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Savannah Likes Bikes

June 26, 2012

Forsyth Park in Savannah – our overlook from the second Bed & Breakfast we stayed in

Last weekend, Harley and I took a trip to another gorgeous, bike-friendly town – Savannah, Georgia! As cyclists, it was just as pleasant and lovely a time as what we had experienced in Charleston not too long ago.

On Friday night, we were able to reserve what we considered to be the very best Bed & Breakfast we’ve ever experienced. Indeed, the best place we’ve ever stayed! It’s called the Inn at 909 Lincoln and it truly was absolutely everything that we appreciate about staying at a B&B. We arrived to a charming home on a quiet, unassuming, tree-lined street, in the urban core area, right next to the heart of Savannah. The home is old and renovated beautifully. As we meandered casually through the downstairs area, we were pleasantly surprised to see our complimentary bottle of wine sitting on the bar. We then made our way up the stairs and walked right into a huge, absolutely gorgeous bedroom, located in the front of the home, with a big bay window, luxuriously spacious, lovely bathroom, and balcony attached.

The morning after – reason the bed was messy

The bed was king-sized, mirrors all over the place, and the bathroom had a clawfoot tub with separate shower. Bath salts and other sundries were provided for what was one of the most relaxing baths I’ve had in a very long time. The balcony sits beneath the branches of a huge tree out front and overlooks some other cute places as well as the street below. We sat there for a little while, wine in hand, as we observed tons of bicyclists pedaling back and forth on our street – a clear indication to us that Savannah is bike-friendly. In fact, during the whole trip, we noticed lots of cyclists, but had been informed that this was only summer time. Come fall, SCAD students and other college students come back to flood the streets with even more bikes!

Not wanting to leave this little gem of a sanctuary, but still too eager to ride, we were off to explore this town by way of bike. Starving for some seafood, we decided to take the Innkeeper’s suggestion and bicycled over to Bernie’s Oyster House on East River Street, Savannah’s most famous street. We ordered a bucket of shuck-yourself oysters and a pound of peel-n-eat shrimp and it was delicious. We had a couple drinks at a couple bars and then pedaled our way back to the Inn, lounging on the porch, taking advantage of the clawfoot tub, and resting up for the rest of the weekend.

Saturday morning, we made our way down the stairs to the dining area, the scent of bacon, along with another indistinguishable but drool-worthy scent lingering in the air. The Innkeeper, Elaine, was cooking a gourmet breakfast for Harley and I and the other couple sitting adjacent from us. I forget what she called it, but it was similar to a crepe – tender, pale, sweet, and a creamy fruit filling rolled up within it. We chatted up with everyone, and after she served us breakfast, Elaine sat down with us and we talked about sightseeing in Savannah. Elaine is an incredibly personable, warm soul and we were very appreciative of her helpfulness.

We packed up the car with our bags and I drove a few blocks over to our next beautiful B&B, Forsyth Park Inn, which overlooked… you guessed it… Forsyth Park – the Central Park of Savannah! While I drove, Harley ghost-biked our bikes there. He got there before me… of course, that Speedy Gonzales ;-)

“Bicycles Allowed Full Lane”… and in Savannah, the drivers understand why.

We weren’t able to check in just yet, so we hopped on our bikes and explored. We never once came across any aggressive, impatient drivers on our trip, save one, and that one was while we were driving the car. *shrugs. I remember having a conversation with Abhishek about biking in Savannah and he, too, was pleasantly surprised by all the considerate drivers there – they seemed patient, never once did he get honked at, they all gave him space from behind, and they never tried to overtake him on his left. He was so shocked, he thought that he was doing something wrong, but of course, he knew he wasn’t. No sir, the law-abiding cyclists are not doing anything wrong. It’s the authorities of the City of Jacksonville who are the ones doing something wrong.

We visited some cafes and bars, visited a bike shop where Harley had to purchase a new Brooks saddle (he completely wore the other one out!), and spent some time in the park. When check in time arrived, we went to our B&B and it was simply stunning. The Innkeeper was very helpful and kind and the decor was gorgeous. We had a spacious room overlooking the back garden, with a sun room nook, french doors, and private bath. We took a load off and relaxed a bit in our new room, and soon thereafter, we were getting ready for a great evening out. Though I was clad in a short dress and heels, Harley convinced me to ride bikes anyway. After he offered to hold my shoes while I ride barefoot, I said, “alrighty then!”

First Harley made reservations at Nobel Fare, a really nice restaurant, and certainly a huge treat for us, as we never dine in places like that. After an impeccable meal and bottle of wine, we headed over to see a show you just can’t miss when you visit Savannah – Lady Chablis. She is absolutely hysterical! She asked Harley to come up near the stage and take a swig of one very very naughty drink, the name of said drink I shall not say here, but boy was it funny! Afterward, we shot some pool downstairs, and as the night grew later, our little sanctuary at the B&B beckoned sweetly, so we finally obliged.

Lady Chablis calls Harley forth – Oh my goodness!

Sunday morning was met with another excellent breakfast served on the porch overlooking the park. And before we knew it, our car was all packed up with everything but our bikes and we took this day to pedal around some more.

We ate some lunch and made acquaintances with a guy from the local bike scene who designed a very interesting tall bike concoction – it was a bike frame turned sideways! He said there’s usually bike polo during Sunday evenings, but it was too late for us to attend, as we had to drive back to Florida at a reasonable hour.

Unique Savannah Tall Bike

We took a tour of The Peacemaker, a beautiful old sailing vessel utilized by the Twelve Tribes, and also visited the park and several antique shops, with Steel Magnolias Antiques certainly proving to be a very special shop for us, indeed.

Aboard The Peacemaker

My perspective as a cyclist in such a bike-friendly city as Savannah has only further fueled the fire of frustration I burn for Jacksonville. Whenever I return from a biking trip I took beyond the mean streets of my city, I reassure myself this one thing before I allow too much negativity and hopelessness to settle in my heart:

It doesn’t have to be this way.

But do I have what it takes to change an entire culture?

Not I alone, nor any individual alone has what it takes.

I’ve met many others who desperately want to see great change in Jacksonville so that we, too, may be just as bike-friendly. But we need more help to make that possible. What few active advocates we have, have grown weary and about as frustrated as I. Without a doubt, we need more help…

and maybe some words of encouragement every once in a while ;-)

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 26, 2012 8:39 PM

    “Bath salts”! I hope they did not color your experience :)
    Just kidding!

    I had a similarly pleasant experience during the half-day I spent in Savannah. I rode on busy streets in rush hour controlling the lane and not a single motorist came even close to being aggressive. Great food, vibrant coffee-shop-culture and beautiful public places. I now know where to go to get treated like a human being on a bicycle again.

  2. Luna permalink
    June 26, 2012 9:30 PM

    What a great experience! I can’t wait to go to Savannah again – this time with bikes!

    • June 27, 2012 1:02 PM

      I’d love to visit Savannah with you again, Mom. You’re the one who introduced me to that city in the first place, after all!

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