road trip 2012 | savannah

My Grammy warned me that it had changed.

"Savannah's not the same city it was the last time you visited. It's not as clean, or safe," she explained. "In my opinion, you'd be better to stay in Charleston for an extra day."

At first glance, she was right. In my memory, Savannah had been a graceful place of cobblestone roads and swaying spanish moss. Sure, those elements remained, but they were overshadowed by the tackiest of tourist traps, aggressive tour guides, and the lingering stench of horse urine baking in the sun. Why romanticize it? This was our first impression of Savannah this time around.

The other thing that struck us was the deserted state of the streets. It was a friday afternoon -- where was everybody? Armed with a shockingly strong banana daquiri from Wet Willies (this was described as a "must do" by our hotel) we walked around slowly in the sweltering heat, looking for something or some place that wasn't plastered with Paula Deen's face, but came up short. 

We decided to keep walking well outside of the area recommended by our hotel, and then (finally) we started to see the prettier facets of the city.

My favourite store was definitely The Paris Market, which would delight all my design-savvy friends. It's a beautiful, bright and airy shop filled with home and beauty goods and other curiosities. It also has a pretty little cafe, where you can sip your iced coffee while eyeing all their beautiful wares.

The side streets and alleys of Savannah often held just as much appeal as its main thoroughfares.

Now, maybe it was because I had a little bit more wine in my system, or perhaps it was simply because the sun had let up, but as the heat of the day faded, we really started warming to Savannah.

Savannah at dusk is pure magic.

We strolled through city squares, and eavesdropped on a ghost tour as we waited for our dinner reservation.

Dinner at The Olde Pink House was so cute and kitschy. Pecan-crusted chicken, collard greens and sweet potatoes were just the kind of southern deliciousness I had been hoping for. We continued to be blown away by the quality of the service at every restaurant and bar we visited. After dinner, we continued our travels.

It was around this time that we both truly fell for Savannah. A cool rain had left the streets damp, and water dripped refreshingly from the trees. It felt like a rainforest. The songs of cicadas, crickets and tree frogs created the most beautiful soundtrack as we walked through the city's many squares. The sky deepened from cornflower blue to cerulean to indigo as the stars blinked above us.

Although Savannah and I didn't get off on the right foot, it wasn't long before I realized that the city shows its prettiest face at night. In fact, at night, it's one of the most heart-wrenchingly beautiful places I've been.

We ended the night with cocktails at The Sparetime, which I should add was one of the few places that catered to young people who don't feel like hitting the club. We chatted and relaxed while loving the music and strong drinks, and made plans for the rest of our trip.

Next up: Atlanta.