Not European- Savannah Charleston St. Augustine

Savannah: I loved this Old Southern city with all the beautiful squares and old oaks dripping with Spanish moss.Fabulous history and fascinating stories.Oglethorpe Tours enjoyable, gave a very interesting historical tour of downtown Savannah. This Yankee got teased quite a bit, but I am easy going and didn't take offense when I made the mistake of answering "the American Civil war" when I should have said "the War of Northern aggression." LOL Other tours of note: Owens-Thomas house, Juliet Gordon Low's (Girl Scouts) home, Mercer House, the Savannah waterfront, hanging out and having a snack at the many gorgeous and peaceful squares. Cuisine was great - so many options it was hard to choose. Breakfast every day at Goose Feathers - try their version of eggs Benedict on a croissant- very fresh and delicious. A fun college vibe at The Distillery: yummy fried shrimp and fantastic choices for beer. I had a stout that was to die for and it went well with the crispy perfectly fried shrimp. No way would I enjoy a Paula Dean meal. Would you believe there was a lineup for the buffet? Wish I had made time for Mrs. Wilkes - they only serve in the middle of the day and it cut into my other plans, so I passed. Will definitely try it on another trip. Leopold's ice cream cannot be missed, homemade ice cream with so many great flavors, it is very difficult to choose, a very nice down home old time soda fountain. All the employees seemed to love their job, refreshing in this day of ho-hum attitudes. Charleston Magnolia plantation & gardens tours: Evan though you were required to pay extra for every tour(boat ride, Audubon's Swamp, slaves quarters),I thought it was money very well spent.The rain seemed endless, but it broke just enough to see most of the Audubon's swamp before heading back to the city.

Posted by Linda
Seattle, WA, USA
432 posts

... Continued- Charleston: I learned the phrase,"Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite," comes from tightening your ropes under your mattress filled with buggy Spanish moss. The guide at the plantation's slave houses was extremely knowledgeable and really painted a vivid picture of what plantation life was like for the owners and the slaves. I found it fascinating. I also found Charleston's waterfront park to be very beautiful ... I just walked lazily, as if I was wasting the day away.. Felt good and a nice diversion from my hectic life in Seattle. Cuisine: OMG, fried green tomatoes and fried chicken at Poogan's Porch was so mouth wateringly delicious. I found the Oysters in the South to be quite different than here in the NW. They seemed more delicate and less briney. Think ours are better,but it could just be my pallate. Anyway, I decided Southern food is yummy, but I certainly had my fill of fried food-one would argue, for a lifetime. Wildlife: I enjoyed great views of some very sizable American Alligator and spotted more than several life birds on my list: Wood Stork, Elegant Tern, Least Tern, Little Blue Heron,Clapper Rail, and Laughing Gull to name a few. More to come...

Posted by Sarah
Chicago (formerly St. Louis), IL, USA
1311 posts

Enjoyed your trip reports, Linda. Outside Charleston we went to Drayton Hall so I liked reading about your visit to Magnolia Plantation. All of these plantations are expensive but when you're on vacation, you want to see them especially if you can't see anything like that where you live. What did you do in Charleston? My sister and I are returning in August and I want to visit the Old Slave Mart Museum, Fort Sumter, and other things I missed the first time around. The Battery is gorgeous - I definitely want to spend more time there. And I loved the architecture in the city, everything from old single houses to three-story mansions.

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

Linda, thanks for your report! Ditto Poogan's Porch and the food in general - it is NYC quality stuff (did you try a fresh muffin? OMG!!!). Not that NYC is the place for high quality food, but it certainly ranks right up there. Another great restaurant in Charleston I enjoyed is Blossom - I had outstanding food and service there - the freshest catfish. I really enjoyed Magnolia Gardens and also Cypress Gardens (to the north), which were full of wildlife (birds, crocks, etc) and lily ponds which one can ride a boat through. Any Audubon park I've ever been to has been worthwhile, including Magnolia Gardens. Sadly, I can never make it to Charleston at "the perfect time", when the azeleas are in full bloom in all their glory (mid March-ish).

Posted by Linda
Seattle, WA, USA
432 posts

Charleston continued: just outside of Charleston, on my way South to St. Augustine, I visited the Angel Oak Tree and further still, the only tea plantation in North America. The old oak tree was huge and absolutely gorgeous with all its sprawling limbs. The tea plantation was unique and the short Trolly tour was interesting and not that expensive. I would recommend the tea plantation if you are in the area but probably would not go out of my way unless the subject interests you. St. Augustine: This city on the Florida coast is fabulous. Beautiful architecture with Flagler College, Telfair Museum and of course, the Castillo de San Marcos. Inside the college, what used to be Henry Flagler's Hotel Ponce de Leon, you saw a clock by Thomas Edison that had a huge white onyx face, Louis Tiffany windows and chandeliers and the ultimate in luxurious rooms for sitting away the hours drinking tea, sherry or smoking Cuban cigars. Just a fabulous tour given by one of the graduating students. The other hotel where the Telfair museum is now was called Hotel Alcazar where I sat and enjoyed coffee and a piece of bourbon pecan pie at the bottom of the swimming pool. What a kick. cuisine: The Kingfish Grill just over the Vilano Bridge and on the water, served fabulous fresh fish with a stunning view of the marina. All in all, I had a wonderful trip. Now to start planning another...

Posted by Rebecca
Nashville, TN, USA
645 posts

Linda, Did you go up in the St. Augustine Lighthouse? The food at some Charleston restaurants is modern Southern cuisine; baked or grilled fish with steamed veggies, or delicious healthy salads. Of course, you can still find fried shrimp in Charleston if you want it. Two of the best for fried seafood are Hyman's or The Noisy Oyster. Yes, the fried green tomatoes and fried chicken at Poogan's Porch are delicious! Did you know, it was (the late) Paul Newman's and his wife's favorite restaurant in Charleston? They used to have a framed picture of them on the wall there with a local newspaper article (also in the same frame) quoting him saying it was his favorite. Thanks for a great trip report! Really enjoyed it!

Posted by Linda
Seattle, WA, USA
432 posts

Sarah: Other than the events noted in my earlier post for Charleston, I did visit the Old Slave Mart & Museum; their self-guided tour was excellent; I believe it showed what the slave trade business was all about and I felt especially sad for the way the slaves were treated. A contrast was touring the Nathanial Russell house. The opulence was, in a way, overwhelming. It was hard to see and compare the lifestyle of the wealthy with the misery of slave life. Nathaniel Russell was a shipping industry mogul and he made a lot of money off of commerce, including trading slaves. In the area of the Old Slave Mart is Poogan's Porch. I highly recommend it for lunch or dinner. Oh, also, in Charleston, to escape the heat I ducked into St. Michaels Episcopal church and the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Two very beautiful houses of worship and a nice respite from the sun and heat. Other fabulous places to dine in Charleston are Hominy Grill and Social Wine bar. Agnes: Yes, I wanted to tour the Cypress Gardens but chose an all day event at Magnolia Plantation and that left me with little other time before heading south to St. Augustine. Maybe one of these days when I am back in the area, it will be on my list. Thanks for the tip. Rebecca: I did not go up the St. Augustine lighthouse but did stop by for a look on the outside. One thing I did enjoy was going to Anastasia State Park for a birding trip with the Audubon group there and then afterwards chilling on the beach. The views from the Castillo de San Marcos were fabulous. I loved looking at the bridge from the Castillo and also seeing dolphins swimming in the water. Another great view of the water that I enjoyed was at Kingfish Grill on Camachee Island. Nice ambience overlooking the marina and good food.