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Published On: Mon, Dec 1st, 2014

Exploring Florida’s Historic Coast With Mami

mamiI was offered an opportunity of a life time… and I took it. The weather is starting to turn (much colder) in NYC and I had the opportunity to visit St. Augustine, Florida and decided to swing by St. Cloud and bring my mom along for the ride. Why? because my mom has no idea what I do… and I wanted to give her a first hand look on what it is like to travel to cool places and review the experience as I do so very often.

This was a little more special to me, as I realized that we have never just been on vacation together. All of the trips we have ever taken were connected to a move or a family visit due to a funeral. This would be a special time for us to explore a place we have never been before but feels really familiar.

I had been intrigued about St. Augustine for some time… I have been wondering so much about the Spanish part of my roots. As Boricuas we are taught to not pay homage to this part of our heritage due to the dynamics of colonialism.  I understand why people would feel that way, but I just want to learn so much more about that time and more specifically about the roots of some of our cultural traditions.

Let me mention that we built our itinerary off of this website Florida’s Historic Coast. It had the most comprehensive visitor information about the must see destinations in this beautiful little city. I loved the fact that it is really a walking city. You can pretty much go anywhere you want and it is within walking distance. That was really good considering we knew we may be over indulging in some of the local cuisine so we would certainly need the extra exercise.

sanmarcos

We stayed at the Best Western Bayfront just steps away from an amazing view of the marina and right in the middle of a beautiful street lined with restaurants, shops and attractions like the Castillo de San Marcos and Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum.

I learned so very much on this trip that it is likely to really come to light in future blogs I write, but I was most enlightened by stories around the Spanish and how they lived and defended their position. I was also very curious about indigenous life and more specifically the strategic alliance between the slaves and the indigenous people of this region in Florida.

 

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The reason San Augustine is so familiar is because I have spent a lot of time in San Juan Puerto Rico. Castillo de San Marcos is a smaller (and younger) version of the San Felipe de Morro that still stands guard over Old San Juan. I secretly geeked out over the history of the construction of the fort and more specifically about the material used to build the structure. Coquina is a substance found on nearby Anastasia island that consists of small shells that have bonded together to form a stone like texture. This material was used after attacks by  Sir Francis Drake burned previous military bases to the ground. It was built strategically to make sure the compound was protected from any angle and that they would have ways to sustain themselves between battles.

My Mom’s favorite attractions were the Pirate Museum and Ripley’s Believe It or Not… and we both really enjoyed the tour at the Fountain of Youth, especially the in depth conversation we had regarding the indigenous history of St. Augustine. She really liked the fact that there was live music in almost every nightlife venue. I think that she really just enjoyed walking around, admiring the construction of the beautiful architecture and discovering history, I know that was it for me.

We ran out of time so the one thing we did not fully appreciate were the beaches… but honestly we probably would have kept walking around town if we had another day or so. We had an amazing time and both agreed that we need to come back next year.

If you are planning a trip to Florida’s Historic Coast, make sure that you use their website and search for exciting events happening during your stay.

I want to extend my gratitude to St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra, & The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau for their hospitality and making this a weekend we will never forget.

Stay tuned for my upcoming post on my favorite culinary finds in St. Augustine… you will not want to miss it.

Exploring Florida’s Historic Coast With Mami