Friday, July 26, 2013

Savannah Georgia

Our big summer trip this year was a trip to Orlando, Florida and Savannah, Georgia. I posted all about the Florida part of our trip already and you can read that here.

Just to give you a little background in case you didn't or don't want to read the Florida post....

...although, I know that couldn't be true...


We flew to Orlando, saw our family, went to Epcot in Disney World, drove to Savannah, drove back to Orlando, saw family, flew home to Texas.

This post will be all about the Georgia part of the trip.

We crossed the border between Florida and Georgia in the late afternoon and were warmly greeted!

Georgia's on your mind sign

And then, and then, we saw the BEST SIGN EVER!

1995 Atlanta Braves World Series Champions Sign Georgia

And I do NOT mean the Camden County sign, either! That sign right there, "Georgia - Home of the 1995 World Series Champions", do you know what that sign is referring to?

Just the best day ever for the best baseball team in the entire world! It was the day that The Atlanta Braves won the World Series of Baseball!!

Let me share the game from that beautiful day. If you don't feel like watching the whole game then at the very least forward to the 2 hour 11 minute mark to see the win. I tear up everytime. Everytime.

I have loved baseball and the Braves since I was a kid!

I was so excited that we were going to be in Georgia and that I could pick up a Braves shirt from Wal-Mart for much cheaper than anywhere else. Once we were in Savannah we did go to a Wal-Mart only to find out they didn't have any Braves merchandise. Not even a baseball cap! I was so disappointed. I know you can get Braves merchandise in the Atlanta Wal-Marts, but I guess Savannah is just too far away.

Oh well, moving on.

At the border we realized we still had about an hour and a half until we actually reached Savannah and we also realized we were not going to wait until reaching it to eat dinner.

You will never guess where Frankie convinced me to eat at.

Waffle House.

You probably guessed that if you read the other post about Florida.

While we were sitting at the Waffle House, Frankie asked the waitress, what grits were exactly. We are from the south, but it is Texas, which is a whole different type of south from Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, etc. So grits aren't something that were in our lives much. You can get them here, but not as easily as other states in the deeper south.

When the waitress answered with ground up dried corn we both made a face. She then went on to say that they were actually good and did we want to try some on the house. With slight hesitation we said we would try them.

Grits Waffle House Georgia

Doesn't that just look lovely? Not really!

The waitress said that some people like them with salt and others eat them with sugar. We both tried it plain first and it wasn't awful, but it was very bland. So then we sprinkled a little salt on it. Still not awful, but not something I would want to eat again. Then we tried it with a little sugar.

Ding! Ding! Ding!

We have a winner!

Grits with sugar is pretty darn good!

Fed and enlightened we finished our drive to Savannah. Since we had gotten such a late start we ended up getting to Savannah too late to really do anything. We decided to go to bed early so that we could wake up early and cram as much as possible into our only full day in Savannah.

The next day we were up and out the door early! Like by 8AM! (Hey, that's early in vacation hours!) We had researched earlier what we wanted to do and we knew we wanted to take a tour of the historic district of Savannah. There are several tour companies that offer this service but we decided to go with Oglethorpe Trolley Tours. We chose them because it was a little cheaper, included a 90 minute tour, and a convenient hop-on hop-off feature for after the tour. Plus there was the added bonus of when you were at one of the hop-on hop-off stops you didn't have to just stand there and wait for the next air conditioned (most of them, anyways) trolley to show up. You could call and they would come get you and take you to a different stop.

If you have never been to Savannah let me show you a map of the historic downtown just to put things in perspective.  The blue rectangles you see are all the squares that decorate the district.  You can see how perfectly it is laid out.  It was one of the first planned out cities in America. Me and my little analytical mind loved it!

The first thing I noticed on our tour in Savannah was the trees. We don't have trees like this in south Texas and we didn't even have trees in west Texas where I grew up (unless you count the mesquite shrubs and puny cedar trees)! So the trees here really caught my attention.

One of the squares in Savannah Georgia

Tree with Spanish Moss Savannah Georgia

Tree with Spanish Moss in front of house Savannah Georgia

Tree covered in Spanish Moss Savannah Georgia

That stuff hanging off all the trees is called Spanish moss, which is neither Spanish nor moss. It just hangs there like some kind of oversized giant spider web just waiting for someone to walk right into it face first. I don't even know. It creeped me out more than anything and fascinated me all at the same time.

