Friday, March 6, 2015

Georgia On My Mind

 “We have a saying: If you go to Atlanta, the first question people ask you is, “What’s your business?” In Macon they ask, “Where do you go to church?” In Augusta they ask your grandmother’s maiden name. But in Savannah the first question peoples ask you is “What would you like to drink?”
----John Berendt, Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil

Savannah is romance, from the way the Spanish moss cast shadows along the pavement to the couples holding hands as they slowly drift through one of the public squares or along the river front; everyone takes the time to stop and smell the fragrant bouquet of flowers lining the sidewalks. Savannah is a true icon of exquisite southern living and I can’t imagine it not bringing out the dreamers heart in anyone that strolls her charming paths.

Fountain in Forsyth Park
Starting with a quote from “Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil,” just seemed necessary to set the stage for this captivating city, and although I call it by name, the natives just refer to it as “The Book.” The residents of Savannah are eccentric, colorful, artistic and know how to show one a good time, so much so that the city doesn't even have open container laws; they want you to feel so welcome, they allow you to walk down her fabled streets with a mint julep in hand. This adds to the magic and puts a whole new spin on “Slow-Vannah,” you have no cares and getting lost is even more freeing when one feels a bit tipsy.

River Front
There is a tranquility about Savannah, and that could have a lot to do with the remaining 22 of the original 24 squares that dot the city landscape. They create these wonderful gathering places of beauty and history, and forces one to just give in to the laid back atmosphere manifested here. When James Oglethorpe founded the city, he was on to something; build a public square and build out from it, creating a city built on a grid system and utopic space for those that live there. For my Utah people, Savannah would be like coming home; Brigham Young most likely based his “Mormon Grid” off the design of Oglethorpe that precedes Salt Lake by over one hundred years.

Tom  wishing I would hurry as I slowly walked Jones Street (deemed the prettiest street in America)
Savannah is known for being one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and I must attest to the truth in that statement. Never in all my life have I visited a city that has taken my breath away quite the way that Savannah does, well I digress, Venice is superb for the jaw drop. There is a reason film after film is made here; artists and writers flock to the place as a haven for their originality and for inspiration, the place bleeds serenity and beauty. I found myself making excuses to take the thirty or so minute drive that direction on a regular basis, just to get lost on her streets or plop down on a bench in Forsyth Park and just watch the people in their own whimsical worlds while the city transported us all to another time and place.

The Book Lady Bookstore, loved this place
The outskirts of Savannah are home to Wormsloe Plantation and Bonaventure Cemetery, both pet friendly. These places both boast this alluring yet eerie feel to them. Starting with Wormsloe Plantation, once you drive through the gates you are greeted by a mile long drive down and old dirt road, lined by over 400 live oak trees, it’s almost like you've been carried away to a more genteel period in time. The entire scene is so picturesque, you can understand why it has been so photographed and used in so many films. Granted the entire drive the only words popping into my head were, “run Forrest, run!” The rest of the place, not too much to see, the home is privately owned and tours are not given. We did however add to that creepy vibe as we experienced an M. Night Shyamalan moment when we watched the “villagers” dancing and singing in circles; hopefully warding off evil spirits. I know, my smart ass remarks have now ruined the place, but seriously witnessing the live oak canopy is off the charts, and a must visit if in the area.

Wormsloe Plantation
Then there is Bonaventure Cemetery which just exemplifies the words hauntingly beautiful. It is a place that transcends time and has so many stories to tell. I can see why it was a muse and filming location for “The Book,” and although the famous Bird Girl has been moved to a museum, this place still houses many uniquely Gothic memorials. This place is magical, it’s almost like you can feel the energy of those that have been laid to rest there; I can only imagine a full moon on a foggy night and the spirits roaming the little dirt paths. But not in a creepy way, I visualize it as mysteriously romantic, if a cemetery can be such, or maybe I am just drunk on Southern Charm.

Bonaventure Cemetery
Keep driving past Wormsloe and Bonaventure and you will run out of mainland and end up on Tybee Island.  Now to understand the world and the people here, just take the unique and funky personalities of those from Savannah and kick it up a notch with a bohemian beach vibe. Those that live there have the laid back, easy going lifestyle down to a science and I am pretty sure time literally slows down here. Not only is the place beach chic, it boasts a lighthouse and pristine white sand beaches. We spent Christmas Eve here, sand between our toes and sitting back in one of the many bench swings that line the seemingly untouched beaches.

Tybee Island Lighthouse
On our official goodbye of Hilton Head, we decided to take the long way around on our journey back to Saint Augustine, yes, we went back. We diverted off of I-95 and stopped to explore the Golden Isles, seeing just a little more of what it is the Georgia has to offer. Our first stop was Brunswick, a small port town, on the Georgia coast; we checked out Old Town: the square, The Ritz Theater and the historic appeal of the town. Like Savannah, it adheres to a grid system built around squares, making it easy to navigate and adding a quaintness to the city. The town felt small, but in a cozy way and we pretty much had the boutique lined streets to ourselves, all making it a perfect scenario to grab a cupcake and eat while we walked.

The Ritz Theater in Brunswick
In St. Simon we found all the people that were missing in Brunswick, the place was packed with those lunching and browsing the fun beach shops, it was almost reminiscent of our time in Cape May. We traveled past the city center and right to the St. Simon lighthouse to explore its history and stroll the streets, taking time to enjoy the unique blend of antebellum homes colliding with beach cottages; quite appealing I must say. The island was unique, eclectic and still held on to that old world beach glamour; something I was hoping Hilton Head Island would have been.

St. Simon Lighthouse
Then finally on to my favorite of our three stops, Jekyll Island. Jekyll Island has this exclusivity about it, it was originally purchased by a group of wealthy families as a retreat and represented one-sixth of the world’s wealth, the one percenters of the one percenters, and then purchased by the state of Georgia when “The Club” closed in 1947. Interesting tidbit, the first intercontinental phone call was made from Jekyll Island in 1915, well a four-way call also including DC, New York and San Francisco.  But the best spot on Jekyll Island and one of the coolest nature made sights I've ever seen, Driftwood Beach! I didn't want to leave, I was enamored with the place! This stunning phenomena has happened over time, as the island recedes and the trees are left fighting to stand, eventually falling and creating a tree graveyard of sorts. Driftwood Beach is about as picturesque as one can imagine, almost bewitching and I am dying to back there at sunrise. If Tom wasn't so determined to get the three of us to St. Augustine to our new abode and unload, we might have stayed, but now, I have a new spot to add to our list.

Jekyll Island:

Horton House Ruins
Tybee Island:

Lafayette Square
Wormsloe Plantation
Our M. Night Shyamalan Experience
Bonaventure Cemetery
Bonaventure Cemetery

1 comment:

  1. Oh Bonnie, I love the new posted locations. I think my favorite has to be Jekyll Island. I have a true fascination for old trees and trees as you have shown in the pictures this month. I remember being in Georgia and loving those trees with the moss hanging on them. The places you have visited are so truly unique. I love going through the pictures and what you have written about the different areas. Thank you for sharing this.