Last Tuesday, I woke up with a desire to use my upcoming days off to go on a trip. I wanted to travel somewhere I could sightsee, take photographs, and be inspired—Savannah, Georgia popped into my head. The last time I had been to Savannah I was in 7th grade, and my main goal for the trip was to kiss my girlfriend Abbey for the first time (it didn’t happen, not on that trip at least). I usually plan things like this well in advance, but this time I decided to follow my impulse. When I found a cozy Airbnb for a good price, I booked it on the spot. I packed on Wednesday and by Thursday morning at 6:50 am I was on the road from Atlanta to Savannah.
I had done some research on the places I should go, so when I arrived in Savannah around noon I went straight to the first place on my list—Bonaventure Cemetery. As a native Atlantan I love Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery, but Bonaventure is my new favorite. It is the largest and most beautiful cemetery I’ve ever been to. (You can click here to read some of the reasons why I love cemeteries). The entire site is tucked back in a forest of Live Oak trees and Spanish Moss. I walked around the grounds taking photographs of many of the beautiful sculptures and the breathtaking scenery.
After visiting Bonaventure Cemetery, I drove to Savannah's Historic District. A lot of the parking in Savannah is metered and I could only scrounge up enough change for 45 minutes, so I walked briskly through the squares to see and photograph as much as possible without getting a parking ticket: green squares, huge monuments, another cemetery, a horse and buggy casually taking up the entire road, a Segway tour. I made it back to my car with 2 minutes left on the meter as a rain shower began.
By this point I was exhausted, hungry, and thirsty (plus it was raining), so it was time to find my go-to coffee shop for the trip. I found exactly what I was looking for in The Foundery Coffee Pub: great coffee and pastries, a cool atmosphere (mostly Savannah College of Art and Design students from what I could gather), and an old upright piano in the corner. I read some of the Greek Mythology book I brought with me and wrote down some thoughts on what I had seen so far while drinking a decaf latte and eating a blueberry muffin.
The coffee shop was only a few blocks from where I was staying, so after the rain had passed and I was feeling refueled, I drove to the house and got settled in. My room, called “The Writer’s Retreat”, was small but had a bed and a desk, so I was set. I brought my bags in, grabbed my camera again, and started the mile-and-a-half walk to another one of Savannah’s well-known sites: Forsyth Park.
Not all of Savannah is a tourist attraction, and I walked past some dilapidated convenience stores and fire-damaged houses on my way to the park. Anytime I travel, I try to make a point not to just drive from tourist site to tourist site but to get a full picture of what the area is like. It’s important to remember that everywhere I visit is someone’s home.
Forsyth Park was busy. There was a trumpet player playing by the park's large fountain. I also came across a women knitting, a man throwing a huge stick for his dog to chase, and children playing with their parents on the playground. When you walk around a tourist attraction with a large camera, people tend to hand you their phones to take their picture, so I snapped a few shots for people as I explored.
It was evening now, and after another quick break at the Writer’s Retreat, I drove down to the River Street strip of restaurants, bars, and shops. There was a jazz band playing, so I ended my day by listening to some tunes and walking along the bay.
On day two, I woke up early to do some writing and edit a few of the photos I took the day before. Then I drove back to the Historic District to see the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. The cathedral is magnificent from the outside, with its two spires rising high above the rest of the buildings in the area, but I was even more amazed once I went inside. The intricate designs of the altar, the stain glass windows, the huge pipe organ, and the artistic designs on the ceiling all combined to leave me in awe.
After leaving the cathedral (but taking some of that feeling of awe along with me) I found a nice small café, Foxy Loxy, where I did a little reading and ate tacos. Then it was time to make the 25-minute drive to Tybee Island and get to the beach.
It was a beautiful day, so having an opportunity to take pictures on the beach with a nice breeze blowing was paradise. I also went to see the lighthouse on Tybee Island. I made up my mind to come back the next morning to see the sunrise over the ocean.
Once I got back from Tybee Island, it was time to take in the sights and sounds of a Friday Night on River Street. I got some great photos and saw a lot of interesting people: a saxophone player, a couple of guitarists, high schoolers taking prom photos, even a pirate. The riverboat and the ferry were zipping back and forth on the bay, and the entire strip was bustling with an electric energy.
On my way back to my room, I stopped by Forsyth Park again and walked past a contentious game of pick-up basketball to take some photos of the lamp-lit fountain. Two boys riding bicycles with neon-green wheels whizzed by.
My last morning in Savannah began with a 5:30 a.m. wake up call that came way too soon, but it was time to head back to Tybee Island to see and photograph the sunrise. When I got there, I saw the lighthouse rising eerily into the dark sky and stopped to take a few photos of it before heading to the beach. As the cool sand chilled my toes, I watched the sun peak over the expansive ocean. It was the perfect way to end an amazing trip. After driving through Savannah's historic squares one last time, I was on my way back to Atlanta with lots of new photographs on my camera and just as many new memories in my mind.