Savannah, GA – 1 day is 1 too many.

Savannah was one of my least favorite places I’ve ever been. EVER! It smells like shit and the nickname of ‘Slow – vannah’ is completely 100% right on because there’s fuck all to do. Dislike. But if you’ve already bought your ticket and you can’t get a refund then here’s some tips to help you survive your, hopefully less than, 3 days there.

Where not to stay:

DO NOT STAY at The Thunderbird Inn. They try to tell you it’s the ‘hippest hotel in Savannah’, but it’s a shit hole. There’s nothing hip about it. It’s dirty, old and overpriced. Being they charge over $100 per night, you’d think they could afford to make some improvements. AVOID AVOID AVOID.

What to do:

I love ghosts, ghost stories, cemeteries, haunted hotels, haunted pubs, etc…And Savannah’s claim as ‘The Most Haunted City in America’ is one of the reasons I decided to visit (that and the fact that you can drink in public). But all three ghost tours I went on more or less sucked. So choose your ghost tours carefully and it’s probably a good idea to lower your expectations. Then hope and pray you get a good tour guide.

Ghost City Tours has a money back guarantee. So technically you can’t go wrong with them. They even do a haunted pub crawl. Which I went on. It was OK. We didn’t actually go in to many places. Most of the time we just stopped in front of the place, the guides told a story and then we moved on. My tour guides weren’t the best :/

Spend an afternoon wandering around Bonaventure Cemetery. You can get a cab out there for around $10. I think that’s the easiest thing to do if you don’t have a car. It’s a beautiful cemetery, pretty big with lots of trees covered in Spanish moss.

Two of the most visited graves are that of Little Gracie and Johnny Mercer. Little Gracie is located at Lot 99 in Section E, off of Mullryne Way. Johnny Mercer is located at Lot 48 in Section H, along Johnny Mercer Lane.

When I went out there the Grave Finder machine wasn’t working and the office was close. Probably best to call ahead and get any gravesite information before you make the trip out there. If you are looking for somebody there is no way you’ll find them with out the location information. The place is huge.
Skip River Street. I wanted to like it, but it’s just a bunch of restaurants and shops for tourists. Nothing cute about it. Except for the cobblestone. The best part about it were the narrow, old, steep stairs leading from River Street up to Bay Street. Danger Will Robinson.
Moon River Brewing Company was one of my least favorite places in Savannah, but it’s seriously haunted so I suggest making a REALLY QUICK stop. Buy a drink and then ask to see the basement. I didn’t see anything or capture anything on film, but It’s supposedly extra special haunted. It’s been featured on Ghost Adventures and probably a few other ghost hunting programs.

Where to eat:

For breakfast I went to The Sentient Bean every day. They serve delicious vegetarian/vegan food and their coffee is organic and fair trade.

I had several delicious meals at Zunzi’s II. I highly recommend the Fisherman’s Deck Sandwich and their special sauces OMG. So good. They have a good beer selection as well. Reasonable prices and delicious food = lots of people. Be prepared for a bit of a wait. But it’s worth it!

And The Olde Pink House holy shit. One of the best meals I’ve ever had. It’s expensive, but worth the splurge. Sit in the basement. It has more ambience. And it’s haunted! By a girl who will lock you in the ladies room. I guess the toilet used to be the dry goods closet so she sees you in there, thinks you’re stealing things, then locks you in. At least that’s the story one of the employees told me. I didn’t get locked in. I was disappointed 馃檨

Where to drink:

The best dive bar I found was Abes on Lincoln. Get it? Abes? On Lincoln? HA!

There’s a hidden speakeasy on Williamson Street. Supposedly you need to ask around in order to get a key so you can get it, but I had a few people tell me that all you had to do was knock on the door and they’ll let you in. I went on a Sunday and it was closed. Damn shame.

Instead I ended up around the corner at Chucks Bar (301 W River Street). And I loved every minute of it! It’s a gay bar, but you can’t really tell until you sit down and start talking to people. It’s very divey, they have a jukebox and it’s haunted! The bartender had some great stories to tell about spinning bar stools and furniture being moved around. His stories gave me chills. Really freaked me the fuck out!

My favorite coffee shops (from most to least favorite):

THE BEST PART OF SAVANNAH:

And last but not least the BEST part of Savannah is that one of the runways at Savannah/Hilton Head International was built around two gravestones. Apparently part of the deal with the airport was that they could use the land, and they could move everybody else that was in the family cemetery, but they couldn’t move the graves of Catherine and Richard Dotson. So if you’re on the right hand side of the plane pay attention as you’re taxiing and you can see them right before take off.

