Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Hot Day in St. Augustine, Florida

When we left to go to Savannah in January, the customs agent at the border in Houlton said "Make sure you go to St. Augustine!" We've been thinking of somewhere to go next year, so we decided a day trip to St. Augustine was a good place to start. It's about 3 hours from Savannah.

Holy Hannah! It wasn't even noon and it was 26 degrees. It was going to be a hot one!

Hmmm...Daytona Beach. What about that 500? It's on Feb. 24 this year, so with a little planning, we could get there for next year's race. A new goal!

Cracker Barrel, not just an Old Country Store, but a restaurant with THE best biscuits ever.

It's 28 degrees and we haven't arrived yet.

St. Augustine was founded in 1565 by Spanish explorer and admiral, Pedro Menendez de Aviles. The population is around 12,000 and it is the oldest European settled area in the US.

We decided to take a trolley tour, a great way to get around on a hot day and also to learn some of the city's history.

The tour started at the Old Jail. This was starting to look pretty touristy...

OK...maybe a lot touristy!

When you're a tourist, act like a tourist!

I like the big sheriff. Makes a girl feel smaller!

No problem!

These guys didn't have it so good. It must be very hot in the summer.

These are collard greens, a very popular vegetable in the south. There aren't that good on their own, but with some seasonings and butter, they can be pretty tasty.

You could tour the general store, but we passed on that one.

And we're off on our tour going past the old drugstore. It's authentic, in case you were wondering!

Modern day St. Augustine can be attributed mostly to one man, Henry Flagler. He was the co-founder of Standard Oil with John D. Rockefeller, and also built the Florida East Coast Railway. He was a key figure in the development of Florida.

Grace Methodist Church, built by Henry Flagler in 1886-1887.

This is Memorial Presbyterian Church, built in 1889 by Henry Flagler in memory of his daughter who died that year.

This is Flagler College (are you sensing a theme here?). This building was originally the Ponce de Leon Hotel, built by Henry Flagler in 1888.

The Lightner Museum was once the Hotel Alcazar, commissioned in 1887 guessed it...Henry Flagler. It was an amazing hotel, once boasting the world's largest indoor swimming pool.

The Visitor Information Center...

Part of the Cathedral Basilica...

I don't know what this house is, but I liked it. Probably built by Henry Flagler!

This is the Gonzalez-Alvarez House, the oldest house in St. Augustine. The title dates back to the 16th century.

These are the original gates to the old city, which now have very modern houses behind them.

This was originally the winter home of millionaire William Warden. Named Castle Warden, it later became a hotel owned by Norton Baskin and his Pulitzer Prize winning wife, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. Robert Ripley was a frequent visitor to the hotel, and tried several times to purchase the property believing it would be a perfect place to showcase his collection of unbelievable curiosities. It was only after Ripley's death that his heirs were able to purchase the property, and it is currently St. Augustine's Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum.

The tour ended and we drove back to some of the sites that we hadn't really seen from our spot on the trolley.

Construction of this fort, Castillo de San Marcos, was begun in 1672 more than 100 years after St. Augustine was founded. The British gained control of Florida in 1763 and then it once again belonged to Spain before being ceded to the US in 1821.

This marks the spot of the first shrine in the US devoted to Mary, Mother of God, in the early 1600s.

Thousands of visitors and pilgrims make their way to the Shrine each year.

The cross is made of stainless steel and is 208 feet tall. It was erected in 1966. Four hundred years before a small wooden cross had been placed in the soil by Pedro Menendez de Aviles.

This tree is called a bottlebrush tree. Yup, well named!

We enjoyed our day in St. Augustine. I would love to go back for a weekend, but don't see it as a place where we would spend two months next year.

We headed home passing more marshes. It is amazing how much of Florida and Georgia is marshland.

Whoa! 30 degrees on January 30!

Heading back over the Talmadge Bridge. We're almost home again!

This pretty much sums it up!

It was a hot one but a great day in Florida...