Sunday, August 20, 2006

Savannah sojourn, part 1

Savannah, Georgia, or as it’s also known: Haunted Savannah.

Is it any wonder I love this town?

After the RWA National Conference, I decided to meander over to the coast because I don’t make it to Georgia that often. Actually, I never make it there, so I was foaming at the mouth to check out this place that has so often been featured in Travel Channel scary specials.

It was a four-hour drive from Atlanta, and by the time I arrived at my B&B, I was ready to walk. And walk I did. Parting the humidity, I hoofed it through most of the streets until I reached the visitor’s center. One thing that really stood out? The oaks draped with Spanish moss (which I mentioned in yesterday’s blog). Beautiful. Since there were only a few good hours of sightseeing daylight left, I grabbed an Old Town Trolley Tour and sat in peace for the next couple of hours, enjoying the sights. We toodled past the gorgeous squares with their statues and benches, past the historically preserved buildings, past the lazy, slow Southern flow of traffic. (Um, NOT. In Savannah, you will get run over if you’re crossing the street: pedestrians don’t have the right of way here. Truthfully though, I think that’s awesome since I’m always getting frustrated with people who come out of, say, grocery stores, and barrel right out in front of my car instead of looking to see if any traffic is coming. Arck! Pet peeve.) The tour gave me some great background and aided me in what I really wanted to check out in detail later.

So I got hungry, of course, and at the tour’s end, I made my way over to the Olde Pink House, even though I wasn’t dressed for it (the OPH is a bit fancy, and I was wearing shorts and a tank that read “Bite Me” under a picture of a San Diego shark. Clas-say.). Imagine my joy when I discovered that the OPH has a tavern on the bottom floor. When I saw a pair of similarly dressed tourists enter the tavern (minus the “Bite Me,” of course), I followed, figuring the staff could kick us all out at the same time. But, yay!, the nice waiter offered me a seat. And when I found out that they served dinner down there, I about did back flips. The OPH was on my “wish list” for meals, you see. It has a fine reputation, and I’m here to tell you that it’s well deserved. The tavern itself is dimly lit, decorated with mini-chandeliers with little lamps, and a piano near one of the fireplaces. Stained glass on the doors and brick walls add to the lost-in-time feel. Very comfortable, very evocative of days gone by.

Now, allow me to wax on about my grub.

I started off with cornbread, delicate, sweet, fluffy… Oh, my.
Then, I continued with the she crab bisque with sherry. Guys, if you ever make it to Savannah, this is something you should treat yourself to. It’s a bowl of heaven, and I’m not just being goofy here. The dish was smooth, sweet but not cloying, and so creamy that I defy anyone not to sit there and start moaning in ecstasy. Yes, perhaps I am a tad too passionate about some of my food, but this bisque would make a believer out of you, too.
After? How about crab-stuffed grouper bathed in a vinaigrette? Yeah. You know it.
The only negative thing about my dining experience was that I didn’t have room for desert. Dang.

Since my next activity, a ghost tour (Did you think I wouldn’t be all over that?), was hours away, I rested at the B&B. Then I embarked on the Sixth Sense tour, which featured a great storyteller named Chris. (The boy version. And while we’re on the subject of this tour, let me just give a shout out to the great girl working at E’Storia on Bull St. who sold me my ticket. She was incredibly helpful, and the shop itself was full of soaps. I went ga-ga for the Georgia Peach scent.) Chris led us from square to square, the nearly deserted streets having become quite eerie by this time of night. Maybe it's because Savannah is built on the bodies of the dead. To be precise, remember the movie POLTERGEIST and how all the ghosts were upset because their graveyard had been disrespected? That’s what you have here, so I’m not surprised the place is popping with paranormal activity. Chris told us several personally-experienced ghost stories, and we ended the night with a most spine-chilling tale about a man who was tortured by his enemies and left to die on his own steps. It was highly effective while standing in front of the dark house where it took place, let me tell you...

Next time: Savannah, part 2, where I eat some more and do yet another ghost tour. Surprise!

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