Savannah: Our Anniversary Trip

Sorry for the delay in posting this. It was written right after getting back, but we waited to post it (so that  we could announce the pregnancy and I could get over my morning sickness). Enjoy the summary of our trip! 

 

On April 4, we celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary and 10th dating anniversary. Yes, we have been together for 10 years (and we got married on our 6th anniversary).

This was a trip that was needed. We’d both been having very hectic lives at the time with many stressors. This was the perfect time to just get away and escape from the daily grind.

Last year (2012), we took a trip to Charleston for our friends’ (Nick and Caroline) wedding. We loved it (and the warmth/heat), but we had trouble finding an affordable hotel for this trip, because it was Spring Break and Expensive Hotel Season. We also discovered that it wasn’t going to be as warm as when we went down south in May. So, we decided to go further south. Hilton Head? Found a great hotel on the beach in our price range, but they they were doing renovations. Too loud (and too cold, we discovered a week before leaving). Thanks to wonderful cancelation policies, we escaped that one. Finally, we settled on Savannah, Georgia. Why Savannah? It was pretty far south (South = warm in our opinion), a beautiful old city, and neither of us have been there. The perfect getaway! Plus, it was just about 30 minutes from a beach, if we ever got beach weather good enough for it.

Day 1: April 3

We left Virginia on April 3 and made it down to Savannah by dinnertime. We did take a slight detour and drive through South of the Border. Now, the important statement there is “drove through.” We didn’t stop or even slow down. We just went off the highway, drove through, and then hopped right back on our way.

Savannah Anniversary Trip - Doyle Dispatch

We checked into our inn, the Spanish Moss Inn (a lovely 200 year-old-home that is now a Bed and Breakfast), and immediately made our way to find dinner in the Historic District. You will come to find a common theme: food, food, food. We love food, but I can be picky. Let’s just put it this way: I never had a meal I didn’t fully enjoy on this trip. Yum, Savannah, yum!

When we walked back to the car from dinner (a small, delicious hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant), we saw that Tim had a ticket on his windshield. Apparently, the whole area we parked was off limits, but there were no signs. We thought that we got a ticket because a couple inches of the car was past the sign here. We found a security guard/officer and asked about it very kindly. We explained we had just gotten in town and were confused about the parking rules. I guess we went about it the right way, and he just took the ticket (that he had just written) and ripped it up. Aw, thanks, Savannah! Love that Southern Hospitality!

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Before I go into the other details, I want to show some details of the room we stayed in at the Spanish Moss Inn (SMI). We were down in the basement, which basically meant that we used the old servant door under the stairs to climb down a steep dark staircase into our little hideaway retreat. It was old, historic, beautiful, and private. We loved it! Of course, every time someone came down the main staircase, it sounded like they were paying a visit to us in our room, but that is part of the charm of an old house!

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The Spanish Moss Inn – our home away from home

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The entryway to the inn

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The door at the top of our private staircase

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A little sitting area under our private staircase

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One of our closets (this was in the entryway- perfect for rain jackets and shoes)

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A little beverage station inside our room

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Our pretty mantle and exposed brick

 

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A very modern bathroom for a historic home

Day 2: April 4

On April 4th (our anniversary), we woke up and decided to take advantage of the “breakfast” part of the Bed and Breakfast of the Spanish Moss Inn. Because the SMI was in-between chefs, they did not have a breakfast for us, but we could go just a short block away to a place called B Matthews to get anything we wanted on the menu, up to about $30. Let’s just say that I would pick this option any day. I could have whatever I wanted, tip and tax was covered, and we could change it up each morning. Yes, please!

Savannah Anniversary Trip - Doyle Dispatch

Mmm! Cheese grits!

Savannah Anniversary Trip - Doyle Dispatch

A delicious plate of breakfast

Savannah Anniversary Trip - Doyle Dispatch

Some incredible pancakes!

Afterwards, we wanted to explore Savannah a bit. Unfortunately, it was rainy on and off all day (either raining steadily, or spitting water), so we went to a trolley company near our inn and bought an all-day ticket. This allowed us to get on and off throughout the city as many times as we wanted all day long. We realized after looking at a map that we could see everything this way, and we would stay (mostly) dry!  One of the stops on our tour was the beautiful Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

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Right when you walk in, the church is striking.

 

 

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The beautiful organ at the back of the church

 

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The artwork and architecture was beautiful!

   

 

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Just some of the stained glass

 

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Breathtaking

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We loved being able to dry off from the rain, surrounded by this beautiful architecture.

