Savannah, Georgia. Heard of it? Read about it? Been there? If not, go.
Savannah is one of those places that really leaves its mark. It retains a charming “Old South” essence with Spanish moss hanging about every house, stone squares that pave every street, and white porches that make you want to sit down and drink a glass of ice-cold lemonade.
Here’s what I remember from my trip: It is springtime, and I have just arrived in Savannah for Passover with my family. My cousins live right outside of the city. To get to their house we have to cross a bridge and trek through many marshes. From a distance it is possible to see blooming spring flowers and green reeds submersed in water. We pass the sign for Moon River. This place is best known for the famous song that it has inspired. Songwriter Johnny Mercer based this song off of his hometown.
As I stare out my car window, I feel a sense of nostalgia. I imagine the South as described in Gone With the Wind and yearn to be here at that moment in time. To me the south is a place of immense past, and that intrigues me. I find myself wanting to know more about this magnificent city.
So, the next day, my Aunt and Uncle take my sister, my mother and me on a tour of Savannah so that we can develop a real sense of how things used to be. The city is drenched in fascinating history, from Oglethorpe to Forrest Gump. We stop for lunch at a local café. I originally want to try Southern style cooking, but when I see a barbeque tofu wrap on the menu I can not resist ordering it. It tastes even more delicious than I expect, surpassing all my wildest imaginations.
Later that day, I wander around the city with my sister. I stroll down the new part of Savannah where many designer stores are located, but after a while I become bored with the pricey ensembles. I know that there must be somewhere less expensive, but where?
As I walk along the side streets, my eyes take in the multitude of colorful buildings. Then, suddenly I spot an oddly misplaced vintage store. The storeowner is kind and gracious. I find a bag for just four dollars—it is the same one I now use everyday on the streets of New York. In a conversation, the owner reveals that the shop will soon be closing. She then offers me as many pieces of free jewelry as I can carry. Thanks to her, I am now the proud owner of my favorite silver ring. It never leaves my finger.
All around Savannah we find smiling, welcoming people, the kind of people I always dreamed of encountering down south. They are standing all around me, behind counters, strolling down the street, sitting on porches and giving tours. All are proud to show off their beautiful city.
It has been a long time since my journey to Savannah, Georgia. As life in New York begins again, I temporarily forget about the Georgian city. However, I am soon reminded when I read through John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The book extracts the very soul of Savannah, Georgia. There is something to be said for a novel that, while a murder mystery, makes the reader want to grab their car keys and drive straight to the city for vacation.
Savannah is one of those places where time seems to have simply stopped. There is a strong feeling of what used to be, a simpler, happier era that will never fail to capture the heart of everyone that visits.