Savannah in 24 hours

The Olde Pink House

The Olde Pink House

On our 3 days road trip from Athens to Georgia coast, our first stay was in Savannah. For people coming from so far away, Savannah is only famous with the film Forest Gump. However, there is so much more to see in and around Savannah. The town is very well planned to square grids, with tiny parks in the center of each squares. The architecture is more French influence than American, and also the food is more based on sea food.

As soon as we arrived in Savannah, we popped into the welcome center, to book a hotel and to learn things to do around. Unfortunately our mobile telephone package, did not include US 3G service, so we did need these traditional ways of finding our way, to be able to make the most out of our day. Thanks to USA’s “size does matter” approach to everything, unlike Europe, the welcome centers are huge, convenient and without any hassle or queues. So after a half an hour stop at Welcome Center, we made our reservation from Double Tree By Hilton, and planned our next day.

For dinner, we chose to go one of the top 10 Tripadvisor restaurant in  Savannah, The Olde Pink House, was absolutely a good choice and was just a 10 minutes walking distance from our hotel. We did not make any reservations, which I suppose was a mistake, so we only could find a small corner of a bar and ordered our meals, sitting on the stools. However, it did not take long, for the very welcoming staff, to arrange a table for us, upstairs, at the very best corner of the grand saloon. As always, we were lucky again. So we enjoyed our lovely dinner of lots of sea food and a fine wine.

The next day, we planned only a half day at Savannah, so we decided to get on one of the many old Savannah Tour buses, a kind of hop-on-hop-off bus, with open windows on all sides and a historic look. So we did have chance to understand some bit of history and lovely green streets and parks.

A walk around

A walk around

We got off the bus, at a nice street by the Savannah River, to explore some shops and enjoy the sun by walking. So did some shopping and have some lunch at Belford’s Savannah.

Belford's Savannah

Belford’s Savannah

The building and ambiance looked nice from outside, so we just popped in. Well, nothing much to write about, maybe because of time of the day, not much people around and the menu was quite ordinary I can say.

Crab cakes

Crab cakes

While you are in this area, I recommend to taste crab cake as much as you can. Every restaurant has it in their menu, and claim to be their signature dish. Some has so much fat in it, but some are really nice.

Next: Further north to Charleston.

A road trip from Athens to Savannah

Madison is worth to get off the main road

Madison is worth to get off the main road

On our 2 weeks stay at Athens last year, we did want to do a road trip to somewhere coastal.

Road trip with our Dodge Charger

Road trip with our Dodge Charger

So with some advice from the nice guy at Athens Tourism Information Office and a Dodge Charger we decided to head to Savannah, with a short stop at Madison. The rest we had not decided.

Madison is a very cute little old town with some 100 very well preserved and renovated old mansions. As soon as we arrived, we parked in front of Tourism Office and got a “best walking way” map and learned points to stop. We could not do all the walking as it was very hot at the beginning of July noon time, but we did a nice stop at Heritage Hall. We were welcomed by an old lady, who guided us trough the house passionately. I think we also made her day, coming from so far away, to a so little town, in the middle of nowhere. It was an interesting experience for us to be here, a town not touristic at all, so calm, so old and so peaceful.

The Heritage Hall

The Heritage Hall

After a quick lunch at a local restaurant we drove further east. Before arriving to Savannah, we did a one final stop at one of the exits on the highway, at Waffle House. Very American, very unhealthy, very tasty.

Waffle House, with a very American decoration

Waffle House, with a very American decoration

And very unhealthy

And very American unhealthy

As soon as we arrived to Savannah at late afternoon, we headed to the welcome center to get an advice of hotel. Unlike Europe, one very nice thing about US is Welcome Centers that are very active and have good information about the hotels, restaurants and things to do around. And again, unlike Europe, no hassle or long queues. So with a half an hour chat at welcome center, we reserved our hotel and planned our next day. Our hotel was Double Tree By Hilton and dinner was at the The Olde Pink House, which will be my next post.

