After taking advantage of the generous offer to enjoy breakfast at the Eliza Thompson Inn before I was even a registered guest for that evening, Jessica at the front desk of this wonderful B&B in Savannah, Georgia, invited me to chat for a few minutes in order to let her know what I wanted to do during my four day visit. Not only that, but she then offered to help me plan to accomplish it all. We both agreed a tour with a Trolley company complete with a knowledgeable and friendly commentator seemed like the logical way to start. Considering how charming, wonderful, helpful and friendly the entire staff had been up until now, I wasn’t surprised when Jessica said not only would she call the tour company to make the reservation for me, but she would have them pick me up in a few minutes at the front door of the Inn. I agreed and suggested that I purchase the ticket for 3 days instead of just one.
Not necessary, this Southern charmer went on…we also have the DOT busses here in Savannah.
Savannah, more than any other city I’ve visited, has a knack for inviting tourists, making sure they get every thing they want and then just a bit more, teach them through their actions and warmth how they as residents love tourists, but also work so well together to make the entire experience unique and unforgettable. Several of the tourist attractions group with others, so it’s possible to purchase tickets for three or more at special discounts at one time. There are maps galore all over the city so it’s also possible to plan visits to several sites within a short distance of each other. But back to the DOT busses.
There are maps for these as well, each mapping out the three different routes the busses take, arriving at each site every ten minutes throughout every day. The nearest stop to the Eliza Thompson House was half a block away, clearly marked. It is one of 13 stops on the longest route of the three DOT has created to cover the entire historic district, and it stops within easy walking distance of no fewer than 30 fascinating historic, recreational, educational, or entertaining places to visit. A second route spans the busy and exciting market area, parking garages, and civic center, and the third surrounds the Savannah riverfront area. From there, there’s a ferry for the five minute ride to Hutchinson Island, site of the international Trade and Convention Center and a large hotel and golf course..
All the DOT busses and ferry are operated by the city’s Mobility Management, Inc., and are all free, creating, besides happy customers, an environment free of traffic congestion and irritable drivers.
For the paid trolley tour, Old Savannah, the oldest of several tour companies in the city, must be the best.
For $32 per adult, you’re treated to three hours of riding around Savannah…if you’re lucky, with Elvis, who not only knows his city well but can also belt out a few tunes sounding like his Memphis idol. But all drivers tell fascinating tales about the 22 squares and parks filled with statuary and history that make this city certainly the first planned community in America. All tour guides give snippets of information about the museums, cathedrals, even ghost haunted locales sufficient to make you want to go back and visit. But for fun, there are often visitors at a few of the stops who come aboard to add a touch of good humor to the mix. You might meet a bootlegger, or Forrest Gump…it was in one of Savannah’s parks where Forrest sat on that famed park bench. Or perhaps you’ll see Robert Louis Stevenson of Treasure Island fame complete with a Scottish burr. At Lafayette Square, you might have Juliet Gordon Low step aboard to tell you about the Girl Scouts. And the list goes on. Great fun, fascinating stories, and lots of history.
It’s the combination of all of these things that makes the Old Savannah Tours a real bargain and wonderful way to start touring Savannah.
Brought back to the Inn at the end of the three hours, and still full of a breakfast at the inn that included a spectacular Eggs Benedict casserole, I was ready, able and eager to try my hand alone on the DOT busses. A half block away to the stop, a 5 minutes wait, and I boarded the well-marked and easily identified FREE BUS for my first visit of the day…..the Prohibition Museum.
I’ll save that story for the next chapter, but suffice it to say, it was spectacular….am I using that adjective too often???? And it took me several hours to see it all. Then I was eager to get back to the Inn, see my room, unpack and be ready for the 5:30 wine and hors d’oeuvres in the parlor.
As promised, when I stopped to get my key to my street level room which fronted on W. Jones St. but offered a spectacular view of the enclosed gardens from the window at the back of the room, my luggage was already in my room.
This was not your usual hotel/inn room. Large, well furnished and decorated…no fewer than six beautiful paintings on the walls….and including a fireplace, sitting chairs, a King size bed, coffee table, more information on Savannah and the Inn, and a private bath, the room was simply wonderful. A few minutes to unpack and hang my clothes in the closet, and I was off to the parlor one floor above to sip wine and enjoy hors d ‘oeuvres with those other wonderful folks I referred to in the first part of the Savannah story.
Bruce and Nancy from Lake Michigan and Williamsburg, Va., whom I had met in the morning, their friend Rhonda, Ginger and Jeff, and Chris and Liz,, all of whom I had met for breakfast, also gathered in the parlor within a few minutes, and we spent the next two hours retelling our escapades of the day, the reasons that brought us to Savannah in November…a great time of year to visit, incidentally, given the 60s temperatures and for us, sunshine filled days……and getting to appreciate the wonderful people who stay at B&Bs in Georgia instead of modern, efficient but charmless hotels.
We sipped red and white wines, enjoyed crackers and cheese, fresh vegetables and dip, and some of the most unique hot and freshly made hors d’oeuvres ever! A favorite among several of us were the cucumber slices with a dollop of cheese on top, and the whipped hot and seasoned squash served in the scooped out shell with Italian bread for spreading…Oh, and the miniature red peppers stuffed with sausage and the…….am I using delicious or spectacular too often again? One more generous offering included in the one price of a room that shows how warm, friendly and invited the Eliza Thompson Inn truly is.
We chatted long past the advertised 7:30 closing time for the wine festivities, so we were minutes early….well, we just never moved, staff just cleaned up dishes and glasses….then stayed for the “Dessert Hour.” This was another wonderful hour or so of four different desserts from cookies and brownies to cake along with decanters of sherry to wash it all done.
Then the heartiest said their goodbyes and ventured out to one of Savannah’s very fine restaurants for a late dinner or a showing of Elf at the local theater. Those of us who had had long, busy days, huge breakfasts and more than enough appetizers and sweets lingered for more chatter and sherry, than headed off to our rooms with their huge and comfortable beds, cozy quilts, and a great night’s sleep. Tomorrow truly would be another day!
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Muriel J. Smith