 

After our trolley tour (and realizing that the rain was stopping for a while), we decided to go back towards our inn and walk down near the river at Savannah Riverwalk. 

 

Savannah Riverwalk - Doyle Dispatch

The weather was yucky- just look at that fog!

 

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Savannah is still a big shipping center

 

We stopped and had a late lunch at The Cotton Exchange. I was really craving crab legs, and this was the only place we could find with steamed crab legs.

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Look at the old-looking sign. I love the charm of Savannah!

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My crab leg lunch

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Leftover shells

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Clean Plate Club!

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Tim’s shrimp and grits

After lunch, we stopped at Savannah Bee Company after remembering that I saw a review of the store on TripAdvisor.

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Look at that wall of honey!

 

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How can it be bad if Oprah loves it?

 

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Fresh honeycomb samples!

 

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I do regret not buying this, because it would be perfect for a little supper club!

 

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Apple and honeycomb! Mmm!

We then kept our sweet tooth (teeth?) happy by going to some of the old-fashioned candy stores.

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Fresh-pulled taffy

 

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It was fascinating to see them work

 

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Look at all of that taffy!

 

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More sweet treats!

 

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A little treat for all of my Candy Crush friends.

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How can you not smile at a wall of candy?

After a bit more sight-seeing and then a bit of a rest back at the Inn, we ventured out for a late dinner. We weren’t too hungry at this point (after a very late and big lunch), so we found a coffee shop that also had something that I knew I would love: a cheese board!

Savannah Anniversary - Doyle Dispatch

 

Savannah Anniversary - Doyle Dispatch

 

Savannah Anniversary - Doyle Dispatch

Look at my handsome husband!

 

 

When we were done with dinner, we looked around for a place for a sweet treat. We found this adorable-looking ice cream shop, and we didn’t realize the history behind it!

Savannah Anniversary - Doyle Dispatch

 

Savannah Anniversary - Doyle Dispatch

We loved the old charm of Leopold’s.

 

Savannah Anniversary - Doyle Dispatch

Tim’s ice cream and my sorbet. Delicious!

Savannah Anniversary - Doyle Dispatch

Some history of Leopold’s. Did you know that their Tutti Frutti ice cream is the basis for the famous song?

 

Day 3: April 5

This is a day that I am so excited to spill the beans on. This is the real reason why we delayed in posting our anniversary trip “review” for so long. I woke up early, after not being able to get back to sleep, and I decided to play on my phone for a bit until Tim woke up a bit more. I really wanted to get up, but there was something I just had to do first: take a test.

To our total shock and excitement, it was positive! I was actually pregnant! I think I squealed, gave Tim a big hug, and then I burst into tears. We wanted this so much, and it was actually going to happen for us! But wait, was it real?

As soon as our doctor’s office opened up, I called them and told them the exciting news. We got some squeals from them as well, and they asked if we could come in for a blood test. I explained that we were on vacation in Savannah, and in a matter of minutes, we were able to find a lab that would do a rush test, since it was a Friday. We quickly got ready and made the 30-minute drive to the lab. It has been the first time in my life that I was giddy about getting blood drawn. Take my blood if it means I’m going to have a baby!

Of course, “rush” means that I would still have to wait at least an hour to find out the results. I was impatient! Yes, the stick told me I was pregnant, but what about the blood? The blood test would confirm it! I basically started holding my breath, waiting for the call from our doctor.

In order to pass time, we took a side trip to Tybee Island, the beach that was close to Savannah. It was cold and overcast, but we didn’t care. With the possibility that I was pregnant, I didn’t care about the weather!

Savannah Trip - Doyle Dispatch

We posted this picture on Instagram, and so many people commented on how we were “glowing.” Litte did they know that it was because we had a very exciting, big secret we were keeping.

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A beautiful piece of (big) driftwood

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Yes, that is a jellyfish!

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“I don’t know what to do with my hands.”

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We got back in the car… still no call from the doctor. What’s an anxious couple to do? Go sightseeing! On our way back to Savannah, we passed Fort Pulaski, and we thought that it would be something to take up some time while we waited for the phone call.

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One of the first views of the fort

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Facing away from the fort

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Fort Pulaski - Doyle Dispatch

Underground storage tunnels

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A door leading to underground storage

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So many paths and walkways to the storage tunnels

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Just a perspective of how high up the walls were for the storage tunnels

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One of the rooms to store ammunition

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Leading into the fort

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The entrance to the fort

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A family picture!

