28.11.2013 - 30.11.2013
For the Thanksgiving long weekend, we chose a short road trip to Savannah. Before we visited Savannah, my mind's eye imagined beautiful old, Southern style houses, friendly people, people with long, drawn out speech (the Southern drawl) and Forrest Gump. We certainly weren't disappointed! The weather was sunny but with icy winds (less than 10 degrees celsius), which made a big change from warm Jacksonville, but the weather was helpful in preparing us for our upcoming snowy Christmas. The first thing we did once we arrived was to jump onboard a tourist trolley to soak up the history and work out what we wanted to see first. Carys chose for us when she spied a fantastic playground in the beautiful Forsyth Park. Forsyth Park is most well known for its lovely central fountain and large weeping oak trees. It is very popular amongst tourists and locals alike. Down one end of the park is a fountain, near the middle is a large playground and down the other end is the former Military parade ground with its large open space, perfect for ballgames.
Savannah is home to some beautifully restored homes and some of the prettiest are located on or near the numerous Squares. The most famous of these houses is the Mercer Williams House, thanks to its prominence in the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Although closed to visitors during our visit to Savannah, the description in the book and glimpses through the windows were enough to know that it has been spectacularly renovated. Some other historical houses are also famous for their own reasons. There is the Hamilton Turner House, for being the first house in Savannah to have electricity. Also, the Wayne Gordon House, better known as the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts. If you would like to know more about the architecture or history of the homes, you can do so here: Savannah Historic Homes.
An interesting sight we noticed whilst walking around was the presence of pineapples, whether they be on pedestals, gates, drainpipes or atop decorative floral displays. Apparently, the pineapple is a symbol of wealth and hospitality dating back to the times of Christopher Columbus. Being an exotic fruit and unable to be grown at the time in the Americas, the pineapple was a unique curiosity whose popularity grew such that only affluent hosts could afford to offer it to their guests. In doing so, the fruit became a symbol of generosity, hospitality and wealth and sculpted or carved pineapples soon started appearing in prominent exterior places where guests may pass by.
The movie Forrest Gump is also another famous Savannah drawcard as even after 20 years, people still love to see the sites where the movie was filmed. The famous bench scene was filmed in Chippewa Square but the bench was only for filming and was then removed and placed in the Savannah History Museum. The traffic direction was also reversed to suit the scene. The diner where Jenny worked is actually called Debi's Restaurant and it is still family owned. We didn't eat there due to the holiday weekend but at least we have a photo!
After wandering around the Historic district for a while, we worked our way down to River Street. One of the first things we saw were the taffy shops so we popped in for some free samples. We also filled a tin with enough taffy to last a whole year (we aren't big lolly/candy eaters)!
For Thanksgiving dinner, we had chosen a traditional buffet at a larger hotel overlooking the water. We were greeted by the largest gingerbread house we had ever seen!
The meal was great and so was the view.
The next morning we set off back down to River St for a Christmas cruise with Santa. An annual tradition, the Riverboat sails with kids of all ages enjoying the sights and commentary up the river and photos and gifts with Mr and Mrs Claus. Carys was too scared to sit for a photo but she was happy to receive a small gift from Mrs Claus.
Before we left for our next destination, we stopped in for an ice cream at Leopold's. We enjoyed looking at the movie props and also the wonderfully different flavours of ice cream. Lemon custard was my favourite! The props throughout the store are all from movies that the owner worked on throughout his behind the scenes Hollywood career. Much of the store is also from the original Leopold's location before they closed and reopened a few years later.
Lastly, for those of you who have read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and ever wondered what The Lady Chablis looks like, here she is!