Airport graves at SVA.
There’s a headstone in the middle of the photo, slightly to the right.

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San Lazaro Cemetery

I wasn’t feeling Antigua. It was beautiful, but there were way too many tourists (most of whom are there to learn Spanish at one of the 3 million ‘Language Schools’ in the town) and I felt it was lacking authenticity. Whatever that means. I don’t know I just didn’t like it. I didn’t feel like it was very ‘Guatemalan’.聽 But it was the only place I went in Guatemala so what the hell do I know.

With that said, one of my favorite things about Antigua was the San Lazaro cemetery which is located directly behind the bus terminal.

With regards to safety…I’m not really sure. To me ALL cemeteries feel like the perfect place to get robbed. This one felt no different. I went with a friend. Perhaps it’s not the best idea to go by yourself? I’m not sure. I would ask the Tourist Police if it’s safe to do so (they have a booth near the campground). We were told not to go to Cerro de la Cruz by ourselves by…. I can’t even remember who….other tourists, the Lying Planet, Tripadvisor, all of the above. But when I asked the Tourist Police they said it was 100% completely fine to walk up there by yourself. SO. Ask the Tourist Police if you’re feeling hesitant. Be smart, but don’t let fear stop you!

Cementerio San Lazaro

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Elmwood Cemetery

Elmwood Cemetery is Memphis’ oldest active cemetery. You have to drive through the hood and over a bridge (kinda like going to Grandma’s house only different) and voila! You’re transported to an hidden oasis full of trees and greenery and peacefulness. There are a lot of trees! If I remember correctly I believe they’re a few tree species away from becoming a certified arboretum. It kinda reminded me of Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn. I highly recommend going on a tour. I went on an after hours tour with Kimberly as the guide and it was fantastic. She’s a great tour guide and very knowledgeable about the history of her cemetery. And there’s booze! I highly recommend!

Elmwood Cemetery

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Necr贸polis Crist贸bal Col贸n

The beautiful and expansive Necropolis Cristobal Colon located in the Vedado district of Havana, Cuba was built by the Spanish architect,聽Calixto de Loira, in 1871. It’s one of the largest cemeteries in the world (The largest in the Americas)聽 and it’s the final resting place for many of Cuba’s historically and culturally important figures.

The most visited tomb in the cemetery is that of ‘La Milagrosa’ or ‘The Miraculous One’.

If you can't find her ask anybody that works there and they'll point you in the right direction.
If you can’t find her ask anybody that works there and they’ll point you in the right direction.

Amelia Goyri de Adot and her husband had waited years to get married as they were from different social classes and her family wouldn’t consent to the marriage. That is until after he obtained the rank of Captain in the war and they deemed him worthy enough to marry into their family. Shortly after their marriage she became pregnant, but in her 8th month of pregnancy she developed preeclampsia. And on May 3rd, 1901 Amelia and her unborn baby died.

Her husband,聽Jos茅 Vicente,聽 was inconsolable. He was completely and utterly heartbroken.聽 Every morning he would bring her flowers and spend time with her. He would sit and talk to her, tell her how his life was going and knock with one of the four brass knockers to try and wake her up. When it was time to go he would walk away backwards as a sign of respect.

Years later when the grave聽 was opened not only were both bodies discovered to be incorrupt (which Catholic’s believe to be a sign of divine intervention), but the baby was now in its’ mother’s arms.

As this incredible story spread through out Havana the faithful started visiting La Milagrosa’s grave to ask her for help in making their wishes come true. To this day she is revered as a saint to Cubans and many have called for her to be canonized by the Catholic Church. Thousands of people come from near and far to bring her flowers or other gifts and ask for favors.

The tradition is to greet her,聽 knock on the grave with one of the four brass knockers, ask for something, lay down a gift (some coins will do), circle the grave, and walk away backwards never turning your back.

A lone palm tree

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This article in the Radio Rebelde has more info on ‘La Milagrosa’ if you’re interested.

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A long weekend in Memphis, TN.

I really liked Memphis! It’s gritty and kinda run down. A little scary at times :/ In some areas I felt like I could get mugged at any moment in broad daylight because I was the only person on the street, nothing was open and there were several, what look to be, abandoned buildings on the block – JUST a little sketch. But I dig that shit. There’s a lot of old beautiful buildings & vintage neon signs and it’s full of history and character.

