Archive for May 30th, 2022

May 30, 2022

Take a look at St Augustine, Florida !

So looking back into my blog I sadly realised have not written much on the city of St Augustine, Florida! It is a shock to me as used to lived for many years just 55 minutes from it and went there even for lunch/dinner, played soccer/football, and just plain sightseeing first with my parents and later with wife and kids. Well ,found me some old pictures in my vault and decided to do justice with another post on wonderful St Augustine, Florida !

St. Augustine is on the Atlantic coast of Florida. This is the county seat of Saint Johns. about 60 km (37 mi) from Jacksonville and 90 km ( 56mi) from Daytona Beach. Today, Saint Augustine is one of Florida’s most popular destinations. It is ,also, the oldest city in the United States ,founded in 1565 by Pedro Menendez de Aviles for Spain!

The Bridge of Lions completed in 1927 was constructed during the extravagant land boom times in Florida. It was designed as a work of art as much as a transport for cars, connecting downtown St. Augustine with Anastasia Island (great beach!),across Matanzas Bay. A double-leaf bascule bridge, or drawbridge, it opens for boat traffic several times throughout the day. The bridge gets its name from two white marble lion statues guarding the bridge on the west side name Fiel and Firme,or Faithful and Firm, In 2015, two new granite lions were added to the east side of the bridge ,name Pax and Peli, or Peace and Happiness.  A walk across the bridge and back to see all four lions is about a mile (about 1,6 km), and worth every step. From its earliest days, it was hailed as “The Most Beautiful Bridge in Dixie.” (south US), It has long been a symbol of the US oldest city.  Renovation work was completed on March 17, 2010 when it reopened for use. The restored Lion statues were returned after a 6-year absence, early in the morning of March 15, 2011. The current bridge’s west entrance features manicured gazebos, landscaped palm trees and a new publicly accessible dock extending partially into the bay.

Saint Augustine bridge of lions into town from beach side

The city of Saint Augustine tourist office on the Bridge of Lions:https://www.visitstaugustine.com/thing-to-do/bridge-lions

One of my best memories of the town is the Flagler College (univ) a wonderful place where I came to play soccer/football against them and usually won! I came later to show it off to parents, wife and boys for many more years.  Flagler College 74 King St.: is a unique combination of the past and present, and an architectural icon of the city of St. AugustineThe college, founded in 1968, is centered on a former luxury hotel, the Ponce de Leon hotel, built in 1888 at the request of the industrialist Henry Morrison Flagler. Originally for women only, the college became coeducational in 1971.

Saint Augustine

In 1887, Thomas Edison and the Edison Electric Company installed the world’s largest incandescent lighting plant at Hotel Ponce de Leon, also making it the first building in the country to be designed with electric wiring throughout. Upon opening in January 1888, the structure was considered an engineering and architectural marvel due to it being the largest structure made of poured concrete at the time, plus modern amenities like electricity, running water, game rooms, private parlors , and of course all of the Gilded Age splendor inside and out. The hotel notable guests include Presidents Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt, and John F Kennedy, Vice President Lyndon B Johnson, writers Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), Ernest Hemingway, Edna Ferber, star athlete Babe Ruth, and so many more. The Ponce de Leon saw major success which prompted Mr Flagler to build Hotel Alcazar across the street, now the Lightner Museum and City Hall. The hotel was taken over by the federal government during WWII. It was primarily used as a Coast Guard Training Centre; the hotel was permanently closed in 1967. In 1968, it was reopened as the Flagler college.

The city of St Augustine tourist office on Flagler college :https://www.visitstaugustine.com/thing-to-do/flagler-college

The Lightner Museum 75 King Street . Enjoy the atmosphere and artwork of another age at this elegant Museum, formerly the Alcazar Hotel. The Lightner Museum is a museum of antiques, mostly American Gilded Age pieces .The Hotel Alcazar was commissioned by Henry Flagler, to appeal to wealthy tourists who traveled south for the winter on his railroad, the Florida East Coast Railway.  The hotel had a steam room, massage parlor, sulfur baths, gymnasium, a three-story ballroom, and the world’s largest indoor swimming pool; however, after years as an elegant winter resort for wealthy patrons, the hotel closed in 1932. On August 20, 1947 Chicago publisher Otto C. Lightner purchased the building to convert the old hotel into a hobbies museum. He used the space to house several collections, including his own extensive collection of Victorian era art . He then turned it over to the city of St. Augustine and the museum opened to the public in 1948.  The museum occupies three floors of the former Hotel Alcazar and is housed in the former health facilities of the hotel, including the spa and the Turkish bath, in addition to its three-story ballroom.