We learned a lot on our trolley tour. They aren't kidding around when they say that Savannah is old. It officially began in 1773, is the oldest city in Georgia, and was the southernmost tip of the original 13 colonies of America. It was around for the Revolutionary War! Texas didn't even become a state until 1845! (Of course, there are some who say that Texas (or Republic of Texas, as they call it) never properly became part of the United States and to this day will argue that point.)

I digress, let me share some of the sights we saw while on the tour.

Hitching Post and Stepup Savannah Georgia

This is a hitching post in front of a house with a step to help the apparently smaller statured men to get up on their horse.

Window Eyes Savannah Georgia

I am actually not sure where this is. That 90 minute tour is just a whirlwind of sights and information. It was impossible to keep up but still I saw things worth sharing even if I have no information on them.

Brokers Bridges at Port Savannah Georgia

These are the brokers bridges at the port of the Savannah river so they could easily go back and forth from the river to their offices. I am assuming that the river has been pushed back since there is no water under these bridges.

Talmadge Memorial Bridge to South Carolina in Savannah Georgia

This is the Talmadge Memorial Bridge that connects Georgia to South Carolina. We later took that bridge and drove into South Carolina, just to say we did it. Yeah, we are rebels like that.

South Carolina State Line from Savannah Georgia

Back in Savannah and back to our tour we saw two statues that are on the eastern end of River Street.

The first one is called Waving Girl.

Waving Girl Savannah Georgia

The story we were told was that a little girl, Florence Martus, decided to welcome incoming ships by waving to them with her handkerchief and it became a passion of hers. She waved to those ships throughout her adult life and became famous for such a simple act. She had a boat named after her and this statue made of her. The statue was created by Felix De Weldon, the same artist who made the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Virginia.

The other statue we saw was the 1996 Olympic Torch that burned for two weeks during the Olympics in honor of the yachting competitions that were held on the Savannah river.

Olympic Torch Savannah Georgia

It was the only time that two Olympic flames burned at the same time. It was created by Ivan Bailey.

We were done with the 90 minute tour so we exited near the City Market and started our own tour of Savannah. It is a gorgeous city! Not so much fun in the hot humid summer though. We want to go back sometime in the winter to wander more without the feeling of a slow melting death just hovering over us.

Near the City Market is the First African Baptist Church.

First African Baptist Church Savannah Georgia

It is the oldest black congregation in North America with its beginnings in 1773 and the building being built in 1859. The thing that makes this even more noteworthy is the fact that slaves who built this church built it of bricks that they made themselves and they built it AFTER working all day in the fields. Such an amazing feat all for the glory of God!

To think, sometimes I complain that the pew is a little too hard or it's a tad hot to a little too cold. Shame on me and forgive me Lord for not counting my blessings when I come to worship you!

They have a small cutout on the buildings newer stucco to show the original bricks.

First African Baptist Church showing the actual bricks underneath current plaster Savannah Georgia

Along our trolley tour there were somethings that I wanted to take a closer look at. One of them was a celtic cross so we started to head towards it. We passed some items of interest along the way.

There was the Savannah Cotton Exchange which is where brokers tried to get the most money for the cotton planters and buyers tried to get the cotton as cheap as possible. You know, normal business of buying and selling anything!

Cotton Exchange Savannah Georgia

I feel in love with that little lion with wings. Check out the side view.

Side of Lion at Savannah Cotton Exchange Savannah Georgia

I love everything about him, especially the wings! I should give him a name.....but I can't think of one mighty enough for him. I will have to ponder that. Feel free to give suggestions, so you ponder it too.

In the meantime, let's continue our stroll.

Close to the Cotton Exchange is the Old City Exchange Bell.

Old City Exchange Bell Savannah Georgia

The sign beside it says that this bell is believed to be the oldest in Georgia with a date of 1802. It was imported from Amsterdam. It stayed at city hall until that building was razed to make way for the current City Hall building. The bell would ring out to signal that it was time to close up the shops, when a fire broke out, and to celebrate the American victory during the War of 182.

Gold Dome of City Hall Savannah Georgia

This is the current city hall with its beautiful gold dome.

Further down from the Cotton Exchange and Old City Bell is the Irish Celtic Cross.

Irish Cross Savannah Georgia

At the base it says "To Americans of Irish Descent Past-Present-Future Erin Go Bragh"

Savannah has a substantial population of people who are of Irish descent. Thousands of Irish fled their country in the 1830's and 40's during the potato famine and one of the places they went was Savannah. Every year Savannah has a huge St. Patrick's Day celebration.

After this, we really didn't have plans of where to go next. We didn't want to wander around with no plan so we took a break at nearby restaurant to get something to drink and plan out the rest of our day.

