Thursday, April 9, 2009

Savannah, Charleston, Alexandria - 2009

My friend Kathryn Alexander and I decided to take a girls' trip over spring break. She chose Savannah, Georgia; I chose Charleston, South Carolina; and together we chose Alexandria and Charlotesville, Virginia. It was a great trip; and considering we did not get kicked out of any state, it was a huge success.

Savannah was a real surprise. I fell in love with this place. So much history and beauty. The historic district was amazing. It's a two-and-a-half square mile historical district which is the largest in the nation.

The city was laid out with something like 20 squares. They have all but two of the original squares still in tact and they're getting one back from a parking lot at the time we were there. The squares were once the center of each little neighborhood, and each contained the public well and the public baking oven. They're now just little parks with statues and fountains and beautiful foliage.

Since we were there right before St. Patrick's day, they turned all the water in the fountains green. As a side note, Savannah has the second largest St. Patrick's day celebration in the US -- second only to New York City. And they start partying early.

There were lots of historic homes to see -- many dating back to before the American revolution.
And some of the most amazing ceiling art.

We were able to eat at The Lady and Sons (Paula Deen's restraunt). It was good, but they weren't lying when they said she puts a stick of butter in each of her dishes.

Our next stop was Charleston. Ft. Sumter was the start place of the Civil War. It sits out in the Charleston Harbor which would probably be beautiful to see from the mainland if it weren't so foggy.

Fort Moultrie is where the Confederate Army fired on Ft. Sumter.

We were able to drive around the waterfront and see some truly beautiful old homes. These were the city homes of the plantation owners.

We took a tour out to Ashley River Road and saw some beautiful old plantation homes. The first one was Drayton Hall. The house was used after the Civil War by the family as a campground. Though they sold the home to a historical society, the family still has picnics on the property every Thanksgiving. There's even a growth chart in one of the rooms that is protected by plastic. They removed the plastic several years ago and added this generation's children to the chart.
Then we went to Magnolia Gardens and Plantation. It had some of the most beautiful gardens -- plus alligators. They had white peacocks which I did not know existed.

We also spent some time just walking around Charleston. This home is believed to be the oldest home still standing.

This plantation was the whole reason I chose Charleston. Its real name is Boone Hall Plantation, but in the movie "North and South" the exterior of the house and the grounds was the home of Patrick Swayze's character.
It had the most beautiful oak alley entrance
These are original slave cabins. We learned that they would put them in front of the house as opposed to the back because as guests were arriving at the home it would be a sign of the plantation owner's wealth.
If I win the lottery, I'm buying this house!!!!
After taking the night train from Charleston (which I would not recommend anyone doing. There is no sleeping on a night train) we arrived in Alexandria, Virginia. When we arrived we drove out to Mt. Vernon and saw George Washington's home. It was gorgeous.

We then went out to Manassas (or Bull Run as the Yankees call it) to see the site of the first battle in the Civil War.Next we walked around Old Towne Alexandria. This was Captain's Street, the oldest section of the town. Dressed up as Martha Washington.
And saw an apothecary shop that has looked the same since Alexandria was a shipping port. They haven't even uncorked the bottles since the shop closed.
We went to Charlottesville to see Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home.

Through the trees you can see the University of Virginia which Thomas Jefferson also designed.

Then we drove to Appommatox Court House to see the place where the surrender of the Civil War took place. This is the McLean house. Mr. McLean had moved from Manassas because he was tired of having the war fought in his front yard. Little did he know that four years later the surrender would be signed in his living room.
On the mantle was a rag doll. One of the McLean children had left it downstairs. One of the soldiers placed it on the mantle and called it "The Silent Witness." After the surrender was completed, the soldier took the doll with him; and it stayed in his family's possession until about 15 years ago when one of his ancestors returned the doll to the park.

This is the original doll.
These are the printing presses that the soldiers used to print the parole papers for the Confederate soldiers. It took them all night to get them done.

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