Monday, March 28, 2011

St. Augustine

We are in St. Augustine this week.  Day 1 started off our visit at the downtown visitors center, then out the back door for a visit to St. George Street.  We visited a Greek Orthodox Shrine, which was very interesting and gorgeous.  We saw the oldest schoolhouse in America and visited some shops.  Lots of tourist gifts and overpriced food.  We then walked a few blocks over to the Castillo de San Marcos, a fort built by the Spanish to protect the St. Augustine harbor from any invaders, mostly the British.


The next day we started off on the right foot by going to a wine tasting at San Sebastian Winery. We tasted until Deb got a bit dizzy.  We purchased two bottles of wine.  We then went a few blocks down the street to Villa Zorayda.  This is a reproduction of the famous villa in Alhambra, Spain.  This place was amazing.  The owner purchased furniture and art from Europe and Asia.  We wish that we could show you, but no photos were allowed. We then went to St. Augustine beach for a picnic.  The breeze was great and the temperature was about 80.

Day 3 was a visit to the Fountain of Youth.  Spain's explorer, Juan Ponce de Leon came here to St. Augustine and claimed the entire area for Spain.  He named the entire continent La Florida.  From Florida to California, Canada, to Alaska, this was all originally called Florida!  We had the opportunity to drink from the spring, known as the Fountain of Youth.  I had 1 small cup, while Debbie had 2 large drinks!  This place was interesting.  On the grounds is a planetarium.  We learned how the explorers used the stars to find their way here.  Next was the Discovery Globe, the largest globe in the U.S.  We got to trace all of the routes from Spain, Portugal, and other European countries to the new world.  Then we joined an archaeologist to learn about the finding of the oldest cemetery in the U.S., that of the Timicuan Indians in St. Augustine. The gravesite was authenticated by a Florida State dig in 1995.  We then learned about the 6 pound cannons on the property and got to see and hear one fired.  We were pooped from all of the walking, so we went back to the RV for dinner.

The next day, after a late stop and a visit to McDonald's, we went to Fort Matanzas National Monument, which is well south of St. Augustine.  We took a pontoon boat to the fort on Rattlesnake Island.  This small Spanish fort guarded the inter coastal waterway from any ships coming upstream towards St. Augustine.  We climbed to the top, through a very small opening.  We heard all about the history of this fort from a docent, dressed as a Spanish soldier. 

We've been busy.  Today we went to Marineland and saw the dolphins perform.  We listened and learned all about the dolphins.  Did you know that they have 88 teeth but don't chew their food.  They swallow them whole. They also don't drink water, as they get all their water through the 15-50 pounds of food that they eat every day.  Finally, we DID NOT join many other visitors in the pool to interact and feed the dolphins, as the cost was $199.00 each!  We picnicked nearby and headed back to the RV as it started to rain.  We had a great time in St. Augustine.


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