We have been stereotypical, map-gripping tourists in our explorations of Savannah, Georgia and downtown Charleston, North Carolina. Scarlett O'Hara thought the two cities "seemed like aged grandmothers fanning themselves placidly in the sun" and they indeed carry the charm and grace of southern elders, sipping their iced tea on their porches while pondering life from white wooden rocking chairs.
At the same time, they carry deep battle scars from the American Civil War and I sometimes sense that a few folks are still upset that the south lost. In downtown Charleston, we came across an overgrown cemetery with several Confederate Army soldiers’ tombstones and found this spanking new Confederate flag on one of the 19th century graves.
It was in Charleston that the Ordinance of Succession was signed withdrawing South Carolina from the Union and resulting in the formation of the Confederate army. The first shots were subsequently fired here.
Savannah on the other hand managed to survive the war relatively intact, staving off General Sherman’s “scorched earth” tactics with early surrender. With 22 lush parks between gridded streets of churches, mansions, and centuries old oak trees, she is a Grand Dame of the south and we marvelled at how well her buildings have been preserved.
In a trip last fall along the U.S. east coast, my sister-in-law Marcy wrote about the “ests” she kept finding as she and my brother-in-law travelled to the same cities we are now seeing as we head north. It seems like every city and town boasts having the largest tree, oldest church, biggest bridge, best statues, and winning-est teams. Savannah has the dubious honour of being the spookiest, as determined by the Duke University Department for Paranormal Activity. It carries the “Most Haunted City in the U.S” distinction and our marina’s proximity to three huge cemeteries, one made famous in John Berendt's book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, affirms that title. One can go on Haunted Tours in both Charleston and Savannah and a tour guide we met said that serious ghostbusters come from all over the world just to see if they can sense the spirits that apparently haunt the areas. We stuck to the daytime trolley tours.
We are now docked in a Charleston marina, exploring the area and waiting out some nasty weather before embarking on our last leg of the season to Wilmington, NC where we will be leaving the boat. The beauty of playing tourist from the boat is that at the end of the day, we return to our home instead of a hotel.