This will be a long day and we will cram in a lot of “tourist-ing”.
We decided to take the hop-on hop-off trolley that tours Saint Augustine. There is a narrated tour of St. Augustine and stops at all the tourist sites. This is the best way to see and get around the city. Not only is there free parking but you are never more than a short walk to a trolley pickup station.
The little museum at the first trolley stop.
Parking in the city, when you can find it, is maximum of 4 hours for $20. Once you get to the maximum, you have to move to a different section of the city. You can not pay for parking in the same parking area again that day. For tourists a full day of parking could easily cost more than $40 depending on when you start your day.
At one of the first stops, we hopped off and went into the visitor center. Every time we have used a visitor center we have gotten very helpful information and guidance. This one not only gave us suggestions on what to visit and when, where to park if we drove in, and discounts on some of the museums we did want to see. They also had a couple of display cases.
Just down the road was the 1808 city gates. Between these columns was a gate that marked the outer edge of the settlement at that time.
This was at the beginning of one of the old streets that passes homes, businesses, coquina walls and columns.
We got a quick lunch, and it was really nice. Blackened shrimp plate and a fried shrimp sandwich.
During the day, we were hopping on and off the trolley to ride around the city.
We did not get a tour of Flagler College, but it is a very impressive group of buildings. The man was brutal in his business ventures, but he did spend a lot of money on buildings.
The fort is just off downtown. We will visit the fort later in the week.
The trolley company has a small museum on the history of the city. It has nice displays and is included with the day trolley ticket. They had some artifacts and treasure.
We just had to stop at the St Augustine Distillery and wow this place is proud of their products. The more expensive bottles were $200. No, we did not buy a bottle.
They did have a really nice mixer to make Old Fashioned drinks. We did buy that. Still the free tastings were nice.
Time to visit the only winery in town, the San Sebastian Winery. The winery was nice and had a lot of samples for us to taste. Good thing we are not driving.
Using the trolley, we decided to wait and come back later to purchase wine from them. Carrying bottles around on the trolley did not seem like a good idea in the heat.
As a child, I read the Ripley’s Believe it or not comics. In 1950, the Ripley family purchased a very unusual home and converted it into the first Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum. The house was built in 1887 as a home, then hotel, and finally to a museum. I bet there are some really weird things in there.
The fountain of youth was worth visiting. Surrounding the property is a coquina wall.
They do have the sulfur water spring that you can taste.
Yes, it smells and tastes how you would expect. No, we did not feel or get younger and just had a lingering sulfur taste in our mouths.
They have two small planetariums. The program is on the methods used by the early explorers to navigate at sea. It was a really informative demonstration.
Where Ponce de Leon landed, the native people of the area were the Timucuan. A village re-creation of the type of structures that they used is here where a real village stood for many years. When Ponce de Leon landed, it was estimated that there were more than 200,000 people spread across several tribes. They were somewhat nomadic and moved from coastal sites in summer to inland sites for winter months. Tribes were from what today is Tallahassee to the west, Jacksonville to the north, and Orlando to the south. When along the shore, they ate lots of shellfish. They would pile the shells as a barrier in a circle around the village. When the French arrived the piles at some locations were over 10 feet tall and circles would be hundreds of feet in diameter. They also hunted, planted and rotated crops. From a young age, they started receiving tattoos that showed the skills and proficiency level. The French noted that the position in the tribe of an individual was easily determined.
By the end of the 1700s, there were few if any of the Timucuan surviving and their way of life, culture, and language was gone.
A Seminole man was present to speak to us about the life of the tribe.
Blacksmith was on site to demonstrate techniques and answer questions.
He talked about the types of metal used, how it is heated, the rarity of nails, …
A large area of the grounds is set aside for the Ponce de Leon camp.
They demonstrate both the firing of a cannon and a blunderbuss (a kind of muzzle loaded shotgun). They had examples of the type of boats used to travel in the ocean, in the bays, and in the rivers as well as a sentinel/watch tower.
Peacocks were everywhere. They were loud. It is spring so the males were calling and displaying.
We are a couple who have started on a new adventure...