Tag Archives: Savannah

Ruby Falls and Rock City

 

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Ruby Falls

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Rock City

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday 20 November

It was cold last night, below 40F, even colder than it would be at home! Traffic noise on the road outside wakes us early; best to get even numbered rooms, not odd numbers in this hotel (Holiday Inn Express, Chattanooga).

Another sunny morning and after breakfast we manage to get onto Lookout Mountain early for some photos but sadly, much of the foliage had now dropped after a couple of days of wind but smatterings of red were still visible.

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Colours on Lookout Mountain

 

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Gate to nowhere

Pass the site of a now demolished dwelling although for some reason, someone forgot to undo the gate!

Our first visit today is Ruby Falls, the third of the Combo ticket and we are so glad we got there shortly after it opened as there were numerous school type parties later in the morning despite it being Thanksgiving week when, we understand, schools are out so a bit perplexed as to why there should be school parties.

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Inside Ruby Falls caves

To access the falls we are taken in small groups down in a lift about 600ft, met by our guide, and join up with others already down there.

We are now lead about 2/5ths of a mile along tunnels which are well lit and scattered with stalactites and stalagmites some of which had interesting names such as Donkey, Steak & Potatoes and Elephant’s foot and you can see why.

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Inside Ruby Falls caves

We eventually reach the falls which are well worth the walk.

Lighting on the rocks is timed so we have to get photos in quick before we have to make our way back along the same route to the lift back up to ground level and the observation platforms.

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The Ruby Falls

There is some building work to extend the “reception” area but this did not detract from the experience.

Whilst the guide was good at keeping us all together on the way to the falls, he failed miserably to see if we had all followed him back – we could have stayed with another group had we so wished and he wouldn’t have noticed.

Most of the other groups were of school children though so not sure we would have fitted in.

Drive now to Rock City, park up and join a very long and slow queue at the adjacent Starbucks for a piece of cake and a drink.

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Civil War relic on Incline Mountain

 

Get chatting to a family from Clermont, Florida whose children have some allergies (I overheard what they had ordered), like Harry. They have found it difficult to source dairy free food but the situation has got better in the last few years.

They very kindly provide us with a couple of restaurant names and outlets that are good for allergies including Walmart in Clermont which is good for dairy free items.

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Water wheel in Rock City

Rock City itself is set high up on Look out mountain with lots of boulders that create passageways that all lead to an outcrop with a waterfall and some magnificent views over, it is claimed, 7 States.

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The plaque says it all!

The Rock City complex, it seemed to us, was easy to get into without a ticket but perhaps it was just a bit lapse at the time we were there, as when we left, the entrance was manned.

Once in, we followed one of the three routes available to us which are well signposted, towards the rock outcrop and overhang which I suppose is the main attraction.

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Narrow passages and lots of stairs

Before you get there however there is a maze of passage ways, tunnels and walkways to navigate which would take a long time to walk.

One or two very narrow squeezes between rocks but a lot of stairs which Sal wasn’t too keen on so we missed some of the passageways out.

We go over the stone bridge first for a magnificent view of the 7 states and some great foliage on the slopes below us.

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Rock City Swinging Bridge

Coming back however we do venture on the swinging bridge.

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View of the Viewing platform

We get to the entrance of the crystal cavern but decline to go all the way down – what goes down has to come up again which is not good in Sally’s world.

Christmas is coming and they have a night time light spectacular already in place which takes a bit of an edge off what we are seeing as they are not lit up.

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Ubiquitous Rock City sign

The Rock City very distinctive sign dates back to 1936 when a certain Garnet Carter commissioned a painter to paint an advertising message on the roofs of barns along major roads in the area to entice people to the area as Rock City was “off the beaten track”.

The advertising worked and adorned over 800 locations from Michigan to Texas to Florida and is now a much loved pieces of Americana.

Back to the hotel for a rest and gather together all our belongings – we leave tomorrow – before heading out at rush hour in even worse traffic than yesterday to Hamilton Square for a browse in a couple of shops and a meal in Bonefish. Had we joined their “frequent users” club we could have got tonight’s meal for 50% having been to Bonefish twice already on this trip.

Mental note to join before we come to the US again!

Tuesday 21 November

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39F this morning!

Another cold night but not as windy as it has been.

After breakfast we set off back south to Atlanta airport, arriving somewhat early but thankful for access to the Business class lounge as we have been upgraded to Business on the way back.

Our holiday is nearly over.

Wednesday 22 November

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View from the Delta Lounge at Atlanta

Despite the flat seat, limited sleep is had on the overnight flight and to cap it all, I am awoken by a bang on my knee by the breakfast trolley and Sal’s breakfast order has to be relayed to the stewardess more than once, she was useless. Also, not really impressed with the choice of films; nothing to get excited about.

Wiz through immigration at Heathrow, luggage (3 bags) off quickly and we are landslide at within 30 minutes of landing so head for the arrivals lounge for a freshen up and then bus to meet Flic & Cody at Reading.

Tip: Don’t buy your RailAir bus ticket to Reading at the National Express counter, buy it from the driver it is £3 cheaper, AND, they accept Railcards.