Through the use of the hop-on hop-off and our own two feet let me share with you the rest of our day.

We went to the Colonial Park Cemetery.

The cemetery is the second one in colonized Savannah. It shows its age too.

Old Grave Markers in Colonial Park Cemetery Savannah Georgia

It had more than 700 people buried there from the Yellow Fever epidemic in the 1840's. Also, there were men buried there from Savannah's dueling era which was from 1740 (first victim) all the way to 1877 (last victim). It is said that too many men died from what they called "too much honor". In fact, many of the duels were held in and around the cemetery. Dueling is something I will never understand.

The cemetery was closed before the start of the Civil War but General Sherman and his men took over control and occupied the cemetery. This included looting the graves, overturning headstones, and even in some cases changing the dates on the tombs themselves.

The city has done their best to put the cemetery back in order, but there are just some things that can't be fixed.

Broken Marker Colonial Park Cemetery Savannah Georgia

Marker pieced together Colonial Park Cemetery Savannah Georgia

I am guessing that these were too tough to destroy.

Family Plots Colonial Park Cemetery Savannah Georgia

Here is another view.

Side view of Family Plots Colonial Park Cemetery Savannah Georgia

"What is that?", you may be asking. Well, that, my friends, is none other than a family plot! I have no idea how it works, all I know is that entire families are buried in there....maybe it was all part of that Yellow Fever epidemic or maybe not.

This particular one belonged to S. Santini from 1849. Seriously, there is one date, so again, that just makes it more confusing.

Familly name on vault Colonial Park Cemetery Savannah Georgia

I have one last thing to share from Colonial Park Cemetery. There was a sign in there that read:

Description of Edward Greene Malbone in Colonial Park Cemetery Savannah Georgia

I couldn't get past the first line. A painter of miniatures. Miniature what?? I had to do some research to find out it was miniature portraits! Who knew?? When I read the sign, all I could think of was that he painted miniature furniture and I really was thinking that it wasn't that impressive.

I am now impressed but still slightly confused. I guess when you don't have a camera to capture the likeness of you or your loved one in a photo to later show off to others, carrying around a miniature portrait is the next best thing?


Next we went to St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.

Before getting there, we saw the cutest downspout ever....not that I have seen any in any other shape than a tube.

Fish Water Spout Savannah Georgia

This one was caked with mud, but you can still see the fish design! There are several of these around so be on the lookout for them if you go!

Once at the church, it wasn't much to look at from the outside at the time we saw it.

St John the Baptist Catholic Church Savannah Georgia

Don't let the outside keep you away though, because the inside is fantastic!

Nave of St John the Baptist Catholic Church Savannah Georgia

Close up of side chapel at St John the Baptist Catholic Church Savannah Georgia

Ceiling of St John the Baptist Catholic Church Savannah Georgia

Organ at St John the Baptist Catholic Church Savannah Georgia

There were three things in the church that just made me giggle.

Father Schreck at St John the Baptist Catholic Church Savannah Georgia

I am sure he is a very nice man, he just has an unfortunate name thanks to Dreamworks.

Column in pew of St John the Baptist Catholic Church Savannah Georgia

I would hate to be the person who has to sit anywhere near this column! Plus, it raises many questions. Was it poor planning or designed for the one who still needed to go to confession?? If you can't see the preacher do you get a discount on what you give for offering like discount seats at concerts where you can't really see the stage? Does someone actually have to sit RIGHT there??

Keep Door Closed Sign St John the Baptist Catholic Church Savannah Georgia

And this one just cracked me up, because it IS hot and that sign IS needed probably close to year round if the weather is anything like Texas' weather!

After visiting St. John the Baptist Catholic Church we changed gears, sort of, and headed towards Mickve Israel Jewish Synagogue.

But, of course, before actually reaching it, I have some things to share from along the way!

The interesting....I guess that is what you could call it.

No Panhandling Sign Savannah Georgia

The historically unusual yet practical. There are places on many of these stairways where a person could scrape their boots clean before heading up.

Place in Railing to Wipe Boots Savannah Georgia

And then lots and lots of the beautiful!

Crepe Mrytle Savannah Georgia

Beautiful Steps Savannah Georgia

Yellow Door Savannah Georgia

Beautiful Ironwork on Balcony Savannah Georgia

Purple Hydrangea Savannah Georgia

Pink Hydrangea Savannah Georgia

After all that we arrived at the Mickve Israel Synagogue which is the third oldest Jewish congregation in the United States!

Mickve Israel Tempel Savannah Georgia

We have only been to one other synagogue and that was in Budapest at the Dohany Street Synagogue.

