Cruisers on the Town – January 12, 2013

It was a bustling day in St. Augustine and Brian, Matt, Jessica and I had planned to be part of the action! We went first to a farmers market held at the Anastasia Island Amphitheater.

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We found various artisans and of course fresh produce, meat, eggs, and honey. We chatted with several booths. At a dip booth we sampled nearly every dip as we chatted. At a shark tooth jewelry booth we learned how to distinguish different types of sharks by differences in the teeth. We listened to music by the Dune Hoppers.

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Brian and I are both garlic lovers and couldn’t pass the Artisan Black Garlic booth without pausing for a sample. The master chef of these garlic infused vinegars was very animated. He provided enticing introductions to each sample loaded with adjectives such as “sparkles” and “dances” to describe the flavor sensations we’d experience. Brian, Jessica, and I even encouraged other passers-by to stop for a taste. We were quickly becoming acquainted with the chef and so he pulled out his very unique family photo album. He and his family comprised the Silver Condors (the link I’ve provided has some of the photos we saw); a team of High Wire, Trapeze, and Double Sway Bar acrobats. Fascinating! He then flipped through to show us the photo of his setting a new pole vault record during competition. “We pole vaulted too,” we exclaimed. We’d hit the mark, his face lit up and we got to swapping vaulting stories. He was most impressed to meet a woman vaulter in person, as this was unheard of during his vaulting days. Such fun!

We walked back to St. Augustine from Anastasia Island. We had a beautiful view of the mooring field and the Castillo de san Marcos fort from atop the Bridge of Lions.

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There was a brief stop at Rode Trip for refreshments and a tour of the newly remodeled engine. Jessica missed Rode Trip so much she hugged the boom! We shared Rickard’s Cider while Matt and Jess enjoyed being on a boat in the water once again.

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Now for the day’s BIG event…dun da da! Welcome to Hotel Ponce de Leon.

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The hotel is celebrating it’s 125th year since the grand opening in 1888. The hotel was built by Henry Flagler who thought the charm of St. Augustine would be just the place for a luxury hotel that would attract high society guests escaping the Northern cold. He spared no expense. It took 2-years to complete the hotel with 300-400 workmen on site. The magnificent building has held many roles throughout the years including a training location for the Coast Guard during World War II. In 1968 the building was sold and became Flagler College.
Entry dome, viewed from the second floor.

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Stairway view.

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Mirror in what was once the Barber Shop in the Gentleman’s Lounge. The lounge currently houses college offices and a board room.

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The Women’s Lounge. The three-seater couch you see in the foreground of this photo was used for dating; one seat provided for the gentleman, the lady, and the chaperone. No touching!

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The Dining Room. There are 79 stained glass windows in the hotel by Tiffany Glass Co., many of which light the dining room.

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Silver place settings.

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We needed a snack after our tour, the perfect moment to try French Fry Heaven. And it was glorious!

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Then, off to the Memorial Presbyterian Church. Henry Flagler had this church constructed in memory of his daughter and granddaughter, both passed away during the granddaughter’s birth. Henry Flagler’s tomb rests here with his first wife, daughter, and granddaughter. Again, he spared no expense! The church is well preserved and has a very active congregation.

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We had prime seats when the bell was sounded, signaling the end of a long and wonderful day.

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