Saint Augustine

The official Lightner Museumhttps://lightnermuseum.org/

The Castillo de San Marcos  1 South Castillo Drive: The oldest masonry fort in the continental U.S., the castle fortress is the focal point of historical St. Augustine. The Castillo de San Marcos built by the Spanish, is the oldest fort built between 1672-1695. It changed its name several times: it was called Fort St. Mark during the British period (1763-1784) then Fort Marion between 1821 and 1942.

Saint Augustine castle San Marcos

In 1670, the establishment of Charles Town (current Charleston in South Carolina) located only two days of navigation by the English made the construction of the fort all the more necessary. Work on the Castillo de San Marcos began in October 1672 , done with Anastasia Island coquina  used for the walls; this is a limestone sedimentary rock formed mainly from incompletely consolidated shells found on the coasts of Florida . The manpower that is lacking on site comes partly from Havana (Cuba), as does the military engineer in charge of the work, Ignacio Daza. Native Americans are also involved.  The Castillo de San Marcos site covers 8.3 hectares. The fort is surrounded by water ditches whose height is regulated by a gate according to the tides. Several bastions and turrets are there to avoid blind spots. The fort has a square plan, each vertex of which is extended by a diamond-shaped bastion. Each bastion has at least one cannon. In the center of the building is the plaza de armas around which the different rooms are distributed.

The National Parks Service on the Castillo San Marcoshttps://www.nps.gov/casa/index.htm

The city of St Augustine tourist office on the Castillo San Marcoshttps://www.visitstaugustine.com/thing-to-do/castillo-de-san-marcos

The Basilica Cathedral of St. Augustine 38 Cathedral Place.  America’s first parish and the oldest Catholic Church in the city. Explore this exquisite building and view the Spanish-inspired architecture. The Basilica Cathedral of Saint Augustine, was built over five years between 1793–1797. It’s congregation, founded in 1565, is the oldest in the United States. This pic is a repeat and newer but I like it ::)

St Augustine cathedral panel PF 1990s

The first church of Saint Augustine was only a frame construction, decorated with disparate materials. The original parish had only an ephemeral existence, since it was sacked and burned in 1586 by the English privateer Francis Drake.  The church raised an extraordinary tithe in Spain, which made it possible to build a permanent church in 1605, with the participation of masons and carpenters already familiar with the materials available in the New World. This new building lasted 95 years this time despite visible dilapidation, before being burnt down in 1702 during a failed raid on the city, led by James Moore. When Spain recovered these lands in 1784, a civic and patriotic revival pushed the fortunes of the country to undertake the construction of a cathedral, between 1793 and 1797. Florida had been a U.S. state since 1845; on April 12, 1887, the cathedral was again engulfed in fire but this time the coquina masonry was repairable.  Thanks to donations from Henry Flagler and a nationwide campaign to expand the building to give it a Latin cross basilica plan, and a European-style transept.

Saint Augustine Cathedral main altar

The facade of the Basilica Cathedral of St Augustine, marries the neoclassical style with the architecture of the Spanish missions characterized by their scrolled gable , austere interior lighting, a roof in tiles in terracotta, a semi-circular tympanum, abundant niche statuary and bare walls.  At Saint Augustine, neoclassical elements frame the portal: the entablature decorated with triglyphs is enhanced by a pediment and rests on two Doric columns. Nice

The Diocese of St Augutine virtual tour of the Cathedralhttps://thefirstparish.org/virtual-tour/

The city of St Augustine tourist office on the Cathedralhttps://www.visitstaugustine.com/thing-to-do/cathedral-basilica-st-augustine

For more on Saint Augustine, the area tourist office of Saint Augustine and Ponte Vedrahttps://www.floridashistoriccoast.com/things-to-do/

There you go folks, ths is a must when visiting FLorida . Enjoy St Augustine, as I always had, and looking forward one day eventually to revisit. Hope you enjoy this retrospective with older photos as I

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

May 30, 2022

Orlando of Florida!!!

Let me stay in nostalgia lane shall we ! I am remembering my fav places in my dear Florida USA, a State I lived for 18 yrs of my life, graduated from university, got married, has my best pro job experiences there, and my 3 boys were born, Let me tell you a bit more about Orlando ,Orange county, Florida , bringing back many memorable moments in my life that should be in my blog, Hope you enjoy the post and do come visit , a very popular place indeed,

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One anecdote for credit when credit is due, my last girlfriend before marrying my Frenchie was met at Nichols’s Alley (now closed) at 70 West Amelia avenue, Orlando while she was going to the University of Central Florida but was a native of Daytona Beach, ok, done deal was not to be.