The Dohany Street Synagogue in Budapest was designed more like a traditional gothic Christian cathedral so that it would be more acceptable to the general public. The Mickve Israel Synagogue was designed more like a traditional neo-gothic Christian cathedral as well but they did it because that was the style of the time and they just followed the fad. The Mickve Israel Synagogue is the only neo-gothic Jewish sanctuary in the United States. It is well worth the visit. So with all of that we have never seen what a traditional synagogue looks like! One of these days we will, I am sure.

We paid $5 each to take the tour and I am glad we did. It was very informative and interesting. Plus the lady giving the tour was from New York City, so it was fun hearing her accent.

The inside of Mickve Israel is very pretty.

Inside Mickve Israel Temple Savannah Georgia

Now, I know they were just following a fad of looking like a Christian church but did they have to copy everything down to that column right in the middle of the pews? At least this one they actually separated the pew and didn't just carve around it!

There were some very interesting things to see even if you aren't Jewish or maybe it would be even more so because of that. It is all new if you aren't Jewish. (I was going to put, "It is all new if you aren't a Jew.", but it rhymed way too much!)

Torah Scrolls Mickve Israel Temple Savannah Georgia

Star of David Mickve Israel Temple Savannah Georgia

Yello Blue Window in Mickve Israel Temple Savannah Georgia

Blessing at the Reading of the Law Mickve Israel Temple Savannah Georgia

I love seeing things written in a foreign language.  I always wonder what exciting secrets it hides in its squiggles and dots and words that have no meaning to me. Granted it could be stupid (not saying this one is seeing how it is a blessing!) or a warning of impending doom but I will never know and can continue on my oblivious way.

Also included in the tour was a narrated visit to the upstairs museum.

The most interesting thing I learned in the museum was how this church got started. In 1733 a ship named The William and Sarah left London with 42 Jewish passengers bound for the new colony of Savannah, Georgia.

Replica of the William and Sarah Ship that brought Jews to Savannah Mickve Israel Temple Savannah Georgia

Note: That is not the real ship. They did not send over miniature people just so Edward Greene Malbone (remember from the cemetery) could make them little furniture or paint their picture...whatever it was that he did.

41 people survived the trip (one child died while in route) and they started the congregation that is still going strong today. (Not the same original people....they have more than likely passed away by now...)

After all this we went into the small gift shop. You have got to see what I could have bought for my dogs!

Jewish Dog Toy Mickve Israel Temple Savannah Georgia

Talk about a play on words! Ha!

Our last stop for the day in the historic district of Savannah was Forsyth Park. The park is about 30 acres and just postcard beautiful! One of the main attractions is the cast iron fountain.

Fountain in Forsyth Park Savannah Georgia

The first time we swung by the fountain was on the trolley tour and the guide said there was only one other fountain like this in the world and that was in Cuzco, Peru. The fountain in Savannah was modeled after the Grand Fountain in Paris at the Place de la Concorde.

Here are some detail photos of the fountain and then my "artistic" shots.

Goose in Fountain at Forsyth Park Savannah Georgia

Merman in Fountain at Forsyth Park Savannah Georgia

Top of Fountain at Forsyth Park Savannah Georgia

Daisies and Fountain at Forsyth Park Savannah Georgia

Flowers and Fountain at Forsyth Park Savannah Georgia

Forsyth Park is just that, a park. It is an inviting green space to hang out, play, relax, etc. A few girls even chose to use it as a performance space for their violins.

Violinist at Forsyth Park Savannah Georgia

You could even play the chimes (I think that is what they are).

Chimes at Forsyth Park Savannah Georgia

Or you could enjoy the Confederate Memorial.

Lafayette and Civil War Monuments at Forsyth Park Savannah Georgia

Did you see that little statue way up top?

Top of Civil War Monument at Forsyth Park Savannah Georgia

Here is a close up. I don't know who he is but one of the things we learned on the tour is that most if not all of the war statues in Savannah (and probably elsewhere, everywhere? Hmmm...need to investigate.) face the direction of their enemy. The Civil War statues all face north....those darn Yankees!

Done with all that we wanted to see in the historic district we made our way back to the car. This is where we actually drove across the bridge into South Carolina and then turned around and came back. Then went Wal-Mart only to be disappointed in Savannah's apparent hatred for the Atlanta Braves. Why else would they NOT carry Braves merchandise??

Emotionally distraught, the only cure was food. We stopped at a BBQ place where I was introduced to this.

Gold BBQ Sauce with Sweet Potato Fries Savannah Georgia

That is not the right color for BBQ sauce! What is this mess?? What are they trying to pull over on us Texas folk???

