Thursday, December 13, 2007

Florida's First City

December 6-9, St. Augustine
We made it to Florida, and our first stop was beautiful St. Augustine. This city was established in 1565 as a military outpost of the Spanish empire, making it Florida’s oldest city and the oldest permanent European settlement in the United States. Castillo de San Marcos, the fort built to safeguard the city, was never defeated in battle and still holds its commanding post overlooking the inlet. On land, traces of those Spanish roots are visible in many of its photogenic buildings. Flagler University, originally built by Henry Flagler as a luxury hotel, towers over the Spanish quarter.

We toured the fort, walked down historic brick streets, ate Cuban food, and sipped free wine at the “First Fridays” art gallery crawl. Double the fun because Claus and Rachael were with us. After two nights in the marina, we anchored north of Bridge of Lions by the fort. From there, we had a fabulous view of white Christmas lights decorating the huge trees in the park and the rooflines of old waterfront shops.
On a boat in warm weather, away from TV commercials and shopping malls, Christmas can sneak up on us. Occasionally we see an inflatable Santa, sometimes boats are festooned with wreaths or lights, and bridge tenders will wish us “Happy Holidays,” but we’re not inundated with the trappings of the season. It was good to have another reminder of the Light that entered the world at Christmas and still lights the world with His presence and love.

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