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American Orient Express

United States - Deluxe Rail Journeys On Americas Premier Train

By Carl Morrison,

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Savannah, Georgia

"Garden City"

(My title:  City of Tour Busses and Restaurant Lines)

Our "Land Cruising" adventure on the American Orient Express began in Savannah, Georgia, on March 29, 2006.  Travel time from the west coast requires an overnight stay before boarding the train, giving us time to explore.  Carole Walker made reservations for us in the Historic District of Savannah (a $30 taxi ride for two from the airport). 
Bella Vista Travel
 4012 Katella
Los Alamitos CA 90720
 714 952-2719
(562) 594-6771

Carole specializes in making train travel reservations and has traveled on the American Orient Express on this same tour, so her input was experience based.  She found us a hotel within walking distance of the Savannah River waterfront and its antique shops and restaurants.  We had time, after arriving, to have dinner in the Historic District.  Our hotel was within a few blocks of the River Street Inn where we met March 30 for our orientation meeting with AOE and transportation to the Savannah Amtrak Station where we would first see the train.  Before the orientation meeting, I had time to walk the Historic District, visit the CVS Pharmacy (to purchase items I'd forgotten to pack), and make reservations at Paula Deen's,  The Lady & Sons,  102 W. Congress Street, (912) 233-2600, for lunch before the meeting.  Not wanting to drag our suitcases 4 or 5 blocks to the meeting, our cab ride was only $3.90 plus tip.

Antebellum South Sights in Savannah

AOE 'Savannah' Sleeper in Savannah, GA, Station
Three Amtrak trains through Savannah Station Daily

Savannah, GA, Amtrak Station interior.

Mosaic outside Savannah, GA, Amtrak Station

Evening in Savannah Historic Riverfront District

"X" hardware for earthquake strengthening.
Wrought iron, Spanish Moss, Azaleas, it must be Savannah, Georgia!

Paula Deen's Lady & Sons Restaurant, 3 stories of dining and sold out every meal.



Savannah is a stop for trains between New York and Miami including Silver Meteor (97/98) (above) and Silver Star (91/92).  The Palmetto (89/90) leaves Savannah at 7 a.m. for Boston.

Silver Meteor passengers enjoyed an early morning look at the American Orient Express in Savannah Station.
AOE was stable in Savannah one night, adjacent to the CSX mainline.  Many freights passed during the night and the following day.

Our Tales of the South guide, Ashley.
Ashley (left), of Tales of the South, showed us the sights in Savannah, including Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (above).
Owens-Thomas House

Sylvia Shaw Judson's Bird Girl (above right), known for its appearance on the dust jacket of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Linda of Tales of the South
The real Mandy in the book.
"If you can't hide it, decorate it."
Mrs. Wilkes (above) of restaurant fame, had dessert for us in her home.  She's serving bananna pudding above.
Between lunch and dessert, we walked through Forsyth Park and enjoyed its beautiful fountain.

Our last stop was at Wormsloe.  400 Live Oaks were planted along the 1.5 mile grand entrance in the 1890s.

After a full day of touring Savannah, we pulled out for our first ride on the AOE as we made our way to Charleston, SC.

To find the rail fans on a trip like this, go to the open vestibules.  I found the Purl's from California as interested in our first ride as I was.
We pulled across the first of the double-track mainline, and headed north on the second.
Sunset and the end of our first day on the AOE.  Open vestibule travel allows for better photos of passing scenery than on Amtrak trains.  We soon reached 72+ mph and were in Charleston in less than 3 hours.

Savannah, Georgia, sure lived up to AOE's itinerary description:

Regarded as "the belle of the South," the port city of Savannah exemplifies antebellum grandeur from its planned public squares and ornate architectural details, to the sprawling live oaks draped with Spanish moss.  A local guide escorts us through historic Bonaventure Cemetery, the final resting place for both the famous and not so famous.  We visit the Owen Thomas house, an in-town home bujilt in the Regency Style with a beautiful English-inspired par-terre garden.  We enjoy mint juleps on the veranda before beginning our progressive southern-style lunch in the private home of Dr. Metts, the county coroner made infamous through the best-selling "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil."  We return to the train and begin our journey through the Old South.  (B, L, D)

[ Top of this Page | Dining | Factsheet | Rolling Stock | History | Golden Age of Rail | Savannah | Charleston | Richmond (Williamsburg and Monticello) | Staff  Photos | Notes and Photos ]

American Orient Express website

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