Road Trip: Savannah and Charleston

I started this entry in Charlotte, NC, after I left Charleston, SC, and now I’m finishing it in Asheville. It’s kinda hard to write on the road. When I depart a place, I usually drive in silence meditating on my experiences, and when I arrive somewhere new, my anxious little heart wants to see and taste everything.

A friend of mine was kind enough to let me crash on her couch for a night in Savannah, GA, while she studied for med school exams. We chatted a little about our travels, and I had some playtime with my ol’ buddy Xander the cat. He’s the only cat I’ve ever loved.

Savannah is one of my favorite retreats. It has a small town European feel, with ornate design features on the homes, flowers blooming everywhere, elegant park squares, and a riverfront with pretty views. I love it so much I almost prefer not to share it, but I’ll make an effort to be a good human being. 🙂 So, here are some pictures of Savannah:

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The funny thing is that Savannah and Charleston seem to have this weird rivalry. I’ve been told on more than one occasion that Savannah is dirty in comparison to Charleston, which is often described as Savannah’s rich older sister. So, I’d been curious about Charleston for a while and finally took the time to visit.

My first afternoon in Charleston, South Carolina, I arrived with a massive appetite. Someone told me to head to King Street, so I walked a bit looking for a place to fill my gut. The bars and restaurants were still a bit empty. I checked out two places with decent menus but for some reason decided to keep walking. I came upon a little gray sign that read: Smoke BBQ. The restaurant front was small and had a menu posted on the window. As I approached, a young man with a long beard stepped outside for a cigarette break. “I’ll buy you a shot if you come in,” he said. I laughed. He introduced himself as Russell and briefly told me about their great selection of food, which included a 16-hour smoked pastrami. That sold me.

He treated me to a Honey Whiskey concoction that they make in-house. I am not a Whiskey drinker, but it was really tasty. He explained that it was their response to Fireball, which has become quite popular, but according to him, has terrible ingredients. I ordered the Pastrami Reuben with a side of Grits and Hash. The meal was superb. I tried a few more drinks, shared some laughs with the locals, and had to decline a drunken, albeit, very cute, marriage proposal with a college ring so large it slipped right over my wedding band.

The following morning, I had a late breakfast at Sunrise Bistro Xpress, which I whole-heartedly recommend. The food is fresh. The staff is attentive. Just don’t order a cappuccino, ‘cause it’s on the menu, but let’s just say it’s not quite a cappuccino, more of a foamed latte. I’m pretty low maintenance most of the time, but NOT when it comes to espresso. I can thank my friend Rachel for that. She ruined me for life. Kisses.

While driving around downtown Charleston, I couldn’t help falling in love with the architecture, cobblestone streets, vine-covered walls, antebellum mansions. I visited Waterfront Park, where children were having a fabulous time pressing their faces as close as possible to the fountain spouts so water would splash in massive spurts all around them. I caught one boy hiding under the waterfall of the lower level of the fountain. I followed my visit to the park with a little gallery-hopping, there were so many good galleries to see so I wandered. On the verge of committing suicide by way of heat exhaustion, I stopped in at Bakehouse for a Frozen Mint Lemonade.

Savannah and Charleston are two very different cities. While I can see the similarities, downtown Savannah feels quaint, its main attractions are the parks and riverfront. You can basically walk the whole place in a day. Charleston is large and more urban. Everything feels a bit bigger, more spaced out. However, I just had a conversation with a nice guy in Asheville about this and he says he always thought Savannah felt so large, and he used to live in Charleston. Lol, the debate continues. As far as cleanliness goes, I’ve spent most of my life in New York and Miami, I’ve seen and smelled some ungodly things… So, I guess I am not the right person to ask.

On my way out of Charleston, I visited Folly Beach, where I did some light reading and dipped my toes in the ocean. A few surfers were trying to ride the short waves. Families were getting settled in. Children were freely splashing in the water with that kind of freedom only children have. The water felt so nice I couldn’t resist. That first jump into the ocean is always a baptism, a submersion into something so much greater than myself, something I could never, would never think to try to control. How often does that happen? Nirvana.

Pastrami Reuben at Smoke BBQ

Pastrami Reuben at Smoke BBQ

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Russell

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Art by Cynthia Tollesfrud

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Art by Nathan Durfee

Art by Joshua Flint

Art by Joshua Flint

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5 Responses to “Road Trip: Savannah and Charleston”

  1. Sandra M. Bechan Says:

    Lisa, it is nice to read your travel stories… I am so happy we met… just one of those nights of yours in Savannah… please keep writing…! Tu amiga chilena… Sandra : )

    • Sandra, you are such an inspiration for me, I tell you not out of politeness, but because I believe great people should know that they make an impact. I am so glad I met you on one of those special Savannah nights. Your Peruvian-Russian friend, Lisa.

  2. Your delicious, Ignominious coercion, of words, transport me to your drawing. Not only your fingers, your wrist, your hands, have the untainted ability to illustrate, your words divulge colors. Painting a world so beautiful and sometimes surreal. You pave my mind with literary pictures, of wistful content, of mystical places I have yet to explore. Much obliged for your magical, and visible guide.

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