St. Augustine Easter Rally, redux

We are visiting St Augustine with WBCCI’s Florida Unit for their Easter Rally. Some of you may recall reading last year’s journal entry (March 20, 2008) on this. Each of the past two years we spent a week or more in this area and welcomed the opportunity to return. Mother Nature and St Augustine have worked together almost perfectly to make this one of our best visits.

Cruise deck on the Matanzas Bay

Cruise deck on the Matanzas Bay

Yesterday we had a wonderful morning on a cruise on Matanzas Bay. We had moderate temperatures, bright sunshine, and light breezes, and were very comfortable sitting on the upper deck in the open air. The crew treated us to an interesting narrative about the coastal sites and some history behind some of the sites.

Today we toured the St Augustine lighthouse and museum, Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth, and Flagler College (formerly the Ponce de Leon Hotel). Again the weather was just right, high sixties, and we were comfortable spending the entire day outside. We did a lot of walking throughout the day.

St Augustine lighthouse, since 1871

St Augustine lighthouse, since 1871

Some things we are visiting for the second or third time because they have enough dimension to warrant it. We continue to notice things we missed on earlier visits around Flagler College, on St George St and Hypolita Street. The lighthouse tour is a new attraction for us, and perhaps the first east coast one we visited. They have done an excellent job restoring it and operating it, and the lighthouse was an informative and very enjoyable visit.

O'Steens, serving incomparable fried shrimp

O'Steens, serving incomparable fried shrimp

After the lighthouse visit we drove to a nearby restaurant we tried last year with Doug & Darlene Knecht, O’Steens. This local restaurant serves the best shrimp we’ve had anywhere. We arranged to arrive before 11:30 a.m., so had no waiting for a table. Our order was prompt and the shrimp was flawless.

Courtyard of former Ponce de Leon Hotel

Courtyard of former Ponce de Leon Hotel

Henry M. Flagler built the incredible Ponce de Leon Hotel in 1887 and it operated until the 1960s. The most striking thing, for us, is the phenomenal level of detail in the finish work. This hotel was one of the very earliest poured concrete structures in the United States and has beautiful terra cotta and brick detailing on the exterior.

Menard's beautiful mural

Menard's beautiful mural

The interior is brimming with hand-carved woodwork, beautiful frescoes and murals, and other wonderful details. Flagler College is doing a great job preserving the buildings and interior, and this represents a fine opportunity to view accommodations for the rich and famous in the nineteenth century.

Resident Pirate lights off the cannon

Resident Pirate lights off the cannon

The Fountain of Youth seemed a bit obligatory, just one of the things you gotta do. Okay, check this one off. We visited the fountain, planetarium, live cannon-firing, and displays of history. The breech-loading cannon demonstration was interesting. The young resident pirate did a very good job explaining how this six-pounder worked, and demonstrating it. He shot six ounces of powder and used spanish moss for wadding (no ball or shot).

We probably should have sampled the Fountain of Youth each of the past two years — we drank the youth-giving waters today and look forward to great results. What if we started two years ago?

You can see all our Easter Rally 2009 pictures here.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s