Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas in St Augustine and a Salute to Paula

Alex recently bought a new digital camera (a Canon SLR) and of course we jumped at the chance to go on an adventure to test it out. My dear pal Paula recently viewed the gallery and emailed that she would love to see future pictures (taken with my trusty Sony Cybershot I might add). And so Paula, this gallery is dedicated to you...

I always regard St Augustine as a cross between Florence, Italy for the history and colors, Disneyworld because of all the tourists, and New Orleans/Savannah for the southern feel of the place. We decided to take a different tack on this holiday trip to the area and stop off at the local winery we have passed so many times.

Once we arrived we discovered the winery is a fun place to stop, tour, and just hang out because they have daily tours, wine tastings, and open air jazz with light refreshments at the appropriately named "Cellar upstairs."

We did not take pictures during the tour but the wine tasting was great, accompanied by a detailed history of wine making in the area and wine in general. Alex was driving so we made the decision for him to simply sip and I would do the actual tasting. BIG MISTAKE!!

Alex being the business analyst and software developer that he is, kept an ongoing record passing his glass to me as I slowly melted under the bar... small taste by small taste. Keep in mind I was now drinking for two in that he was giving me his glass.

I was doing ok as we went through the list until we got to the Sherry and the port. I think it was the Sherry more than the port as the tour guide indicated it had an alcohol content of 32%. Suddenly I began to feel warm and then my knees began to give way. We beat a path to the outside of the winery to let the fresh air, a little cheese, and a walk around the grounds give me a chance to clear my head...

Alex patiently waiting near the front door while I walked around the flowers, cheese in hand.

Never one to let a shot pass, while walking I noticed the different types of Hibiscus located on the grounds. I'm pretty proud of the level of detail for all three. Be sure to click on each photo for a clearer view of the veins and stems of each flower.

The walk around the grounds seemed to do the trick and we were once again off to the center of St Augustine, after Alex bought of all things... a couple of bottles of sherry.

Flagler College, across the street from City Hall always makes me think of Morocco as it seems as if an entire city with all it's mazes has been transported to the area. These two pictures give an indication of how massive the place actually is.

Remember I mentioned Florence, Italy and Disneyworld coming up when I mention St Augustine. Well, this is the City Hall for the City of St. Augustine AND, it is also the Lightner Museum.

The Government House Museum directly across the street from City Hall. If you didn't know you were in St. Augustine it could easily be pre-Katrina New Orleans or Savannah, there is just that kind of southern feel to the place.

In keeping with the Florence, Italy theme there are loads of beautiful pastels on all the buildings that evoke that feel.

Of course horse drawn carriages are everywhere, which is to be expected.

But, what really caught my eye was the young boy who decided to go up and pet the horse.

And, boys being boys... a crowd formed.

The major draw of St Augustine is "The Fort." It looms in the distance and you begin to understand the advantage it gave the Spanish to protect the early settled area.

A lovely view indeed...

Not a bad place to be on a lazy Sunday afternoon...

A study in contrast...

A view around the massive walls of the fort. As one of the oldest structures in America you feel the ghosts of the former inhabitants in addition to the work and toil that went into erecting such a structure.

Back to the Mall and a stroll around the bric a brac shops that line the place. I was particularly struck by the sign "Matisse's Garden" and a look inside the garden to see what looks like a million wind chimes and hanging ornaments.

Night is falling and the lights have started to come on all over the city.

The City Hall takes on a new glow...

And a tourist takes a picture of a tourist taking a picture. The family dog seems more than ready for his close up.

And now... the final shot of the day. Alex could not resist jumping into the shot to get his shot.

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