I know most people who do a lot of back-roading are adverse to things that smack of “tourist” but I have a closet love of Trolley rides and double decker bus tours. Yes, they are cheesy. Cheese-Whiz cheesy. But they are also a perfect way to get a birds-eye view of a city when you hate driving in the them, and only have 48 hours to take it all in.
So, today I indulged.
This is what I learned.
The city is built on a grid system and has 24 distinct squares, where people gathered, bought and sold food, hitched their horses, engaged in military exercises and shared common bread-ovens. Public buildings were on the corners and residential spaces on the inside. Each have a name and most have a monument or a fountain in the centre, related to the history of the city. Although one doesn’t see horses hitched in them anymore, the city remains organized in this fashion and urban planners often visit to experience this way of organizing.
A lot of movies have been filmed here, one of the most famous being Forrest Gump. In fact, the scene where Tom Hanks shares his box of chocolates is in Chipawa Square, not far from where I right now. Although the bench is no longer there, the spirit of Forrest certainly is. Burt Reynolds also donated a gazebo to the city as a way of saying thank you for letting him film a movie here in the 70’s. It’s also in one of the squares.
Many of the homes in the historic district have two sets stairs leading to the front door. Curious minds want to know, and trolly-folk will tell you that men were expected to go up one set, and women the other, to ensure a man never saw a woman’s ankle accidentally as she climbed the stairs! The doors were above street level because the street was a poop and mud-filled mess, and no one needs that on their front step.
I learned that what I thought were cobblestone streets were not actually cobble at all, but “balaste.” These rocks came in on cargo ships, and were used to balance and stabilize the boats when empty, but had to be removed when they came to pick up cotton. Over time, thousands of these stones accumulated along the Savannah River, and an early city planner decided to use them in the walls and streets in Lower Town.
Savannah is the home of the founding Mother of Girl Guides of America, has a garden for the blind, and there are gravestones in the cemetery with dates changed by soldiers camping there in the Civil War, making some “residents” of the cemetery over 400 years old! A prank that keeps on pranking.
The River looks peaceful, but has very fast-running currents just beneath the surface still resulting in annual drowning incidents. It is still very much a “working” river for transportation of goods.
There is a street in the city that has been named the most beautiful street to walk in all of North America. I concur. It is simply beautiful and timeless. The Oaks with hanging moss that line almost all the streets are very romantic.
Aside from enjoying the trolley ride, Pippa and I walked for three hours today, and I’m thrilled that now we are in warmer weather, her front leg (the one that has broken twice) doesn’t seem at all bothered. I had a hard time keeping up with her and she insisted I do the stairs twice. Notice her Bad-ass trainer face.
We ate croissants and had coffee in one of the squares, and enjoyed the sunshine. This evening, we are hunkered in, and I am preparing to begin the camping portion of my adventure, starting tomorrow! Which means a third bath in two days, before the bath-drought of boon-docking begins!
This is the last time my hair will appear to have any sort of style for the next three months.
Merry Christmas to All. XO