Exploring St. Augustine’s Flagler College, Old Town & Spanish Quarter

After this morning’s swim, we headed back into the historic district of St. Augustine to tour Flagler College ( http://www.flagler.edu ) , formerly Hotel Ponce de Leon. This gorgeous centerpiece of St. Augustine was built in 1888 by railroad magnate (and Standard Oil co-founder), Henry Flagler. Completed in only 18 months, thanks to running 2-12 hour shifts of workers non-stop, it was built as an exclusive and opulent playground for the world’s most privileged elite. The hotel was only open during the three nicest months of the year (and guests had to pay to stay the entire season), so only the richest of the rich could afford to stay there to enjoy lavish balls, gourmet meals, music, and art.







Today, the hotel is Flagler College, founded in 1968. $54 million was spent to restore and preserve the buildings that now house 2,600 students getting a college education to the tune of $25,000 per year, including room and board.

Our tour was conducted by John, a second year history student at Flagler College. It was quite interesting; especially the stories about when it was a posh hotel. No expense was spared to construct the hotel; there is 24-carat gold leaf on the rotunda’s ceiling and Tiffany stained glass windows throughout the dining hall. And, yes, students who live on campus dine in this hall every day, three meals per day. How would you like to dine here?




The ladies parlor of the hotel, still used today for special college functions, was quite posh. There were several ornate crystal chandeliers and a fireplace with an Edison clock, surrounded by a white onyx work of art; the second largest white onyx piece in the world.


I hope those 2,600 college kids appreciate where they are getting their education!




Lunch was at another Trip Advisor find: Gaufres & Goods ( http://polishgreekrestaurant.com/ ), where we split four different types of perogies and a spinach pie. This is one of the restaurants on a food walking tour, so I knew it would live up to its great write-ups. We were not disappointed.

Along the way, in between our tour and lunch, we strolled more of the streets of Old Town and Spanish Quarter; the oldest, most interesting and picturesque areas of St. Augustine, in my opinion.





It was another burner of a day, so we broke it up with a stop to split a piece of frozen key lime pie on a stick, dipped in Belgian Chocolate ( http://www.keywestkeylimepieco.com/ ). HEAVEN.

On the way back to the cottage, we stopped back at Kyle’s Seafood Market for another fresh catch for dinner. This time, we picked up some very fresh yellow tailed snapper, and enjoyed it for dinner after our evening stroll on the beach. We didn’t enjoy it as much as the cobia, but it sure was good!


Yesterday, while visiting a beachside farmer’s market, we got a good look at St. Augustine Beach; the tourist beach I mentioned in my last post. Although I prefer our quiet Vilano Beach, where we are staying, St. Augustine Beach is quite nice! It’s a very WIDE beach with nicer sand, but it doesn’t have that quaint feel that we prefer.

The farmer’s market was worth the visit, as there were nice artist booths, along with the produce and various homemade food items. Besides, Bruce scored on some tasty kettle corn and I picked up some butter toffee pecans that were terrific!

The weather here was expected to be hot and humid; after all, it is June in Florida. But, yesterday and today were well above the normal “feels like” temps. It really takes it out of us, so we limited our outdoor time exploring St. Augustine, after we left the farmer’s market.

Lunch was at The Floridian ( http://www.thefloridianstaug.com/ ), a little gem I found on Trip Advisor ( http://www.tripadvisor.com ); my go-to site for anything travel related. Check out all the healthy and tasty-sounding items on the lunch menu. My vegetarian black bean and sweet potato burger (with goat cheese added) was fabulous, as was Bruce’s sweet potato and coconut bisque soup. Dynamite!


A wander around the Spanish Quarter where The Floridian was located, was well worth putting up with the heat. The beautiful church (see below), narrow brick streets, huge Spanish moss covered trees, quaint B&B’s, and wonderful architecture, made it a very visually pleasing place to explore. Even the Visitor’s Center and neighboring Spanish-style parking structure were pleasing to the eye. (A parking structure? Pleasing?? Believe it or not- yes!)



Our Spanish Quarter exploration also landed us in Fudge Buckets ( http://fudgebuckets.com ) ; another Trip Advisor recommendation. Yes, I brake for chocolate; just ask my mom. When we were in Brussels and Brugge, Belgium, we stopped at every chocolate shop. And, I mean EVERY single one!

And, yes, I bought some buckets of fudge; buy four and get one free!

Back at the cottage, we enjoyed our daily early evening walk on the beach, followed by a Bruce Cook cooked dinner. Amazing what he can do in such a tiny little kitchen!