Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Enjoying St. Augustine

The entrance to Flagler College, formerly the Ponce de Leon Hotel. Pure elegance.

We're told that there's $30,000,000 worth of Louis Comfort Tiffany windows in this student cafeteria at Flagler College. Fortunately they are protected by bullet-proof glass.

A close-up of a tower on the Lightner Museum across from Flagler College.

Magnolia Avenue in St. Augustine has no magnolia trees, but does have a canopy of live oaks lining the street for several blocks. It reminds me of Savannah, Georgia.

Denny and I have been to St. Augustine before, both individually and together. But this visit is the first time we've really had the time to leisurely explore the town.

We chose to get an overview of the city and its history by taking one of the tram/trolley tours. There are a couple of companies that offer the tours, but we chose the Old Town Trolley company because we had taken a tour offered by the same company in Savannah, Georgia and were pleased with it. Both companies seem to follow the same route hitting the same highlights so it probably doesn't matter. There are nineteen stops on the tour where you can get off and wander around as there are trolleys arriving at each site about every 15-20 minutes. Denny and I decided to take the entire tour without getting off so we would know what we might want to see later. The nice part about your trolley ticket is that it's good for three days so you don't have to try to see everything all in one day. We did hop off to get new pictures of the Castillo de San Marcos (the Spanish fort) and then decided to take pictures of the interior of the Flagler Memorial Church.

Of course, by getting off the trolley and getting back on later, you will probably end up with a new tour guide. Over the course of the last two days we had three different tour guides and in circling past some of the sites we saw yesterday it was interesting to hear the different bits of information and trivia that the different tour guides shared. The spiels the tour guides give are their own instead of a "canned" speech and each has researched the area and the history of the town to try to find interesting snippets of information to pass on to their passengers. Of course, after an hour and a half of names, dates, places and events it becomes a bit overwhelming.

The name Flagler predominates in this town. Henry Flagler and John D. Rockefeller formed what would eventually become Standard Oil and Mr. Flagler became instrumental in bringing tourists to Florida by expanding the railway service into the state and building hotels. His Ponce de Leon hotel in St. Augustine is now Flagler College and our tour guide pointed out that it is the only college that has $30,000,000 (yep, million) dollars worth of Tiffany windows in its students' cafeteria. You will hear the name Flagler again and again on the tour and you will discover that there was a movement to name the city of Miami "Flagler" but Henry refused the honor and suggested the Native American name Miama instead.

That's enough for one day.

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