Travel bucket lists are becoming the thing of legend, with dreamers reaching for everything from the moon to the highest mountain they dare transcend, hoping that by reaching to the grandest of heights they can attain some sort of heroic spell that makes their journeys the stuff of legend – if not in reality, at least in their own minds.
Yet for me, the journey I dare attain, the path I dare walk, the pilgrimage I dare make is not to the heights nor to the farthest reaches of our earth, but a mere five or so hours from where I’ve called home the last year. This Southern beauty has been at the top of my bucket since before the term was even a whisper on the lips of writers & dreamers, since before a murder catapulted her to the public’s fascinated conscious, but long after the rogues and renegades made her their home, and parties and punches began to flow.
She is Savannah, the captivating beauty of Southern charm and gentile hospitality that has long called to men and welcomed the characters to her door with magnetic pull.
I give you now just five of the reasons that Savannah calls me as if home, and why in 2011 I am determined to make a journey to discover if she is everything that I dream she is, and perhaps more…
Her historic charm. Savannah is nothing is not history in the always-making. From her earliest days as the city of pirates and scalawags swapping their bounty for ale, Savannah is as full of lore as she is a world living it.
Confederate soldiers held her as a beloved angel, Union soldiers fell in love with her beauty so swiftly they could do her no harm. Modern poets and lovers flock to her for her spirit and genuine, colorful nature.
Natural beauty. Let’s face it, who doesn’t fall in love with the images of Spanish moss dripping from trees at the edge of romantic novel and ghostly presence. Savannah was made to act as the natural star at the center of her glorious universe and she does so with aplomb.
Where land and tree meet sea and sun, her horizon is a lesson in colorful palates and her waters rich with life and activity.
Characters and plenty of them. Perhaps many had never known of Savannah outside of their high school history class until the character rich book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil catapulted this Belle onto the front pages. The murder at it’s core was hardly known outside Georgia, yet with one tome the world came to know such names as Jim Williams, The Lady Chablis and UGA. John Berendt’s best seller slipped as easily from the page as the drawl from the lips of her residents, transitioning still onto the widescreen version that captivated an even wider audience.
Yet those are just a fraction of the folk whose fiction-worthy-selves have walked these streets over generations. Savannah remains full of such characters beaconing to be discovered for who they are everyday.
Architectural treasure. I’ve only seen them in photos, but the buildings that line the historic squares and vibrant waterfront are among Savannah’s great treasures. Generations old, historically significant for the men, women and events that have flourished within their walls – and just plain beautiful – these buildings are not just a gem for the South and Georgia, but for American history, where we’ve been and where we’re going.
With the likes of historians such as Jim Williams, who’ve preserved them for future generations, and the skill, passion and academic excellence of SCAD (Savannah College of Art & Design) taking on preservation efforts, Savannah can be her lovely and mysterious self for many generations to come.
Food, Libations & Fun. Born the party girl, Savannah has hosted the grandest of balls, the raunchiest of scoundrels, most pure of facade and most raucous of cheer, and she just keeps coming back for more.
While the parties keep coming, so too does the food. I’m told it’s some of the most gracious, generous, belly filling, taste-bud intriguing culinary delights to be had.
I cannot wait to have a taste of all that Savannah has to offer…