Before I went there EVERYBODY I talked to (even people who live there) told me to be extra careful and to most definitely not take the bus or I would be murdered. Seriously? Come the fuck on people! They had me kinda freaked out. I mean…what gives? I wasn’t at all sure what to expect, but it turns out it’s very cool. AND I didn’t get mugged OR murdered. #GoMe What these fearmongerers SHOULD have said was ‘There are pockets of really bad/poor neighborhoods so it’s not really a walkable city (that Walking in Memphis song is a LIE!). And for the same reason don’t take the bus. Use a bit of common sense. Keep your head up. You’ll be fine! JUST LIKE EVERYWHERE ELSE. Have fun!’

With that said….here are my recs:

Where to eat:

Have breakfast at Brother Junipers. It’s touted as the best breakfast in Memphis. They make everything from scratch and it really is the best breakfast in Memphis. I should have gone there every day, but I didn’t! There’s a bit of a wait on the weekend, but they do a thing where if you call ahead (with in 15 minutes of your arrival time) they’ll take 15 minutes off your waiting time once you check in upon arrival. I had no idea who Brother Juniper was so I had to ask. I was told that Brother Juniper was the cook for St. Francis of Assisi. You learn something new every day.Brother Junipers.

If you don’t feel like waiting in line for 2 hours for breakfast every day check out Cafe Eclectic. I visited the midtown location and I liked it very much. Good coffee, fresh food, good vibes… The have several vegetarian options and breakfast is served all day!

I don’t eat meat so trying to find somewhere good to eat lunch and dinner was a struggle. Especially since everybody and their mother recommends Central BBQ and Gus’s Fried Chicken. But I did find a great Mexican type spot in Overton Square call Babalu. It looks pretty vanilla from the outside, but it’s kinda cute inside. They have a nice bar area and patio and the tacos and guacamole made table side are to die for. Deliciousness.

What to do:

You must visit the Civil Rights Museum. It’s located at the old Lorraine Hotel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed on April 4th, 1968. I’m not a big museum fan, but it’s a must . You should come away with a better understanding of the civil rights struggle and what it means to be African American.Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel.

 

You also must do Sun Studio followed by Graceland.聽 In that order. This is an all day affair. The first tour of Sun Studio is at 10:30am. They don’t take advance reservations. But if you arrive and the tour is sold out there should be space on the next one so no worries. You can chill in the cafe (they make malts!) or explore the the neighborhood. Sun Studios is located in the Edge District which was my favorite area of Memphis. It definitely has an edge to it 馃檪 On a Sunday it was pretty vacant. There was nothing open. But some of the buildings are just gorgeous and I found a few alleys with graffiti and street art so I was happy to spend an hour here wandering around.Sun Studio.

The Edge District where Sun Studio is located.
The Edge District where Sun Studio is located.

After Sun Studio hop on the free shuttle bus that leaves every hour around 20 after the hour from Sun Studio. It stops at Beale Street and then Graceland. TIP: I highly recommend buying your ticket for Graceland online before you leave home/get to Graceland. Buy it for the first tour the day you want to go then you can show up any point after that and go on the next tour. If you wait to buy it upon arrival there’s a chance that the next tour (and the one after that) will be sold out. And you’ll be tempted to spend the extra $40 on the VIP ticket just to avoid hanging around East Memphis for 3 hours. It’s a sketchy area and unless you like fast food and souvenir shops there’s fuck all to do.

I wasn’t really a big Elvis fan before I went to Elvis Presley’s Graceland. But I had to go. And I’m really glad I did. I enjoyed every minute of it and I have a lot more admiration for his legacy. The way it’s set up is very tech savy. They hand out headphones while you’re waiting in line and when you get on the shuttle bus to go across to Graceland they give you an iPad. Fancy! It’s fantastic because your tour is not only self paced, but narrated聽 by John Stamos. A+

One of the rooms at Graceland. #love
One of the rooms at Graceland. #love

For a list of what’s currently on in Memphis check out the I love Memphis blog. She’s got a ton of good recommendations.

Where to stay:

If you can afford to stay at the Peabody stay at the Peabody! I wanted to, but it’s a bit out of my price range :/ It’s located smack dab in the middle of downtown and it’s a Historic Hotel of America. Fancy!

I ended up staying at an airbnb near Overton Park. It was my first Airbnb experience. Lets just say I learned a lot! For instance I learned that I need a place to myself :/ Or at least a place where the hosts don’t wake up at 6am every day. I also learned not to book solely based on reviews. This place had really good reviews. And my experience really wasn’t that good!

My name is not Justin. Nor is it Kelly :/
My name is not Justin. Nor is it Kelly :/

How to get around:

Uber. By far the cheapest/best way to get around. The Taxis were overpriced and shitty. I stupidly took a taxi from Graceland back to the Overton Park area and it cost me $25!!! If I would have taken an Uber it would have cost around $13. Don’t take a taxi! They suck!

 

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