Sunday, January 18, 2009

Savannah Panera Bread (Jan 18, 2009)

Panera is one of the restaurants which a lot of people do not go to. I love this place, and if (hypothetically) I was a veggie dude – I would have been here everyday. They have some really good stuff, and over and above that free wi-fi. What else do you need!!!

Anyway back to my trip. I reached Savannah ½ hour late, around 9.30pm, but still that was good time. Again the taxi to my hostel was really cheap, he charged 10 dollars and gave me his card. Every taxi in the south seems to give me their card, maybe they think a bunch of Indians will follow me :D. So I knocked on this hostel door, and no one answered. I was frigging scared – didn’t want to run around in the night. After 3-4 knocks thankfully the owner did come down. He didn’t have a proper private room, so he gave me a bunk - like in the hostels. This room had 6 bunks and I was the only one there. Also, the other bathrooms were not working so my bathroom was like the community bathroom. The heat was quite low too, but for me it was all awesome. A place to stay and because of all this he discounted the rate from 60 to 30 USD. I was so happy. My first stay in a hostel was so cool, and I will do it again as it is worth it. It was at a walking distance from all attractions, and a homely environment. The hostel was so cool; an old Victorian sort of house and the owner although eccentric was quite nice. This hostel is the ‘Savannah Hostels and Pension’ and is highly recommended if you are willing to meet new people and don’t mind a bit of discomfort.

The best part was there were two French girls – Julie and Claire and I chatted with them quite a bit. They were staying in Orlando and it was nice to talk with them. They went out a little bit later to enjoy the nightlife, but I was so tired I went to sleep. The next morning after a few bye-byes they called me for breakfast and finally I had something of a southern cooking experience. The place was Express Cafe and I had the egg benedict which was so full of oil and egg and ham..yummy!!!

After a few photos we bid our goodbyes but I have a feeling they will remain a fond part of my memories.

Now began my Savannah roaming. It is a really beautiful city with these squares in downtown which are really good looking. They contain a lot of trees and nice statues. The walk on Bull Street from Johnson Square to Forsyth Park is one which should be taken by everyone. I guess that’s why Savannah Downtown is one of the ‘1000 places to see before you die’.

After a lot of picture clicking I came back to River Street which is by the Savannah River and took the Riverboat tour. It was again so-so and for 21 USD not recommended to most. The duration of 1 hr is also too short, and there is nothing much to see by the river. It’s only the walk in downtown which is worth it.

Then I spent a while walking on the river street and bought a few candies which are prepared in Savannah itself but overall I felt that I should have spent lesser time here and maybe more in Charleston as I was roaming around doing nothing much. Finally, my Iphone was running out of charge and so was my laptop. This got me here to Panera.

Overall, Savannah for a day or even a half day is a place worth visiting. The walk in downtown is a blast, and the food here (especially the ‘breakfast the entire day’ places) is GOOOOD. Night is supposed to be a bit dangerous except by the riverside where all the pubs and bars are. So if you go there avoid walking in the night.

To end, the French girls were impressed with my Iphone. Damn you all non-Iphone users!

Charleston Amtrak Station (Jan 17, 2009)

Here I am…waiting again for the Amtrak train. This is a usual occurrence with Amtrak. Except for their trains which run to and from New York, none of the others seem to make it on time. Plus they are not economical. But still I look up Amtrak, and sometimes I do end up getting a good deal. This one was awesome – Charleston to Savannah in around 2 hours at 21 USD…except factoring in the delay - it right now looks like 2.5 hrs, and I would swear it will run into 3.

One more rant – The SkyWest plane was so tiny that I was not able to place my backpack in the overhead locker. So I decided to dump it at my feet, and it couldn’t even be stowed under the seat. I had packed all my clothes in that, but still…dammit I should be able to fit it in somewhere without having to do circus in my seat. The stewardess was like push it in...push it in. Oh the pain!

Anyway - enough of the rambling. Charleston was cool. Really historic and just walking in the city takes me back to those movies where they show those old buildings. Took a carriage tour which was so-so for 20USD, but at least it was an experience. First time on a horse carriage, and the guide was decent. The better trip of the day was the cruise to Fort Sumter. It was worth the 15USD and I did learn a lot about the civil war. It seems that the first shot of the civil war was shot against this fort. And do not miss the crab here. I who likes the lobsters in New England would still prefer them, but this was pretty good. I ordered from a place called Hyman’s seafood, which is quite reasonable and in Downtown Charleston. My menu looked like this: She Crab Soup, Crab Dip and Deviled crab. I have a feeling it is quite apparent what I liked here.

Missed the southern country cooking as they call it but I will try to get it in Savannah.

Here is Charleston in a nutshell: Airport to any carriage tour in Downtown costs around 40USD, which was quite expensive. The driver though was a nice lady named Sheila who called me good looking, so no complaintsJ. She also gave me a coupon for free crab dip at Hayman’s (I suppose she gives it to everyone who takes the cab from the airport). Carriage tour as mentioned above 20 USD, and then the Fort Sumter tour from the Charleston aquarium is 15USD. I as always was running for time and so ran from spot to spot. Next stop was Rainbow Row, which is a nice picture place, and the Battery with all its canons. All of these are walkable, including the restaurant I mentioned. I had to reach the Amtrak station by 7.15pm and so it was tight as I had landed at 11.30 in the morning. Had to take a cab from Hymans to Amtrak and imagine for the same distance as from the Airport to Downtown I paid a whole 11USD. 40 vs 11...what the hell!

Atlanta Airport (Jan 17, 2009)

2009 is here, and I have decided to start writing this blog from my first trip of the year. I hope this resolution does stay for the entire year, and more years to come, so here goes… there is no harm in trying.

This trip is about getting away from the cold of Boston, and at -15c, it is a cold to die in. I am hoping that my first stop Charleston in SC will be much better than Boston (anything below 0 and I am going to hate it). Atlanta seems to be a nice place, quite sunny when I landed and the temperature just above 0. I am planning of visiting sometime this year as a friend of mine lives out here, and it is one of the must-visit cities in my list as well as the 501 list.

Note: 501 List is a book titled ‘501 Must Visit Cities’ and this is a book I have used to guide me on my trips. Obviously there are a few cities which this book misses which are a part of ‘Jatin’s List’. (Example: Any city in Alaska)

I will not mark Atlanta as done as I am able to see only the airport and nothing else. So this stays on my list till my next trip out here. Note to self: Plan Atlanta.

On this note I bid adios from the Atlanta airport. Next up a SkyWest flight (never flown that) to Charleston. This airport is filled with Delta planes – looks like it must be one of their hubs. I flew in from Boston by Delta and it is a pretty decent airline. The stewardesses were obviously aunties which seem to be the case with all the airlines in the US of A. I love Kingfisher.