That's the best way to describe this city! DH and I have been wanting to visit awhile now and finally decided as a day after birthday gift, we would go. We're only two hours from there and we took a little cash with us and headed out. I am surprised that being a native of Florida, the closest I've ever been to St. Augustine has been playing volleyball at the beach there once. DH was there once when he ws 16. So this was a great trip for us.
We didn't get to see all of the city but we'll go back eventually. I have to tell you that if you haven't been there you should go. It is the oldest city in the nation, founded in 1565 by the Spanish. The fort Castillo is awesome, build of coquina, with ten foot thick walls and walkign down inside it is such a passage back in time. It's not been altered either! We were fortunate eough to catch the symbolic cannon firing. It is done by volunteers dressed in uniform, they go through the rituals including speaking in spanish, and they fire the cannon over the bay. Of course everything is authentic sans the cannonball which they do not use. It is loud, it is awesome, it's historic!
We also traveled through the colonial district, the building architecture is fascinating. There is so much attention to detail and such beautiful buildings so well preserved for over 200 years. And we traveled to the nation's oldest schoolhouse, built in the 1700's. You have to see it, it has NOT been altered it is all the original wood inside and out and nothing has been changed. The only thing is you can't go upstairs inside it because well it's so old, there's a risk of the stairs collapsing. But when you walk inside it, it is so small, somewhat musty but so damn cool. You are right there where the students learned and there are photos around showing the students of the class of 1865 in the 1930's. They had a reunion there, I believe at that tiem there were only five students in that class. Not only was the schoolhouse still standing but wo were the outhouses and the separate kitchen which the female teachers cooked their own meals. It was separate so that if there were a fire it would not damage the main building.
There's an old Huegenot cemetery we wanted to look around but the gates were closed, the graves go back to the 1700's. There is the Fountain of Youth, separate from the old historic district and we didn't get to see it, but next time we will. Also, there is the old Catholic Cathedral, which was burned twice and now is still standing rebuilt again in early 1800's. We got to see the beautifully architectured Flagler College which once was the old Flagler hotel. Also, we visited the Lightner Museum which is something else! Apparently Mr. O.C. Lightner was very wealthy and during the days of the market crash he did not lose everything because he diversified investments. He wound up buying things from people selling them for every penny they coudl get and eventually the Alcazar Hotel with it's huge indoor swimming pool and fascinating courtyard and ballroom gallery was converted into the Lightner Museum and displays everything that Mr. Lightner had collected. Glass, crystal, vases, clothing, once live now stuffed animals (including the famous huge African Lion named Rota), as well as thousands of other artifacts are included in the collections. It is really something to see.
One of the neatest things is that the museums and historic places are staffed by volunteers, mostly retired folks who take classes to understand the history behind the area and who spend their time educating others and collecting admission fees, answering questions, etc. They are really nice people and honestly we didn't mind the admission fees because 80% or more goes to keeping things preserved.
Anyway, the trip was fun and eventually I'll post some photos once they're developed!