I would like to take this time to complain about Georgia (the US state, not the country). It’s one of my favorite things to do, and I could probably write an entire book on the topic. But for the sake of time, I’ll condense my griping to a short blog post (don’t be too disappointed). I lived in the pit of the Peach State for a whopping 4 months. That’s all I could take. The experience, though brief, was long enough to convince me never to move back to Georgia.
Before we dive into the bellyaching, I should be a good travel blogger and say Savannah is actually an awesome travel destination. If given the opportunity, you should absolutely visit Savannah. The history, the architecture, the ghosts and graveyards, the cobblestones, the street performers, the art scene and the open container laws make the city well worth a sojourn. But don’t stay there more than, say, 36 hours at a time. You may surrender your sanity. Recall Jack Nicholson’s performance in The Shining. That was me after 3 weeks.
Oh, and while I would recommend never establishing residency in Savannah, there is one exception. Students considering SCAD should not be deterred by my ranting. SCAD is an excellent school, and the area probably isn’t half as bad when you have a body of peers and plenty to keep you busy.
Without further ado, here is a list of complaints from a displaced Midwesterner along with solutions you might try to alleviate the misery.
Should you move Savannah? Depends. How much do you love to sweat?
To be fair, I was in Savannah for the hottest part of the year (April through August). Regardless, I never want to spend another summer coated in an unyielding layer of sweat. Georgia is hot. Georgia is humid. Georgia is not kind to fair-skinned Ohio natives. As soon as you step out of the air conditioning, BAM, the back of your shirt is visibly soaked, and you can feel the sun murdering skin cells one by one. It’s the oppressive kind of thick heat that makes it hard to breathe and makes you never want to step outside. It’s even worse when your vehicle does not have air conditioning and you need a complete change of clothes by the time you get back from the grocery store. I hear the winters are nice, though, so that’s something…
Solution: Become nocturnal.
As anyone who has ever been to the American South knows, the bugs are big, and the bugs are many. My top three Georgian nuisances in order from peskiest to slightly less pesky are: fire ants, sand gnats and banana spiders. Fire ants are the minions of Satan. They’re absolutely tiny, but their bite can leave an excruciatingly itchy welt the size of a nickel. When one bites you, a chemical is released that rallies other ants in the area to join the fray. To make matters worse, they are EVERYWHERE. Sand gnats are less painful but just as ubiquitous. They’re tiny and like to munch human flesh anytime you set foot outside after nightfall. Banana spiders are found in wooded areas and love to pray on unsuspecting hikers. They build big sprawling webs, oftentimes right across hiking trails. When you walk through one, these behemoth arachnids lunge angrily at your head. Their bite is slightly toxic and will cause substantial discomfort. For my full list of horrible things in the American South, check out my post on the topic.
Solution: Never go outside.
Town of tourists
As a rule, permanent residents of any city are required to despise tourists, even if the entire well-being of the town’s economy relies on revenue from visitors. This distaste for outsiders is one of the first affects new residents acquire–long before picking up an accent, getting geographical bearings or figuring out which sushi joints are safe to eat at. I am not exempt from this peculiar phenomenon. Immediately upon moving to Savannah, I began to resent the droves of tourists that make Savannah’s downtown area a happening place. Forget the fact I had as much familiarity with the city as they did and didn’t know the first thing about Southern culture outside of stereotypes and preconceptions. I was living in Savannah and thus superior to those just passing through. Once you fall into the anti-tourist mentality, there’s no climbing back out, and it only makes you grumpy.
Solution: Avoid River Street and City Market.
Please turn off the radio
I am quite serious when I say I’ve never been anywhere with a worse selection of music on the radio. It is unforgivably awful.
Solution: Get an iPod.
When night falls, Savannah requires you to be at least a little paranoid. The crime rate is pretty high, Savannah ranking in the bottom 10% in safety for cities in the US. Savannah also has more than its fair share of homeless people, some of which peddle fake roses woven from corn husks. On one occasion, my brother and I were walking out of Forsyth Park at dusk when we encountered a filthy little fellow with a bandanna and guitar. He called himself “Looney Tunes” and continually insisted he was not homeless but did, however, play in a band of homeless men. He wanted me to write an article about the group. I handed him a business card. He then told us to walk deeper into the darkening park with him. Now, when a dirty stranger named Looney Tunes invites you on a nighttime stroll through Forsyth Park, I highly recommend NOT accepting the invitation. I firmly refused and am still pretty happy about that decision.
Solution: Don’t talk to strangers, don’t carry valuables, assume you will turn into a pumpkin at midnight if you’re not safely back in your hotel.
After a week of sightseeing, Savannah really doesn’t have much to offer. You can only walk down River Street so many times before the charm wears off. There are plenty of places to drink (I recommend Kevin Barry’s), but aside from bars, the entertainment is tailored for pretty specifically for tourism. Once you’ve done the ghosts tours, visited the graveyards and seen where they filmed Forrest Gump, you’re left with Frisbee in Forsyth Park and coffee at Gallery Expresso. I failed to find a single decent dance venue. Of course, I’m a bit biased. There aren’t a whole lot of 20-some year olds in the area when school’s not in session. Maybe older folks would find the city more appealing.
Solution: Don’t move to Savannah until you’re at least 40 years old.
Much of the terrain in the “Low Country” is made of swampland. It stinks.
Solution: Move far, far away.