At the bottom of a short, steep, switch-backing trail was no dry-as-dust canyon bottom, but rather a thick grove of palm trees and a quiet blue pond that looked like a tropical island that had been somehow misplaced in the surrounding desolation. With each step down, the air seemed to lose a degree or two until, when we’d finally reached the bottom, it must have been 15 degrees cooler than where we’d been just three minutes before!
The spirit of Christmas in Strasbourg begins as you leave the railway station and cross the road on the way to the city center. The smells of hot mulled wine (vin chaud) and hot chocolate drift into the air from a small number of decorated cabins selling gifts and food.
With or without the help of Hollywood, Savannah still spins the kind of ambiance you can’t buy; it has to have been earned through centuries of historic realities. Cobblestone streets and walkways lead past elegant mansions and streets cloaked in Spanish moss. The waterfront commercial district is accessed by steep concrete steps amid ancient walls that must surely have echoed the cannon fire of both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.
Alighting from the little train — originally in use when the mines were being worked — you are on the level of the middle tier. The trampoline above is accessed via a netting tunnel through which, by small footholds, rope handles, and sheer physical strength and determination, you haul yourself up to the next level. Getting down to the lower levels is far easier. You simply throw yourself into a hole and slide down a chute, the longest of which is about 60 feet.
The historic building now serves as a free museum showcasing presses, type set cases, printing equipment, and furnishings from an era dating back more than 125 years. Visitors can watch a free video on printing in the 1880s. Numerous exhibits and photographs chronicle the fascinating life of John Clum, the founder and original publisher of The Tombstone Epitaph.