Subject: Savannah, GA info & memories
Hello Travelziners:

I thought the below info about Savannah, GA would be of help to some of you for future planning. I combined my trip with a visit to Charollette, SC. You could also drive down the east coast of Florida.

Savannah is a great walking town, so you don't need to rent a car.

Just walk from square to square to square. The architectural details will delight you. Many of the homes have wonderful gardens. I was lucky to be invited in to see one.

Don't overlook a walk through Forsyth Park as well as along the streets bordering it. Lots of great old homes, some turned into B&Bs. I often knocked on B&B doors and asked if I could look around and even grabbed some nice atmospheric available light shots. The park is famous for a nice fountain in the center. Paths lined with trees with Spanish moss dripping from them ask to be photographed. Even in the evening, it is a great place to photograph. A foggy morning is wonderful as well.

There is a tremendous amount of very fine and unusual iron work all over the historic area just begging to be documented.

There is a very moving Vietnam monument in a park above the river front tourist area that I would recommend avoiding. The monument is a rifle jammed sword down into a boot with a helmet on the top. Shoot it with a large aperture with a telephoto to drop the background to be soft out of focus. I shot it with the sum directly behind the helmet it at sunset.

You may find Bonventure Cemetery of interest as well. It has numerous granite and marble tombs cradled by ancient oaks dripping Spanish moss. Johnny Mercer is buried there. The grieving female sculptures are very nice.

You may want to return at a different times of the day to take advantage of better light.

As I was walking across Monterey Square I saw many people going into what appeared to be a church since it appeared to be a church architecturally. Instead I discovered it was Congregation Mickva Israel Synagogue, located on Bull Street at Gordon that was founded in 1733! It does look like a Jewish house of worship (although there is no standard). The floor plan is actually laid out like a cross with the cross arm and architecturally appears like a church with a pointed spire. It is the oldest now practicing Reform Judaism Synagogue in the US founded by Spanish Portuguese Jews on July 11, 1733, five months after establishment of the colony of Georgia. There is a modest Jewish star above the entrance which I didn't notice. I walked over to read the historic plaque. (Everything in Savannah has a historic plaque in front of it!) The interior glowed in a radiance of light streaming through tall stained glass windows upon crème walls. It is on the same square as the Mercer House. I had a great personal guided tour by a rabbi when I visited.

In 1998 I took a great tour with Johnnie Brown, wearing an African silk shirt and alligator shoes, who asks his passengers to please not call him a tour guide. 912-234-8000 for more information (don't know how current this is.) "We use the name `conductor' instead of tour guide," Brown said from behind the wheel of his Chevy van. "We get that from the Underground Railroad."

Stay in a bed and breakfast, there are many there to choose from, each one seems to be of fine quality and run by very nice people.

Don't fail to eat at the great restaurants! It is one of the reasons to visit Savannah and it would be a pity to not complete the experience.

The following is edited from my 1998 journal.

I ate at the historic 1771 (yes, 1771!) Pink House; recommended by a number of people I met on the street. I got She soup and it was great along with Grouper stuffed with crab with rice with wild rice and string beans with shaved carrots and onions. I passed up the chocolate oblivion cake for Praline Almond Basket with vanilla bean ice crème wonderful! The waitress, who had a wonderful husky Tallah voice, had been at it for over eighteen years.

I had soul food at Nita's Place. Had shrimp and rice with green and yellow squash with delicious spoon bread with special seasonings that was like none I've ever had and am sure I never will again. Also had flat corn bread pan cakes.

For really fine family style low country cooking, try Mrs. Wilke's. It is worth the wait, if you have to wait. (She passed away in 2003, so best to check if it is still in business.)

There is a very nice photo gallery near Nita's that is worth stopping in.

Don't forget to take a break and have tea at one of the two tea rooms downtown. Try the Gryphon.

Steve in sunny Chicago.