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That is a pretty scary looking door to close off the fort

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As you walk into the fort, there are these openings. If you aren’t meant to be there, you won’t be there for long.

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A view from the other side. A perfect distance for guns

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Can you imagine walking into the fort and being faced with this?

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Rows and rows of barrels in one of the storerooms.

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Corridors of living quarters

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An example of one of the living quarters

               

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Some history of the fort

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One of the windows that was damaged during a battle

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One of the prison bunks

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A view down another corridor. I love the indentations in the ground where the cannon was rotated around.

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Another corridor

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History Nerd Moment: I love these informational signs!

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One of the cannons, ready to go

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A cannon’s view of the moat

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Tim tried to open this trap door… it didn’t open

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Another angled hole for guns

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It actually still moved!

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A stairway to the upper area of the fort

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If you can see the lighthouse in the distance, that is where an attacking army bombed Fort Pulaski.

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A sign about the battle

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More areas where there used to be cannons on the upper part of the fort, now covered in grass

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New life where there was once death and war.

After our tourist stop, we still hadn’t gotten a call from the doctor, so I called them (it was a half day for them, and I didn’t want to miss them). We were able to get through and in a couple of moments we got the confirmation: I was pregnant! We were so excited, and we immediately started planning how we would tell our parents. The worst part was that I was dying to call my mom, since I hadn’t talked to her that day. I promised Tim that I would stick to texts only, since I knew that if I called her, she would hear in my voice that I was trying to hide something. It was difficult, but radio silence commenced (although I didn’t tell Mom this).

That night, we went on a ghost tour around Savannah. These are our scared faces:

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I actually found it more interesting than scary, until they brought us in a haunted warehouse, made us get out of the trolley, and then turned off the lights. Tim was all smiles, but I actually wasn’t faking with my “scared face” too much at this point. Let’s just say that I held Tim’s hand preeeeeetty tight.

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Day 4: April 6

On our last full day in Savannah, we finally woke up to some sunny skies. It was kinda like the weather matched our mood: light and happy about the possibilities around us! I was pregnant, it was a beautiful day, and we had some Savannah to explore!

First up on the day, however, was a trip that I had scheduled earlier on in the week: an ecology tour on Tybee Island. Only the Doyles would go on a romantic getaway and go spend a couple of hours learning about Georgia marine life with a marine biologist, Dr. Joe Robinson. We had a blast!

 

Ecology Tour on Tybee Island - Doyle Dispatch

This lighthouse is the same one that we saw the day before at Fort Pulaski.

 

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A view of the dunes

 

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Right when we got to the beach, we saw a huge group of dolphins playing just off the beach.

 

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A jetty to protect the beach

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Have you seen these before at the beach? Get ready for this: they are holes and the droppings of the ghost shrimp.

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A photograph that Dr. Joe took of the ghost shrimp during one of his visits. It is very hard to find them, although you can see the holes all over the beach.

 

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An olive snail trail. They are right by the water’s edge, and you can see a little mound at one of the ends of the trail. If you dig just under the surface, you will find the olive snail.

 

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The olive snail

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A sea pansy

 

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The knobbed whelk opens on the right side of the shell

 

Ecology Tour on Tybee Island - Doyle Dispatch

Although they look like mirror images, they are two different kinds of whelk. The knobbed whelk is on the right (and opens on the right side of the shell). The lightning whelk opens on the left side, and it is on the left of this picture.

 

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Another type of snail that came out more once in the touch tank.

Ecology Tour on Tybee Island - Doyle Dispatch

Some of the critters in the touch tank, including a small crab.

 

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A tiny crab that we found at the water’s edge.

 

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A closer picture of the crab. Doesn’t he look like he’s in a foul mood?

 

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The plumed worm

 

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Another plumed worm that collects old seashells and creates a calcified protective layer around it.

 

Ecology Tour on Tybee Island - Doyle Dispatch

A closeup of one of the rocks in the jetty, showing a red-colored barnacle. This is an invasive species that has just started coming to the Georgia coast. Unfortunately, Dr. Joe was explaining how it will take over in a couple of years, killing off some of the other barnacles that naturally live there.

Ecology Tour on Tybee Island - Doyle Dispatch

It’s important not to climb on the rocks, because it could damage the habitats of some animals, like these barnacles.

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Some other critter that we found in a net.

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Using these nets, we found lots of amazing shells and new (to us) species.