What is history? Athens vs Athens

History in US

History in US

History in Europe

History around our country

In my hometown, when we say “History”, we really mean history, starting from about 5000 BC, ancient sites, Helens, Romans, Persians, Ottomans, and many ancient cities. I’ve written about visiting ancient cities with children here. We like to visit history, learn history and feel history in our travels.

But what we saw in US was a totally different understanding of history, more feels like “outdated” then “history”. Anyway, we visited history, learned stories and tried to feel it, which is much more easier when you get into a house like this:

Heritage Hall, at "Historic city" Madison.

Heritage Hall, at “Historic city” Madison.

Very few of such old houses in South area are left from the North-South war. One of them was one in Athens, which is also used as a visiting center and an old but energetic gentleman, passionately explains about the “History” of the area and the house.

Welcome Center is a Heritage building itself

Welcome Center in Athens is a Heritage building itself

Well the Heritage in this Athens is a totally different Heritage than the other Athens, right?

Details of the Brumby House in Athens

Details of the Brumby House in Athens

The more interesting thing than the house was the guy, almost as old as the house did explain everything to us about the house. Moreover, we told him that we want to go to Savannah for a road trip, and he advised us a nice route with a stopover at Madison, a Historic little town, which turned our to be a really good and interesting advise. A film-set-like center, with many 18th century buildings around, and very many old people walking calmly on sidewalks.

One of the houses to visit at Madison was the heritage Hall, with many nice 19th century furniture, and a very polite old lady again passionately explaining every detail about the house. This is also something totally different from my home country, where retired people do not intent to work any more. I do not think they do understand the value of working, and that working keeps them more healthy, social and worth to live. Moreover, if such a lady would like to work and find a job to work, many people around would think that, her children are not good enough to take care of their mother and poor woman needs work for a living. But I am amazed how this nice lady valued our visit to the house, explained every detail with the feel from heart. I am sure we made her day, as a foreign family, came so far far away from a country, that she never saw a visitor from.

Thank you for the nice visit and a fake tea ceremony:-)

Thank you for the nice visit and a fake tea ceremony:-)

More to come about Athens and further east in coming weeks.

Mosel river with Riesling tastes

Remember our super car adventure and our road trip to Germany. After a long and a fun day at Koblenz and tiny towns of Rhein, we decided to drive next day, further West from the shores of river Mosel. Mosel river meets, Rhein in the very center of the city of Koblenz. And both rivers provide scenic route to drive especially in late August and early September, when every little town organizes a local festival. Colorful people, tasty junk food on street, music and riesling wines. What on earth would a traveler ask for?

It was a nice but cloudy Sunday morning when we started our drive from our hotel in Unkel. We did not have any specific plan, except to drive by Mosel river and stop wherever we find interesting, until we reach to Trier. Our first stop was Alken, a very cute town by the river. But the main reason to stop was the “Apfelstrudel” sign on the main road. Well, as you may guess it was a perfect excuse to stop. I already loved Apfelstrudel but it was our son’s first time ever taste of it, and guess what! He is now a fan of it too.

Grapes everywhere

Grapes everywhere

Grapes everywhere

Grapes everywhere

After a very tasty Apfelstrudel, with cream and ice cream on top, and a nice coffee escorting it, we found some little shops and little streets to walk around. Then we drove further to find new towns on the way.

We passed again very nice little towns, but when we reached to Cochem, there was a huge crowd, music and nice smells. This is it, we said and parked our car to enjoy the music. Every little “Piazza” of the town was settled like a film set, colorful flags all around, a stage for the band to play and street food kiosks everywhere, with Riesling wine kiosk in the middle, surrounded by long wooden banks and tables. My choice was various garlic breads and “the boys'” choice were hot dogs with different kind of sausages, again with some Riesling wines.

 

Little towns of Mosel river

Little towns of Mosel river

After a few hours we left our hearts in Cochem and went back to our car, as our target was today to reach to Trier. Trier is a big city, which is as every big city, not so fancy to visit on Sundays. The streets were rather empty, except some crazy tourists like us and the shops were closed. So just like many tourists do we went to the Pont Negro (A huge stone building, mainly black, used as the main entrance of the city in the past) and took the touristic train to explore the city faster. (Since we travel with our son, it is always easy to take these trains, instead of forcing him to walk.) Than we stopped at Hauptmarkt, which is the main Piazza of the town, with some interesting shops (like the oldest Pharmacy) and sounds of Sunday church bells. After eating some snacks in a wine house, at about 6.00 pm, we started to drive back to Unkel.

