Aggregating Authenticity

Georgia On My Mind
by Tawnee Milko -- January 31st, 2013

One of the things I love about Duke is its (relatively) close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, as well as many Southern treasures that this Michigan girl rarely experienced growing up in the frigid north.

Like hot-from-the-boiler pecan pralines. Which are awesome.

Case in point: Last weekend – the middle of January – the weather in Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia was in the upper 60s. Both of these classic Southern cities are only a 5 -6 hour drive away, so a friend and I made last-minute plans to go, and nothing – not even the mother of all colds – was going to stand between me and those pralines.

Here is Part 1 of 2 of my favorite pictures and places in both cities from the three times I’ve visited since starting classes here. First stop: Savannah!


Forsyth Park


Famously spared by Union general William Sherman during the Civil War, Savannah is organized around 22 squares that ooze with Southern charm, live oaks, and Spanish moss, like the one pictured below.

Pulaski Square

When crossing streets, beware of oncoming traffic in the form of horses and buggies. A friend of mine claims she was almost mowed down on more than one occasion. To each their own: I was more concerned about stepping in front of this bicycle built for 16. 

Each square has its own character – and place to sit.

Said squares are lined with drool-worthy restored and impeccably-maintained historic homes.

Mrs. Wilkes’

The line you see below is not waiting to see Juliette Gordon Low’s house (the founder of Girl Scouts, who was raised in Savannah- and yes, my Girl Scout troop made this unfortunate 18-hour pilgrimage from Michigan when I was in middle school).

(Part of) the line to eat at Mrs. Wilkes. People start arriving an hour before she opens.

No, these people all know what they’re doing, and it’s standing a well-deserved two hours to eat lunch at the famed Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room – aka the Garden of All Things Delicious, Southern, and Lard-Filled.

If you go to Savannah, you must eat here. No choice is involved. Your waistline will hate you, but your taste buds will worship you.

The stuff of legends.

Mrs. Wilkes, a.k.a. The Southern Feast, is open for business from 11 am – 2 pm on weekdays only – clearly they know they’ve cornered the market – so plan wisely.

Forsyth Park

After all that eating, there’s nothing better than sleeping it off in the sun, and there’s no place better for that than Forsyth Park.

Fountain in Forsyth Park. They were filming a historic movie when we were there!

Beautiful Places of Worship

Savannah, like Charleston, also has several historical churches and synagogues for those interested.

The Spires of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

Inside St. John the Baptist.

Down By The River

Despite its obvious touristy vibe, River Street, with its cobblestone roads, street performers, historic riverboats and tall ships, is definitely worth a wander. Rule of thumb, though: The farther away you move from River Street, the more of authentic Savannah you find.

Street performers on River Street.

In case anyone was wondering why Savannah needed to build a suspension bridge across a marshy river… here it is.

Old buildings on River Street.

Alleys leading down to River Street.

Live oak.

City Market

I much prefer the vibe from the Savannah City Market to the shops at River Street – more artsy stores, restaurants, a”local” vibe, nearby pubs, (copious) (free) praline samples, and live music most nights.

Also nearby is Lulu’s Chocolate Bar, which, shame on me, I do not have photos from. Lulu’s is a hopping place that gets 5 stars for being exactly what it says: A bar with drinks, desserts and other delicacies made entirely of chocolate!

Flowers in City Market.

Ghost Busters!

Savannah ghost walk tours always stop by the Pirate House. In Savannah’s early days, men were believed to have been “shanghaied” from the basement of this restaurant, once a pub, to boats waiting at the river, where they would wake up already out to sea – forcibly conscripted as sailors. I’ll save you the money and tell you the Pirate House’s basement is supposedly haunted.


Finally, break free from the city streets to catch some real breakers – on the beach at Tybee Island, a 20 minute drive from Savannah.

Main reason I go to Tybee: So I can swing on one of these…

Or maybe convince someone to show me how to sail with one of these bad boys…

…but not how to do this! #fishingfail

Tybee Island Lighthouse

Summary: A friend of mine recently used the excellent analogy that Savannah is the quaint and quirky younger sister to Charleston’s slightly more posh and pretentious but no less likable older sister. The description is very fitting to both.

Street bike in historic Savannah.

Savannah is considerably smaller than Charleston and can easily be done in a day or two – then head north!

Coming soon…

My photo tour of Charleston! Sneak peek below.

Sneak peek: Everyone in Charleston LOVES good ironwork.

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