Thursday, February 22, 2018

Go South, Old Folks

Too long bundled up in the cold, gray, snowy north, aging bodies longed for sun and warmth. So hub and I loaded the car with winter clothes, spring outfits and summer wear, prepared for whatever weather encountered during our drive down the East coast in search of balmy weather.

Meanwhile our Jersey hometown experienced a winter warm wave. We could have stayed home and soaked up the sun. For free. Instead we squandered our kids’ inheritance on our pursuit of fun in the sun.

Our tour group explored the history of
urban slaves. This sculpture of a slave
family in chains is on the
Savannah riverfront.
We are in the sophisticated, tree-lined southern city of Savannah, Georgia. The first part of our winter getaway is a 5-day Road Scholar tour of Savannah, comprising a stay in a renovated historic hotel, lectures, great restaurant meals – including a cooking class and the opportunity to enjoy our culinary endeavors - tours of historic sites, and the chance to meet fellow Road Scholars from around the country.

Savannah’s ever-expanding tourism industry (about 14 million visitors in 2017) can be traced to two 1994 events: the success of the movie Forrest Gump, and the success of the book and a few years later the movie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. I admit I had not read Midnight before planning a Savannah visit, but finished the book in time to get a flavor for the city, its inhabitants and history before setting eyes on the place.

James Oglethorpe
James Oglethorpe, founder of Savannah and the Georgia colony, stopped by and regaled our group with stories about his Georgia adventure. I unlearned ideas acquired in school. For example I believed the state’s initial settlers were debtors and criminals. I was wrong. And I did not know the colony was an ambitious idea in an early form of socialism that ultimately failed.

A musical trio entertained us with songs written by, and stories about, Savannah’s famous and favorite son, Johnny Mercer.

The tumultuous growth many cities experienced in the 19th century bypassed Savannah. General William Tecumseh Sherman and his troops occupied the city during the Civil War (or the War Between the States as Savannahians call it), but Savannah escaped the fate of many Confederate cities. Union troops did not torch the city.

Savannah’s historic district today retains many of the buildings and ambience of the 18th and 19th centuries. The historic district embraces tree-lined streets, elegant Colonial and Federal style homes and small businesses, over 100 buildings comprising the Savannah School or Art and Design, and 22 squares landscaped with live oak trees, bushes beginning to flower, and monuments to events and individuals in Savannah history. It is a city well-suited to walking leisurely along shaded streets, reading historical markers, stopping for ice cream (Leopold’s the city’s best), and partaking in the slow-vannah lifestyle.

I think Southern hospitality is very... I don't think it's just a term.
I think it really exists. You can come to Savannah,
and the people are so sweet and so nice.
 - Paula Deen
(No, I did not visit her restaurants or store.) 


  1. We live just outside of Savannah and know what a wonderful place it is. We moved here 15 years ago and have never regretted it. Hope you enjoy it too.

  2. We were in Savannah a cpl of years ago ... nice place. But we're in Charleston b/c of kids and now a grandchild. So today ... happy 82 degrees!

  3. I had a tour of Savannah and would love to spend some more time there. I'm all for the Go South thing.