On the way back, our navigation took us directly somewhere close to Unkel, but on the wrong side of the river!! With a little panic of what we will do, we found out that, we were headed to the ferry to cross the river. Thank god, it was not a rocket science to take the ferry. The tickets were sold on the ferry itself, and it was very often. So it was just the right time to have a fine dinner at our hotel, when we finally reached to Unkel.

Next: We will drive to North: Holland, but not Amsterdam

Rheinhotel Scultz in Unkel-Germany

Arriving to Germany, getting our super car of 740, and after an afternoon in Köln we headed to our hotel in late afternoon that we were gonna stay for 5 nights. I chose to stay in Unkel because, it was in the middle of all the places we wanted to go. Our plan was to go to Phantasialand, Dusseldorf, Koblenz, Trier and some other small Rhein towns around. Unkel just fitted with all our expectations, with a 150 year old mansion hotel of Rheinhotel Shultz.

Entrance of the hotel

Entrance of the hotel

We were welcomed by a smiling staff who very quickly provided our keys. Passing trough long long corridors, some stairs and some elevators, there we were finally in our room. A typical 17th century building: high ceiling, tick walls, tall windows, old style decoration and a view of the river Rhein. Most importantly, a very convenient underground parking safe for our 740 BMW.

The main and in my problem, the only problem of staying in Unkel is, it is a very very small village, and other than the hotel restaurant itself, there are not many alternatives to eat. For the first evening we drove to Königswinter, which is a much larger town about 6 km. from Unkel, and had a very fine dinner in an Italian restaurant. The second evening we tried the restaurant of the hotel. A perfect view, perfect ambiance and perfect meals. Very good for a hotel like this. But the third evening, tired of travelling all day, we arrived to the hotel restaurant, very hungry and learned that it was closed due to an occasion (as far as I remember, some wedding). So upset, we found some weird wine bar around, where an old man was playing and singing 70s with no cheer at all and some old couples were dancing on the stage, half dead. So we had our meals with “I just called to say I love you” sounds and ran away as soon as we could.

 

Inner garden of the hotel

Inner garden of the hotel

What we did in the other days? Phantasiland and Rhein Town festivals soon to come

A road trip with a brand new BMW 740

Köln

Köln

2 years ago, a 10 days trip to the Rhein and Mosel rivers of Germany and than further North to Utrecht, Amsterdam and Antwerp was the highlight of our summer. Today I want to start to tell some about the Germany part of the trip. The Holland part will be coming in the following days.

You probably already know my dear followers that we love to rent our car on our holidays and do some road trips freely. This trip we made in 2011 was really one of the best, as it included two of our favorite countries, Germany and Holland. But moreover, the main hero of the trip was our car.

People renting a car quite often may know that sometimes (well quite often) the rent a car agent do not have the car you require in their hand and they provide a car similar to it. That’s fine. But sometimes (very rarely) they provide a car that is one grade upper than you paid for. Well, you be happy than. But sometimes (that’s very rarely) they give a car that’s much more than you paid for. And sometimes (That’s really maybe once in a lifetime) This super car is a brand new one. So you probably understood the point.

BMW 740 just 6 km

BMW 740 just 6 km

It was the end of August, when we got off our plane at Köln airport. Passport control, luggage waiting, search for the Sixt office is the routine. Than the lady in the office said that they do not have a 5 series that we asked for. OK… and that they will give 7 series. OK OK OK OK. And the routine goes on, find the car, get the luggage in the trunk, check the car and WHAT? A 740 just 6 km old, ours for 10 long and long days of driving, on the autobahns of Germany that has no speed limit. This is a bulls eye right?

Feeding our dear car

Feeding our dear car

Next: An afternoon in Köln and our hotel by the Rhein river.