My husband and I enjoyed our recent visit to Savannah, Georgia. We stayed at the DeSoto Hotel. The hotel is quite charming and is located in the Madison Square neighborhood. The City of Savannah has 22 Squares that are parks with monuments and also help to name the adjoining neighborhoods. The Squares are only a few blocks apart and run through the center of the downtown area. “Savannah is known as America’s first planned city. General James Edward Oglethorpe laid the city out in a series of grids that allowed for wide open streets intertwined with shady public squares and parks that served as town meeting places and centers of business. Savannah had 24 original squares; 22 squares are still in existence today.”
The first DeSoto Hotel was built in 1890 on the site of General Oglethorpe’s Barracks and is named after the General. The current hotel was completed in 1968. The terra cotta artwork of DeSoto pictured above is from the first hotel. The original crystal chandeliers, which still shine brightly, can also be seen pictured above. The newer version of the hotel is now considered historic!
We enjoyed the view from our room! On the other side of the bridge is South Carolina.
We were greeted by beautiful music when we visited the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist, which is located in the Lafayette Square neighborhood. There were many people visiting. The docent said she couldn’t give tours while the organist was playing, but she talked to us about the stained glass windows, which were installed around 1904. When the church was first built, a lot of the parishioners didn’t know how to read. The windows tell stories about the saints. She talked about how to recognize the saints by looking at what they’re holding or carrying. She pointed to a window of St. Cecilia carrying the harp, because she’s the patron saint of music. The docent also told us about the fire that occurred in 1898. The Cathedral was destroyed, except for the outside walls and the two spires. The Rectory and St. Vincent’s Academy were saved. The cause of the fire was never determined, but it was speculated that the boiler might have malfunctioned. Many donations were received from around the country, and the parishioners finished re-building the church in 1899. The large baptismal font, located near the entrance of the church, was carved in Carrara, Italy and weighs 8,000 pounds. We enjoyed seeing the beautiful architecture of the building, which is built in the French gothic style.
The organ is located in the balcony. The sun shined too brightly to capture the details of the Great Rose Window, which is directly above and behind the organ. St. Cecelia is in the center holding her harp while angels play different instruments around her.
We took a short walk and found Chippewa Square where about 80 percent of the movie Forrest Gump was filmed. “The Battle of Chippewa was an important skirmish in the War of 1812. This square took its name from this battle. The centerpiece for this beautiful square is a Statue of General James Oglethorpe, the founder of the colony of Georgia.” We thought the bench featured in the movie would be at the Square, but it turns out it was a movie prop and is now located in the Savannah History Museum. We walked by the Historic Savannah Theatre, which is the oldest theatre in the United States. Mama Mia was showing at the time.
We walked until we found Forsyth Park, which is 30-acres and named after Georgia’s 33rd governor. “The city’s most famous fountain—installed in 1858 and modeled after the fountains at the Place de la Concorde in Paris—crowns the northern edge of the park…” It was fun to see people playing frisbee, strolling along with their children, walking their dogs, and enjoying the beautiful, warm weather.
On the way back to our hotel, we found Saints & Shamrocks, a cute gift shop. The shop caught my eye, because it had a little yard flag with a St. Patrick’s Day theme sitting out on the sidewalk. I knew my daughter would love to have it for her yard, yet I wondered if the little pole at her house was buried in snow. I decided to buy it anyway. The sales ladies could see that my husband wanted to get going, but they encouraged him to have a seat in the back, while I took my time walking around the place. Before I knew it, I had a handful of gifts for our children.
We walked about three miles our first day, and my feet were sore! Sometimes one Square looked like another Square, and I think we might have walked in circles a couple of times! That afternoon, Hubby went to the pool, which is on the second floor of the hotel, while I took a nap. 🙂
That night, we went to Treylor Park-Hitch for dinner. We only had to walk down the block and across the street to get there. I decided to try something different. We saw chicken pot pie on a couple of menus, so we thought it must be a popular item. The pot pie was prepared quite differently than what I’m used to – it’s cooked inside of a tortilla. It was a bit spicy and quite tasty. My husband enjoyed a Patty Melt. Both items were served with cooked cabbage. Somewhere during our day, we discovered that Savannah is one of the most popular destinations to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! That might be why the restaurant served cooked cabbage that day.
We both thought the area was fun, with its 120 restaurants, 22 Squares, and southern hospitality (everyone was so polite!). We couldn’t wait to go exploring the next day. To be continued…