St. Augustine has some of the most beautiful architecture for a small city, all because of multi-billionaire Henry Flagler. Flagler College and the whole city here has lovely architecture in the Spanish style.
Allen and I have spent almost a week here, having a fun time exploring, sightseeing, eating out sometimes, and walking, walking walking. It's been rainy as can be, but one day was fine with no rain, but that does not deter the egrets, pelicans, and ibis from fishing for their breakfast on the marina's docks. In fact, these sea birds do not budge whenever someone walks by because they are determined to catch the little fish and shrimp that live in the marina.
There is so much to do and see in St. Augustine once you understand that most of us learned our history from an English point of view, i.e. we learn about Jamestown in 1607 and the Pilgrims in 1620, but St. Aug was settled by the Spanish in 1565. Yes, 42 years before Jamestown!!!
That the city had five flags over the centuries--twice by the Spanish, one by the British, the French, and the Americans... makes "ownership" confusing, but remnants of the Spanish are very strong and have survived the centujries and the fighting over Florida. The Castillo de San Marcos is the greatest remnant that the Spanish were here and were successful for a while. People in the city fled to safety inside the fort's thick walls of conquina (a strong sedementary rock mixture of sand, shells, and other materials) that twice resisted the almost relentless British attacks. While the townsfolk were in the fort, the Brits burned the entire city, twice. Because the Castillo still stands whole for the most part, the National Park Service has made it into a great historical field trip for school kids and tourists alike.
In the evening, the city actually lights up everywhere--a lovely sight to see. Allen and I went to a free music concert which only cost us a wonderful gingerbeer and vodka drink. People are everywhere enjoying the food and all the shops that are open very late. Street singers and musicians are scattered throughout the tourist areas.
Today we went to a neat museum and took an audio tour. The former owner of the house, now museum, was Franklin Smith who was also a wealthy dude like Flagler who built in an ostentatious Spanish style, but this time, the museum was built to look like the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. We enjoyed the 18th and 19th Century artifacts and the Moorish ornate style of the furniture and architecture and artifacts. Truly interesting, especially when I saw a table much like one I have at home. I know it's from the 1830s, but it was a cool museum to visit.
Two of the coolest items were the famous Cat Rug made of all cats hair that was 2400 years old and a prehistoric fire extinguisher that both Allen and I had never seen or heard of before. Interesting day! We topped it off with a wonderful lunch at the exclusive Columbia Spanish restaurant with tapas of crab croquettes, chicken rolls, Cuban bread, empanades, and pequillos--all delicious and went very well with an entire bottle of fruit-filled sangria!