During our two week tour of the Deep South, shopping opportunities were rather more limited than I had hoped. In many small southern towns, it seems businesses have moved to out-of-town premises, and so it wasn’t often that we got to wander around a downtown area that was still vibrant. But there were still a few treats to be found, especially in Savannah, Georgia.
It was hot and humid in Savannah, and I really struggled. This meant we kept diving into places just to get the benefit of their air conditioning. And that’s why, around an hour after I’d eaten breakfast, I found myself having a second breakfast in a diner near the Catholic Cathedral there – which is a beautiful building with amazing stained glass windows. We only popped in for a drink (honest!) but when I saw the menu I was suddenly tempted to have a rather substantial cooked breakfast of poached eggs, english muffins, salsa, cheese and guacamole. It was great – worth going if you’re in that area during the day (I think they only open for breakfast and lunch).
The Savannah College of Art and Design has a shop selling work by students past and present. I found that all the things I really wanted were large and/or breakable, and so there wasn’t much I could buy since I’d have to carefully lug it all around Georgia and then back over the Atlantic. But it was a great place to browse – and they also have an online store. And we spent even more time in The Paris Market, which had more interesting things on display than most museums, and was beautifully styled. Again, geography and the practicalities of long-haul flights meant that I couldn’t really buy anything, much as I wanted to. I did purchase a few teeny-tiny little charms with pictures of saints on – perhaps for use in a future craft project. Further down the same round was @home Vintage General, an interiors shop with lots of things you didn’t know you needed until you saw them. And then, when the heat gets too much for you, cool down with a sundae at Leopold’s ice cream bar. On the day we visited, the heat was so intense that my sundae was melting even before the waitress had finished making it, but it was delicious all the same.
I also enjoyed a hot fudge sundae during the few hours we spent in the small, pretty town of Beaufort, South Carolina. We wandered around in the heat for a while (not so humid here though, thank goodness) admiring all the houses, and then happened across a very small ice cream and lunch place called Southern Sweets. It was a few doors down from a small but perfectly formed gift shop where I bought a couple of presents for myself: Lulu’s.
Charleston had a lot to offer, food-wise. Our hotel there had a concierge (does that make us grown-ups?) and when we questioned him about the best places for two vegetarians to get a meal, he didn’t hesitate to recommend Slightly North of Broad. The meal we had there was fancy, and the staff were very helpful and friendly. (We sort of keep an unwritten list of places – shops, cafes, parks, etc – that we would have moved to our town if it were possible, and I would certainly add this to that list. It’s too fancy to go to very often, but great for special occasions.)
Elsewhere in Charleston we found a Thai restaurant called Basil, and they were really helpful about alerting us to any items on their menu that may sound vegetarian but weren’t – and also to producing vegetarian versions with no fuss.
(In the interest of full disclosure, I should report that our trip wasn’t filled with good food: we had some dreadful meals, including a few lunches that we threw in the bin rather than eat, a slice of key lime pie that I cannot believe people would have the nerve to charge money for (again, that had to go in the bin), and because we were on a coach tour holiday, we even had a couple of days when we stopped at Walmart for lunch. I kid you not.)