Update: Here is a link to some pictures from our trip.
It’s Official. Last Sunday (the 18th), I took Jen to the airport, where we boarded a plane bound for Charlotte. Originally, the destination was a secret, but after the dipshit ticketing lady asked Jen three times if she was going to Savannah, I broke down and gave her a copy of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil for the plane ride. Switching planes, We landed that afternoon in a light rain and took a taxi to our bed and breakfast, the Eliza Thompson House, which sits squarely in the middle of the city’s historic district. Exhausted from our travelling (and the bum-rush through the Charlotte terminal to our second plane), we were content to turn on cable and lay in bed. Until the thunderstorm came and began knocking out the power. (at one point, during the Simpsons, the power went out for a minute, then came back up as Krusty the Clown said, “Ugggghh… that’s better,” and then went out for good.) We walked down to the parlor where candles had been lit and enjoyed our after-dinner coffee and dessert with the other guests.
The next morning, we put on our walking shoes and had a light breakfast in the courtyard of the hotel. Then, we set out into the city to explore the sights. Savannah’s historic district is laid out in a grid, with picturesque squares in repeating patterns throughout. We wandered through the damp streets, stopping in the cemetery to shoot pictures of the Revolutionary War-era headstones. In the downtown district, we stopped and took pictures of lots of architectural and typographical subjects (the geek designers in us coming out. Who else has a whole series of digital pictures of the old Woolworth’s tiled floor entrance, “Because we liked the typeface?” That would be us.) as well as the riverfront and cotton exchange. After lunch we met up with a tour guide to look at the gardens in the city, and then changed for dinner.
The 17 Hundred and 90 is a ground-level restaurant in the foot of another inn, and it is furnished in early-american style with captain’s chairs on a hard stone floor. (caution: the number for this restaurant is misprinted in the Fodor’s guide and will ring at Il Pasticcio.) We were seated in front of the piano player, who cheesed the appetizer up with a dual piano-synthesizer attack. Dinner was started with oysters Rockefeller and a bottle of Cabernet and got better from there. After the main course was served, the piano player calmed down and moved into standards, playing a selection of Porter and Gerswhin (we requested Someone To Watch Over Me) and the room got fuller and quieter.
After dessert, we strolled back towards the hotel through the foggy city, enjoying the quiet cozy atmosphere. As we got to the center of Madison square, I stopped Jen and asked her if she loved me. After telling me she did, she asked me what I was asking her. I got down on my knee and pulled the ring from my pocket, and asked her to be my wife. Giggling, she said yes, and we held each other long and tight. As I slipped the ring on her finger, the church bells struck ten, and we just about skipped back to the hotel.
The next day we awoke to sunny skies, in spite of the weather channel, which was claiming it would rain all week. A delicious pecan waffle at Clary’s was followed by a second day of exploring, where we stopped to take pictures of Madison square and collect four-leaf clover from the garden under the statue to press in the book. (Good luck charms never hurt.) We then realized the guy on the statue was being depicted in the midst of his heroic death attempting to rescue the regimental flag during the Revolutionary War. Romantic choice, Bill. Continuing southward, we followed the Fodor’s guide through a tour of the sites from the novel, and strolled through Forsyth park to the fountain.
That evening, we made reservations at the Pink House, and arrived early for a drink in the tavern in the basement, where a sweating Tony Siragusa lookalike twinkled another piano. Upstairs in the mansion, we were seated next to a magnificent fireplace in the southern room, where we dined on grouper stuffed with crab and a twin lobster tail in a sherry wine and cream sauce. We sat for a half hour and reviewed the day, reminding ourselves that we were engaged. Following dinner was a slice of Jack Daniels pecan pie and a flourless chocolate torte with coffee.
Early for our ghost tour, we returned to the tavern for a glass of Bailey’s over ice and enjoyed the fire in the corner. Gathering in Reynolds Square with four other couples, we followed the guide, an excitable lad named Sam, on a half-baked tour through the northeast section of town. Sam fancied himself a paranormal investigator and decided to orate on the different classes of hauntings, which was dull and boring, but he did have a bizarre lecture style which involved holding his right hand in front of him like a claw (and making Jen and I laugh.) Because we ended the tour right back in front of the Pink House (which was one of the haunted sites on the tour), we stopped in the tavern for another drink before returning home. There we met a really nice guy named Mike, agreeing that Omar Sharif in Doctor Zhivago was a tall drink of water, and talking about the city. He also got to be the first person we told about our engagement. Thanks for the good wishes, Mike.
Wednesday’s flight was scheduled for the early afternoon, so we packed our things and walked down Jones street to Mrs. Wilkes’ for lunch, where the good people of Savannah line up outside to wait for a table to open up. The food is served boarding house style, with twelve people at a table passing bowls of low-country Southern food around to each other. Jen was in a blissful state, reliving childhood with each bite of fried chicken, black-eyed peas, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, butter beans, biscuits (with sorghum), and sweet iced tea. I’m not listing everything here, but I couldn’t find enough room on my plate to fit everything, and it was all so good I filled up quickly. For dessert, they brought a choice of either peaches and cream or banana cream pie, and we found room to fit it.
On our way out, we bought the cookbook and grudgingly made our way back to the hotel to wait for our cab. As we dorve out of the city, we held hands in the back seat and reflected on our stay in the city, one of the best vacations I’ve ever had, and one of the most romantic places I can think of.
Note: This account was delayed a week to preserve the element of surprise for our families, who we told this weekend. Many thanks go to the good people of Savannah, the ladies at Heirloom Jewelry, and all our friends who kept the secret quiet (“I can tell you when we’re leaving, but not where or what we’re doing.”) Pictures will be posted directly.