Walter has been to Savannah several times. For probably two years he has been saying he really wanted Kate,Calvin,Nora and I to go. I cannot count the number of times he brought it up at our Saturday breakfasts. After his fall 2010 trip,Walter brought several brochures to a Saturday breakfast describing things he thought we might enjoy doing in Savannah.
After Walter gave us the brochures in late fall,I recall it was in January that we started seriously discussing a trip to Savannah. Walter said he thought we should plan at least three nights as he felt there was so much to see and do that two nights would be too rushed. Walter wanted us to do some tours and to take several walks through the historic district. He said his trips were filled with walking and eating –things he knew we’d enjoy. Starting our planning in January was good because Kate,like me,is a “planner”.
I’m sure I’ve written before how much I want to travel. Yet I also do not like surprises. I want to know what to expect. I want to “plan”. I am not and never will be a person who can go to a new place without reading and researching the area. About the only time I don’t do this is when we know someone who lives in an area and they are willing to be our “guides”. They don’t need to be with us all the time –just introduce to an area and advise on safety and must do things. (Side-note:safety is also one of those things that makes me hesitant about travel. I am not a trusting person and my imagination runs wild for all the bad things that can happen.) Note –I do travel for business. I go to my meetings and rarely ever leave my hotel otherwise. I feel safer this way but don’t see anything at all. That is just how I am.
As for researching the Savannah trip –first I looked into the weather and possible crowded times. Kate wanted to be sure we went before it got too hot. Also we needed to go over a weekend due to work obligations. I knew that we did not want to go anytime around St. Patrick’s Day. Savannah is famous for its huge party and we are NOT party people and we hate crowds in general. Then we knew we needed to avoid Easter as that can be a busy time too. Looking at calendars we decided that the first weekend in May should work well. Highs should be in the low 80′s and lows in the 60′s –perfect for walking.
Next I had to research guidebooks. To get a general overview –I obtained the AAA guide. These are free and as such only give basic info and “must do”items along with lots and lots of lodging and food “facts”. From the AAA guide it was clear that Savannah held a lot to do and see if you like history and architecture. So to research guidebooks I went to Amazon. I found two that stood out,“Moon Spotlight Savannah and the Georgia Coast”and “The Savannah Walking Tour and Guidebook”. I bought both of these to use.
The guidebooks proved that Walter was right,three nights were probably good. So we all started arranging our calendars as well as our workloads in March to be sure we could all manage the long weekend away. Rooms were reserved for three nights during the agreed upon first weekend in May.
The following weekend we told Walter at the Saturday breakfast we had made the reservations for all of us,he was very pleased. Well,he was pleased. I found out from Walter on Sunday that the Kentucky Derby was the Saturday we had booked in May. For those who don’t know Walter,he is a big horse racing fan that loves to gamble. He has been “betting the ponies”since he was a teenager. He has attended many of the major stakes races. Missing the Derby is like cutting off his oxygen.
So I checked with the hotel to see if we could get in the second weekend of May. Can do. Next I emailed Kate. Can do –but no more changes –if we change to second weekend –that is it –no more changes. So I made the changes and we all told Walter the following Saturday. He was very happy that we had changed the dates for him…until he realized we were driving up on Friday the 13th!
Next we needed a general idea of what were the most important things we wanted to do and see. Mostly these were conversations amongst Kate,Calvin,Nora and I. Walter had already told us what he was interested in. So with my stacks of guidebooks,I read and cross-checked information for a few weeks. I looked things up on the internet. I emailed with Calvin about the first pass I had done and things that jumped out. Calvin looked at the links I provided and concurred that the first few things looked like he and Kate would enjoy them.
Next I asked Walter some more specific questions about what he wanted us to do. The first day he wanted us to walk around and or do a tour to get “acclimated”. Then he wanted to treat everyone to dinner at a restaurant he likes,“Boar’s Head”. He wanted us to walk on River Street after dinner so we could see what it was like. Walter also knows the four of us well and noted we’d all want to be back at the hotel early…Yes,he was right –we typically end our days by 10,even if we read a little later than that. Walter said we could then decide specifics and timing for Saturday and Sunday at breakfast on Saturday (using the lists he knew we would have as well as what we had seen on Friday and of course along with the weather).