Offload extras at Flic’s, mainly presents and summer clothing and head for Gatwick where we have only a 20kg allowance per bag and have only booked two bags in. One of our bags ends up exactly 20kg, quite an achievement I thought.

Arrival back home in torrential rain, Mel picks us up: it has been like this all day apparently- some roads are flooded.

We missed lots of things that we could have gone to and really didn’t do justice to some of those we did go to during our two days in Chattanooga but it was very enjoyable and to think that in 2 and a half days we:

  1. Had a meal on a train
  2. Visited Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel and station
  3. Went up Incline Railway
  4. Learnt about the Civil War battle for Chattanooga and took in some of the places
  5. Went down into caves to see Ruby Falls
  6. Clambered along narrow passageways to reach a viewing platform at Rock City
  7. Saw many wonderful houses on Lookout Mountain

Well, another holiday is over and we have packed so much into this one, Artists studio in Asheville, Waterfront in Savannah, Lovely houses in Florida, Animals at Animal Kingdom, Segway at Mt Dora, a Helicopter ride over part of Disney, all the things in Chattanooga and of course meeting up with our friends, Laura & Jim, so, here’s to the next holiday.

Our next booked holiday, apart from Christmas in Maidenhead is a cruise in 2019 but I am sure we will manage something next year, we just haven’t booked anything yet.

 

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Savannah

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On checkout at the Crowne Plaza in Asheville, we are not asked anything about our stay, had we been, we would have told them the sorry story about the misappropriated bag, but that will now have to wait until a survey is requested.

So, after our free breakfast, I am so glad we didn’t pay for breakfast it wasn’t really very good (apart for the freshly cooked eggs that is), we headed off SE towards Savannah. Stop a couple of times on the way for fuel for the car and for us and check in to the Holiday Inn Express in the city centre.

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Savannah River from roof top of hotel

Not the cheapest hotel but once again we have hit the marathon season with the event taking place next Sunday but certainly of the three hotels we have stayed in so far on our travels this time in the US, the best.

The staff seemed to enjoy their work, a nice change from many other hotel staff we have encountered.

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Savannah Cotton exchange building

We have an 8th floor large room looking east, the hotel has a swimming pool on the top floor overlooking the whole city and of course breakfast is included.

Whilst Sal has a rest; she still has the virus, I go wandering around the river district, which we hadn’t explored last time when we were here 4 years ago.

Some wonderful architecture such as the Cotton exchange building and some old buildings re-invented as pubs, restaurants and bars with, in some cases, some very steep steps to reach them.

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Re-generation of old warehouses

The cobbles on some of the access roads to the waterfront, we are told later that form the ramps from Bay Street to River street were from Liverpool UK and were used for ballast in the early ships that came here to be filled up with cotton for the journey back.

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outdoor dinner at Vic’s on the River

Dinner tonight out in the open on the walkway in front of the river side of Bay Street at Viv’s on the river.

The building the restaurant is housed in has a history, explained on the back of the menu, completed in and originally used as a warehouse and played it’s part during the Civil War.

During renovation in 1901, lines were found on the wall and a portion of this map has been preserved and is on display in the main dining room.

The map was drawn by Union Soldiers detailing Sherman’s march from Tennessee through Georgia.

The food here was excellent although supplied in far too large quantities. The meatloaf especially can be recommended.

3 November

Sadly, again, we have only factored in one night for our stay but as we don’t need to leave until midday, get a hop on, hop off trolley tour that takes us around the city, starts close to our hotel although we have to change buses at the old station, now a museum.

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Savannah buildings

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Savannah Railway museum

Much of the centre squares are preserved thanks to the efforts of three ladies who were so enraged about some of the old buildings being destroyed and replaced by a monstrosity of a three storey car park in the 1970s style of concrete construction that they formed the preservation society that has seen restoration of many other houses.

Nowadays, Savannah wouldn’t be anything like as attractive as it is without the efforts of the gang of three.

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Pirate house

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This was a real one

Of course we are just past Halloween so it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t see a pumpkin and, yes, this one was real.

We get back to the start of our tour on the water front but stay on so as to get back to nearer the hotel  and avoid the steps but near the end of the tour, we get stuck behind a sewage truck taking sewage from a hotel, we can’t back up without the driver being guided by another employee who is summonsed.

Driver also won’t open doors and let us out as it is not at a recognised stop – which is less than 100 yds away!   Jobsworths, the lot of them.

Despite the delay of about 10 minutes the tour was good but we do have to go. Sarah messages to say the house went through, they are property owners again!

Check out of hotel, parking advertised at $22 but we only get charged $15, bargain and we head off South using this time Interstate roads.plane on I-4

Whilst we have an initial uneventful drive towards Kissimmee we slow to a crawl about 10 miles from Orlando on the I-4 Interstate when we slow to a crawl for about two miles.

A plane had landed on the Interstate, having run out of fuel and people are rubber-necking.

Eventually reach Westgate Towers and manage to check in for Jim & Laura as well as for our 2nd week.

Laura and Jim arrive just after 9:30 pm from their flight to Tampa, surprisingly not showing too much signs outwardly of jet lag.

Two weeks in Florida beckons without going to a Disney Park – whatever shall we do? (well, all will be revealed in the next blogs).