Thursday, August 25, 2022

Heading North - Savannah, Georgia

After a week in Orlando our next stop was 290 miles north to Savannah, Georgia for four days. We were there during our years on the road, but we never stayed downtown. We stayed at the Drayton from where we could walk the historic parts of town. On our first day we took the Old Savannah Tours hop on hop off tour to get an idea of what places we wanted to tour.
The Savannah Cotton Exchange was established in 1876. It set the price of the cotton that was shipped to New York and London. The building was opened in 1887 and used until 1951 when the exchange closed. The building does not have a foundation as the city required that the Drayton Street ramp to the river had to remain open under the building.  
At a couple stops on the tour someone would come on the bus to explain the local history. This lady told us about the Lucas Theatre.
Savannah born song writer Johnny Mercer. He composed over 1400 songs, Moon River being the most famous. He was a co-founder of Capitol Records.
We did not tour the Prohibition Museum, but liked the car.

A tribute to Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Low.
Former Girl Scout, Nancy walking by Low's birthplace.
Sculpture honoring the soldiers of African decent who fought in the Battle of Savannah during the American Revolutionary War. The drummer, Henri Christophe, was a leader of the Haitian war for independence in 1804.  
The Telfair Museums include Telfair Academy (pictured here), Jepson Center and Owens-Thomas House.
Bird Girl, sculpted in 1936 by Sylvia Shaw Judson, is in the Academy. It was cast six times, this one was in the Bonaventure Cemetery. It became famous when it appeared on the cover of the novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. So many people came to the cemetery that in 2014 it was lent to the Telfair Museum.
Savannah city hall overlooks the river on the other side.
It's very neat seeing the biggest container ships, like we saw in the Panama Canal, come up the river to Savannah. When the city was founded the river was 12 feet deep. Is was deepened to 42 feet allowing ships carrying 4,600 containers to pass. Then, to accommodate the bigger ships coming through the new Panama Canal locks it was made 47 feet deep. This allows ships carrying 8,700 containers to come to Savannah.
The Waving Girl is to honor Florence Martus who, from 1887 to 1931, waved at all arriving ships in search for her lost lover. Ships began to return the wave with a blast from their horn. 
River Street is the old warehouse district that is now shops, bars and restaurants. Very neat overlooking the river.
Dinner view from a restaurant overlooking the river. Up close and personal with big ships.
One of Savannah's 22 squares. They started with four squares in the 1733 plan for the city designed by James Oglethorpe. As the city grew each square was a ward of the city.
Each square is 200 feet north to south and 100 to 300 feet east to west. The trees make walking the city very comfortable, even on a steamy hot summer day. 
The grave of Tomo Chi Chi of the Creek tribe was a good friend of the British and has been called the co-founder of Savannah.
We toured the Owens - Thomas House. It shows the contrast of how the slaves lived and the life of the slavers. This building is the slave house. 
This is a slave bedroom.
This is the main house, the first in the city to have indoor plumbing.
This is a bedroom in that house.
The African-American Family Monument commemorates their contribution to the city and the "invisible story of the trans-Atlantic slave trade". 
The World Apart honors those who served in WWII.
Jepson Center had a special exhibit Blow Up: Inflatable Contemporary Art. I guess art is in the eye of the beholder.
More blow up art.
The was a special exhibit, The Art of William O. Golding a Savannah native who was tricked to board a ship as a child and spent 49 years at sea. Many of his works are ports he visited in East Asia as well as Savannah.
We enjoyed our stay in Savannah. Staying downtown made it easy to walk the city and the trees in the squares made it tolerable even with the heat and humidity.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Heading North - Universal Orlando

