Tuesday, April 20, 2010

day 1 in savannah

we arrived in savannah on thursday night late and checked in to our hotel. we were staying about 15 minutes or so outside of the downtown area, and i've always found that that works best. i don't see the point of staying at an incredibly expensive hotel that we only see while we're awake for a few hours in the evening and early morning. so the la quinta was good enough for us--free wifi and breakfast!

our first stop (after getting a 2 day visitors parking pass--one of my finds from researching for our trip) was mrs. wilkes' dining room. i relied heavily on tripadvisor for planning our weekend, and this one ranked at the top of the list. i had also heard about it from my mom and grandma's trip to savannah many years ago, so we knew this was something we shouldn't miss. mrs. wilkes' is only open for lunch during the week, and this was our only opportunity to eat their during our trip. we hopped in line at 10 am and began the wait...

but one of the great things is that you get to meet lots of interesting people in line while you're waiting. we had long conversations with a man from los angeles and another couple of who were from minnesota but were on their way back from their condo in florida where they spend the winter. this was one of their busier days, and we finally made it in at 1 pm--two hours after we got in line! thankfully, most of the wait was in the shade, and i could walk around and take pictures in the neighborhood.
but when we did finally get in--it was worth it. easily 20 bowls and platters of food on the table waiting for us, all of the best southern dishes you could imagine. mrs. wilkes' is a family style design, with huge tables of 8 or 12 that passed around the plates like your own thanksgiving.
we had worked up quite an appetite waiting in line for 2 hours (it was way past my pregnant-girl lunch time) so we were ready to dig in!
and they kept bringing out more plates, with bowls of cucumbers and vinegar and a cold pasta salad and more fried chicken--that fried chicken was amazing. their staff t-shirts said on the back, "if the colonel made chicken this good, he'd be a general."

and then after a classic southern dessert of banana pudding and peach cobbler, we had to call it quits.
and tell everyone waiting in line outside--"yes, it's worth the wait!"

we continued to walk around in the lower part of savannah away from the river, exploring many of the squares and neighborhoods near forsyth park.
this is the big fountain in the middle of the park--just gorgeous! it was so nice to be in a more "metropolitan" city that still had huge green spaces for everyone to enjoy.
just one of the walkways heading to the fountain--the spanish moss is so awesome.
one of the beautiful churches in town--this was the catholic cathedral that we got to go inside to see during our afternoon tour.
one of the few pictures with me in it--this was the perfect time of year to visit because everything was so green!
ironically, many of the statues did not match the names of the squares. the squares were named first, and then some of the statues were made later and placed in the "higher traffic" squares--which did not necessarily line up. so the statue of oglethorpe--founder of georgia--is in chippewa square but not oglethorpe square. go figure.
(i love sun flares)
though we didn't eat there, i had to take a couple of pictures of paula deen's restaurant, "the lady and sons." they have another crazy process of getting in line at 9 am for reservations, but i'd read mixed reviews and figured mrs. wilkes' was a safer bet.
we had our own personal tour at the end of the afternoon with bobby davis of explore savannah! another tripadvisor.com find, and we were not disappointed. he did such a great job of personalizing the tour to things we were interested in and showing us the city from his perspective. we got several great restaurant recommendations from him and a couple of "can't miss" spots to see during the rest of our weekend. (he also took pictures of us at all of our big stops and then sent them to us later.)
and bought us a gift from "gullah man"--one of the local sweetgrass weavers that he knows well.
he also knew the perfect gardens along the side streets to look into and take pictures.
and let me stop to take all the pictures i wanted. love tour guides who are accommodating like that.
we ended our tour and headed towards the riverfront for the first time of the day, stopping in a couple of the larger squares and buildings as the sun was setting.
the river front is about 2 or 3 stories lower than the rest of the city, with bridges and steps leading down to the cobblestone river walk.
we were able to browse the stores along the water and eat dinner down there at spanky's--a recommendation of bobby's and some of the best chicken fingers we've ever had.
then we hit up the sweet shop, where justin got some bulk candy and i could not pass up a delicious caramel apple. (i didn't get one of these--just a plain caramel one, but these looked soooo good!)
and ended the night with a stroll through ellis square and the city market.
i was exhausted by this point and crashed when we got back to the hotel. i was still asleep by 10:30 or 11 the entire trip, but did pretty well most of the time for keeping my energy up and resting when i needed to. more tomorrow!