Monday, May 23, 2016

So. We went on a road trip and... (Part 2)

...visited St. Augustine, Florida.

Our first stop in St. Augustine was to the newest visitors' center on the main drag where we learned they ran an Old Town Trolley that toured the --well--Old Town. We paid for a three day ticket and hopped the free shuttle over to the trolley depot near the Old Jail. There we were "incarcerated" for a brief while as a trustee showed us the ropes. But we got paroled.
Terry with the Big Man. The "trustee" can be seen lounging on the porch in the rear.

Me with the Big Man.
Terry was taken by this old sewing machine in the sheriff's living quarters.
Then we boarded the trolley for a 1-1/2 hour tour of the city. The plan was to use our tour to pick the places we would visit on day two. Lord! There are a lot of places to see!

Old Town Trolley picks up and drops off at some 25 different locations. But these guys are out of luck.

This is the oldest city in the US having been established back in 1565 by Pedro Menéndez but visited as early as 1513 when Ponce de Leon came in search of the Fountain of Youth and gold for the Spanish treasury.

A partial reconstruction of the earliest palisades made with palm logs.
Restored city gates.
View of The Castillo de San Marcos (estb. 1672)
 In the late 1800s St. Augustine became THE place to winter for some of the wealthiest people in the US. The primary promoter of this destination was one Henry Morrison Flagler who was then perhaps the second richest man in the US behind his good friend John D. Rockefeller. It was Flagler's vision to cater to the rich and famous of the day and he hired world renowned architects to build some luxury hotels for that purpose. Today those hotels are the core of Flagler College, established in 1968.

Statue of Flagler at the entrance to the college.

Ponce de Leon Hotel is now the core of the college.

More of the Ponce de Leon's magnificent architecture.
There's more to see and do in St. Augustine, of course. Besides the trolley, you can take a horse drawn carriage tour or a boat tour of the bay if you'd prefer.
Carriages await fares.
You could rub shoulders and have your picture taken with many famous people at Potter's Wax Museum--"Where great minds mingle."

You could visit the first permanent home of Ripley's artifacts. (It's in one of the many former hotels that attempted to compete with Flagler's. There are a few that tried but failed because Flagler was both an astute businessman and a right old bastard. He controlled the railroad that came into town and the warehouses in Jacksonville that were to supply those rival hotels.)
You could stroll the pedestrian mall in the old town section where you can walk among some of the older buildings like the Oldest (remaining) Wooden Schoolhouse in the US while shopping for a snack or souvenir.
There's the old Spanish muster site with it's walls encrusted with seashells on the outside like an early day razor wire fence for those attempting to invade.
 Or search for eternal youth as Ponce de Leon did. (Beware, it's pricey to even look! If old Ponce had been a better business man, he could have made a fortune by marketing the waters from the spring here.)

Or, like we did on day two, you can visit the new St. Augustine Distillery and the Winery for a free tour and tasting at each. The former specializes in potables made from sugarcane, vodka, gin and rum. Their bourbon had not yet aged enough to be released to the public. Darn it! (We did purchase some vodka and rum, however.)
We drove north of the city both nights to eat at some very fine restaurants and Terry even walked down to the beach to dip her toes into the Atlantic. (She said it was chilly.)
Having left much unexplored (for a future visit?), we headed out toward Weeki Wachee just north of Tampa-St. Pete to visit some folks from my side of the family.

But that will have to wait for Part Three.

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