Orlando attracts about 75 million tourists a year and is the second largest hotel city in the USA, The City of Orlando is nicknamed “the City Beautiful”, and its symbol is the Linton E. Allen Memorial Fountain, commonly referred to as simply the “Lake Eola fountain” at Lake Eola Park, Together with the University of Central Florida, the seventh-largest university in the United States by capacity, Within its urban area, there are more than 100 lakes, the largest being Apopka, Eustis, Griffin, Harney, Harris, Jesup, Monroe, Sand Lake, Conway, and Tohopekaliga, Some of the best neighborhoods and suburbs ,me think are Downtown Orlando ,Winter Park, Celebration, Lake Buena Vista (disney), Winter Garden, and Altamonte Springs.

The area is very well serve by the Orlando International Airport which have used, and from where my Frenchie came to marry me in 1990! Another major factor in Orlando’s growth occurred in 1962, when the new Orlando Jetport, the precursor of the present-day Orlando International Airport, was built from a portion of the McCoy Air Force Base. By 1970, four major airlines (Delta Air Lines, National Airlines, Eastern Airlines, and Southern Airways;(flew on the first 3 all gone now except Delta) were providing scheduled flights. McCoy Air Force Base officially closed in 1975, and most of it is now part of the airport. The airport still retains the former Air Force Base airport code (MCO).

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A bit of history I like on Orlando

Prior to being known by its current name, Orlando was once known as Jernigan. This name originates from the first European permanent settlers, Issac and Aaron Jernigan, cattlemen who moved from the state of Georgia , and chose the name after the protagonist in the Shakespeare play As You Like It. Prior to the arrival of Europeans in 1536, Orlando was populated by Native Americans including the Creeks. Few archaeological sites exist today except for the ruins of Fort Gatlin on Lake Gatlin south of Orlando. This fort was built in 1838 by the American army during the wars against the Seminoles, but was abandoned after the end of the Third Seminole War, Most pioneers did not arrive until after hostilities in 1850.

And the things to see oh my my loaded in Orlando !

Along the I-4 expressway, you reach the Orlando magical area, what can I say,,,The Walt Disney World resort is the area’s largest attraction with its many facets such as the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach, and Disney Springs. The Walt Disney World Resort is located about 30 km from Orlando, actually by the Lake Buena Vista city area but commonly call Orlando. Perhaps the most critical event for Orlando’s economy occurred in 1965 when Walt Disney announced plans to build Walt Disney World. The vacation resort opened in October 1971.

orlando magic kingdom me and twin 1993

Others like  Universal Studios, is a multi-faceted resort comprising Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, Volcano Bay, and Universal CityWalk.,  SeaWorld is a large park that features numerous zoological displays and marine animals alongside an amusement park with roller coasters like Mako, Manta, and Kraken. The property also comprises more than one park, alongside Aquatica water park and Discovery Cove. Fun Spot Orlando is a more typical amusement parks with big thrills in a small space with roller coasters like White Lightning and Freedom Flyer. Orlando is also home to I-Drive 360 on International Drive home to The Wheel at ICON Park Orlando, Madame Tussauds, and Sealife Aquarium. Also, WonderWorks an amusement park for the mind ,and Ripley ‘s Believe it or Not ! Memories forever!!!!

Orlando wonderworks on I drive

Some of the shopping centers or malls that we frequented while living there were the The Florida Mall is the largest mall in Orlando and one of the largest single-story malls in the USA . There are over 250 stores, seven anchor department stores, and the Florida Mall Hotel & Conference Center Tower. Orlando Fashion Square is located on East Colonial Drive, near Downtown Orlando. Orlando International Premium Outlets is an outdoor outlet mall with over 180 stores. Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores is a strip mall style open-air outlet center, that is located 2 miles from Walt Disney World near US-192, Orlando Premium Outlet mall, 4951 International Drive,now call Orlando Vineland, and the Pointe in I-drive.

We had many many nights out to eat , and many have closed after so many years but the most memorable one , and still open was at TGIFridays I-Drive, This one will post the webpage : https://locations.tgifridays.com/fl/orlando/8955-international-dr.html

The Orlando Tourist office on things to do : https://www.visitorlando.com/things-to-do/

The city of Orlando on transports : https://www.orlando.gov/Parking-Transportation

The Florida State tourist board on Orlando things to do : https://www.visitflorida.com/places-to-go/central/orlando/

There you go folks, even if pictures are few as in those days were not important the memories lingered forever, This is my youthful life in the Sunshine State of Florida and Orlando was a big part of it. Family came and we still went at even in my last visit in 2009 to visit my cousin who now lives there, Hope you enjoy the post and have the opportunity to visit this marvel city of Orlando, Florida.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

May 30, 2022

Tampa of Florida!!!

