This Way, Mr. Paul!

Saint Augustine, FL is an interesting little place. In short, it’s sort of a Disney Land for history buffs. It’s got a long and varied history that includes being the oldest city in the U.S. and therefore claims to have the “oldest” and “first” of all sorts of things, from several churches to the very first wooden school house. You can walk the narrow, history-laden, quaint, cobblestoned streets for hours, stopping along the way at seemingly endless art galleries, church steeples, museums, historical landmarks and intricate, wild gardens behind stone and wrought iron gates throughout.

Notice the detail, iron work, woodwork, and stone

The homes and gardens behind the gates were just as magical.

Even the statues were dressed for the season

We spent weeks walking through the streets and always seemed to discover something new.

Many buildings had romantic balconies. This was a little wine shop.

Placards on entryways recounted centuries of history

The architecture is incredible and most buildings are kept in impeccable condition. Horse and buggies, also decorated and even lighted, trot down the streets. Live music seeps out from every corner, whether it’s a busker or local performer at an outdoor dining area.

Flagler College, once an exclusive hotel and now a small liberal arts school whose cafeteria windows boast one of the largest collections of Tiffany glass in the world.

Henry Flagler was Rockefeller’s partner in Standard Oil and had a significant impact on the development of FL’s Atlantic Coast.

From fine Spanish Renaissance to wood planked cottages… there was beauty, natural and manmade, around every corner.

Daniel and Paul humoring me in the Ice Plant Bar, an incredible 1927 industrial building and now impressive place to eat or drink.

Bartenders at the Ice Plant train for a year and are meticulous. This guy made Daniel an Arnold Palmer and tasted it to be sure he got the correct ratio of lemonade to iced tea.

The local farm-to-table cuisine was in the top 2 for all of St. Augustine that we experienced.

This was some live music at a local Irish pub, an event organized by the cruisers in the municipal marina. Daniel, Sophia and Jane (L-R) enjoying the trad.

The Freedom Trail recounts the influence of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and significant events of the Civil Rights Movement that occurred here, which enthralled me to stop and read the placards placed along residential neighborhoods, citing the pivotal role it all had. Dr. King spent a lot of time here, in a neighborhood called “Lincolnville” that was settled by former slaves, moving from house to house each night to ensure his safety and the safety of those working with him.

It was surreal to walk down Bridge Street in historic Lincolnville and take it all in.

The same family that lived here when Dr. King stayed, is still here. He signed their family bible, as was his custom when he was a guest in someone’s home.

The city was also absolutely packed for Christmas season as the entire city is lit up and has a very festive atmosphere. There’s not a standing tree nor bush without a string of lights on it. People from around the world flock here this time of year, little did we know. Walking through the old fort, Castillo de San Marcos, we counted having heard 8 different languages as we strolled.

One of the many B-n-Bs in town… This guy stood on the balcony with a snow machine that made this Victorian home look even more dreamy than it already was, lit up to the nines.

Avenida Menendez Drive, in downtown, along the Matanzas River where you could often see a pod of dolphin swimming.

Paul and Daniel contemplating the fun of having their own mote, while admiring Castillo de San Marcos.

The oldest masonry fort in the continental U.S. and a national monument

The original city gates mark the center of town, even today.

Overall, it was the perfect place to meet up with and spend the season with our friends from s/v Beam IV who we originally met November of 2017 after they sailed across the Atlantic from their native England and docked their Amel right next to ours in St. Lucia. We also spent last Christmas with these fast-friends in Martinique. Then we had an extra-special visit from Sophia, Daniel’s girlfriend and I dragged them on a trolley tour with me.

Voted one of the “most beautiful streets in America” and called Magnolia Avenue even though it’s lined with majestic Live Oak trees.

Time to relax after the grueling tour with a great view, or maybe just some screen time…? Notice cool schooner and pirate ship off bow.

Enjoying bow time at night too. Even the schooner (background) is decorated.

Lightner Museum clock — I let everyone sleep in late on this morning and it was appreciated.

Little did I know that when I mentioned I was there for the “curator’s tour” that I’d get in for free. Otherwise maybe I would have woken up the whole gang.

Originally a hotel also built by Flagler, the area with tables was once a pool and has now turned into a cafe.

One aspect we were not prepared to encounter in town was how far in advance it was needed to make a reservation for dinner during this time. It was hard to get in ANYWHERE even with several days’ notice. One night, we got lucky and found a table for three in an Italian piano bar right across from the St. Augustine Municipal Marina, where we were staying. Often when we make a restaurant reservation, we use “Paul” as the name, it’s just easier. The gentleman who answered the phone asked for a name before he gave a yes/no answer to whether or not they had an available table to which he answered, “OH, Mr. Paul!” and gave us a table for that night. We figured once we arrived, he’d realize we were not the “Mr. Paul” party he anticipated, but that was not the case. When we arrived, the owner/chef was out by the podium taking a break and he happened to be the same man on the phone from earlier. He turned to the maître d’ who was walking over and announced “Mr. Paul has arrived!” Paul, Daniel and I just sort of looked at each other and wondered if this really was a case of mistaken identity and perhaps the only reason we actually got a table on such short notice. We went along and had a great meal with fabulous piano music to accompany it. As Christmas Eve approached, we wanted to all go out together with the Beam Team Crew, which made us now a group of 8. And though I literally spent hours walking the streets and poking my head into ANY establishment possible to see if they could make room, I had no luck at all. Finally, I told Paul to call the same Italian piano bar as before and use his “pull”. Sure enough the man who answered the phone said he could not accommodate us and then Paul asked, “Not even for Mr. Paul?” And his prompt reply…? “OH! Mr. Paul, hold on…. Eight, yes, a table for 8 at 7:30 Christmas Eve, we can accommodate you Mr. Paul.”

Party of eight for Mr. Paul: Daniel, Joe, Jules, Stuart, Mr. Paul himself, me, Jane, and Dave (L-R). Mabel, the English terrier, was asleep under the table.

Ringing in the New Year on s/v Beam IV. HAPPY NEW YEAR to all and hope 2019 is filled with peace, love and adventure!


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