Christmas in the Nation’s Oldest City

I promised a post about our trip to St. Augustine and I really want to share this with you before Christmas. St. Augustine is a city in Northeast Florida and the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement and port in the continental United States. It was established in 1565.

I know there is dust on European book shelves older than that, but that’s old for North America. When you think of Florida, which really didn’t boom until the 1950s, it’s really historic.

When we first arrived in St. Augustine, it was daylight and the entire city was decorated with Christmas charm, including Casa Monica, our downtown hotel in the historic district. Being the old fogies that we are, we took a quick look around and then flopped in the plush bed to read and nap.

Casa Monica

When we awoke it was nighttime, and the city was festively lit up for the Holiday. Our first order of business was the trolley ride around town to see the lights.

trolley

The town square was lit up as bright as day.

One of the most delightful things to see were the quaint Bed and Breakfasts all decorated in the Christmas spirit. There were Santas and elves, snowmen and princesses, we even saw a Christmas Elvis. Although the light display was a little underwhelming after visiting Disney’s show, the charm of the historic city really shined through in the garlands and wreaths on display. It was all picturesque, but sometimes a little difficult to see from the back of a trolley.

 

 After the trolley ride, there were sugar cookies and hot apple cider for all of us tourists, then it was off to the Christmas Regatta. If you have never seen a boat display of Christmas lights you should put that on your bucket list. These pictures don’t do it justice. The lights sparkle down reflecting across the water and shine brightly into the night sky. The boat parade made me think of Santa’s sleigh. Boats appear beneath the Bridge of Lions over the ICW Matanzas River and make their way in front of the crowd along the city walls.

We missed our dinner reservation due to the long line waiting on the trolley, but ventured north up San Marcos to La Pavillon for fine European dining in a Victorian home. The RS selected a seafood and pasta dish.

I had the rack of lamb and it was scrumptious.

St Augustine and Flager Beach 026

Then it was back to the hotel to read ghost stories….oooo. An added treat was waking up and getting to see the Huguenot Cemetery near the oldest wooden schoolhouse. I don’t know why, but old cemeteries fascinate me. Part of my fascination with them might be seeing how young people were at time of death. Mosquito borne disease, childbirth, and influenza killed so many back then. There’s a huge cemetery in Key West and the eldest person buried there was thirty-seven at time of death.

It was also kinda creepy to see the mannequins in the old schoolhouse. Some of the other historic houses were a little brighter.

A short walk took us to the fort on the Matanzas River, The Castillo de San Marcos.

Castillo_de_San_Marcos_NPS

This was right up the RS’s alley. I was fascinated by some of the history and the architecture.

The RS was intrigued by its strategic location, just in front of the Atlantic Ocean inlet, the weaponry and costumes on display.

I’ll leave you with one last cheerful photo. Every town should have a store like this:

St Augustine and Flager Beach 021

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!