Ecology Tour on Tybee Island - Doyle Dispatch

A hand and net-ful of shells

During the trip, we made a touch tank to keep all of the live critters, and we carefully returned them to the correct habitats when we were done. Some beach-goers unfortunately took out some of the animals, and we joked that one of the shrimp (one that had an awful bite) hopefully got a good chunk out of that person in the meantime.

Before I move on to talk more about other parts of the trip, I just want to say how amazing Dr. Joe is. When he found out I was a teacher, he gave me all kinds of shells that we found to bring home with me. He took much longer than the original time slot to talk to us and teach us about the area. He is a natural-born teacher, and when some kids (who were not with our small group) came up to him to ask about what we were doing, he took time to teach them as well. You could tell he loves this “job,” and it is difficult to say who had more fun: him or us. While we didn’t find many big items, I can’t even put to words all that I learned from him. I would encourage anyone in the area to take one of his tours, and EVERYONE should join his Facebook page to see everything that he finds on a daily basis: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tybee-Beach-Ecology-Trips/124893714206623. In looking up the names of some of these animals again, I came across this blog post that he had written. I dare you to read it (really interesting and easy-to-read information)!

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Once we got back to Savannah, it started warming up enough for us to change out of some colder clothes (it was windy on the beach!), and walk around Savannah in the sunshine!

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We took a bike taxi to Forsyth Park, where we got to enjoy the gorgeous day!

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On the bike taxi

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 Savannah Trip - Doyle Dispatch

Savannah Trip - Doyle Dispatch

On our way back to the hotel, we went to one of the cemeteries that they mentioned on both the trolley and ghost tours. In this cemetery, Confederate soldiers set up camp here during the Civil War. There were reports that they got drunk and a little wild some evenings, and many of the headstones were moved. After the war was over, instead of putting the headstones back where they belonged, they were moved against a far wall:

Savannah Trip - Doyle Dispatch

Savannah Trip - Doyle Dispatch

Savannah Trip - Doyle Dispatch

There were some other stones that were used as “handwriting practice” by some of the soldiers. If you looked closely, some people were over 100 years old when they died, with their names, dates, ages scratched through and changed.

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See that darker area in the middle of the stone? That is where the number was scratched out.

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Instead of  the original age, this person was “421,” according to the stone, thanks to the Confederate soldiers.

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A closeup of “421.”

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Another change to a stone

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Some information from the cemetery.

We then had a delicious lunch at a Thai restaurant. Mm!

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And some more sightseeing:

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The Jewish synagogue

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A walk at RiverWalk

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“Big Duke” Fire Bell (from 1872)

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The Pink House, which was burned in a fire, and the red bricks bled through the stucco. Now, they keep it painted pink in honor of that.

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In the middle of the walk, we got a text showing Lucy and Max, having a great time!

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The Jewish Cemetery Memorial marks the site of the original burial plot given to Savannah’s Jewish community in 1733 by James Edward Oglethorpe. Buildings and streets were built on top of the cemetery many years ago. Names of some of the people buried there are listed on a plaque that is located on the back of the monument.

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A little festival right by the river

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Dusk by the river

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The feather from Forest Gump fell from the top of this church.

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This is where the bench used to be from Forest Gump (where he told his story). There was never an actual bench here- it was a set built by the film crew. This is where it was, though.

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Big Forest Gump fans here!

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Paula Deen’s restaurant. We never went here (couldn’t get a reservation), but the food was so amazing in all of the other restaurants we visited, we never missed it.

For our last dinner, we took a recommendation from a few local Savannah-ers: the Olympia Cafe

Savannah Trip - Doyle Dispatch

Savannah Trip - Doyle Dispatch

Tim’s fish dinner

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The sides for Tim’s dish

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Mmm! My dinner of pasta and shrimp!

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Surprise! A cheesy appetizer from a neighboring table.

For dessert, we tried to go to Leopold’s one more time, but the line was literally out the door and around the block.

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So we just enjoyed the evening and took a final evening look of the Spanish Moss Inn and the park across the street:

 Savannah Trip - Doyle Dispatch

Savannah Trip - Doyle Dispatch

It was a terrific way to end a dream vacation. Sure, the weather wasn’t what we expected, but Savannah will always hold a special place in our hearts. It is the place where we learned that our family was growing a little bigger. I can’t wait to take the twins there and show them the city (and food!).

When we arrived home to my parents’ house to pick up the pup, Lucy was a little tired. I think she had a good vacation from us too.

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