St Augustine

Trip Start Oct 04, 2007
Trip End Feb 03, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Shock, horror, today was cold, only in the 70s, which is much cooler that the 80s & 90s we have grown used to.  (We could be in trouble as we move north!)

We took a 10:00 tour of Flagler College. This is now a small, liberal Arts college in the centre of town but it started out at the Ponce de Leon Hotel, built by Henry Flagler in two years from 1885 - 87 as a winter resort hotel for the wealthy.  Rooms cost from $6.00 - $90.00 per day and people came for the season (3 months).   The average wage at the time was $3.00 per day.  As well as building this hotel, which was the first of many, he build railroads as otherwise it was too difficult to transport people and goods.  He certainly did not cut corners - the décor is amazing.  Edison designed the new electric supply (it would have been DC as Edison did not believe AC was safe), L.C. Tiffany the windows and chandeliers and other master craftsmen painted beautiful ceilings, etc. The fountain in the courtyard was designed in the shape of a Celtic Cross, with the fountain representing a sword in the ground (like Excalibur).  Flagler built another hotel across the road with facilities for his guests so they would be able to amuse themselves during their stay.

We then visited the Alligator Farm.  We didn't realise there are so many different types of alligators and crocodiles!  Tom took lots of photos here, but more of the birds than the reptiles.  

We explored more of the old town but didn't need to see through more "oldest" buildings so had a relatively early afternoon, choosing instead to relax for a time by the pool (it wasn't too cold for that).  

We had dinner at the Columbia, a restaurant generally regarded as amongst the best in town.  We shared paella and had an unfortunate experience, which the staff handled very well.  One of Ruth's clams was bad.  She pointed this out, the manager waived the charge of the dish and provided free desserts - which we had but didn't need, so waddled even more than usual back to our hotel.
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