Again on my nostalgic mode, just glance at some old pictures and gave me the idea to do this post on Tampa dear to me. I have several posts on my dear Florida , but needed to do justice on Tampa. I will try to bring it to life in my blog for memories’s sake. Hope you enjoy it as I.

The quick anecdote in my road warrior youthful ways of Florida, came to Tampa as my university played soccer/football vs Univ of Tampa and USF=Univ of South Florida and came to know the city well. So well one of my longest running girlfriend was met at USF she been from PA=Pennsylvania. In later years, came to take my family with my Frenchie to see Busch Garden and other parks, restaurants, and sights and eventually with my boys. One sight closer to home was Ybor City and the Columbia restaurant.  Nowdays, 3 cousins live in Tampa so the memories continue strong. 

Let me tell you a bit on the history of the city of Tampa, the county seat of Hillsborough on the west coast of the State of Florida. It is located about 300 km from Miami, on Tampa Bay. It was discovered in the early 16C by the Spaniards, the town was founded around Fort Brooke. The conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez was the first European to discovered the Tampa region in April 1528. The following year, another Spaniard, Hernando de Soto, rescued the members of the Narvaez expedition. In the 18C, the region of Tampa saw the installation of Cuban fishermen, in the current district of Hyde Park. When Great Britain acquired Florida in 1763, in the treaty of Paris (Spain, GB, Cuba) ,the bay was baptized Hillsborough Bay (which is the name of the river). After a second period of Spanish domination, the Territory of Florida integrated the United States in 1821,finally becoming the 27th State in March 3,1845.

Tampa was a major center of cigar production, when Vicente Martinez Ybor relocated his tobacco factories from Key West to Tampa in 1886 (after coming from Cuba to Key West). Tobacco was imported from Cuba and processed by Cuban and Spanish workers. At its peak, Ybor City had nearly 12,000 tabaqueros (cigar workers) in 200 factories ! There are still a couple left in Ybor City (name after Vicente) , The Ybor City district has many historic buildings, including two former cigar factories, the El Pasaje Hotel, the Ritz Theater and the Ferlita Bakery, which now houses the Ybor City State Museum. It was the center of Cuban revolutionary actions for independence from Spain. The Cuban revolutionary party founded by independence hero José Marti.

In 1891, Henry B. Plant had the Tampa Bay Hotel built in the then fashionable Moorish style. 400 meters long and with more than 500 rooms, it was equipped with electric lighting and the city’s first elevator. The building is a testament to the tourist boom in Florida in the last years of the 19C. Three years after its closure in 1930, its premises were taken over by the University of Tampa (which I played soccer against them) In 1956 the University of South Florida was created (which I played soccer against them and had my girlfriend from PA,,,see above). 

The wonderful road I-4 reach the Tampa area from Orlando and Daytona Beach areas, I remember fondly visiting Busch Gardens (a zoo and beer park owned by Budweiser), Ybor City , where you will find the oldest Spanish restaurant in the USA ,est, 1905. Columbia our home away from home wherever they were in Florida, several location now.  Also Shells restaurant home of show business,  and shopping at Channelside, Hyde Park Village, Westshore Plaza,and Ybor City own stores. Also, the Florida Aquarium, Lowry Park Zoo, etc ; nice memories here. I ,stayed in nice hotels like the Grand Hyatt, Marriotts, Intercontinental, Embassy Suites, and Holiday Inn Busch Gardens locations.

tampa columbia resto outside MF et NF

tampa-busch-gardens-mf-et-boys-c1998

tampa-shells-resto-mf-et-pf-c1998

The memories of going to Tampa Stadium at 4201 North Dale Mabry Highway are huge this stadium was called Houlihan’s Stadium from 1996-1998 known also as the Big Sombrero (hat), then demolished to built the  Raymond James Stadium. The new Raymond James stadium webpage : https://raymondjamesstadium.com/

And for the historical incline like me info on the old Tampa Stadium where I came to see the Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL) football/soccer team with leyends like Rodney Marsh,  etc!! : http://football.ballparks.com/NFL/TampaBayBucs/oldindex.htm

I have an old picture from the later name Steinbreinner stadium for the spring training of the New York Yankees baseball team, my team since birth, their webpage :  https://www.gmsfield.com/spring-training

Tampa old yankee spring training stadium visiting with abuelo manolo

The city of Tampa on thing to do/see :https://www.tampa.gov/info/things-to-do

The Tampa Bay Area tourist office: https://www.visittampabay.com/

There you go folks, a short but very memorable post to have on Tampa in my blog for us. Hopefully, it will help your planning too visiting a wonderful part of my dear Florida. I lived last there 18 yrs in Central and South Florida before coming for good to France!  A lovely life only cut short for losses to dear mom and wife. Enjoy the post as I doing it for you , them ,and me.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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