AMERICA’S OLDEST CITY

AMERICA’S OLDEST CITY

St. Augustine is the oldest city in the nation, so I have been told. America is not that old anyway. What, maybe six centuries?

That’s six hundred plus years. America is still a baby. Certainly not as old as the Middle East, or Europe or Asia. It was a fun place to visit and see where people had walked in the past.

Guys doing cannon demo

Today’s blog is not about American history though, it is about one of the cities founded at the beginning, in 1565 says history.  Fifty-five years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, the Spanish established St. Augustine.

Tom and historic sign

The Spanish bakery there is famous, on the famous George Street. It has been handed down through the  years and has stayed in the same family. They bake delicious breads to dunk in their delicious soups.

There is a fort, right on the water and in the town center, where they did a cannon shooting demonstration. We were able to see the dormitories for the guards.

We stayed at one of Marriott’s Autograph Collection Hotels in St. Augustine. It was lovely. The Casa Monica was opened in 1888, and is filled with authentic antiques only seen in museums. They were easily identifiable by their historic characteristics.

England’s William & Mary chest, 17th century, walnut with brass tear drop pulls, and bun feet.

The city’s skyline was dramatic with its spheres and domes.

Sphere & dome

Historic George Street was crowded with tourists as they looked, sought and ate the most delicious looking ice cream combinations you could want. The eateries and pubs were plentiful, as were the shops with their samples of wines and other goodies.

If you are a people watcher, this is the place. The tourists were a mixed bag of colors and faces, young and old. Some from New York, some from the Middle East, some from the Orient. Everyone was friendly and courteous. It was delightful to be in such an amorous atmosphere.

George Street walkway and shops

George Street is an old walkway in St. Augustine. In the evening it is so filled with people, you could rub shoulders. Could be a good way to make new friends.

I am doing some research for my book that I am writing and came across interesting information. The Spheres in the image below are the architectural elements of the former  Ponce de Leon Hotel, 1885-88, where Flagler College was located. It would have been great to visit the building to see Tiffany’s windows in the dining room.  The Ponce de Leon Hotel was designed and built by graduates of McKim, Mead & White offices and the Ecole des Beaux Arts. Famous, very famous architectural offices and school.

These spheres belong to the former Ponce de Leon Hotel, now Flagler College in St. Augustine

The streets had a horse and carriage on every block, sometimes two.

What’s the oldest city you’ve been to?

Lights at night

Shop window at night

LISBON FOR THE DAY

LISBON FOR THE DAY

Oops! Latest in clothes dryers right in the middle of Lisbon, with a beautiful backdrop facade of azulejos. The azulejo (tile) is the most typical and widely used form of decoration in Portugal since the middle ages.

Lisbon, the capital and largest city of Portugal is one of the oldest cities in the world, according to Wikipedia.

The Rossio central square

We saved running around the city until our last day. Mistake. Who could have predicted that my stomach would bubble and gurgle? There are pills for that condition. I took a couple and by the time Lili picked us up, I was able to take the tour sitting down.

Lisbon trolley car

Lili and Gigi are  family, she is Gigi’s sister and she babysat my kids ions ago in New Jersey. She drove the city. Here’s what we saw.

Who remembers trolley cars? They were in Brooklyn, (I rode those), New York City, Philadelphia,  and other American cities. There they were, moving about on the rails, filled with people.

Amoreiras Shopping Center

A typical city with people shopping, talking, walking, lovers everywhere hand-in-hand, and the scents, the wonderful scents and aromas of a busy city, the sweet-sticky-scents of bakeries and cafes ricocheted in the air.

Lisbon has some of the largest shopping malls in Europe. Armazens do Chiado is the most central, Colombo is the largest, and Amoreiras is the oldest, updated to post-modern. They all house well-known international retailers such as Zara and fast food restaurants such as, yes, McDonald’s. They’re ideal for some shopping on a rainy day in the city. It broke my heart, we did not have time to shop. I made up for it in the airport. Well, sort of. The airport shops cannot replace shopping in Lisbon.

Castle of São Jorge

Lili took us to the top of the city where we could see the Castle of São Jorge, the highest point of the city. This place reminded me of a waterfront park in San Francisco, where you find the young people playing instruments, singing, resting, lovers and the interested.

Top of the city. Lili and Gail on the right.

Aquaduct

On the morning of our departure, I took photos from our Marriott Hotel and got a foggy shot of the famous aquaduct. An obvious nod to the ancient Roman influence in Portugal, this massive 18th century aquaduct once delivered water to the entire city from the Mãe d’Água reservoir. Covering a span of some 18 km, about 11 miles, the aquaduct is no longer in use but still serves as an iconic feat of Portuguese engineering on display in the city.

According to the Tenth addition, AAA Europe Travel Book,In an early 19th century dispatch, the Duke of Wellington said “There is something very extraordinary in the nature of the people of the Peninsula, The most loyal and best-disposed . . .” It has not changed.

Donna Emilia (Gigi and Lili’s mother) We were her guests in Sao Martinho.

The heart of Portugal is the people. They are warm, friendly and accommodating. Here’s one of the best, the mother of our hosts.

Red sunshades of cafes in Ribeira Square, Porto

Do you like wine, do you like coffee? Those are serious beverages in Portugal. Next week, cafe’s of Portugal.

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