Friday, October 1, 2010

Sleepless in Savannah, Part One

Note: Since Halloween is just around the corner, I thought I'd repost a multi-part series I'd written four years ago after visiting Savannah, Georgia with a good friend. While I didn't actually see any ghosts or walk through any "cold spots", I experienced a relentless, palpable discomfort during my brief but memorable 24-hour stay in this simultaneously charming, historic and eerie southern city. And while I'd definitely visit again, this time I'd be sure to stay in a hotel somewhere on the outskirts of town -- far from any paranormal activity. A girl needs her beauty sleep, you know! ;)

Sleepless in Savannah, Part One

For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to visit Savannah -- a city rich in history, tradition and Southern charm and hospitality. Several close friends who've spent time in the Garden of Good and Evil have had nothing but praise for its wealth of culture, cuisine and myriad attractions. None of their glowing reviews, however, ever mentioned the fact that Savannah is also well-known as "the most haunted city in North America."

Had I been aware of this well-deserved title, I may never have agreed to accompany Theresa on an overnight stay in the historic district, on our way back to South Florida from Pennsylvania. To be honest, I did have an inkling about the city's supernatural tendencies, mainly because Theresa excitedly talked of staying in a haunted Bed and Breakfast, until I begged her to compromise on our lodging arrangements, to which she graciously agreed.

In return, I nervously conceded to participating in a walking ghost tour, like those offered in St. Augustine (based on her experience in America's oldest city, Tre was positive we wouldn't actually enter any haunted buildings, but merely stay outside while the guides regaled us with tales of horror and history). We'd soon find out that Savannah does things a little differently when it comes to giving their guests an authentic, spine-tingling experience (more on that later).

Thanks to the marvels of modern technology, we were able to call ahead to several places, using the GPS (whose female satellite voice we dubbed "Sally"), while cruising south on I-95 somewhere in South Carolina. After many fruitless calls ("Sorry ma'am, but we're booked solid") I finally called what I thought was a Hampton Inn safely on the outskirts of town.

A friendly voice answered, "Good afternoon, Dresser Palmer House!" and I knew right away I was in trouble: I had to at least ask if rooms were available, in fairness to my friend, though I dreaded a positive answer. Unbelievably, they had one room left -- The Lady Astor -- which came with a Queen-sized bed and a fireplace. As if to eliminate any possibility that this was a trap set up by phantoms of the underworld, I asked if the place was haunted. "Do you want it to be?" the nice gentleman on the line queried, to which I firmly responded with a resounding NO!

He then assured me that while many B & B's in Savannah were indeed inhabited by earthbound spirits, Dresser Palmer House had never had any problems. Feeling somewhat better, though still a bit apprehensive, I made the reservation (much to Theresa's delight). That's just the beginning of the story. More to come in my next post.

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