Now that we’re nearing the end of our time in Savannah, I figured I’d do a retrospective look on the place we’ve called home for nearly 3 years.

Trav and I viewed being stationed in Savannah the silver lining on this assignment. I had always wanted to visit before moving here, little did I know that I’d get to know the city better than I could imagine.

So here are a few things I’ve learned about the city and surrounding low country over the past few years.  Some facts may be true, some skewed, but all from my own perspective:

History

The oldest planned city in the country. (fyi: St. Augustine is the oldest but personally, I think Savannah has more charm).

Sherman spared Savannah on his infamous march to the sea during the Civil War. Locals proudly boast that he was so enamored by the beauty of the city he offered it as a war trophy to President Lincoln. History actually indicates the reason it was spared was that it served as headquarters for housing Union troops. But hush, don’t tell the locals you know that.

Savannah is laid out in a grid with 21 town squares (and lots of dead bodies buried there too!). Forsyth Park is probably the most famous and prettiest:

Savannah also claims to be the most haunted city in the country… How they measure that? I don’t know.

Geography and Sites

Lots or marsh with the Intercoastal Waterway snaking through most of it.

Our local Beach is Tybee Island. There’s a cool lighthouse and you can see dolphins off the coast. Personally, I think it’s worth the extra 30 minutes to drive out to Hilton Head.

Wormsloe: An old Plantation in ruins mostly noted for its famous tree tunnel

River Street: 18th century warehouses that line the Savannah River. Most are now housed with bars, restaurants and kitschy souvenir shops. Savannah’s biggest tourist trap in my opinion.

City Market: Pedestrian center with a variety of art galleries, shops and restaurants. Best calzones EVER can be found at Vinnie Van Go-Gos.

Broughton Street: Old mixed with new with lots of trendy shops and restaurants.

In Pop Culture and Literature

Paula Deen: The epitome of deep-fried Southern cooking. Probably the most famous local and runs her restaurant Lady and Sons downtown in City Market. Trav and I have never eaten there nor do we plan to. Maybe it’s our distaste for deep fried southern fare or the long queue of overweight tourists we see every time we pass by.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: I guess the lasting popularity has to do with the fact the story takes place around the city. Savannah is considered the main “character” in the book.

Forrest Gump shot many scenes here.  An interesting tidbit: Many of the Vietnam scenes were filmed here too. I guess Spanish Moss is not indigenous to Vietnam…go figure.

Other movies filmed in and around Savannah are listed here:

Currently Robert Redford is filming a movie here circa post-civil war. Miley Cyrus just finished wrapping the next Nicholas Sparks movie this summer on Tybee.

Ruby. A Savannah resident, has her own cable show about her weight loss journey.  Her show has become pretty popular and she has even appeared on Oprah… ooooh.

Celebrations

One cool thing about Savannah is that it has a lot of culture and in turn they like to celebrate with festivals. Here are a few that we’ve attended and a couple that we didn’t get a chance to make it to:

Jazz Festival, Oktoberfest, Ogeechee Seafood Festival (this weekend!), Shakespeare Festival, Greek Festival, Jewish Festival, Pirate Fest on Tybee, Savannah Beer Fest, Picnic in the Park, and the Savannah Film Festival.

Savannah also hosts the 2nd largest St. Patty’s day Celebration in the country. Fun to experience once, but after that the drunk crowds are just plain obnoxious.

Weather

Hot and humid with a strong chance of bugs.

The Smell

Yes, this gets a category too. Much like Clovis, when the dew point hits in the morning and evening a strong whiff of paper mill permeates the air. I honestly don’t know which is worse, cow poop or the acrid smell of processing paper.

Flora & Fauna

Something in Savannah always seems to be in bloom which adds to the charm. Spanish moss is also charming but a pain in the butt to rake up. I absolutely love the live oaks that grow to gargantuan sizes. As for fauna, I guess the insects cover the vast majority of that category (past posts on bugs here).

The Locals

The indigenous people are very proud of their Southern roots and some still carry varying degrees of animosity towards Northerners. The civil war is still considered the War of Northern Aggression by those people. However, the majority of people residing in Savannah are transplants.

On a somewhat related note, this video is of a local character who is downtown literally every time Trav and I are there.  What great free entertainment though! (Note that he is playing unplugged)

Now, on a more personal note

Although we’ve had our hardships in this assignment with Trav being gone as much as he has been (14 months deployed along with countless TDYs) I honestly wouldn’t trade this experience. First of all, Trav and I couldn’t ask for a cooler city to be stationed. Although not a huge fan of the South, Savannah would probably be our first pick of places to live in this region.

Most importantly, Savannah will always be seen as the place where we started our family. Not one, but both our children can call this their first home. That in itself will make this assignment (and city) very near and dear to our hearts.

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