Thursday, January 12, 2017

January 13, 2017

Mission Nombre de Dios

I’ve often said that people of any faith or no faith can appreciate the beauty of the many religious statues, memorials, and sculptures on the Mission grounds. This Virgin of Guadalupe tile memorial is one such work of art that can be admired by all. The colors of the tiles, as well as the distinct Hispanic ‘roof’, go very well with St. Augustine’s Spanish vibe.

St. George Street

This is part of the old staircase in the De Mesa-Sanchez House, in my opinion the best attraction in Colonial Quarter. This house, which dates from the 1700s and 1800s, is accessible to the public, but it’s rare that tourists are allowed to go upstairs. You might have to be content with this view. You can tell by the worn carpet that these steps were well-used in the past and that the carpet is likely older than many of the visitors!

(c) 2015-2017 St. Augustine Fridays

Thursday, January 5, 2017

January 06, 2017

Aviles Street

Aviles Street is one of those cool “small-town” experiences, a haven for tourists with its restaurants, art galleries, old homes, and historic attractions.The house at left is the Seth Wakeman House, originally from the mid-1800s but renovated more recently; a colonial Spanish church once occupied its space. This is not a pedestrian-only street, so if you stop by, watch for traffic. You might want to check out the Spanish Military Hospital which I haven’t get been brave enough to visit, but be warned: colonial medical instruments were nothing to laugh about.

Cathedral-Basilica of St. Augustine

For some reason, this side door at the St. Augustine Cathedral reminds me of something you would find in Cuba or any large Spanish-founded city in Mexico or South America. Note the papal coat of arms above the doorway. The reason we came to the side of the building was to see if we could get a tour, which you sometimes can, but it has to be at the right time and under the right circumstances. I’m not Catholic, so it would have been awkward to stumble inside in the middle of a religious service, and I doubt the parishioners would have appreciated it either. 

(c) 2015-2017 St. Augustine Fridays

Thursday, December 29, 2016

December 30, 2016

Castillo de San Marcos

One of the most interesting rooms at Castillo de San Marcos is St. Mark’s Chapel. The benches seen in this photo have since been removed, but give you an idea of the room’s original purpose. The white framed “portrait” at left is actually the remains of an 18TH century Holy Water font, delicate and Baroque in design. You can still see a hint of red on the walls near the floor; the Park Service believes this room was painted in bright reds and golds during the Spanish occupation.

Fountain of Youth

On a rainy day the Timucua Indian structures at the Fountain of Youth Park serve another purpose besides being informative and educational . . . they offer much-needed shelter! Unfortunately, the Florida skies are quite temperamental, with one day being sunny and 83 degrees and the next being rainy and possibly in the 50s. I’ve even visited when temperatures dipped into the 30s and broke Florida’s freeze record. On this particular day it was raining fast enough to be a nuisance, and I enjoyed ducking inside. You could just imagine the Native Americans enjoying dreary weather from within their dark and cozy dwellings.

(c) 2015-2016 St. Augustine Fridays

Thursday, December 22, 2016

December 23, 2016

Mission Nombre de Dios

The mission grounds are so quiet and undisturbed . . . unless you happen to visit when the bells are ringing. I’ve experienced that quite a few times, and have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand it has a special ambiance all its own and I can appreciate it, but on the other hand, it’s quite the racket. Here, I stood inside the wooden bell-tower and took a close-up of the apparatus. Luckily for me, it was quiet at the moment.

Colonial Quarter

The interesting thing about this photo isn’t where it’s taken, but what you can see. The 17TH century-style Spanish watchtower provides not only a historical experience but also great views of the surrounding historic homes along St. George Street. On this photo from left to right: Part of the Antonio de Mesa-Juan Sanchez house ( an original Spanish and American home built between the 18TH and 19TH centuries); St. Photios Greek Orthodox shrine AKA the Avero house (constructed in 1748); the Rodriguez-Avero-Sanchez and Raimundo Arrivas homes (both dating from the 18TH and 19TH centuries); the de Hita-Gonzales complex (now home to Colonial Quarter’s Taberna del Gallo, a reconstructed home), and the Whetstone’s Chocolates shop (a reconstruction of the 18TH century Josef Salcedo house).

(c) 2015-2016 St. Augustine Fridays

Thursday, December 15, 2016

December 16, 2016

Gator Bob’s

It’s old, corny, and positively kitschy. I love it. This sort of “look at me” sign conjures Florida’s past and alludes to the tourist spirit still so strong today. Actually, I’ve been to the Gator Bob’s gift shop, and they do have some pretty interesting things. Everything from cowboy hats to picture frames to rum cake, in fact. Not the cheapest place in town, but you’ll probably find something you like. And if you have some time, run over to the Old Jail which is just next door. You can’t miss it . . . it’s pink. Unabashedly, tropically pink. Ah, St. Augustine.

Coming Across the Bridge of Lions

After a full day of beach-going, island-exploring, and various activities both fun and kitschy, this is what you see when you come back into the city of St. Augustine. The lions that flank the beautiful “Bridge of Lions” are named “Faithful” and “Firm”, and one of them can be seen here. The building at left belongs to the St. Augustine Municipal Marina, and the large buildings seen at right are part of the King Street shopping district. The street lamps add a touch of class to a city that needs no help in that regard.

(c) 2015-2016 St. Augustine Fridays

Thursday, December 8, 2016

December 09, 2016

Castillo de San Marcos

All of the artillery pieces on the Castillo’s gun deck are historical, and many have names. This particular mortar is called “Abajado” (Spanish for “crouched one”) and dates from 1807. According to an old St. Augustine Record article which expounds on the history of these pieces, Abajado was made in Seville from copper gleaned in part from Mexico and Peru. The mortar is located on the west terreplein between the bastions named San Pedro (southwest) and San Pablo (northwest).

Fountain of Youth

The Fountain of Youth isn’t just about flashy peacocks and soft Spanish music and tropical scenery and of course the rather kitschy “eau de vie” you can drink in the Springhouse. It's also about celebrating the Timucua Indian settlement that existed here long before any Europeans ever explored Florida’s shores. There’s a pretty sizeable reconstructed settlement which accurately portrays this ancient village. Here and there you’ll find little touches created specifically to immerse visitors into Timucuan culture, such as this owl totem and trees decorated with colored handprints. 

(c) 2015-2016 St. Augustine Fridays