Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Southern delights, part E - Savannah finish

Oh, is it the middle of the afternoon?  Must be time for a sweet treat!  You know, this guy really has it made - all he does is bring people joy in the form of free samples of warm pralines.  Buttery, sugary, nutty bliss.  Thank you, River Street Sweets.  YUM.

With a little sugar in our systems to keep us going, we found a good way to spend the cloudy afternoon - taking a horse & carriage tour around historic Savannah.  We met up with Michael and Prince, along with an adorable our-parents'-age couple who joined us on the tour, and set out to explore the streets and squares of Savannah.

Turn that corner, Prince!

We got the background on several of the squares, oodles of churches, plenty of gorgeous Savannah College of Art and Design buildings, and some of Savannah's more well-known residents and their homes (Juliette Gordon Low - founder of the Girl Scouts, Flannery O'Connor's childhood home, plenty of old rich dudes).  You know what one of the nicest things about it was?  Seeing the world at Prince's clip-clop pace.  Maybe it's because I'm writing this final vacation wrap-up two, three weeks after the relaxing vacation and am back to work work work, but it was really pleasant to just wind our way through the squares in the gently (and sometimes not quite so gently) rocking horse-drawn carriage.  Ahhhh.

Kami, always the lover of animals, shares a sweet moment with Prince after our ride.

After the carriage tour we walked back over to Monterey Square to stop in the Mercer-Williams House (that of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil fame) for a tour.  Can I just say that I love the squares?  Plenty of benches for sitting breaks, they slow down the flow of traffic and the pace of life, and each one has cultural and historical significance.  Plus all that crazy, kinda-creepy moss that just fascinates me.  Love it.

It was interesting going through the Mercer-Williams House - I mean, it's beautiful and holds an enormously eclectic collection of artsy things and has the most adorable (and mossy!) garden patio out back...but we didn't need to know everything about every piece of art.  At least we got some good air-conditioned time out of it.  Plus it has this gorgeous wrought-iron fence all the way around. 

Yes, I've developed a fascination with Spanish moss, wrought iron, and shutters.  Oh dear.  And I already loved magnolia least for dinner we mixed it up and went with something not Southern at all...Italian food at Corleone's.  Although I managed to get some breaded, fried meat in there with my veal parmesan.  Yum.

Besides, we had a pretty serious Southern dining destination in mind for lunch the next day, Mrs. Wilke's, which was recommended by absolutely any and every one who had anything to say about Savannah.  Now, this place means business.  It's lunch only, Monday through Friday, family-style dining at tables for ten.  Which means, yes, you'll be eating with strangers, but by the time you actually make it to your table, odds are you might already be friends with whoever you happen to be sitting with due to...the line.  We got there a little before 11:30 to find the line stretching down the block, and we promptly stuck ourselves at the end (in the shade, thank goodness!)...and made it to our table a little before 1:00.  Yowza.  But hello, would you look at this ridiculous spread of food??

The sheer number of selections was mind-boggling.  And it was all good.  Really, really good.  We had fried chicken and brisket and beef stew and okra gumbo and rice and cornbread dressing and mashed sweet potatoes and black-eyed peas and butter beans and cornbread and biscuits and collard greens and green beans and squash and macaroni & cheese and baked beans and some crazy sausage.  AND dessert.  Cobbler and banana pudding.  And as many gallons of tea as you could drink.  Ridiculous.  There wasn't room on the plate for all that food!

Needless to say, after that Southern gut-bomb, we felt the need to move around a little bit - if we sat down, we were goners.  We made our way out to Forsyth Park, an enormous green space at the end of the squares with a beautiful fountain and plenty of entertaining squirrels.

We also wanted to find the sculpture featured on the cover of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - and we did.  And it wasn't worth it at all.  So just keep that in mind if you're ever wandering Savannah in the future.  After that disappointment, we found a little air-conditioned relief inside St. John's for a quick glimpse of the 1873 church, and then stopped by the market near our house for some pick-me-ups (Diet Coke!!!) before crashing at home for a little while.

One last dinner along the riverfront, one last stop for treats, and we're done.  Off to our respective Texas and D.C. homes the next day.  But only after patting Oscar goodbye and thanking him for his Southern hospitality.

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