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St. Augustine, FL

Touring the old historic district of St. Augustine, Florida comprised most of our day. Walking the narrow cobblestone streets, crowded with numerous tourists, fulfilled any needs we might have had to commune with other humans. The serenity White Swan has to offer is an oasis.

Cannon shoot from fortress Castillo de San Marcos

We viewed the fort, Castillo De San Marcos, as we walked around it. Construction on this fortress began in 1672 and it was completed many years later. We listened as a colonial garbed docent recited the history of the fortress and then other museum volunteers shot a cannon from the top of the fort. They periodically shoot the cannon throughout the day as they give tours of the old fortress, and the shots can be heard throughout the whole downtown area.

After our walking tour of the fort, we went to the Colonial Spanish Quarter which is a living history museum (similar to Conner Prairie, only much smaller) and experienced a view on life in Spanish St. Augustine in the 1740’s. It was interesting that their porches were always built on the south side of the houses, because it was cooler there, and they had no windows on the north side of their houses, thereby giving their neighbors privacy for their porches. In my opinion, that was pretty clever architecture for houses in close proximity to each other.

Flagler College, formerly the Ponce de Leon Hotel

We went to the former Ponce de Leon Hotel, which is now Flagler College. Built in 1888, this beautifully restored hotel building of Spanish Renaissance architecture now serves as the college offices, cafeteria, and girls dormitory. We watched a video of the history of this building and of Mr. Henry Flagler who built it and other hotels, as well as the railroads needed to get guests to these hotels in the state of Florida. Mr. Flagler was born in poverty and through his own ingenuity and ambitions, he became a very wealthy man. After his first wife died at an early age, he humbly testified that wealth is not the most important thing in this life when “the Higher Power calls“. It was then that he realized his work was also benefiting others with jobs and a source of income, and that was important to him. As he built his own empire, he helped others along the way. And now the college is named after him to pay him the honor and respect he deserves. As you can tell, I was moved by the life story of this man. I love it when people see beyond themselves and “get it” that each person’s life encompasses “everyone”.

Sculpture, chandaliers and mosaic tile floor in lobby of Lightner Museum, formerly the Alcazar Hotel

We also went into the lobbies of the Lightner Museum, formerly the Alcazar Hotel which was also built by Henry Flagler, and the Casa Monica Hotel just to see their ornate lobbies with crystal chandeliers, sculptures, glistening mosaic tiled floors and courtyards with fountains and palm trees.

In our conversations with some of the locals, we found out which chocolatier made the best chocolates in town. We had to make a stop at “Claudes” for “the best” chocolates, and we were not disappointed.

Before leaving the historic district, we visited the National Greek Orthodox Shrine.  We enjoyed this historic city very much, and will probably revisit it.

One Comment

  1. elea nninsossrE.Bondurant says:

    I saw your pictures

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