A visit to Savannah, Georgia
A visit to Savannah begins in the Visitor Center downtown, where a tourist parking is provided, since it is difficult to find a parking spot in the city.
The Visitor Center is also the place from where the Old Town Trolley Tours begin their tour in an orange city tram. The price of the ticket includes a guided visit to the Sorrel-Weed House, an antebellum house with well-preserved architecture and fine furnishings (at least, that's what the brochure says...).
The tour starts at the museum, in which there is a replica of the SS Savannah, the first steamship to cross the ocean. The museum itself is located in an old station, where the entire state's cotton was shipped to the rest of the world.
Many movies have been shot in this city. Next to a flowerbed at the edge of Madison Square, we found the famous bench on which an exceptional Tom Hanks delivered his equally exceptional monologue in the hit movie Forest Gump!
The bench itself has meanwhile prudently been moved to a museum for safety reasons. Otherwise it would probably since long have been picked to pieces by fervent souvenir hunters...
St John's Cathedral and Sorrel-Weed House
We visited the beautiful St John's Cathedral, and continued to Madison Square for a visit to the Sorrel-Weed House.
The documentation describes it as "a Grand Antebellum Home from 1838, with extraordinary architecture and superb antique furniture". However, on further exploration, this equally grand description seems to disappoint somewhat...
The building sports many large windows and only a few doors, because in those days the owners were taxed on the number of doors. A similar reasoning explains why there are so few wardrobes, but many large folding suitcases.
Even if the facades are still somewhat authentic, the entire interior of the house has been quite extensively modified and rebuilt several times over the years. Walls were demolished and spiral staircases were replaced, but the current owner made no effort to restore the house to its original condition.
Only one piece remains of the original furniture, and all the rest probably came from a flea market... The interior cannot really be described as "nice", and the interior decoration of what is supposed to have been the house of one of Savannah's richest businessmen is rather pitiable...
Savannah's symbol of hospitality was the pineapple. It was exhibited at the entrance of the building, or on the mantelpiece in the reception room, and it demonstrated that all guests were welcome. But at soon as the host or hostess became bored, the pineapple mysteriously disappeared. Which was a sure sign for the guests to soon follow suit...
Unfortunately, the touristic information varied according to the guide that gave it, and it was not always presented very professionally. In an ultimate effort to crank up the visitor's interest, some ancient pictures were unearthed (not of the original owners...) to better illustrate the former residents. All in all a somewhat disappointing visit!
The Savannah Port
We visited the Savannah port, with its famous River Walk. Formerly a chain of warehouses, this street has been developed into a tourist center where it is pleasant to stroll. On the river the traditional push-barges still drift by. Savannah set the cotton price for the whole world, during more than one hundred years!
The road along the port, and even some walls, was made of Belgian cobblestones, which are almost indestructible porphyrite stones. These came out of the ship's ballast, that was unloaded when they took on cotton or other merchandise.
Sometimes the ship needed to take on more ballast, but usually more stones were removed than loaded, and in the end they received another destination...
The River Walk is literally packed with shops and restaurants, and everything is geared to the tourist. Almost everywhere though, you'll see the sign "Restrooms for Patrons Only", which obviously is not very hospitable...