Travel Journal: Entry #11

I am nothing if not persistent. This last leaf on our journey’s tree has been hanging on for dear life since September, waiting for me to get my act together and put words to it. So here it is, the final leg of the 2010 Odyssey, complete with photos, tired faces and spanish moss.

Savannah, Georgia
 We left Orlando at about 9 am in the morning and drove straight up the 95 to Savannah, where we arrived in the late afternoon. Because it has been so long, I can’t really remember the drive. I’m sure it was lovely, but we were all pretty dazed after our week of amusement park extravaganza.

Train! Right outside the Savannah tourist center

We found a place to park at the edge of this cemetery, on a street lined with huge trees covered in Spanish Moss. That wasn’t too hard to do, as most streets were lined with them.

The city itself, is an example of enlightenment landscaping, the age of reason putting its tenets to the test with beautiful results. Here is a brief introduction to Savannah from wikipedia:

Savannah is the largest city and county seat of Chatham County, in the U.S. state of Georgia. Established in 1733, the city of Savannah was the colonial capital of the Province of Georgia and later the first state capital of Georgia.[3] Today Savannah is an industrial center and an important Atlantic seaport.
Each year Savannah attracts millions of visitors, who enjoy the city’s architecture and historic buildings: the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low (founder of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America), the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences (one of the South’s first public museums), the First African Baptist Church (one of the oldest African American Baptist congregations in the United States), Temple Mickve Israel (the third-oldest synagogue in America), and the Central of Georgia Railway roundhouse complex (the oldest standing antebellum rail facility in America).[3][4]
Savannah’s downtown area, which includes the Savannah Historic District, the Savannah Victorian Historic District and 22 parklike squares, is one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the United States (designated by the U.S. government in 1966).[3][A] Savannah was the host city for the sailing competitions during the 1996 Summer Olympics held in Atlanta, Georgia.

Looking at a dueller’s grave

The historic district is arranged in a grid spotted by 22 squares at regular intervals. Which means when you are walking around the city, you always come across a park where you can rest your weary tourist’s feet. The squares usually have some historical monument in the middle, and are framed with benches and shade-giving trees.

Apparently, this was all the genius plan of the original founder James Oglethorpe, which I speak of a little later on this post.

A view of the old warehouse district

The Port of Savannah is lined with old warehouses and old merchants shops that were used in the cotton trade. Also, of course, the slave trade.

The old warehouses are now converted into antique and tourist shops, but you still get wonderful little backwater alleys like this. You can just imagine the mangy little taverns, à la Three Penny Opera, where whores dreamed of pirating and sailors came in for a drink and a poke (I now have Kurt Weil in my head).

I loved how the port was double decker – the top part has shops that open onto a large boulevard and are joined by cast iron bridges and below you have dark, brick tunnels of fancy shops. The waterfront itself is nice to walk, interspersed with historical plaques that detail the history of the port.

Going to the top deck

A view of the fancy art school I think

In one of the squares we visited, we came across this historical plaque of Tomochichi: the story (and it is possible it has been whitewashed over the centuries) is unique in that when Oglethorpe came to the future site of Savannah, he was met by Tomochichi, the leader of the Yamacraw indians. Apparently they were able to come to a peaceful agreement and ended up being valuable allies and friends.

Yes, I’m at the corner of Hull and Bull, Mr. Seuss…

Just ’cause it’s pretty

Sylvie and Clea seemed to like Savannah as well. Lots of cool places to but their weird , slimy ball…

I think that we all need beautiful balconies like this. How is it that we’ve settled for anything less? Why aren’t we ensconced in beautiful wrought iron intricate details? Why?

I am not quite sure why this photo is here . Lush, exotic foliage perhaps? Who know what I was thinking, it has been so long.

Where I want to live and write. Seriously. We even checked the real estate listings. If it wasn’t for the fact that Savannah is in the United States, we would be checking the job postings. In fact, I think Savannah, Georgia is the perfect reason for a reverse Manifest Destiny. We don’t have to be as greedy as the Americans – I propose burrowing a peninsula from Quebec’s border all the way to Georgia. Or Canada could just take over Savannah, like our own southern Alaska…



Virginia

Ashland train station

This was a one stop deal. We stayed in this little place called Ashland, where the train goes through the middle of town. In fact, the rails and the main street are the same. I want to cite this to the bloody VIA Rail people everytime they close off access to railway crossings in Montreal.

Artsy photo by Jeremy

Washington, D.C.

So this is our last big stop on our summer odyssey (I am sure you will be thrilled to hear). I have to admit, I got a little excited when I saw this sign below. The freakin’ Pentagon, right?



For some reason, this strikes me as funny. I know there is a political barb in there somewhere…

 But the novelty soon wore off as we circled through downtown three or four times looking for parking. We finally found a parking lot where the valets insisted on parking the car. Later we found out why – they tend to park them layers deep. Word of advice for anyone going to Washington, D.C. – DON’T TAKE THE CAR!

Museum Alley

Here are some of the beauties we saw in the plethora of amazing Smithsonian museums. Did you know that you could walk down this road lined with stately buildings housing amazing treasures and just enter anyone you want? For free?

The mind boggles. I don’t say this very often, but when I do, I mean it. Kudos, American Government!

Juan Gris, who Jeremy wants to marry. Apparently this is the best.

El Greco in fine El Greco style

This one J used as documentation for his own warped (in a good way) version

See? A line of museums.

Just a little note here. After spending a week in the noisy technicolor world of amusement parks, it was really great to see some art and some history. While Jeremy spent more time in the art museums, I took the kids to the Natural History museums and looked at trilobites. I really love trilobites. And ammonites.

Elephant in Natural Museum Lobby.

Capital Building

Tanguy

Dipping our feet in democracy, baby

White House. And, no, we didn’t see Mr. Obama.

Lincoln Memorial

You know you’re famous when you’re on a penny

The mall. How sad is it, that all I see when I look at this is that scene from Forrest Gump?

Now, all you Canadians out there. Imagine erecting a statue this size to any of our Prime Ministers? Not only that, housing it in a pseudo neo-classical building? John A. Macdonald hovering over us with a tipsy grin? Trudeau leering pedantically from a pedestal? Thus the main difference between Canadians and Americans right there.

Again, evidence of our immature sense of humour


Conclusion of our journey
It took us about 3 hours to get out of Washington D.C. We made a wrong turn in heavy traffic and ended up taking the scenic route through rush hour traffic on the circle road  that surrounds the city. We finally made it out and drove to Baltimore where we stayed in a fancy hotel on the outskirts (we didn’t actually go into Baltimore although we were tempted, being fans of The Wire). At this point we were done.

We wanted to go home.

The next day we drove from Baltimore to Montreal. It took us about 12 hours including a long wait at the border (it was construction holiday in Quebec). As we made our way north, the temperature changed significantly from hot and musty to cool and rainy. For the first time on our journey, we actually needed sweaters.

Thus concludes our travel journal. If we ever take another trip like this again, I will try very hard to not take three months to write about it. I blame my damn lengthy prose…

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One Response to Travel Journal: Entry #11

  1. dianemb says:

    This was my favourite part of the description of the trip. I would really like to have been with you for this part. (Disneyworld would have been the end of me.) The picture of the mall in Washington always reminds me of Forrest Gump, too. Some great photos. I loved the one with you guys with your feet in the fountain for family reasons of course. Three beautiful young ladies. Too bad no pictures of J. I'd move to Savannah with you. Looks fabulous! Thanks for giving us the last chapter. Love.

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