What follows are the exact notes as excerpted from my travel journal that I kept while in Savannah. It is meant to give a present tense recount of my thoughts and impressions of Savannah while these were still fresh in my mind. Any notes or additions from me are in italics and do not represent my present sense impression.
TRIP TO SAVANNAH, GEORGIA
MARCH 15, 2002 around 2:00 p.m.
WASHINGTON, DC (actually ALEXANDRIA, VA, our home)
It is now almost two o'clock on Friday, March 15, 2002. Toni and I will be leaving on United Airlines from Dulles Airport to go to Savannah for Saint Patrick's Day. Despite already having conducted a preliminary research session, I am still not sure why Savannah is the place to go for the annual Irish Day of drinking. It is apparently a celebration of parades, Guinness, and drunks wearing green that can only be surpassed in magnitude by Chicago and New York. I'm curious to see if the Spring Break "hook-up and beer-bong" crowd shows up or if it is something akin to Mardi Gras in New Orleans (I think that there are similar wrought iron porches from which to wing plastic beads and proudly get naked).
I am mostly interested to see if the Saint Paddy's celebration will interfere with our intention to really see the city - its old planter's winter houses, its quaint squares (like the one Forrest Gump sat in with a box of chocolates in the movie), and its legendary restaurants, pubs, and live entertainment. I just hope someone doesn't spray paint the moss in the trees bright green.
We will arrive in Savannah tonight at about 6:30 p.m. and taxi our way to the Hilton (go Toni's Honor points!) From there we hope to walk to our restaurant, The Olde Pink House on Abercorn Street. It is apparently a bit fancy (as is anything that spells "old" with an "e"). It is set in a post-colonial Georgian planter's house (James Habersham) where the building material has made the interior and exterior pink. I look forward to some potentially fattening food and the potentially exhausting five-mile run I will have to do to get rid of those extra calories.
Adding to our weekend dilemma is the fact that the NCAA basketball tournament is happening this weekend and our alma mater, Pitt, is actually in the tournament after an extended absence. Assuming that they beat Central Connecticut today (very embarrassing if they don't), we will need to find some place that pours Guinness and will allow us to watch them on Sunday.
I have researched and assembled (as all great journalists do) a packet of info that I downloaded from the Internet. It gave information on how the parade route winds its way through town, the best place to watch, and where to drink. It seems as if you need to buy drinking bands (a la the typical frat party) which allow you to drink within a fenced-in area near the river. I am curious to see if this is a fun place to be or if the seclusion and lack of freedom make it less than desireable. I can't imagine underage college kids really stopped from drinking by this structured set-up.
My packet also includes the best restaurants, according to a couple of restaurant reviewing sites. I look forward to trying to get to many of them, but crowds, time, and the fact that after you have one heavy meal, you are sometimes not hungry for the rest of the day, all play against going to every great eating place.
I've downloaded a historic walking tour as well, but the parade and crowds may make this not as appealing as it sounds on paper. Besides, you sometimes get a better time out of just wandering around and looking instead of heading into every antique filled planter's winter home that you see. Interesting to note is that Juliette Gordon Low was born and lived here; she founded the Girl Scouts. Maybe I can score some cookies. . . (Just a thought, but don't the Girl Scouts sell a cookie called "Savannahs"? Hmmm. I never made the connection before.)
There is also a tour showing sights used in the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which is referred to in Savannah simply as "The Book". I am a big idiot for not taking the time to read "The Book" nor have I even seen the movie. I'm thinking about dashing out right now and getting it at the library and reading on the plane.
There is also a chance to take a boat tour down the Savannah River; we'll have to see if we are in the mood. After many Guinnesses sometimes you lose your enthusiasm for anything but drinking more Guinnesses and hanging out.
So there it is; I hope to have a great weekend and I hope to have a good story idea or two to write about when we get back.
Note: Do not hold it against the author for not attaching any photos to this journal excerpt; these are only my pre-trip thoughts. More photos will follow the other journal excerpts.