We had the whole day to explore Savannah and with the help of Brian and Joan we came up with a plan. We drove downtown to the visitor’s center, bought our tickets for the Hop On/Off Trolley and our selected activities for the day and walked over to the Museum of Civil Rights. It was closed. So, we walked back to the Visitor’s Center and were reimbursed for our tickets. Then we hopped on the trolley and started the tour around historical Savannah. It is as beautiful as you see in all the pictures and films.
The design of the 22 (originally 24) squares was the idea of the founder of Savannah, James Ogelthorpe, in 1733. It was designed that way partly as a way to protect the city from military attack. I am curious if the square design lends itself to a stronger sense of community.
There are 15 stops for the trolley and you can get off at any to see the sights and then get back on and travel to your next destination while the driver provides details about the history of the city and the sites. We got off at stop 5 to tour our next choice in activities, the oldest active reform congregation in the country, Temple Mikvah Israel.
It was closed due to Sukkot. Ugh! Now we needed to come up with another plan. We looked at some reviews of the home tours and selected the Green-Medrim House because it had some civil war history to it. General Sherman used it as a base when he was in town. It was definitely interesting to learn how Mr. Green basically saved Savannah from being burned down by his hospitality.
Afterward we hopped back in the trolley to get to a good place for lunch. The driver suggested the river area, which is a street of restaurants and shops along the Savannah river. Thinking it was going to be something like the shopping neighborhoods in San Francisco, we quickly discovered it was much more like the Santa Monica pier, tourist shops and fried food. Luckily I had eyed a place close by from the trolley and managed to find it. We ended up having one of the best meals of our trip so far. The restaurant is called B. Matthews, a nice little cafe/restaurant. We asked the waitress for her recommendations. She said they are known for their fried green tomatoes and shrimp and grits. We ordered each and split them.Yum!!! That definitely made up for all of our failed plans for the day.
After lunch we wandered a bit, hopped back on the trolley to finish the tour and returned home and had a lovely evening with Joan and Brian. Thank you Joan and Brian for your Southern hospitality!
Our next two days were travel days. Our goal was to get to Savannah to visit Michael’s cousins. As we were leaving Williamsburg we decided to stop in to the Goodwill to see if we could find a costume for Shayna for Halloween. We figured if there was anywhere that might have some kind of historical costume it would be Williamsburg. We were lucky to find one, but not telling what it is. You’ll have to wait until Halloween!
We drove from Williamsburg to Fayetteville, North Carolina. It was relatively uneventful. We settled into a small RV park pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but the people there were in awe of our little camper van.
The next morning our travels took us from North Carolina through South Carolina to Georgia, but not without a little excitement. As soon as we hit South Carolina I noticed a LOT of police and highway patrol (more than we have seen on our whole trip combined) sitting on the median between the two directional highways. And with each patrol car was an unmarked black car. So I made sure to stay under the speed limit, but we were still pulled over rather quickly. There was a highway patrolman and his backup I think was an ATF guy, full black uniform and semi-automatic weapon. They pulled us over because our car does not have any license plates (the car had just been purchased by Jucy when they gave it to us, so the plates had not come in yet. And of course our temporary tag expired 9/30.) I could not tell if the police were interrogating us or just really curious about our car and what we were doing. Either way, they made us exit the car and did a thorough search. The policeman was honest with us and said even though we appeared quite innocent you never know these days who is transporting drugs and of course our vehicle was a perfect cover for drug trafficking. So, it became obvious the state was holding some kind of drug trafficking sting that day. He let us off with a warning for expired tags. We immediately pulled off the highway and called Jucy to get our updated tags sent ASAP.
We arrived in Savannah sans any other excitement (but I was pretty anxious until we got out of South Carolina). We spent two nights with Michael’s cousin Brian and his wife Joan in their beautiful home in Savannah. We had a lovely dinner with their son, wife and grandson.
We reserved a whole day to spend in Colonial Williamsburg.
That is enough time to see about half of what is available which gives you a good sense of things but not enough time to see everything. We noticed most of the people (retirees) were buying 3 day passes.
We started the day attending a presentation of the Marquis de Lafayette
and an American friend of his, James, who was enslaved, but then became a double agent during the war and was eventually freed. I personally really enjoy these re-enactments because they really do bring history to life. I love to ask them questions about issues of the times. After James told his story about spying and being freed, I asked Lafayette about his thoughts on slavery and he provided a very passionate response. The actors are so knowledgeable about the people they play that you feel like you are getting a much more accurate and truer presentation of history than you might get from history books or movies.
Afterward we wandered around stepping into the shops to see the tradespeople. We visited the apothecary, the blacksmith, the wig maker (that was cool!), the book binder, the printer, the silversmith, the jewelry maker and the weaver. I could not get Shayna away from the little mini-loom. (That was the only hands-on activity).
There are also multiple houses that can be toured, which gives you some insight to the high powered families of the 1700/1800s. We also had a tour of the Capital and the Palace. There are a few taverns to eat at that have traditional recipes but every one of them had a wait. That is why you need multiple days to see everything! We ended up at the bakery for pre-made sandwiches – yuck!
The day ended with a “closing ceremony” which included a shooting of the canon and a speech by James Madison. Then the actor went out of character, introduced himself and thanked everybody for supporting Colonial Williamsburg. It is a privately run, non-profit organization. I was a bit disappointed that there were not more hands-on activities for kids. When I went with my family in 1976, we had half a day that we spent spooling wool and dipping candles, which provided vivid memories of Williamsburg. Maybe they have those activities in the summer. However, there still is nothing like Colonial Williamsburg anywhere else, and even just walking around, listening to the re-enactment characters and visiting the preserved buildings provides a step back into history to learn first hand about that period of time.