Saturday, December 27, 2014

FLORIDA: St. Augustine in 20 hours | Part 2

You can see Part One of our St. Augustine Trip here. Here we continue with a day full of visiting notable landmarks and historical areas. 

Castillo de San Marcos
On the morning of our second day we decided to visit the second most visited landmark in the area. It is known to be the oldest fort in the continental US and was also used in WWII for military purpose along the coast. Located within seeing distance from the Bridge of Lyons, the fort is a brisk walk from downtown St. Augustine along with many other tourist attractions. We were able to witness a recreation of a canon firing and explore the grounds.

Mission Nombre de Dios / Shrine of Lady of La Leche
Founded in 1565, the Mission is known to be the oldest in the US. As you can see we are running through quite a trend (wow this is an old building). Well that's what happens when you are in the oldest city in the country. The mission is also known to have one of the largest crosses at 204 feet high. The Shrine sits within a cemetery, and the outside is overgrown with ivy. It's a really beautiful and tranquil place.

Les Petits Pleasures
On our walk back from the mission we decided that we needed nourishment and came across an adorable french cafe. We decided to go for traditional crepes and sandwiches but were most excited for what came after. Since neither of us have ever tried macarons, we decided this would be the perfect opportunity. The crepes were certainly delicious and the macarons were even better.

Fountain of Youth
Holy tourist hole of epic proportions, Batman! So the Fountain of Youth, founded supposedly when Ponce De Leon landed here in 1513 is an archaeological park that contains the original freshwater spring as well as many other extremely outdated tourist attractions such as indian burial grounds and a planetarium. We mostly stuck to just walking around the area and of course tasting the room temperature water of the fountain. The grounds are quite beautiful, and there are some pretty social peacocks roaming about the property. It's a quick visit, if you opt out of the planetarium and other outdated areas.

Wolfs Museum of Mystery
So this is definitely one of those Weird USA destinations that needs to be seen and its right in the middle of downtown St. Augustine surrounded by bars and tourist traps. For $5 you get to walk into this house full of oddities, serial killer memorabilia and art. If you enjoy horror films, or just have a morbid curiosity, this is a great stop. Each room is themed, and will likely be updated since our visit.

Memorial Presbyterian Church
As we both love religious findings and architecture, we decided to check out this church that was built by Henry Morrison Flagler in 1889. It was also nice to get to shelter as the summer sun and heat of Florida can sometimes be quite unbearable. The structure is a worthwhile stop, especially if you like to photograph architecture.

Overall, I'd say our trip to St. Augustine was a successful one, although brief. There is a lot to see, but most of it can be accessed on foot, as the city is rather small. A great place for a weekend trip.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

FLORIDA: St. Augustine in 20 hours | Part 1

It seems awfully fitting to begin this blog with the nation's oldest city - St. Augustine. Our trip to this old city was an impulsive one, fueled by a little extra money and a weekend off. We utilized our phones to create a rough guideline of destinations we wanted to see on the way to the city. Despite the lack of planning, St. Augustine is easily one of our favorite Florida destinations.

Flagler College
Built in 1888 as a luxury hotel, Flagler college was built for Henry Morrison Flagler who was an industrialist and railroad pioneer. Although the hotel was restored and transformed, the luxury element is still in tact; walking into the courtyard of Ponce De Leon Hall, you can feel the scope that the hotel once had catering to the rich socialites of its day. Beautiful architecture of the courtyard leads you into the main lobby of the school which almost looks like a modern day Hogwarts (of Harry Potter fame, of course). The surrounding area of the schools campus plays host to various tourist attractions and locales which we unfortunately did not have time to see. Regardless, the architecture was impressive and it was a worthwhile stop.

Bridge at Lions during Sunset
As we walked along the streets, away from Flagler College we come across various locale and many tourists walking along a hot summer sidewalk in search of their next adventure (or drink). The Bridge of Lions connects downtown St. Augustine with Anastasia Island, spanning the Intracoastal. It's an enjoyable walk with the right weather, giving you a clear view of the Intracoastal and the small city's landscape. Florida has beautiful sunsets, and this is a great location to view one.

The Floridian
We chose the Floridian for dinner, based on the fact that it had great reviews on Yelp and vegetarian options. We were not disappointed. As soon as we entered we were greeted unfortunately with a long wait for a table. However, because we love our adult beverages we ventured into the back for a cocktail. After only a short wait we were shown our seats at the front of the house. We ordered a cheap bottle of wine (we love cheap wine) and placed our orders. Kaili had The Tom Kha with tofu - a rich, curry style dish, with notes of thai basil and lemongrass - full of vegetables, soaked in a coconut broth and served over jasmine rice. Josh had the Cornbread Stack,  a Cheddar and veggie-stuffed cornbread, topped with blackened fish and pickled veggies complimented with a chili-cumin ailoli sauce. We would highly recommend this place. 

After dinner, we walked through the small, but beautiful, city. Much of the historical architecture is in place - old homes converted into cute new restaurants or bed & breakfasts. The stringed lights along the buildings glow against the Spanish moss that hangs from the trees; the city sounds blend with the sound of cicadas, and the city seems almost magical, a truly timeless place.

You can see Part Two here.

You can read our other entries about Florida here