We left Stuart on July 10 planning to take our time getting to WashPA by August 1st where we have reservations at an Airbnb until the middle of September. Our first stop was only 128 miles in Orlando. We had never been to any of the parks there so we stayed for a week.
We got a good deal for a week's stay in a two bedroom condo at Westgate Palace. This was our view from the 19th floor. 
The Universal parks were close enough that we could see the evening fireworks. Mother nature even provided a spectacular show one night.
Even though we got the Florida resident discount, the tickets were VERY, VERY expensive. There are three different parks, Universal Studios, Island Adventure and Volcano Bay, a water park. We bought  tickets for the first two that included three days' admission over six days. In addition, we bought an Express Pass that we thought also covered the three days, only to discover it was good for only one day. The total cost was $1,118.00. I don't know how families afford it, but they sure do as the place was packed. 
All of the shows and rides are themed around Universal productions. Our first ride was Transformers, a 3D ride. 
A San Francisco theme part of the park had several restaurants. It was not nearly as neat as the real thing we experienced in May.
The Fast and Furious - Supercharged shop. Another ride that is more an illusion than a real ride. You are bounced around while the speeding scene makes it feel like you are moving.
Yes, we rode the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit coaster. Here is a link to a video of the ride. Nanc said, never again, this was her last coaster ride. 
Hollywood was mainly famous store fronts. We did see The Bourne Stuntacular, a show with many stunts from the movie.
Springfield, USA is dedicated to the Simpsons. The Simpson Ride sends you careening and crashing through Springfield.
Jurassic Park not only has rides, it has a Discovery Center where you can learn about prehistoric plants and animals.
We even got to watch a dinosaur being hatched. It was very real looking.
In the Lost Continent Poseidon's Fury was a walk through a fire and water show.
Seuss Landing has everything from shows.... Seuss inspired rides. The merry go round has many different Seuss characters.
Nanc looking for a job as a rickshaw driver.
All that peddling made her hungry for a Voodoo doughnut.
The E.T. Adventure ride took you on a bike ride across the stars as E.T. goes home.
Toon Lagoon was all themed with old time comic book characters.
You can even get a Dagwood sandwich at Blondie's. I don't know how many young people know what that is.
The Incredible Hulk Coaster. Here is a video link.
Nanc was done, but not me. I conquered the Hulk.

The main reason we picked Universal rather than Disney was we wanted to see the Harry Potter attractions.They are in two different parts of the park requiring two different admissions$$$ Our ticket gave us admission to both.
In Universal Studios is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley with all the shops on the London side of Harry's adventure. The dragon breathes fire several times a day.
At the Hopping Pot you can have beef pasties, Butterbeer or the real thing.
The entrance to Gringotts Money Exchange with the banker on a column of gold. They should put the Universal globe on top, as it produces a column of gold everyday for the company.
Inside the bank on our way to The Escape from Gringotts ride. We were glad we had the express pass that put us in the "fast" line.
The animated banker with his ledger was keeping an eye on us. 
You cannot be a witch or wizard without a magic wand. They were advertised as "free" (HA HA) only if you purchased a $300 Universal gift card. Otherwise, the price was $60. With your wand you got a map of all the secret places you could us it to cast spells. 
Another day we returned to Universal Studios to catch a ride on the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade.
Of course we had to go through gate 9-3/4 to board the train.
The train was waiting for us to board for the ride to Hogsmeade and the Hogswarts Castle.
There must have been some wizardery students on this trip as their messenger owl was waiting for them.
The snow covered buildings in the village were welcome as it was in the 90's the day we were there.
The Hogswarts Castle looks as real as those we saw in Europe.
Inside the castle we saw Professor Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts School. The ride Harry Potter the Forbidden Journey was a ride that included flying through a quiddich game. It bounced you around more than the coasters. 
Our last visit was in the evening to see the light show at Hogwarts Castle.
It was worth the huge crowd. Here is a short video of the show. 
The show ends with fireworks. 
While we enjoyed our visit to the Universal parks, we both agreed they are now on the been there done that list. We are getting to the point where these kind of places don't thrill us and we could do many other things with the $1100 we gave Universal.