As it turns out there is more than one type of BBQ sauce. Mind blown!

What were were dealing with was a mustard based BBQ sauce. Frankie said he had heard it called Carolina Gold Sauce. I have to tell you, gold BBQ sauce was more foreign to me that escargot ever was!  Maybe it was just this particular brand but it was too tangy for my taste buds. All I could taste was the mustard. Frankie on the other hand loved it. I will have to find a recipe to make it for him someday because you can't find that stuff where we live!

After eating we headed back to the historic district of Savannah but more precisely to the River Street Market and the City Market. They are very close to each other and offer all kinds of touristy shopping and restaurants. We wandered around just seeing what there was to see and enjoying our time in Savannah.

There were two things that I want to share that we saw. The first is the cool sidewalk fountain in Ellis Square.

Sidewalk Water Fountain Ellis Square Savannah Georgia

The second is a statue of Johnny Mercer.

Johnny Mercer Statue Ellis Square Savannah Georgia

Savannah loves their Johnny Mercer! There is a theater named after him, obviously a statue, his family home is highlighted, and other things are done throughout the city to show their love. Just in case you were like me and really had no idea who Johnny Mercer was, let me help you out. He was a singer, songwriter, and lyricist from the 1930's through the 1950's. If you would like to see a small list of the more than fifteen hundred songs to his credit you can see them here.

We called it a night and went back to the hotel.

The next day we were again up and out the door early. We wanted to see the Bonaventure Cemetery and then we had the four hour drive back to Orlando, Florida to deal with, PLUS we wanted to have some time to spend with our family before getting on the plane to head home the next day.

So, without further ado, the Bonaventure Cemetery.

Bonaventure Cemetery Savannah Georgia

Woman at Entrance Column to Bonaventure Cemetery Savannah Georgia

Closeup of Woman at Entrance Column to Bonaventure Cemetery Savannah Georgia

Woman and Cross at Bonaventure Cemetery Savannah Georgia

And that was just the entrance!

I have to say that this is a rather creepy cemetery. I can't even imagine it at night. It is very pretty, but those trees! I tell you they give me the creeps!

Road in Bonaventure Cemetery Savannah Georgia

The cemetery is located right on the edge of the Savannah River. This helps balance out the creepy trees.

Savannah River from Bonaventure Cemetery Savannah Georgia

The cemetery is filled with elaborate monuments and memorials. There is no telling how much some of these families spent.

Angel Grave Bonaventure Cemetery Savannah Georgia

Angel Face Bonaventure Cemetery Savannah Georgia

Woman Statue Grave Bonaventure Cemetery Savannah Georgia

Obelisk at Bonaventure Cemetery Savannah Georgia

Statue on arch grave Bonaventure Cemetery Savannah Georgia

Confederate Flag on Arch Grave Bonaventure Cemetery Savannah Georgia

What can I say? We WERE in Georgia, the deep south.

Then there were the ones that had a lot of money spent on them but they were just odd.

Partial Fence at Bonaventure Cemetery Savannah Georgia

Maybe they just ran out of money and couldn't finish the entire fence. Here is a clear shot of what was behind that partial fence.

Grave with Sphinx and Bust Bonaventure Cemetery Savannah Georgia

An entire slab platform, the bust of the man, two sphinx statues, and then even more slabs of granite and concrete. So maybe they did run out. Who knows!?

There was this.

Runner Bonaventure Cemetery Savannah Georgia

And then this.

Piano Grave Bonaventure Cemetery Savannah Georgia

Now anywhere I go, I can't help but see math. Even in a cemetery in Savannah, Georgia.

I found a perpendicular tree!!

Perpendicular Tree Bonaventure Cemetery Savannah Georgia

Yay for math!

The final image from the cemetery and the final image for this post is heart wrenching in so many ways. Sadness for the lost of the lives of the soldiers, pride for their bravery, and grateful for their service.

Soliders Graves Bonaventure Cemetery Savannah Georgia

So, this concludes our trip to Savannah, Georgia. From here we returned to Florida, saw our family one last time, went to the hotel, woke up, got on a plane, and headed home to Texas. It was a good trip and we will be going back to Savannah when the weather is more agreeable to our delicate beings.

We think we have decided where we are going for Christmas. We are leaning towards going to Seattle, Washington and Vancouver BC, Canada.   We were thinking Buenos Aires but all the guidebooks say June is the best time to go since it is there low season and then it will not be summer there either.

Do you have any must sees in Seattle or Vancouver for us? Let me know.

Until later!