I've been in Savannah for about 3.5 days and much of it has been spent organizing our house (still not done), so I have a ton to learn about this city. However, there are a few things that I have learned so far:
1. The island we are living on -- Talahi Island -- is pronounced TA-LAY-HE, not TAL-A-HI or TAL-AH-HE or any of the other ways we pronounced it in the months before our move. Gearry's students helped him out with some of the local pronounciations ;) In similar news, the island next door -- Whitemarsh Island -- where we do a lot of our shopping is pronounced WHIT-MARSH, like "whit" instead of the color "white."
2. Savannah has only one full-fledged, all-out vegetarian restaurant, but it is so, so good. The Sentient Bean, located on the south boundary of Forsyth Park (think a slightly smaller version of New York's Central Park) downtown reminds me a lot of Soma or Roots or Laughing Planet or some other equally kitschy place in Bloomington. It feeds my preppy-hippie soul (and tummy). Yesterday I had a panini made with BBQ tofu, cheddar, coleslaw, and carmelized onions. SO good. They have tables outside overlooking the park and I am looking forward to spending some long afternoons there with a book and/or my laptop. While The Bean is the only full-vegetarian restaurant that I am aware of, a lot of the restaurants downtown have a variety of vegetarian options since there is a large vegetarian population within the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) population.
3. We are in jellyfish season because of the hot water. Standing on the pier looking down into the ocean, you can see jellyfish, jellyfish, jellyfish, everywhere you look. Not just one or two, but dozens within immediate eyesight, flitting about creepily. The beach patrol has warning flags out for dangerous marine life. There were plenty of people still in the water, but that's because they probably hadn't walked out to the pier first. They're having a lot of stinging incidents and so, as much as I LOVE the water, we'll see if I talk myself into getting in anytime soon ;) My sweet boogie board is calling my name though...
4. Not everyone sounds like Paula Deen. In fact, very few do in the city, thank goodness. I thought the accents were going to be overbearing, but in most people they are only slightly detectable.
5. Like Bloomington, biking is encouraged here. There is a really nice bike trail that follows the Islands Expressway all the way through Whitemarsh, Talahi, and Wilmington Islands, almost all the way out to Tybee Island. There are lots of bike paths downtown as well. I'm looking forward to hopping back in the saddle once I've got things settled here and doing some two-wheeled exploring.
6. There is only one Jimmy John's in the entirety of Savannah. For those of you who know about my addiction, this makes me a little sad. However, the one location is only about 15 min. from my house, in the heart of the historic district on one of the little square parks, so it will make a nice little excursion from time to time when I need my fix.
7. A shopping cart is called a buggy?? I'm not sure if everyone says this, but I've heard it twice already since I've been here, so I'm curious.
8. Lifeguarding this summer should have been called Introduction to Georgia Heat 101, because -- really -- the heat and humidity here hasn't been much different. It's HOT and HUMID, but not any different than what I dealt with for several weeks this summer at camp.