*Disclaimer: It’s been awhile since I’ve sat down to write and alot has happened since then. So hang in there with me, this may get lengthy!*
I’m no expert on Southern Charm, or what even qualifies a place/thing as either having or lacking it, but I think it might have something to do with what we experienced in both Savannah, GA and Charleston, SC.
After leaving Tennessee, we sauntered into Georgia ready and willing to get our Southern Experience on! To really get things rolling I insisted we stop at The Whistle Stop Cafe in Juliette, GA. (I found this roadside beaut thanks to Roadtrippers.)
My sister quickly reminded us… Don’t eat the ribs! Not to worry… we didn’t. But we did try their Fried Green Tomatoes. Had to. Would have been irreverent not to.
After some friendly and informative conversations in Juliette, we headed east to Savannah. As we drove into the city, I held my chin up with my fist to cut down on the drool that was escaping my mouth. What a gorgeous city!
After reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – thank you, Aegean for this excellent suggestion! – I really had a vision of what Savannah would look like. The image in my mind was almost dead wrong. I had pictured a very small, quaint town with green, lush squares and very few people.
In fact, Savannah is a bustling southern town with a population of about 142,000. There was action everywhere, but it never quite felt overwhelming. People were friendly and enjoyed chatting… and I love me a good chat! And the squares, 22 in all, were all green and lush. So, I got that right! Like I said before- I was almost dead wrong.
We stayed in the historic district, which I highly recommend doing. Once your car is parked you are good to go! You can easily walk to everything you could possibly need and/or want to see. There are tours galore, both walking and in motorized vehicles, and historical significance at every turn. The only time we got into our car was for a quick trip out to Tybee Island. There was no need otherwise.
The history that built Savannah is both intriguing and romantic at the same time- sometimes in a bit of a twisted way. Savannah must hold the title for some epic stories and folklore. And within good reason, it is the birthplace of many notable people and organizations.
To squelch my Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil obsession, we visited a few significant landmarks, as described in the book. We walked down E. Charlton St., the area where John Berendt, the author, rented his carriage house apartment. And based on chapter 5, when we are introduced to the Sentimental Gentleman who lives at 16 E. Jones St., we got a pretty good idea of the area Berendt called home while in Savannah.
Here is E. Jones St., apparently the most expensive street in the nation. It’s also where Joe Odom, our Sentimental Gentleman, called home for a brief moment.
And who could forget Johnny Mercer? He’s mentioned numerous times in the book and the last name is all around. He’s a man of few words…
And then there’s the spot where all the action took place, now referred to as the Mercer Williams House.
And Jim Williams’ other home…
In an attempt not to bore you with much more of my non-fiction/ever-so-slightly-fiction obsession, I’ll end with Clary’s Cafe:
The Historic District is extremely walkable. In fact, General James Ogelthorpe’s elaborate plan for Savannah meticulously placed central squares within the city with public and private buildings assigned to certain corners around each square. Needless to say, this creates a meandering effect for wheeled traffic and a peaceful jaunt for anyone on foot. One evening I sat at Reynold’s Square, located steps from our hotel, and was absolutely taken aback by the experience of it all. I sat there enjoying the sights and sounds, smiling, trying to take it all in… until bugs began to feast on my ankles. That wasn’t much fun. Bug repellent would have been a smart idea.
Savannah is a culmination of folklore, hospitality and good ol’ southern pride. Our next stop would be Charleston, SC, and in my opinion Charleston had a tough act to follow. Jesse, a bartender at Belford’s (best margarita EVER), told us the saying goes: If you fall down in Charleston people will look at you and wonder what’s wrong; If you fall down in Savannah people will extend a hand to help you up. Well, I never had to test this theory so I’m not sure if t’s accurate or not, but I do understand how it may have come to be. He also told us that Charleston is very nice- which I agree with. It definitely is nice. Instead of words, I will use our photos to describe this town (you’re welcome!):
Both Savannah and Charleston are unique and fun southern coastal cities, in their own right. If I had to choose one over the other I would find myself quite hardpressed. See, Savannah is more laid back while Charleston is a tinge more proper- not a deal breaker for me (heck, I can clean up when need be). I found Charleston to have a bit more to offer outside its historic district than Savannah- still not a deal breaker. I found both cities to have preserved its history with an eloquent sense of pride. Charleston is technically older than Savannah, and unless you’re into that type of significance, which I’m not, that qualifier won’t matter much at least it didn’t amount to a hill of beans for me. But one thing I will say… Charleston doesn’t have Lady Chablis (last book reference, I swear!) So there’s always that.