Monday, May 9, 2016

St. Augustine: Earns a B

Sunday was our third and final day in St. Augustine and we are still not sure what we think of it. In many ways it is similar to one of my favorite spots on earth, Santa Fe. So I can’t help feeling that I should like St. Augustine more then I do, but the honky-tonk character of so much of St. Augustine has gotten to both of us a bit. Honky-tonk felt right in Virginia Beach, but St. Augustine has pretensions to more.

We began with a bit of a walk through town. We had gone past the two oldest houses a couple of times, but not with my camera at the ready. It was also the day of an “artwalk” with plein air painters at work, so that added to the charm of Aviles Street and the surrounding area.

Oldest house on the right, second oldest to the left of it

A painter at work on Aviles Street

This is coquina, it is a slurry of mud, oyster shells and salt water that was (and is still) dredged from the ocean bed and formed to make bricks. Lacking stone or lumber it was the major building material of the area. It takes a long time to cure and is incredibly dense and tough. Generally they stuccoed it and painted.

 For Mothers’ Day Sharon wanted a bay cruise and picked the pirate themed one. She enjoyed it and I’m glad.

Sharon and her pirate ship

They raise the drawbridge for us to go through. If I lived on the island, I would not like tourists on pirate cruises

This eco tour is probably what I would have chosen, but it wasn't fathers' day.

Do you need the narrative? Of course you do. At the outset of the cruise Captain Hook stole our booty (their word not mine). We set out to capture it back and on the way were forced to endure great privations in the form of sea chanties and bad jokes (Why is a sea gull found only at the sea and not in the bay? Because if he were in the bay he would be a bay-gull (bagel)). But our crew armed and trained all the "little buccaneers." (I don't photograph other peoples' kids without permission, so you do not get to see the stirring battle scenes. But here you see us about to board Captain Hook's little galleon.
Then we had dinner, our last one here and she chose what is one of the city’s most highly rated restaurants, the Old City House. Now, granted it was Mother’s Day, but my pork osso bucco came to the table cold. Clearly it had been prepared ahead, chilled and reheated (poorly) in a microwave. Had it been properly handled, the dish would have been fine, but porksicle ain’t my favorite flavor. The waiter was duly apologetic, but I had to ask him to remove the cost of an inedible dish. For a restaurant of these pretensions all this is unforgivable. Sharon’s salmon on the other hand was just fine, as was my chicken liver mousse appetizer. Somehow it seemed a fittingly equivocal end to our stay.

I’m glad we came here and that we saw the place. Do I want to return in the same way I would to Mobile, Charleston or Savannah? Not so much.

On Monday we begin our journey down to the Keys, with a brief architectural stop in Miami.

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