Saint Augustine–The Oldest European City in America

Today was the big day. We were finally heading to Saint Augustine, the oldest European city in America. We had studied the history around it and it was on the must-do list for quite some time.

“Hello! I’m King Louis! I want to come with you. I never stop moving! Wheeeeee! More caffeine please!”

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This little guy wanted to join The Travel Bags on our day’s adventures. Before we could find a phone number to let someone know their dog was joining the circus, he disappeared.

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Good luck to you, King Louis!

By the way, this is not the oldest parking garage in America, thankfully, although Marissa is looking at the structure a little skeptically…as was her father.

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It takes us a while to get out of the van, so the kids entertain themselves while waiting for the pokier puppies.

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And we’re off! See the artwork underfoot? This is just one segment of a huge, gorgeous mosaic representing…hey, wait for me!

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Sometimes the photographer gets left behind.

This gate represented the only access to the northern side of Spanish St. Augustine from 1739, with the pillars added in 1808.

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Told ya.

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Hobbits live here.

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While the town was bustling with shops and shops and shops and restaurants and shops and tourist attractions that cost money, we headed straight for the food national historical site. National parks and historic sites are free for us with our national parks pass, and they are super educational and interesting.

We visited La Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, and it was fabulous! Read all about our tour here.

After a few hours of military history, we were ready for some food a tour of St. Augustine.

Here’s a view down the street one way:

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Here’s a view down the street the other way:

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Let’s eat!

Because there is a strong Cuban influence in some parts of Florida, we shared empanadas and Cuban sandwiches.

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The empanadas were good, but the Cuban sandwiches were…well…just sandwiches. They were good, mind you, but they certainly didn’t make us want to rush out and get passports to head to Cuba for the food. Empanadas—yes, give me my passport!

What we were really looking for was some key lime pie. This looked hopeful…but it was a let-down. Oh, it had some pie—$40 a pie or $7 a slice. Considering we make fabtabulous key lime pies for around $5 a pie, we passed on that baby.

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Then we found this lovely lady’s bakery.

She was the sweetest thing! She answered our 8 gazillion questions and handled our 12 gazillion order changes with grace!

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Best of all, she made Hannah smoothie she could actually eat!

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Thank you nice lady!

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It was a big splurge day for The Travel Bags. We bought a smoothie, seven cookies, and a key lime bar to share. It was as close as we could get to pie without breaking the bank.

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And then we had gelato and sorbet. Seriously, people, we don’t do this very often!

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What a sweet treat!

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Even Eliana could have some sorbet, because it was dairy-free. She was happy.

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Very, very happy.

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Good to the last drop!

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So happy!

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Wait, did she say “last drop”?

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So sad.

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Here’s what we loved best about this place. The lady in the painting below was dressed inappropriately…perhaps not at all, so some kind soul created a dress for the poor lass and put it on her.

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That’s totally something we would have done! Sure, it’s art, but it’s also a naked lady hanging in your ice cream shop. Look at the naked lady, son. Isn’t that artful? This is much better. Kudos!

Okay, now that we’ve eaten, we can explore the city!

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The Old World style is very interesting and charming.

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I’m not sure how authentic that window air conditioner is.

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Most of the buildings have been turned into shops and restaurants, and it’s very touristy, but if you can keep your money in your pocket, it’s a fun jaunt.

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This is the Rodrigues-Avero-Sanchez House which dates back to 1762. It’s older than our country!

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Put that in perspective. Recall what was going on in America at the time, and imagine the lives of the people living here as this part of the Americas switched from Spanish to British to Spanish to American hands over the course of a few decades.  Never mind the pirates and invading European forces! Whew-y!

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The musician listening to the musician. He was good, but his subject matter wasn’t “appropriate,” so we mosied.

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We should get a red hat for the music mission.

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Rebecca gave her thank offering to the street musician and then bolted.

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When you’re five and you get a little nervous, it’s nice to have a big sister close by.

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Silly goose! Daddy was keeping you safe!

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Ignore the frightening teacher upstairs. This is the oldest US schoolhouse in the USA.

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See.

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It’s so old and feeble that it has to be chained to an anchor to keep it from blowing over in the wind.

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Oh, there are so many jokes about this chain and anchor and the government and the school system that we homeschoolers could make, but since only 2% of America’s schoolchildren are homeschooled, we risk offending 98% of you with our tongue-in-cheek humor. We’ll just let it go.

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Letting these one-liners go is a painful tongue-biting experience here, people, just so you know.

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It’s Proper Posture Day in Saint Augustine.

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The littles found a penny machine for their collections…

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and we were off!

Well, we were almost off. We still had to assess the structural integrity of the parking garage one more time.

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Off to the Fountain of Youth.

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