Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tuesday in St. Augustine

We took the opportunity today to just play tourist in St. Augustine. Terry and Mike took the rental car back first thing in the morning while the rest of the crew went to the Bunnery Cafe for breakfast. They have great cinnamon and sticky buns- which we also brought back to the boat for future breakfasts.

Then, the five of us set out together. We bought tickets for the Old Town Trolley. We rode most of the route to get the history talk. We got off at the Old City Jail for a fascinating look at how crime just did not pay in the early 1900s in Florida. Our tour guide, recreating a prison trustee of the time, was so good that one of the women in our group had a slight panic attack when we were 'herded' into the women's cell and he slammed the cell door shut.

We took the trolley around a few stops to the White Lion Inn for lunch. Food was very tasty, and we enjoyed our break from all the walking around.

After lunch, we headed to the trolley stop which would allow us to pick up the shuttle to the beach. Our goal was to spend some time at the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum. The lighthouse, 165 feet tall, is still in use. And, you get to climb up for a spectacular view of St. Augustine and the surrounding waters. It's a simply lovely place.

The real fun started on the shuttle trip back. First, we could see El Galeon, the tall ship visiting St. Augustine as we crossed over the Bridge of Lions. Then we got stuck in the traffic from all the people trying to see El Galeon. A this point, our shuttle driver begins to entertain us with stories of the weird side of St. Augustine. The best (or worst, depending on your point of view) was the one of the beloved bishop of St. Augustine who died in June around the turn of the century. With no air conditioning or refrigeration and no advances in embalming, the bishop was really not going to last long enough for everyone who wanted to attend the funeral mass to get into town. First they tried putting him on a block of ice and covering him with Spanish moss. When the ice melted, they tried to keep him in a coffin with a glass lid so everyone could still pay their last respects. He made it to the funeral. But, he exploded. Yes, the gases in the body built up inside the coffin and exploded during the mass. Ah, Gentle Readers, we are sharing this with you because we don't like to suffer alone. But just wait. It gets worse.

Actually, that story did get worse. But, we will save you from that. Instead, we will tell you that we got off the bus and headed back to our marina- where El Galeon was also tied up. But, Terry noticed that the Spanish Military Hospital was still open. So, we all went in for the guided tour. Believe me, you do not want graphic details about hospital practices from the 1800s. We were 'fortunate' enough to get the eighth grade tour. Our guide went into great detail about each instrument in the collection. BTW, amputations were big back then - and required a variety of tools. And, yes Sam, we saw the tools for drilling into heads. Some of the crew want to know why we weren't told about the need for chisels-but don't ask why would need those. By this point, some of the crew started gagging. We do think the tour is a hot spot for eighth graders, though. We're sure they love the blood and gore.

Finally, we were headed back to the marina for the end of our day. The El Galeon was, indeed, at the end of our pier. We took a look. Then, we had drinks and dinner- a lovely way to end a great day.

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