A January Day in St. Augustine, Florida

At the end of my Christmas break I had the opportunity to fly down to Florida to see my college roommate and join her on the long drive back to Searcy, AR. After flying in we had about a day and a half to spend in the area where she lives in Florida. The first half day was spent doing the photoshoot with some of her family that you can see on my previous blog post about the Barker Family and having dinner in Gainesville. The second day we decided that driving for fourteen hours over the next two days wasn't enough driving for us; the day before we hit the road to go back to school we drove down to a little historic town called St. Augustine. 

St. Augustine is home to an old military fort, a port for sailboats, and a historic city for of one-way brick streets made for walking all within walking distance from each other with a beach a very close drive away from the heart of the city. The atmosphere of it all, the original brick streets, unique houses that lined nearly every streets, and abundance of Cuban food and bakeries captured this girl's heart in about five minutes. 

This fort found in St. Augustine is right on the edge of the coast where countless sailboats can be seen in the harbor area. My personal tour guide (aka my roommate) calls it the St. Augustine Fort and other sources call it the Castillo de San Marcos Fort or Fort Mantanzas National Monument. Call it whatever you wish but it was captivating. While we did not actually go inside of the fort, we walked around the entire perimeter. Unlike other national monuments or forts I have been to, this one was very accessible. We walked right up to the walls and on top of the barriers which were all made of shells and debris from the water that encased the east side of the fort. It had so much character and charm. The wear and rough history could be seen from the look of the fort from afar, but up close the walls embedded with shells had a whole different personality. It was captivating.

After walking across the street, these original columns led us into the heart of the historic city of St. Augustine.  The city behind the columns not only held one-way narrow streets, most of which were not even passable to cars any longer, but also held boutiques and restaurants {especially Cuban ones} housed in the most quaint antique buildings adorned in the most beautiful ways. I personally am drawn to windows and plan to share those with you soon in a post all its own. 

The city is also home the Flagler College, a private institution with limited majors and studies housed in the most beautiful buildings as can be seen below. I may like dorm life in Searcy, but living in these dorms would be like renting out a room in a palace. Another feature of Flagler are the stainless windows. This fact I learned from my personal tour guide {as mentioned above}; before Tiffany's {yes, like Tiffany blue the jewelry story} was a jewelry store, they made stain-glass windows and lamps and things of that nature. Flagler is home to the last surviving Tiffany stain-glass windows, but most them are safe and secure inside the buildings, thus no pictures are included here. 

One of the unique characteristics of this area is the love and abundance of Cuban food. As part of getting a real feel for the area in a single day, Kathryn (my personal tour guide) and I shared a lunch of Cuban food at Columbia, a classic and fabric-table-cloths-and-napkins kind of restaurant. We shared a meal of homemade bread, chicken and yellow rice, and plantains. I must admit as a lover of rice myself, it was one of the most delicious things I have ever had. Within the realm of my own experience I would most closely relate it to Mexican or Tex-Mex food, one of my personal favorites, but it has a flavor and experience all it's own. I would highly recommend it. 

The final stop on our adventure in St. Augustine cannot go unmentioned. How could I go to Florida and not make a stop at the beach? Even if it was for only a half hour or so, the barefoot expedition out onto St. Augustine beach was the perfect end to a perfect day in St. Augustine. After taking a few selfies and pictures of each other I was crouched down on the ground, as I often am, taking the closer photo of the column coming down from the dock. Little did I know the tide was rising and a wave unexpectedly came up to where I was crouched. Luckily my trusty guide was watching out for me and warned me in time to stand up, but, long story short, I did put my toes in the water and the sand during my excursion out onto the beach in January. 

This trip to see my roommate and explore her home quickly turned into one of the most amazing experience of firsts, and I am thankful I have to opportunity to document it in this fashion as well as express my gratitude to everyone who made it possible and allowed me to embark on this little adventure.