For our 12th anniversary, the brunette and I drove up to Savannah. We stayed at the Olde Harbour Inn (you know it’s old because of the “e” at the end), dined at the Jazz’d Tapas Bar and had lunch the next day at The Crab Shack out on Tybee Island. It was one of those rare excursions where everything went perfectly. I guess we’ll have to do this 12th anniversary thing more often.
One thing that struck us this trip was that you no longer have to rely on the various review sites, like Trip Advisor or Yelp, to find good meals and lodging. You just put it out on Facebook where you’re going and if you have a billion friends, like the wife does, pretty soon they’ll start weighing in with recommendations. I often sneer at the absurdities of social media, but this is one area where Facebook is actually useful.
It was our second visit to Savannah. The first time we drove there after escaping from Daytona Beach in the middle of Bike Week — that annual bacchanal where 100,000 Harley Davidson riders express their rebellious natures by wearing identical clothing and driving identical machines back and forth past identical bars and t-shirt shops. After about 20 minutes in Daytona, Savannah was a welcome relief.
That was eight or nine years ago. It hasn’t changed much. It’s still a charming town, if you can resist the temptation to stroll even once past all the cheesy tourist joints on River Street. I love those shady squares and the fine old homes that define the town, and I love all the history and Spanish moss that goes with it.
Savannah is different from most tourist towns in that it is a bit more vibrant. It has quite a few people who live and work there, many of them young, and apart from River Street you don’t get the sense that it exists solely to sell knickknacks and ice-cream cones.
We strolled past an “Occupy Savannah” protest while were there. It was small and subdued, but at least they’re trying. Most of the businesses have bike racks. People like me — the ones with cameras, with thinning hair and thickening waistlines — still wander around photographing everything in sight, but the locals don’t seem to resent it.
One thing that’s always amused me about Savannah is the Mercer Williams House. That’s the one made famous by John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, but now — as then — the owners continue to pretend that the book was never written, and the events described therein never happened. The book is really the only reason people pay money to tour the house, and is probably the single biggest factor in transforming Savannah into the tourist destination that it is. But you’ll find little evidence of it at the house itself. When we took the tour last time, the guide seem affronted when someone had the temerity to even mention the book.
I guess it’s a vestige of Southern gentility, or some such thing. The murder of a male prostitute does not quite fit. But without it, the Mercer Williams House is just another picturesque residence in a town filled with them. If it were me, I’d embrace that history instead of concealing it.