Surrounded By History

 Posted by at 12:33 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 292016

We spent yesterday surrounded by history in one of our favorite cities in the whole country, St. Augustine, Florida. If you have never visited the oldest continuously occupied European-established city in America, you really need to do yourself a favor and plan a trip there. But I’m warning you in advance, one visit will never be enough. This beautiful old city will steal a piece of your heart and draw you back time and again.

The centerpiece of the old downtown area is the massive Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States. Construction began on the fort in 1672, and the flags of Spain, Great Britain, the United States, the Confederate States of America, and once again the United States have flown over her walls. And through all those years, the fort never was defeated in battle or captured by an enemy force. Today it is a National Monument and a popular tourist attraction, drawing visitors from around the world.


Back in the battle days, everybody from Indians on the warpath to the British and French attacked St. Augustine, as did pirates. One popular stop, across the road from the Castillo de San Marcos, is the Pirate & Treasure Museum. Can you say aargh?


Nearby is historic St. George Street, now a pedestrian only thoroughfare lined with centuries-old buildings that house boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, and interesting shops. Just walking through here you can feel the history surrounding you every step of the way.




We stopped at one of Miss Terry’s favorite places, the Vino Del Grotto Winery. They have a tasting room on the second floor, where they sell not only wine, but also a large selection of olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Terry was looking for blood orange balsamic vinegar, which is apparently one of the few flavors they don’t stock. But she sampled several others anyway.


After we left the winery we stopped in some other stores and shops, including one which sells reproductions of old uniforms, swords, and other accessories that are used by folks who are into historical reenactments. They have everything from muskets all the way down to smoking pipes, buttons, and all kinds of fabrics that replicate early day patterns.

Not everything was old in Old Town. How can a guy walk by a shop with this sign out front and not stop in?


Inside, they had everything from a very nice selection of remote controlled drones to knives, swords, and other guy stuff. Yep, big boy toys.


Of course there’s a lot more to see in St. Augustine besides the old fort and Old Town, and the best way to see it all is on a trolley tour. We took one with Old Town Trolley’s a couple of years ago when we were visiting, and it’s a great introduction to the city. You can get on and off at different stops along the way, and the tour guides are excellent, pointing out things that most visitors will never even know about.


The sky had been dark and thunder had been rumbling for quite a while, and a few sprinkles were hitting us, but that was okay, we hung in there until the lightning started coming down. I don’t do lightning, so we retreated back to our Explorer and said goodbye to St. Augustine. But that’s okay, we know we’ll be back many more times.

Going home, we took the slow route, Highway A1A, which parallels the ocean all the way back to Daytona Beach. It’s not nearly as fast as Interstate 95, but you can’t beat the views of the ocean and the million dollar condos long way.

By the time we got back to town we were both hungry, so Terry indulged me by letting me take her to Hibachi Grill Supreme, an excellent Chinese buffet that we really enjoy. The perfect end to the perfect day, just hanging out with my sweetie, surrounded by history

It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Capitol Offense, the second book in my pal George Wier’s Bill Travis mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Capitol Offense cover

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Nick Russell

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  One Response to “Surrounded By History”

  1. Thanks for the great tour of St. Augustine. FYI … I think its claim to oldest only applies to the USA, not the Americas. I live near Guadalajara, Mexico which was founded in 1542. The Catholic cathedral was built in 1541.

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