Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Two hundred and twenty five years ago, on September 8, 1565, Don Pedro Menéndez de Aviles announced the birth of a new city, St. Augustine. What a life it has had! It has recovered from hurricanes, wars, plagues and countless pirate raids to become our nation’s oldest continuously inhabited city. St. Augustine is the first city in America to celebrate 450 years of unbroken history! With that, there are places to visit all over the city. We arrive too late in the month for the celebration – landing re-enactment, the Celebration of Mass and 16th Century Cooking Contest.
The Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States. It’s a national monument and was de-activated in 1933. There’s so much history there that I was really looking forward to exploring it and attending the cannon firing. But, it’s been steadily sprinkling all morning, so the Castillo de San Marcos is crossed off. If I fall in the slippery ruins, it could be my ruin, so we decide to visit the Pirate Museum. We come in, pay for discounted tickets and then decide to eat lunch before going through. The attendant gives us the museum’s crossed bones & skull stickers and says they are our 10% discount at a couple of nearby restaurants. We wander around the shops. (One even had alligator jerky!) After lunch, we make our way past quaint shops back to the museum. It looks like any other attraction, but it’s not. Yes, there are fun things for the kids to do such as lighting cannons that go “Boom!”, looking for hidden caches using a “treasure map” and listening to ghost stories in the dark! But, there really IS treasure to be found. Local archaeologists have unearthed numerous artifacts that are displayed. Explorations under the seas have brought up even more pirate booty. You can touch a 400 year-old metal trunk, the world’s only surviving pirate treasure chest! You can view one of only TWO known true pirate flags. There is even a chance to lift up a real, solid gold bar recovered from the Santa Margarita, a Spanish ship that sank around 1622! Every piece that makes a historical claim has been authenticated. I think it’s a pretty cool way to make history come alive for the young and not so young.
Good-bye, Florida! Loved our stay in your sunny state!
We arrive in Savannah just in time to enjoy the manager’s reception. The Fairfield Inn is competing with many other, newer properties and I think this is a great way to welcome guests. There’s cream of potato soup, cheese & crackers, Caesar Salad, cheesy nachos, and Miss Beverly’s specialty, deviled eggs! We then head out with a map to see what sights we may want to visit tomorrow. We check some out and wind up following a ghost tour bus a block or two as an eerie voice spilled out into the quiet night, describing chilling events. We go down another street and see a horse drawn carriage clip clopping along as the driver points out an area of interest to her passenger. We pass through silent streets, alongside trees laden with Spanish moss. Lonnie says that growing up, they called it Witch’s Hair. O-o-o-o-w, time for a break! I mention a local vegan cafe. Lonnie, with a pained expression, says, “My stomach’s starting to hurt just thinking about it.” I give up getting him to go meatless. We stop by a local coffee shop, then decide to get dessert elsewhere. Found “Local” through Yelp. It has a rich, young ambiance and a wonderfully secluded rooftop lounge called the “Perch.” At night, it’s the perfect hideaway for unwinding from a busy day or enjoying quiet conversations.