it anywhere. Even from bar to bar. So after we came back to the van and I ate our soup, we packed our stemless plastic Walmart wine glasses and a few cans of beer, and walked back to River Street. We watched the sunset with beers. What a great city.
On Tuesday we went out to Tybee Island, just east of Savannah. Parking is normally $2.00 an hour “everywhere” on the island, unless you park on the side of the I80 expressway before the bridge, which some locals had done. We unabashedly verified this with the woman at Tybee’s visitor center AND the parking services employees! We cycled in.
Tybee’s main beach is clean and becomes enormous when the tide is out. The sand is really fine. We walked up and down it and under the pier. We even walked through a bunch of strange-acting, statue-like beachgoers, until we realized they were actors in a commercial and we had walked right through their scene.
The houses in Tybee could be straight out of the Caribbean. They are wooden, built on stilts, and painted cheery pastel colors that stand out amongst the dark palms and purple sky.
Driving out, we saw one funny thing near Lazaretto Creek, the site of an old slave quarantine building. There were numerous small wooden shelters on the ground next to the road. I thought it was a strange place for homeless people to sleep, but Edd pointed out all the cats. “They’re shelters for cats!” He said.
We stayed overnight in a Walmart on Wilmington Island. We spent half of the next day stocking up on food and water at Publix, working out and showering at a nice Savannah Planet Fitness, and are now doing laundry. We’re going to dump our wastewater at a state park and drive down to Darien.