Since my flight was departing late (6:25 p.m.), I decided to have a leisurely breakfast and to arrange for a tour of Savannah.  I didn’t make sense to be that close, and not see the city.  After a great breakfast of blueberry pancakes (blueberries are heavenly treats) bacon and (of course) coffee, I called the cab driver who’d driven me to the Marriott from the airport, Chantell.  “Hi, Is this Chantell?” “Yes.”  ‘This is Cyndi, the woman you drove to the Marriott on Thursday.” “Ok, hi Cyndi I recognize your voice.”  I explained that I’d like for her to pick me up early and to take me on a tour of Savannah.  The trip to the airport was business, the tour personal.  After a moment’s pause, she agreed and gave me a price which seemed reasonable.  However, Chantell was not available, so her sister Tomika would be there to pick me up at 2:00.  After I checked out of the room, I spent a little time checking email (very little, as I have a lot less now) and catching up on the news as well as drafting a few blog posts.

Tomika arrived a bit late and as we drove off the island, I could see why. The traffic was backed up in the lanes headed to Hilton Head, and she’d been caught in it.  On our side of the highway, it seemed that  every Sunday driver was poking along, sightseeing and making crazy turns across several lanes of traffic at the last minute. We put the oldies R&B station on the radio and chatted about life in Savannah while headed our way. Tomika was horrified to learn that Fayetteville doesn’t have an R&B station.  “How can you live there?”  I talked about many of the amenities of life here, but she didn’t seem convinced. Changing the subject,  I offered her the cherries I had left from the room (Michael had taken me to pick up some healthy snacks on Thursday—when we weren’t driving down the bike path) and she gnoshed on them as we made our way to Savannah.

 

Right before we entered Savannah we crossed a beautiful bridge, the Talmadge Memorial Bridge.  It was unexpected.  My impression of Savannah had been that it was steeped in tradition and the structures there were older, historic.  The Talmadge is modern in design and quite a sight, making for a dramatic entrance into the city. During our trip, when we weren’t singing or sharing a companionable silence, I asked about what it was like living in Savannah.  How was the job market?  What did people do?  How were race relations? Why did she like living there? Tomika was quite forthcoming and said that she thought it was a great place to live.  She’d left once, to live in Virginia and returned after a year because she found the living easier in Savannah, personally and professionally, not to mention the climate.

By that time, we’d made our way to River Street, as I’d asked to see the waterfront area.  Just as we rounded the corner we came across a group of 20 or so Black bikers (mostly guys).  Wow!  A sign–of what I wasn’t quite sure–but I interpreted it as being in the right place at the right time. Tomika seemed fascinated and remarked that she’d never seen so many Black bikers.  I was fascinated too, but for different reasons.  J “Tomika, pull over.”  She did and opened the back door of the mini-van cab, so I could conduct my conversations.  (Ok, so it’s not the coolest approach, but hey, you work with what you got.)  The group was great. “Come on, you can ride on the back of my bike.”  “I don’t have my boots or a helmet.”  “That’s ok. I won’t let anything happen to you.” There were a couple of women riders and they seemed amused at my reaction to the fellas and vice versa.  To make a long story short, Tomika and I were so distracted by the riders, that we failed to notice the fact that we were sitting on the trolley tracks.  A none too happy trolley driver was quite put out with us. One of the bikers said, “Look out!” We said, “Huh?” and turned around to see the rather imposing trolley bearing down on us. “Oh Lawd!” Tomika said, and we both cracked up as she backed the cab off the tracks and we waived goodbye to the riders. That was an eventful start to our tour.  The rest was pretty mellow after that.

The River Street area had a number of interesting looking shops and boutiques and hotels, as well as restaurants and bars. From there you could take river cruises.  Everywhere we went, it was clear that great care had been taken to preserve the historic buildings in the downtown area.  The atmosphere was charming.  Tomika explained that the Savannah College of Art & Design played a major role in the preservation. The area of the original Savannah city plan has been declared a historic landmark.

We visited a number of the squares, the oldest Black church (First African Baptist Church), the courthouse and cruised down what appeared to be the main, downtown shopping street.  Tomika showed me an area that held slaves after they arrived. From there men would come to look them over and to place bids. It was an area with large stone walls and bridges from which one could look down into a square area encompassed by the stone walls. After a brief look at a few neighborhoods, and the port, it was time to head for the airport.  My brief tour left me wanting to spend more time exploring and learning the history of Savannah.  It is already on my bucket list, and now I know that’s for good reason. 

After Tomika dropped me off at the airport I had just enough time to check in for the flight, grab a quick bite at Phillip’s Famous Seafood, and clear security before the flight left. I’d enjoyed my Savannah sojourn, and looked forward to returning.

 

 

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