Sometime during this early planning stage (during March) –Calvin made our first tour reservation. Walter had wanted to do a ghost tour,so Calvin booked a “Hearse Tour”for the 5 of us. This was from one of the brochures that Walter had brought us. I do not recall ever seeing it in the guidebooks but regardless –a plan was starting. On Saturday night we would be taking the “Hearse Tour”of Savannah.
Next I passed off the guidebooks (with the items Calvin and I had emailed about flagged) to Kate. She read these and we all continued to discuss possibilities on Saturdays. It was working naturally for all of us to talk weekly and look for ways for everyone to do things they enjoyed.
Certainly,the five of us are friends so we have common interests. However when planning a trip it gets a bit more complex. There are differences and there is money plus time involved. If we are all going to do this,we should all have things we are looking forward to seeing/doing. Otherwise getting together every week for breakfast is fine for catching up and seeing each other. This trip would allow us all to go somewhere and experience new/different things together. (From my happiness post –experiences are very important.)
Walter took the guidebooks next. He is not much of a reader but expressed interest. After our trip though he asked to borrow the guidebooks so he could help his regular Savannah travelers plan their fall 2011 trip.
After a few weeks of discussion I felt I had a good handle on what everyone was interested in. Next up,ask a few questions of a new friend. Nora and I met Kris and Kevin (from Savannah) in the fall of 2009. We have seen them several times since and even got to introduce Kris and Kevin to Kate and Calvin. Kris has even had the pleasure of meeting Walter! So I emailed Kris for input on our final restaurant/bar list. Kris downplayed a couple,highly recommended Vinnie Van Go Go’s and suggested a couple extra places to try. She also advised me on traffic as we planned to head out toward Tybee Island one day to do a fort tour. (You’ll learn more in a later post.)
Finally,I was able to email Kate and Calvin a recommended list of places to eat. That way they could check out all the menus and we would all be better prepared to make decisions on where to eat based on what we discovered “in person”. We had a specific plan for Friday including our dinner reservations at Boar’s Head. We had a “Hearse Tour”reserved for Saturday night. We had a general idea of what to expect and what tours we were interested in. We knew we wanted to see Fort Pulaski either Saturday or Sunday morning (to avoid beach traffic as per Kris’advice on traffic). I had a plan that made me comfortable. I was ready to go.
One humorous (well humorous if you know Walter and how he talks and teases) thing happened about two weeks before we left. You’ll recall that Walter took the guidebooks. Well he came to Saturday breakfast and announced he wanted us to do the midnight X-rated tour. We all asked him what he meant but couldn’t get any more details out of him. Was he talking about a “Midnight”tour based on the book/movie? Was he making something up (he does this) just to “jerk our chains”(he does this too)? After breakfast Kate asked me to look in the guidebooks. Early the next week I did and found nothing save for a mention of “uncensored”tours where you must be 18. I emailed Kate and she had been Googling to try to figure out what he was talking about. She also had located the “uncensored”tours and found one was done at midnight. Could this be the tour Walter wanted to do? http://blueorbtours.com/savannah-ghost-tours/midnight-zombies-tour
The next Saturday,Kentucky Derby Day,we asked Walter again. ”Yeah,yeah –that sounds like it.” Now Kate is the only one of us who likes gore and horror…So she told Walter that if he really wanted to go that she would stay up late and go with him. (I think she intended to take a nap to be able to stay up past midnight. ) For reasons I don’t recall,Kate and Water did not do this tour. Maybe they are saving it for another trip?
As you can see,I like lots of planning. It helps me be more comfortable with travel (shoot,it helps me be more comfortable with life in general). For this trip it was more complicated because we had a group and it is important that everyone gets to do things they are interested in. It was easier to do since Kate also likes to plan…For me,this helped make this trip all the better.
I’ll say this before I even get to the posts about our trip. We liked Savannah enough that we plan to go back again. Nora and I even know a few things we want to eat again and a few things we want to see again. Next trip,the planning will be EASY! Plus we have seen enough and know enough that we could make it a fun weekend and only need to stay for two nights. Going away only two nights makes it much easier to manage workloads. We’re excited about going again,especially if we can catch up with Kris and Kevin when they are at home,but I still need to tell you about this trip!
Next up,Savannah –traveling and our first day,Friday the 13th.