Vulcan’s Peak


July 19, 2006 11:34 am

As Pug and I began to wander around downtown Savannah last Friday evening, one thing quickly became quite clear. Despite hearing tales from Tae, we simply didn’t know the first thing about the first thing about this city.

What’s this “Bird Girl” Thing, Anyway?

I’m sure I had heard about a book called Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, but I haven’t read it, so I didn’t know that it is set in the fair city of Savannah, and man, are they trying to make a killing off it. Any gift store you wander into is guaranteed to have a large corner devoted to “The Book,” related books, and replicas of the Bird Girl statue in various sizes. The statue itself is in a museum these days; we saw it, but photography was not allowed.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Our first evening there, we ventured only as far as River Street, where we poked into a couple of the aforementioned shops, admired the river and the massive barges that come down it, and found some yummy Mexican food at a place with the amusing name “One-Eyed Lizzie’s.”

Saturday morning we took off past City Hall and down Bull Street (our captain on a riverboat tour the next day quipped that every government building should be at the end of Bull Street!), passing through lots of Savannah’s picturesque squares and ending up in Forsyth Park, where we cobbled together a picnic lunch from a natural foods store on the other side.

Along the way, we learned that Savannah happens to be a Girl Scout Mecca; their founder was born here (and according to the guide on a ghost tour, her parents still haunt the upper stories of the house in their “eternal love nest” or something incredibly sappy like that). I was closer to being an honorary Cub Scout than I ever was to being a Girl Scout, so I’m not sure why this amuses me, but it does. Possibly because I haven’t seen that many Girl Scouts in a three day period…ever.

We rounded out the afternoon by touring the Owens-Thomas House, built 1819. Our guide was a soft-spoken yet crusty old lady whose jet black dye job was at odds with her craggy face. Quite the character. She kept us all gathered close around her, knowing we wouldn’t be able to hear otherwise, and after horrifying us with the thought of having to cook huge meals in the kitchen, rebuked us for not wanting to be the cook! After all, we soon realized, it would be far worse to be the laundress!! Etcetera. The architecture of the house was also particularly interesting, and reminded me in some ways of Monticello.

We eventually went back to River Street for a late dinner, winding up at an Irish pub called Kevin Barry’s [careful: the virtual tour crashed Firefox for me]. For a few minutes, I was afraid this was going to turn out to be a Very Bad Decision, but shortly after that, it in fact turned out to be a Very Good Decision! Given a choice about where to sit, I chose the room with live music because they said there was no smoking in there. And the live music turned out to be quite good! Not much to look at, you might say, but he had a good voice, a good guitar, and knew a lot of my old favorites. With plenty of everybody joining in for the refrains. Good fun!

Sunday’s activities started at the Maritime Museum, where we picked up a smidge of naval history and a lot of respect for people who have the patience to build very detailed models of ships. All this was housed in an old…er, house that had been built by the same architect who built the Owens-Thomas, a young Englishman named William Jay.

From there we had planned to catch a 2:00 riverboat tour, but over a fishy lunch, we decided that we were cutting it too close, so we decided to wait for the 4:00 boat and instead spent the time at the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences, which is a bit of a misnomer, as it is in fact a small art museum, housed in yet another William Jay house.

After the boat ride, we wandered back down the shore to a couple of points of interest that the riverboat captain had noted. The Waving Girl statue in particular seemed perfect for silly pictures (of me; of Pug).

For dinner Sunday night we asked at the hotel for recommendations and were delightfully pleased at 17Hundred90, a restaurant and inn. Also supposedly haunted (as we found out later that evening; the ghost is a serving maid who was jilted by her seafaring lover and she still hangs out in room 204), they were very sensitive about working around my allergies and the result was fabulous.

At 9:15 that evening we boarded the Trolley of DOOM for a ghost tour–I’ve gone on a similar tour in Edinborough, as has Pug in New Orleans, so we decided to give it a shot. A short way in, though, we had to switch to a cheerful orange and green Trolly of Non-Doom, as our atmospheric black trolley broke down. (“Your bus is smoking!” called the driver of a carriage tour as we passed them.) Fortunately, this was only a short delay; the driver took us out into the nearest square and continued his stories while we waited for the replacement.

In my opinion, the driver started with his creepiest story and from there on was gentler. Relatively speaking. Feet hanging from trees and little girl ghosts peering from windows don’t measure up to a psychotic spirit who breaks the necks of children. But that’s me.

We were led through the Old Colonial Cemetary by crazy lady character whose accent flipped between Southern Belle and English Lady, occaisionally lapsing into Standard American or Gullah Gramaw. Despite that, she was extremely amusing and generally good fun. At a couple of points, she had one of us pick the direction to go — though as I found when she asked me, she provided plenty of direction. “We could go left! (We’ve already been down there, dear.) Or we could go right. (That’s where we came in.) Or we could go straight ahead!”

Our last stop on the tour was Sorrel Weed House, which they touted as the most haunted house in America. I remain skeptical. Still, a fun evening!

And Monday we came back with a quick stop at Fort Jackson, just outside Savannah. Very small, but they have a canon-shooting demonstration a couple times a day which was pretty cool.

10 Responses to “Savannah”

Crunch wrote a comment on July 20, 2006

First off I read “Bird Girl” as “Bad Girl. I was gonna give you a….detailed explanation on what that is ;P

I have heard of that Garden book. Mom had this brief fling with a book club when I was in 9th grade. I remember that being the first book on the list.

Odette wrote a comment on July 20, 2006

Hahaha! Do you really think me that sheltered? Come now.

However, I love the image of having a “brief fling with a book club.” I totally understand how that would go.

So how were you going to explain “Bad Girl”? *eyebrow*

Crunch wrote a comment on July 20, 2006

I don’t want to scar any young, innocent Pugs who read this.

Odette wrote a comment on July 20, 2006

I’m not sure you could…I mean, he does live with E.

Crunch wrote a comment on July 20, 2006

I guess….I just still remember his cute little ears going red…

Pug wrote a comment on July 20, 2006

These days it’s still more often Katie’s cute little ears going red…

Crunch wrote a comment on July 20, 2006

oooo…Do tell 😉

Odette wrote a comment on July 20, 2006

What? What now?

Crunch wrote a comment on July 20, 2006

I wanna hear saucy stories!!

Odette wrote a comment on July 20, 2006

Oh no, we’re very dull. Very, very dull.

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