Spring Break ’08 – Savannah

Jill saw her folks back to the train station Wednesday morning, then we finished packing, dropped Illa off, and parked at Dulles. We checked bags, made it through security with no hassles, and were soon at the gate. The flight on United was uneventful (though we could have gotten a free round trip ticket if we’d taken a later flight as they’d assigned a smaller plane than was available when I chose the seats) and we were soon in the Savannah airport. We picked up a car (I had doubted we’d get the compact car we’d reserved, but I was surprised by this monster, like driving Dad’s station wagon) and were soon off to the hotel (after an unscheduled stop to verify that the trunk open light did, in fact, mean the trunk was open).

Jill only gets two weeks off this year and we’ve already chosen to do Falcon Ridge for the other one, so this was up to her. She wanted to see her mom part of the week, but for the other half she wanted to “go someplace warm”. Florida was discussed, but we both thought that would be a bad idea during spring break, so we settled on Georgia, and she decided she wanted to see Savannah.

We checked in to the very nice Hampton Inn on the edge of the Historic District. We read by the pool for a bit (I started reading “the book”), but were getting hungry and tired, and went out to get dinner before we fell asleep. We were both interested in trying the Six Pence Pub, a British style pub on Bull Street. It was busy, but we were seated pretty soon. I was in the mood for something simple, and a tomato basil soup and a BLT with homemade coleslaw fit the bill, while Jill had the Shepard’s pie. Both were excellent (I really enjoyed the soup), and we both had beer we hadn’t tried before – Jill had a Sweet Water (from Atlanta) while I had a Belhaven (Scottish), both good. On the way back we wanted to stop by the CVS for some drinks, but it was already closed, as were most non-food places. Happily the gas station next to the hotel had what we needed (and the hotel had some cookies out when we came in).

Thursday we were up somewhat early for us on vacation, around 9 (helped by an early bedtime the night before). We helped ourselves to the free breakfast (a nice egg sandwich and fruit for me) and then headed out. Jill’s only food request was to go to Paula Deen’s restaurant The Lady and Sons, but a lot of people have the same idea. The restaurant takes “priority seating” for lunch and dinner each day starting at 9:30. We showed up at 9:45, and it took us an hour of waiting to get to the front. By that time we had the choice of 5PM in the bar or 8:45PM seated – we chose the latter. We did a little shopping, in that area (where Jill found an artist she liked) and in City Market. We headed back to the hotel to drop off packages and plan out the afternoon.

Our first stop was for lunch at Moon River, the only local place to brew their own beer. We each had a sampler of course, Jill had a burger and fries while I elected to try the fried green tomatoes with some onion rings. Both were tasty, and thanks to liberal local laws, we both got a pint of our favorite beer, the Wild Wacky Wit, to go as we walked down to the river. We had to stop with everyone else and stare as a crane lowered the refurbished dome onto City Hall before we headed down.

dome onto City Hall

We stopped at a bench on Riverfront Plaza and read for while, but it was getting hot. I got an ice cream and Jill got an iced coffee to keep cool, and we did some shopping before taking another break by the river. You can see the suspension bridge to get you to South Carolina below.

suspension bridge

A busy afternoon was followed by relaxation. Jill watched some TV while I read by the pool, then we switched places so I could nap. Refreshed I was ready for dinner. We were told to arrive by 8:30PM and we did, then were told to wait in the store. We did and were called up to the third floor early. We were served biscuits and hoe cakes, which was nice. Jill was adventurous and had both the fried green tomatoes and a shrimp and grits dish, while I chose the buffet. She wasn’t really fond of the grits (she is a Yankee after all), but did like the fried green tomatoes. I had mostly fried chicken and ribs, the chicken was good, also the lima beans. For dessert I had the ooey gooey buttercake (you got your choice from three small desserts with the buffett) while Jill had the pecan pie (with an enormous scoop of whipped cream), both delicious.

