St. Augustin (San Agustín), located in northeastern Florida, was founded on September 8th, 1565, by the Hispanic admiral, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés. It is the second-oldest continuously inhabited city with European roots in United States territory after San Juan, Puerto Rico, which was founded in 1521.
The Hispanic admiral named the settlement “San Augustín“, as his ships first sighted land on August 28th, St. Augustine of Hippo’s feast day. For over 200 years the city served as the capital of Spanish Florida. However, the Treaty of Paris, signed in 1763, after Great Britain’s victory over France and Spain during the Seven Years’ War, ceded Florida to Great Britain in exchange for Cuba and the Philippines. With the change of government, most of the Spanish inhabitants and many freed slaves departed from St. Augustine to Cuba.
The second Treaty of Paris, signed in 1783, formalized the independence of the American colonies north of Florida and returned Florida to Spain. Spain had granted loans to the United States to enable the purchase of war material and had generally viewed the war as an opportunity to weaken its enemy Great Britain.
Spain had long rejected repeated American efforts to purchase Florida. The country had been exhausted by the Peninsular War (1807–1814) against Napoleon in Europe and by 1818 was facing a disastrous situation in its American colonies which gradually forced its hand. Thus, a cession of Florida increasingly made sense. Upon ratification of the Adams-Onís Treaty in 1821, Spain ceded Florida to the United States.
Since the late 19th century, St. Augustine’s distinct historical character has made the city a tourist attraction.
Statistics show that most fans drive 43 miles (70 km) and spend 1 hour and 54 minutes in a car to attend a concert. Only 10 % drive over 100 miles (170 km) to experience a musician’s live performance.
Back in October 2019 listening to Post Malone’s new album “Hollywood’s Bleeding” over and over again, I felt a deep desire to attend one of his live shows. Unable to attend his performance in Greensboro, North Carolina, driving 459 miles (740 km) to Jacksonville, Florida was, therefore, not an obstacle. Patrick and I arrived an hour before the concert began. However, we were so excited that we did not notice our exhaustion from the 7-hour trajectory. It was an overwhelming concert filled with unforgettable memories. He even smashed his guitar on stage! The night ended on Jacksonville Beach eating Popeyes under a sky full of stars.
Since the motel did not offer a healthy and nutritious breakfast, we decided to explore the city of St. Augustine and let ourselves be surprised. For a European driving through Florida is an experience! Not only do you encounter continuous 4-lane highways and beautiful, tropical landscapes but also crazy Floridian drivers! Although it was impressive seeing much open space, I was becoming forebodingly “hangry”.
By complete coincidence, we stumbled across an agglomeration of Foodtrucks where I spotted my long sought after breakfast. As the Big Island Bowls food truck offers a wide variety of Acai Bowls, Poke Bowls, Burritos, Smoothies and Vegan meals, I was delighted with what was on offer. Patrick, however, was not completely convinced since he is used to a traditional American diet. Therefore, I had to introduce him gently. Luckily, he decided to try the “Classic Acai Bowl” which completely convinced him. He declared the bowl, topped off with crunchy Granola, sweet bananas and a slight drizzle of honey, to be his favorite morning meal. Since then he has yearned to return to Big Island Bowls.
After such a satisfying breakfast, we were well prepared for the city of St. Augustine not knowing which treasures we were going to discover. My origins lie in Spain, more specifically in Córdoba. This city in the province of Andalusia was an important Roman city with major Islamic influences during the Middle Ages. Therefore, as soon as I saw the buildings’ architecture, I immediately felt welcome. By exploring the city my eyes wandered from building to building which in total resembled an inviting little beach town. I instantly felt at home when I saw streets named “Seville”, Cordova”, “Almeria”, etc., all well-known cities and towns in southern Spain.
Presently we arrived at St. George Street, the main shopping street in St. Augustine. My stay in the United States so far has taught me that most Americans’ social life takes place in the shopping centers. Only in larger cities is it common to find retailers close together on one street. For this reason, I immediately fell in love with the crowded main street as it reminded me greatly of Europe. The street was teeming with life with all sorts of shops next to each other selling everything from swimwear to jewellery. It represented the perfect vibrant, colourful beach and tourist town. Rumor has it that “Likit Dole Whip“, which we found next to the oldest wooden schoolhouse in the USA, serves the best Dole Whips in town. Therefore, we had to buy a classic Pineapple Vanilla Float. Owing to the tropical temperatures that prevail in Florida, this tasty treat was definitely the most delicious, refreshing and mouth-watering ice cream and we savoured every single drop.
Although the Dole Whip was wonderfully refreshing, it did not satisfy our hunger for long. As we wanted to go to the waterline, we decided to have lunch at a beach bar on St. Augustine Beach, a few miles south of St. Augustine itself. There we enjoyed our meal in a relaxed atmosphere with a beautiful view of the endless expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. After our delicious meal at Beach Comber, it was time for a plunge, which was cut short, unfortunately, by a heavy shower forcing us to flee, soaking wet, to the car and the motel. We left early the next day in order to visit a plantation on the way back. Can you imagine driving through the Southern States and not visiting one? Not really, so we decided to take a little detour via Charleston and drive to the famous “Magnolia Plantation” in South Carolina.