|The former Ponce de Leon Hotel and now Flagler College|
|The front inner courtyard under restoration|
Opening day of the hotel some of the famous people attending were Ulysses S. Grant, William R. Rockefeller, and Frederick Vanderbilt. What a guest list! And listen to this...to be part of this very exclusive bunch, you couldn't stay at Flagler's hotel for a night or two or even a week. You had to stay for the entire season. And pay for it!
|Looking up at rotunda's dome|
Stunning mosaic tiles cover the floor. But look closely and you'll see a tiny tile with the image of Henry Flagler looking back up at you, ghost # 1! He's always keeping a watchful eye over his opulent hotel.
|Ladies Lounge - the school has such a gorgeous space to hold faculty meetings.|
After leaving the hotel, my travel buddies and I then savored a food and wine tour organized by St. Augustine City Walks. Check out their variety of city tours. Our guide was Ed and he had some terrific stories to tell that complimented the appetizer and wine crawl. There were so many great places we visited, but there were two that stood out for me. One was the Alcazar Cafe.
|Discerning Food Tasters|
Escargot...my first taste. Honest, I had never eaten one before. On purpose.
I just knew I was going to hate eating a slug, assuming it would be similar to gnawing on an eraser. But not so. I was pleasantly surprised at how soft and melt-in-your-mouth tender and buttery and garlicky they were. Yum. And my other favorite visit was to the Old City House Inn.
|Old City House Inn|
|St. Francis Inn|
While in St. Augustine I stayed at the St. Francis Inn. Built in 1791 it's the oldest St. Augustine inn. Within walking distance of all the activities downtown, the St. Francis was quaint and quiet with very gracious hosts. There's a lovely garden patio, house cat, swimming pool and (this is number 2!) they have a ghost...Lily. Friends of mine who stayed in the main house across the hall from Lily's room swear they heard chains rubbing against their door in the night, fearing it was the ghost. I stayed across the street in the Wilson House in the Wilson Suite.
|Wilson Suite Living Room|
|St. Augustine Lighthouse|
DIZZY NOTE! As night fell we were offered the chance to climb up to the top of the lighthouse with our EMF readers to check out for ghosts...a little girl in particular. And the question was, do you want to climb up the 219 spiral steps in the dark? Or with lights on? Now this is my 10th year with my vestibular challenges and as some of you know who suffer these symptoms, in complete darkness, my brain forces my body to fall to the ground because it can't tell where I am in space. I think it's a primal self-protective mechanism. My ego got in the way and I didn't want to tell the group I couldn't do a spiral staircase in the dark, but the guide let me go up with her first, very quickly, with her flashlight. I'm proud to say I did it. And the views up top were stunning. However coming back down by myself in total darkness was a bit scary. Like Hitchcock's film, a bit of vertigo started to set in. Not sure I would recommend it to others with balance disorders to do this in the dark. But I'm alive!
We were only in St. Augustine two days, but what a whirlwind. We also had a personal tour of the Colonial Quarter taking us back in time allowing us to experience what life was like in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries in this city...
|Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse in the U.S.|
and we visited the oldest wooden schoolhouse in the U.S. But upon passing by the schoolhouse again at night...is that a ghost up there in the window? (# 7?)
But there was yet another source of ghosts for us...I think #s 8 and 9...while on the Ghost Tours of St. Augustine. I've never experienced so many ghosts in one town in my life! There's so much to do in St. Augustine, I truly do want to go back. And maybe I'll discover a real ghost!