Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Savannah: a Strollin' and Stoppin' Town

I beg to differ with those who told us Savannah was a good walking town.  You don't walk in Savannah - not if you want to savor the full effect of its historic districts - you stroll and you stop, then stroll a bit more and stop again.


Strolling through a Savannah Square
Jackie Smith photo
 My photos -- for that matter even the tourist brochures -- can't capture the magical ambiance that a slow-paced stroll provides of this historic river-front city that was founded in the midst of the Georgia wilderness by British General James Oglethorpe in 1733.

Strolling was also a good way for us to justify some of those hefty, mouth-watering meals we were eating.  We spent hours wandering through the downtown commercial area and adjoining tree-lined neighborhoods. Yet, we didn't even scratch the surface, making it to only half of the 22 remaining (there were 24) historic squares.  These squares, designed originally as gathering places for those whose homes, churches and businesses bordered them, continue to be perfect spots for finding a bench and 'sittin' a spell'.  No two squares are alike aside from their lush flower and foliage beds and the dense canopies of massive Spanish moss draped trees.

Two squares became regular pathways for us and in each we were serenaded daily by street musicians. One flutist played an almost haunting background tune and anther sang to no one in particular as he strummed his guitar. They were always in the exact same spot in the exact same square. 

One evening en route to The Mansion on Forsyth Park for dinner we cut through a square where Santa was greeting folks, cider was being poured  while a baritone sang Christmas tunes to a small gathering of folks. 

Giant oak trees filter sunlight in Savannah's Squares
Jackie Smith photo 2010
From a practical standpoint:  Walking the tree-lined streets of the historic streets could be hazardous to your health as you would be going too fast and trip over the uneven walkways that rise and fall as decades of tree roots dictate. By slowly strolling those same walkways you give yourself time to look at the beauty of the place and not where your next step will take you.

(Note:  If you can't make it to Savannah click the 'historic squares' link for a virtual tour of a couple of them. And if you aren't able to stroll, take one of the many guided tours available - horsedrawn carriages or motorized trolleys will take you on a variety of tours from historic mansions the late night ghost seeking).

2 comments:

  1. You are absolutely correct -- except that in the middle of the summer it is just a little too hot to "stroll" unless you can go from air-conditioned building to air-conditioned building.

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  2. We had just the opposite as the Cold Spell that hit the East Coast swept through while we were there and sitting on those benches made for a bone-chilling experience.

    Maybe that's why everyone told us how nice the squares were in the spring when everything was in full bloom - neither too hot nor too cold.

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