The weather in Florida is quite changeable and almost feels like home! It can be really warm and humid, then the wind kicks up and it’s chilly. Overnight it has been down to 6 degrees. We have had tropical storms, tornado warnings and quite a bit of rain! So overall – quite similar to Auckland weather!!
St Augustine was the next place to visit and we had such a wonderful time there, had to stay another day! This town is full of the most incredible history and although it was a bit chilly, we didn’t have any rain.
We visited the Fountain of Youth and drank the ‘spring water’ and now it’s just a matter of time to see if we have eternal youth! The Fountain of Youth park is lovely but the actual fountain was a bit under-whelming. We wouldn’t visit this place again, as it really is just a bit too touristy! St Augustine has great history, but you don’t need to visit here to enjoy it.
We decided to visit the Ligtner museum which is housed in the old Flagler Hotel [The Alcazar]. The building is incredible and the collection ‘of antiquities’ is fascinating. The hotel must have been staggering in its heydey, with its fancy indoor pool, spa, ballrooms and this gorgeous courtyard. We really enjoyed a couple of hours here soaking up the history.
These amazing pieces of art are actually coloured sand placed ‘carefully’ in the jars. They were made in the late 1800’s by a deaf man called Andrew Clemons. To have the patience to create this is amazing and it is said that no-one has made anything close to his mastery since!
The museum was full of interesting sculptures, paintings, glass and general curio’s the Mr Lightner had collected as a hobby. This picture [circa 1660 by a Florentine artist] made you take a second look 👀 It is said that ‘Cimon was an old man when imprisoned [in 468 B.C.] and while waiting to die he had visits from his daughter who had recently given birth. She was able to secretly nurse him and as he seemingly continued to live without food, his captors became convinced he was favoured by God and saw fit to release him.’ It is a priceless painting!
St Augustine is world famous for its Christmas lights and they just happened to have the official ‘lighting’ while we there. The whole town is transformed into a Christmas wonderland.
I love they way they do Christmas here – not only am I going to be doing Halloween, I will have to step up my Christmas efforts. We didn’t put lights on the house for the past few years, but rest assured that will change when we get home Christmas 🎄
As we sat and enjoyed a late lunch [in an Irish bar], we watched as the horse and carriages started arriving for the evening light tours. There were ‘styles’ for every type of clientele. The traffic was beyond belief! Think Franklin Road on steroids – for the lights, the traffic and the hotel prices – they tripled!!
So we headed for an AirBnB just outside of Jacksonville. It wasn’t one of the better ones we have stayed at and we were glad to leave!! They had quite good reviews [I didn’t leave any feedback, because I had nothing good to say!!] but they sure didn’t live up to the reviews! From their absolutely mad Staffy dog that jumped all over you and the furniture, to the host who never came out of her room and the house that was generally dirty – my views didn’t match the online reviews!!! If you’ve got nothing nice to say … say nothing at all?!
Jacksonville was such a sad town. We asked our hosts what they recommended and they said there was nothing to do!! We visited the visitor info centre and she suggested the Catty Shack [big cat refuge centre] which we already knew was closed that day, the sky train [which doesn’t operate in the weekends] and going to a football game or shopping! We hadn’t really found anything interesting to do online either.
We did however make the effort to visit the Kingsley Plantation [which was about 1hr 15mins from our accommodation]. Our hosts had never visited it and couldn’t understand why we would?! Mr Kingsley married one of the slaves he bought for his plantation and together they ran a very successful cotton plantation and had reasonable conditions for their slaves! Their house wasn’t grand, but their stories were fascinating. The whole area here in the south is just full of plantations, slave stories, fighting of the Spanish, the British, the Confederates, Battle of this, Battle of that … wars, skirmish’s, all for the grand gain of land and huge loss of lives!! It makes for an interesting place to visit.
Slave house remains.
The Kingsley Plantation house – quite a modest one.
While we were in Savannah we visited the monument to slaves freed. The poem inscription starts with “we were stolen, bought and sold together …………….. [and ends] today we stand together with faith and even some joy”. Such a lot of horrendous history! What a juxtaposition of the wonderful houses and intriguing history that Savannah has. We stayed an extra day here, as it was just such a beautiful city to walk around and explore. The live-oaks draped in Spanish Moss create the most beautiful canopied streets.
Of course we found another Monument to the Irish☘️. It did have a little fence around it but it wasn’t locked!! We also found monuments to Colonels, Generals, Volunteers, Firefighters, Girl Guides, Jewish, Marines, all these gorgeous squares  dotted around the city and then the fabulous Forsyth Park.
Every park has a monument or something of note – even the gazebo gifted to the city by Burt Reynolds [after he finishing filming the movie ‘Gator’] or the chair sat on by Forrest Gump in the movie! [although the actual chair is in the museum]
Savannah is just delightful and we walked and walked here [although we did do the trolley tour first]. We saw all the amazing squares, more churches than you could believe a small town has, all the monuments, the house where Girl Guides founder [Juliette Low] was born, the place where General Sherman stayed while fighting his battles and so many absolutely beautiful houses. I love all the wonderful front doors, gates and gardens, and the amazing metal work that is around town [the more you had the richer you were!]. Savannah was such a surprising city, and I would happily visit again.
The beautiful fountain in Forsyth Park.
The absolutely gorgeous St Johns church – it is truly one of the most beautiful churches I have been in for a very long time! St Paul’s in London was pretty special, but that was in 1986!
So we drove up through Florida into Georgia and have arrived in South Carolina. We are ‘resting’ for a few days before our next ‘assignment’ begins.
Hope this finds you all well – take care.
Shona and Colin
“travelling sometimes leaves you speechless, but then it turns you into a great storyteller” 🌎