Friday morning breakfast included biscuits with sausage gravy. I had never tried it and decided to, not bad – but Jill wasn’t the least bit interested. We walked around looking for a bookstore and record store we’d looked up, but had no luck. We did enjoy walking through the squares on the way back.

Wright Square

We checked out of the hotel, as the first two nights I wasn’t paying for (thanks Hilton points), but the second two I was and we’re on a budget (more or less – got to afford our dinners out). We drove through the city, and did find the bookstore on Haversham, and checked out the nearby antique store. We tried to find another bookstore closer to the other Hampton Inn, but they were closed. Jill did find a quilting store she liked, then we went to El Potro, part of a Mexican chain, for lunch. Jill had a taco and enchilada, while I couldn’t resist their buffet. The highlight for me was a raspberry stuffed churro.

The other Hampton Inn was right off 95 and wasn’t as nice (they kept us waiting beyond the check in time while the promised two queen bed was two fulls), but it did have an indoor pool and a whirlpool spa, which we promptly took advantage of. We had to get dressed soon after, as we had reservations at the Sapphire Grill. I’d made reservations there since a) Frommer’s gave it a good review and b) I could do it through opentable.com. It was a good choice, though. I started with the calamari with a coriander pesto and a cilantro garnish while Jill had the corn soup with lobster, both delectable. They had very good bread served with a sop of olive oil and an Italian cheese (asiago?). Jill had a glass of Sauvignon blanc from New Zealand, while I had my new favorite cocktail, a 50-50. I had the lamb for dinner – served on a bed of chard with a small pot of gravy it was scrumptious. Jill told me I could tell that she loved me simply because she let me try the spinach puff that came with her red snapper (and no, Chris, she wasn’t offered a box instead by Hiro-san). We skipped dessert so we could get ice cream at City Market as we strolled.

I was pleased to discover after we’d booked tickets that the Savannah Music Festival was happening while we were there. We’d decided to attend the Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby show there. I saw them on CMT Crossroads and was impressed, and at the time they didn’t have a local show booked (they’ve since announced a June Wolf Trap date, but it’s a weekday). We took our seats in the balcony at the Johnny Mercer Theatre and waited for the show to start. I was expecting a show of equals, and at first I was disappointed, as Bruce seemed to be just part of the band, Kentucky Thunder. But when they turned to an epic take on Hornsby’s “The Way It Is”, the concert really took off. “Mandolin Rain” was also good, though the funniest part was when they invited everyone on stage to clog. They also had an interesting take on “Darlin’ Corey”, which we know from versions by Crooked Still and Red Molly, more dirgelike. A good show, and not just my opinion.

A quick breakfast Saturday morning and we were off to the beach. Tybee Island is 20 miles east of town and right on the Atlantic. Unfortunately there is no express route, you drive through town and deal with a number of two lane bridges. But the beach was fine, we both got slight patches of sunburn in spite of slathering each other with sunscreen. We relaxed before heading back into town one more time, this time to Elizabeth’s on 37th. Jill just had to hear the words “best desserts in Savannah” to be convinced to make the last reservation of the night. I certainly felt it was the best meal of the trip. I started with clams and ham in a broth laced with truffle oil – I’m not always a clam fan, but these did the trick. Meanwhile, Jill enjoyed her seafood “taco”, Parmesan cheese shaped and cooked into a shell with crab, corn and lobster. We were given a small salad of greens and goat cheese, then the entrĂ©es arrived. Jill enjoyed her rib of pork served with a sweet potato flan and a glass of Pinot noir), while I tore into my beef tenderloin, cooked to perfection and served on broccoli greens with potato wedges (accompanied by a nice Belgian beer). But the desserts were even better. We both had pecan tortes, Jill the chocolate while I had the heavenly almond.

Sunday we were up early, at the airport before 8. Our flight was again full, but again no problems and we picked up Illa and were home by 1. Lots to do though, and I’m considering taking off tomorrow to finish catching up.