Last Thursday, we drove six hours to St. Augustine, Florida.
Stephen had been pestering me for a locale to celebrate my birthday on Friday, and on something resembling out-of-the-blue, I suggested St. Augustine, factoring that the last time I’d set foot there was 62 years ago.
Though I swear I’m not attempting to inject any ‘petite madeleine’ business here, the solitary thing I remembered about St. Augustine from a family vacation (when I was 8-years-old) was a sliver of some brandied dense chocolate pastry eaten at a little pocket cafe one evening. That’s it.
Established by the Spanish in 1565, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied city in the U.S., also the home of the ‘Fountain of Youth’, allegedly located where Ponce de León allegedly landed in Florida allegedly searching for it. We did not sample the waters thereof.
If there was a focus during this visit, let’s say it was the Ponce de Leon Hotel, built by co-founder (with John D. Rockefeller) of Standard Oil, Henry Flagler. Opening in 1888 and finally closing in 1932, it now houses Flagler College, established in 1968.
The materials, details and craftsmanship of the Ponce de Leon Hotel, and its sister hotel the Alcazar (also built by Flagler) are something to behold; photographs do not capture the scale of the structures. I leave it to you to research, or not.
Though we had really nice evenings at two Stephen-approved restaurants, my favorite was a little millennial-vibed spot called ‘The Blue Hen’ for lunch before leaving for home on Saturday.
The food was very tasty and our waitperson very nice. At least at first…
Quizzed as to what brought us to St. Augustine, Stephen allowed that Friday had been my 70th birthday. Reply: ‘OMG! I would never have guessed that!’
Forsaking leaving well enough alone, she followed:
‘I’d have thought… maybe 58 or something.’
After she walked away, reading the look on my face, Stephen started laughing and said, ‘My, how greedy a boy can get when someone’s guessing his age!’
‘Greedy?’ [in my finest Vivien Leigh] ‘I’m sure I don’t know what you mean!’