Travel | Savannah: A literary visit
by The Press and Standard | February 8, 2019 5:00 pm
Last Updated: February 6, 2019 at 9:41 am
By MARY GALLAGHER
We are pretty lucky living in Walterboro which is so close to many wonderful destinations. Drive in any direction for just a few hours to find great experiences. Savannah, Ga., is one of those destinations that we love to visit for a day and on occasion a few days. There is always something new and different and in a few weeks, we’ll go for the highly successful Savannah Book Festival Feb. 14-17.
Last year over 10,000 people attended, and add that to other events those days in the city, plus Valentine’s Day when all men feel guilty and hotels are premium priced if they even have rooms.
Saturday is the best day for the festival when 40 authors speak in venues around Telfair, Wright, and Chippewa squares. It is free and open to the public But if you don’t make it this year, it’s easy to build your own literary tour of the city. Start with the book Literary Savannah, edited by Patrick Allen, that lists 37 authors and their connections to Savannah.
Stop at the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home, 207 East Charlton St., and take the guided tour ($8). They are open every day but Thursday, but be sure and call to check the hours. This is a wonderful depression-era home worth seeing in its own right, but especially superior because of the stories about the life and family. I’ve done the tour twice and learned something new each time.
Two book stores worth visiting are E. Shaver, with tea counter on Madison Square since 1975, and Book Lady Bookstore, a highly rated and recommended new and used store since 1978 at 6 E. Liberty St.
Savannah also has a large number of antique “malls” and thrift stores that are usually a treasure trove for book lovers.
One of the cities more popular guides, Mike Mack, can tailor a private guided tour to follow any special interests you might have, including literary.
During the festival, there will be food trucks around or near Telfair Square. Plus The Grey Market will have special box lunches at $8 and Leopold’s at 212 E. Broughton, a Savannah Institution since 1919 for ice cream and other great food, will have its ice cream cart out and the restaurant will be open. In general, there is always a line to get in for sit-down eating or just to get a cone. Obviously worth it!
A short walk brings you to Vic’s on the River which is always good. Johno Morisano and Mashama Bailey opened The Grey in 2014 (dining restaurant, not their market) and immediately landed themselves and Savannah on the national food map receiving a number of accolades.
Now perhaps you want to stay over? Well, with big crowds expect to pay top prices and inexpensive $70 motels jump to $140. Real literary affictionadios book their rooms at the end of last year’s festival.
Living less than 70 miles away, we’ll just attend Saturday and drive in during the morning and back home at night. My recommendation and most recent experience regarding hotels in Savannah for any time are the Historic Inns of Savannah Collection and, in particular, from 1851 The Marshall House at 123 East Broughton St. in the heart of downtown within walking distance to most everything, voted the number one Hotel in Savannah. But with only 68 rooms, it is frequently sold out. I stayed here for two nights over Christmas and had such a wonderful time, met many great guests at the wine and cheese hour and was catered to by the happiest most caring staff. Even the waitresses at what they call their continental breakfast (tons of great food buffet) were happy. One older couple must have loaded 2 lbs. of bacon on their plates. Doing Paleo? The two quiches were always flavorful too. Everything was kept full, fresh and hot, even the bacon! The Marshall House Inn also fits in with our literary theme for this trip, as a resident for several years was Joel Handler Harris, author of my all-time favorite children’s books, “Uncle Remus.” Next time I’ll ask for room 402 or 403, one of which was his room.
Enjoy Savannah, Ga., an exceptionally beautiful and bountiful city, featuring history, culture, fine dining and superb scenery.