Monday, September 1, 2014

St Augustine - such a marvellous place

St Augustine is a beautiful town and is the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the US.  It has some great history from the Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez de Avilés occupation in the 1500s when St Augustine became the capital of Spanish Florida.  In the 1700 the Treaty of Paris Spain gave Britain St Augustine in exchange for Havana – not sure if Britain got the best deal.  There is a great Fort which has been occupied by the different nationalities that have held St Augustine, we visited Castillo de San Marcos which was interesting by also it was well over 30 degrees we didn’t stay too long.

The town more recently was also heavily influenced by Henry Flagler who was a wealthy American business man in the 1800s, his vision was to turn St Augustine into a wealthy winter resort.  He built some very impressive hotels which opened in the 1800, the Ponce De Leon hotel was beautiful then and is still just as marvellous with lots of original features including Tiffany stained glass windows and Tiffany design dining room chairs, the hotel actually had electric before the Whitehouse.  The building is now a College, I can hardly believe that students are allowed to occupy this beautiful building but good news for us is that the students also do very cheap and extremely interesting tours of the building as otherwise you can only gain access to the exterior and the entrance hall but with the tour you get to see the dinning room and the ladies lounge.

Ponce De Leon
Ponce De Leon gardens
Ponce De Leon dining room -chair and stainglass windows by Tiffany
Tiffany stain glass windows
Loving the windows and decorative ceilings

More windows
Chandelier in Tiffany room  - note the Tiffany colour ceiling which were changed during restoration
Tiffany room
Amazing Eddison clock, electric before the Whitehouse
Amazing ceiling in the entrance hall
The Alcazar hotel was also developed by Flaglar this is now a gallery with a few touristy shops and café, is was having some restoration whilst we were there but it still look very impressive.

Alcazar hotel
Courtyard of Alcazar hotel - Mark on bridge
Alcazar hotel - this room was a swimming pool in 1800s
Also really interesting St Augustine placed a pivotal role in the Civil rights movement in the 1960s with various peaceful protests during this time and Martin Luther King even spent time here.

You can understand why this place gets so busy in the autumn with the cruising community moving south with its history, cobbled streets, lovely little shops including some great chocolate shops.  Glad we had a chance to stop here, we even almost relaxed but with hurricane Bertha forming out in the Atlantic there was still pressure looming over us BUT we almost had made a decision on what we would do next.

Schoolhouse many years ago
City gates
Casa Monica - another Flagler hotel
Look at lovely little turtle in the harbour
Magnum moored in St Augustine