A Rockin’ New Year’s in Savannah

Up until recently, Savannah had alluded me, despite having grown up in fairly easy driving distance and being a resolute traveler. It has been calling to me for some time, and when some friends of ours decided to take up temporary residence there, I felt compelled to visit before heading off on our year of adventure in New Zealand. What better time than New Year’s, right?

Even though I am not one that is prone to New Year’s Eve carousing, I thought Savannah would be a whole hell of a lot of fun, with those open container laws and beautiful squares in which to imbibe them, so off we went.

The Savannah squares were decorated with Camellias in boom

5:30am on New Year’s Eve we hit the road, racing through the dark streets of Birmingham on our way to Savannah. We had a 2:30p lunch reservation waiting for us at The Lady and Sons, Paula Deen’s restaurant/family photo museum. I was skeptical, but Jason really wanted to go back, as he frequents it every time he is in Savannah. I am happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised.

The mammoth restaurant (and gift shop) is housed in a three story building covered in giant canvas printed photos of the “lady and her sons.” After being sent from the first hostess, to a second hostess, located strategically next to the gift shop, we waited less than five minutes before being called and given a laminated card telling us to take the elevator to the 3rd floor hostess, where we would be seated. A bit strange, but totally worth it. The restaurant served proper Southern food – tasty collard greens, black eyed peas rife with succulent ham hock, delicious fried chicken and some bastard offspring of cornbread and corn pudding that I could have eaten a whole hotel pan of. We had absolutely no room for the three deserts they brought to the table after we had finished with the buffet. I have heard great things about Mrs. Wilke’s also, however, it is closed on the weekends and for the entire month of January, so having arrived on Saturday, Dec 31st, we had no chance of hitting it up. Next time, but I wouldn’t turn down Paula Deen’s place, either.

After sleeping off our food coma to the sweet sounds of college football, we geared up and headed out on the town. I had read about the Raising of the Cup at Wet Willie’s that happens at midnight on New Year’s Eve and considered meandering that way at some point, despite my distaste for inebriated crowds of strangers, but ended up spending the evening at a little Scottish pub drinking Guinness and catching up with our friends. A very low key but pleasant way to ring in the New Year.

The next morning we stopped by a cafe, the Mate Factor, run by a religious sect (cough, cult, cough) called the 12 Tribes. They do make a delicious Reuben sammy, I will give them that. We had a coffee and yerba mate latte along with a delicious sticky bun and solid spanikopita before grabbing a bagged lunch (there’s the reuben) and heading to Tybee Island for some beach time. Though overcast, it was fairly warm (outside of the water) and the four of us had a good time throwing around a frisbee and football, before the boys decided to do their own Polar Bear plunge.
We spent the afternoon wandering around town taking every opportunity to snap the Spanish moss covered trees.¬†As the afternoon rolled along, we passed a restaurant called Collins Quarter, one that I had read about on a favorite blog of mine, Adventurous Kate. In her post, “How to Spend 3 Days in Savannah,” Kate McCully recommended the lavender spiced mocha that they serve, and it sounded too good to pass up. We stopped in for a pick me up, and I wasn’t disappointed. The coffee was very good, but the real stand outs were the grapefruit Moscow mules and the espresso white Russians (of which we had several). When hunger began to set in, we took a couple of roadies and headed towards Vinnie Van Go-Go’s – a local pizza joint with great pies at a stellar price. We were feeling fantastic as we strolled along the streets of Savannah listening to a trio play classic rock, biding our time until our final adventure of the day – a ghost tour.

According to our guide from Blue Orb tours, Savannah is the most haunted city in America. Our tour guide said it had something to do with all the crossroads in the city, but, aren’t there crossroads, like, everywhere? I mean, I get it, crossroads are areas that are more susceptible to supernatural happenings… Robert Johnson, yada, yada, yada… but really? Anyway, this was by far the most fun ghost tour I’ve ever been on, and I’ve been on a few. The tour guide was enthralling and he wasn’t just telling ghost stories, every single stop he pulled out his iPad and showed us “evidence” of the dark goings on around us. Whether or not you believe in anything of the sort, it did make for a fun evening. And it certainly puts a few goosebumps on your neck walking around at midnight in Savannah.

The Mercer-Williams House, as in Jim Williams from Midnight and the Garden of Good and Evil

Our final morning was spent grabbing a quick coffee and a couple of AMAZING kolaches at Foxy Loxy, a coffee shop/bakery/Tex-Mex cantina. It was a bit out of downtown, but I highly recommend it. If you don’t know what a kolache is, they are delicious little pockets of goodness… or more specifically Czech yeasted pastries usually filled with cheese. We had a mushroom and swiss and a bacon and cheddar – both absolutely delicious. As was the churro muffin. I mean, how could that not be good?

Bonaventure Cemetery

After saying our goodbyes we headed out of Savannah, but not before stopping off briefly at the infamous Bonaventure Cemetery, where the voodoo priestess Minerva did her deeds throughout the events of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” If you haven’t read it, I suggest you do, especially if you are planning on visiting Savannah. Bonaventure is a truly beautiful cemetery. I have always enjoyed visiting cemeteries, and often seek them out when traveling. Something in the solemn quiet is comforting to me, perhaps its reassurance that I am not alone, because eventually every creature on earth will end up here (although not necessarily buried). I guess the takeaway from this is that you can expect to see a lot of pictures of graves on this blog. And on that very macabre note, I will be ending this post.

Bonaventure Cemetery

 

Any suggestions for the next time we’re in Savannah? ¬†Anybody else like cemeteries? Nope? Just me… okay then.

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