Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Road to Savannah

Last month, four of us went to the Savannah Tour of Homes. It wasn't our first time, but it's been a while. We've also done the Charleston Tour of Homes, but not only is it farther away (which we didn't want to deal with car-wise) but in Charleston, they pretty much lock you in each room and bombard you with information you already know, or really don't give a damn about, while you stand totally bored for 15 minutes. But in Savannah, you just walk in, look at everything in each room, taking all the time you want, ask questions if you like and walk out. Besides, there's a difference in the ambiance of these two cities. Charleston is traditional and rather snobby. Savannah is eccentric and friendly. No choice, in my mind.

So we drove off in a cloud of hen dirt (as my grandmother used to say) at 7 AM, one of us armed with a cane, another with a thyroid disorder, the third with macular degeneration and me, with my gimpy knee, which proved to be stellar what with the cortisone shot the week before. After some stops at various Cracker Barrels (What? Doesn't everyone?), we got to Savannah late afternoon and checked in, dithered about our room locations, unpacked, changed and made our way to Elizabeth's On 37th for dinner. And a stiff drink. Or two. I was pleased I wasn't the driver not only for that reason, but another: parking. If you've been to Savannah, you know what I'm talking about. Elizabeth's is always good low country food, but this night, unexceptional.

We had signed up for a home tour in the morning and much to our dismay, discovered Savannah has turned into Charleston. Doors slam shut behind your group while guides give the most tedious lecture ever in each and every room, upstairs and down. And in the event you haven't figured it out, this results in long lines outside the homes. We waited 45 minutes at the first one, only slightly less at the second and so forth through 7 homes, with lengthy walks in between. The tour only lasts three the math, people in charge, it's not possible. So, I personally complained to everyone in authority I could find, compared this unfavorably to Charleston and informed them I'd never return. I'm sure they were all shaking in their boots. And we paid $40 pp for the privilege. (But oh! Would you look at these porch steps!)

We also signed up for a couple side events (always chancy...the failure of a ghost tour in Santa Fe comes to mind), both a waste of time and the one on General Lafayette was so ridiculous and amateurish that I could barely keep a straight face. It appears he gave a speech to the citizens of Savannah in 1825 and much was being made of it. They shouldn't have bothered.

Lunch the first day was another of the side tour events which proved to be mistake...Lady and Sons. Aside from Mrs.Wilkes Boarding House lunch, an experience too funny to be missed, this was the only other lunch event we signed on for. Not in their restaurant (which was disappointing in appearance, but then, I've never cared for Paula's food anyway), but stuck off in a brick walled room with a buffet table set up in the rear, steaming away and turning decent vegetables into a mass of overcooked green stuff and truly the most pitiful salad bar I've ever been exposed to. Turns out Lady and Sons restaurant itself is much the same. (No wonder I never went.) You'll not be surprised to read who walked in during lunch:  Jamie Deen. He was there to plug, sell and sign his new cookbook. Every table was doing selfies with him, except ours. I give us high marks for good there were 6 other fun women at our table...and we were the only ones eating (the chicken wasn't all that bad, but there was a hoe cake on the side I thought inedible and gauging from the leftovers at our table, everyone agreed) and not fawning. I also was aware he ignored our table, deservedly. Here's a photo of  Jamie. Yes, I admit it, I couldn't resist, but at least it wasn't a selfie.
Anyway, another $40 down the drain.

Dinner that night was at 700 Drayton. Yum. I must say, our dinners were the highlights of the trip. But hardly worth the drive from South Florida just to eat great dinners and pay the fare at our Inn, one we've always chosen, but which I won't go into as it's gone downhill since we were last there. One other little thing I must mention: I can no longer hoist myself up onto their four poster beds. Lordy, I've shrunk since I was last here. I used to be tall, really. If I took a running leap...perhaps, but not with this knee. So used their little step stools. Huh. I've come down in the world, literally.

Still, we were all holding up pretty darn well for grannies and we made note of the fact we were among the oldest on the tours, kudos to us. But I am encouraged to find this kind of event is appealing to the younger set..we saw lots of couples in their 20's and 30's.
Shopping is fun and funky, which we mixed in with various events of the tour. I think my griping paid off (along with everyone else's) as the next day, there were no lines outside the homes on tour and nobody gave any speeches. That day, I praised everyone I met and told them what a pleasure it was to self guide through the homes. Never say I don't praise when deserved.

Our final dinner was a comparatively new restaurant, Local 11 Ten. The best I've been to in ages...a farm to table type, unusual menu and the food was divine. You must go if you're in the area.

Yeah, we did pretty darn well for our ages and infirmities, had fun together, ate well and shopped til we dropped. My feet hurt, but not my knee. How weird is that?