Friday, October 10, 2008

Savannah, Georgia

When Idgie asked me to write an article about where I live, I was thrilled!

Savannah, Georgia has all the charm you’ve heard and read about and hopefully, if you’re among the fortunate ones, you’ve seen the southern charm for yourselves.

I grew up in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. I moved to Atlanta immediately after my wedding. My then-husband and I persevered for five years until the constant traffic and growing crowds could no longer be tolerated. We wanted to stay in Georgia and he found a job in Savannah. In all the years I lived in Atlanta, I had never once stepped foot in Savannah and I had no idea what to expect. Oh sure, I was among the many who read “Midnight in the Garden of Good Evil” and heard about all the magnificent homes but words alone cannot paint a complete picture.

Have you ever been somewhere and the second you step foot there you know you’ve been called home? That’s how I felt about Savannah the moment I stepped foot here. Saying that I’m madly in love with this city would be an understatement! I can’t imagine living anywhere else and enjoying it as much as I do Savannah.

We moved here in August of 1999 and the Welcome Wagon came around in the form of Hurricane Floyd and we had to make haste in evacuating. Once we got back and were able to really settle down, we grew to love this city as if we had grown up and spent our entire lives here. Now we understand why people who grew up here and moved away, always find their way back.

It’s not only easy to find your way around the Savannah area but it has so many fun and entertaining things to do here! I’m Jewish so attending the Jewish Food Festival every fall is a given. Our first fall here “The Legend of Bagger Vance” was being filmed here so needless to say chit-chatting with fellow Philly boy Will Smith over chopped liver was and always will be a highlight for me!

Speaking of celebrities, despite the ones who have homes here such as Diana Scarwid and Sandra Bullock, many movies have been filmed here. “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”, “Forrest Gump”, “Forces of Nature”, “The Gingerbread Man”, “The Gift” just to name a few. Each year in late October/early November the Savannah Film Festival takes place with celebrities in attendance, box office hits premiering here and students from SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) making their film debuts.

The seasons and season changes are perfect! Indian summers extend well into fall and winter lasts just a few short months. Every few years we get snow flurries that last twenty minutes or so and that’s our snow for the season. Sometimes the winters are so mild, that trees don’t lose their leaves until almost spring and people are caught wearing T-shirts and shorts. The best time of year here is spring when the trees blossom glorious-colored flowers and the scent of spring is everywhere. With the weather as pleasant as it is there is always a reason to celebrate something in Savannah with people gathering in Forsyth Park, the main park located downtown, for events like Shakespeare in the Park, Concert in the Park, Picnic in the Park...if it can be held in the park, they’re there! My favorite is the annual Sidewalk in the Park in April where SCAD students and anyone else who chooses to register, create masterpieces on a designated section of sidewalk within the park with nothing more than sidewalk chalk. Even the youngest children can show off their talents at a select area in the park with free chalk handed out.

How could I talk about Savannah without mentioning the dining? Of course you can find any type of food here that you can find in a large metropolis but the ones that are really worth it can be found in the heart of the downtown area. Elizabeth’s on 37th Street is fine dining for the truly established palate and for someone with a very full wallet! The restaurant
is in an old plantation house, impeccably lit at night to bring out its true beauty...which is good since the rest of the neighborhood is pretty shoddy and a police officer is there to walk you to your car! You shouldn’t let that be a deterrent or you will never get to experience such a culinary treat.

It’s fun walking up to the Olde Pink House which is one of the beautiful downtown homes renovated and painted bright pink to match its name. Gottlieb’s and Il Pasticcio are also moderately-priced but well worth it. Of course it goes without saying that Paula Deen’s restaurant, The Lady and Sons, is the most popular with the tourists. What used to be a small one-floor restaurant is now a three-story extravaganza. Most people go for her daily dinner buffet which consists of all the downhome-cookin’ your stomach can endure like fried chicken, creamed corn, collard greens, biscuits and gravy, mashed sweet potatoes and MUCH more! In all the time I’ve lived here, I have only eaten there twice and that was only because my parents were visiting and willing to deal with the two hour wait and the line that draped around the entire building like winding Kudzu. One time, my father ate eight pieces of fried chicken, came home to my house and passed out in a food coma for three hours! Nothing was gonna’ wake him and if he hadn’t woken up on his own, I probably would have called for the paramedics to revive him! If your digestive system can tolerate that, bless your heart, you won’t go home the same person as when you arrived! If you really want to show off your cooking talents, plan ahead and register at Paula Deen’s popular cooking school located in the same building as her restaurant. If you’re a seafood lover like I am, you can enjoy low-country boil at numerous wonderful seafood restaurants in and around the Savannah area. Low-country boil are potatos, corn-on-the-cob, smoked sausage, mussels, crab legs, shrimp and crawfish all compiled into one dish and it is DE-LICIOUS!

I haven’t mentioned the beautiful Spanish Moss that drapes over all the oak trees as far as the eye can see and the magnificent homes that grace the numerous squares of the downtown area but words alone cannot describe the beauty that you can see firsthand. If there’s one place you should visit during your lifetime, Savannah is it. It’s a smaller town way of life and
it’s perfect.

Written by: Patty