Home

Lots More Columns Get Column E-mailed 222 Best Senior Links Week's Best Jokes

Pans and Praise

Today's Column

Senior Travel Other Good Stuff Epic Senior Trivia Bee's Knees Nostalgia

Forum


OUR FAVORITE FLORIDA DESTINATION
— ST. AUGUSTINE —
NOW GONE TO THE BIRDS

Photos and story by Frank Kaiser

Don't get me wrong!

Our nation's oldest city is still Carolyn's and my Number One favorite attraction in Florida.

Forget about Orlando and its mousy pretense.

Unless you're a thrill-seeking kid with a huge allowance, Disneyworld offers little but long lines and costly hoopla. Once there is enough, even for Sea World, Central Florida's best attraction.

But St. Augustine?

Here's a town to which you return as we have, time after time, as if to an old friend who always has an exciting new tale to tell, a beautiful new face to show.

It's a place that has it all — a lovely southern town whose charm and smile has not diminished since I was first there as a child in the 1940s.

There's serious history here, beginning with the massive Castillo de San Marcos fort, the oldest house, the oldest wooden school, in fact an entire neighborhood of some of the oldest and most distinctive architecture in the New World.

You wouldn't expect less from a US city founded in 1565.

For all its history, St. Augustine is a lively, family-friendly place, with comfortable restaurants serving up fresh local seafood, colorful bars complete with wenches slinging pints, and pirates spinning ghostly tales aboard the 72' schooner "Freedom."

It's a town that can be easily explored on foot or by popular sightseeing trains with unlimited on and off privileges.

“Drive On“ Beaches

Located below Jacksonville and above Daytona on Florida's northeast coast, St. Augustine has something for everyone.

There's Ripley's "Believe it or Not" museum, parasailing, helicopter tours, scenic cruises, walking ghost tours, deep-sea fishing, golf, Potter's Wax Museum, jet skiing, truly great shopping for local crafts and one-of-a-kind treasures — and right in the middle of it all, beautiful Flagler College, built in 1887 by Henry Flagler as the grand Hotel Ponce de Leon.

Just across the old Bridge of Lions — now being restored — are the famed Alligator Farm with its 22 species of crocodilians, the beautiful St. Augustine lighthouse (complete with yet another ghost tour), and 43 pristine miles of wide ocean beaches, some of which you can drive if you wish.

It's the gators and the recently remodeled Marineland further down the road that I best remember from the '40s. In those pre-Disney days, Marineland, with its bottlenose dolphin show, was Florida's biggest tourist attraction.

Photographer Magnet

Today, if you want to see wildlife — up close and personal — the gator farm is where it's happening. Between mid March and July, the park's swampy habitat is breeding ground for many species of water birds.

With always-hungry alligators protecting the trees from opossums, raccoons, and other natural predators, more than 500 pair of birds and their young nest just yards away from you and your camera.

I knew nothing of this until a year ago when I joined a local camera club. Exhibited were fantastic images of wood storks in flight, intimate close-ups of egrets, herons, ibis and roseate spoonbills. Even in Florida‘s Everglades, you don't get photos that close up, that visceral. But, I was told, you can and you do at St. Augustine's Alligator Farm.

And so, a year ago, Carolyn and I spent several days there during Florida's First Coast Birding & Nature Festival photographing the birds in the morning and evening, and during the day attending workshops and field trips led by such famous photographers as Rick Sammon and Darrell Gulin.

For a serious amateur photographer like me, it was heaven!

Each year's schedule of events includes maybe 100 workshops, lectures, birding tours, and boat excursions — plus sailing and kayaking. There's something for everyone, especially the grandkids.

This year's Festival will be next week, from April 12 – 15, 2007. You can still get in on it by calling 800.514.3849 or logging onto www.Getaway4Florida.com.

Just last week, Carolyn and I drove up to St. Augustine again, this time with fellow members of the Photographic Society of America, renewing our love affair with the area and again marveling at some of nature's most beautiful creatures as they flew in and out, gathering material for nests.

With north Florida's year around mild climate, we'd recommend visiting the area any time of the year. St. Augustine‘s historic district — with its cobblestone streets and quaint cafes, bars, shops and bed-and-breakfast inns — is an all-American treat you don't want to miss in this lifetime.

THE NITTY-GRITTY:

NEXT "BIRDING AND FOTOFEST," APRIL 10 - 13, 2008

Getting There: Convenient to Jacksonville, Orlando, and Daytona airports, St. Augustine is about a four-hour drive from my Tampa/St. Petersburg area on the other side of Florida. Many marinas around the area make boating access handy by sea, river, or intercoastal waterway.

Costs: "Reasonable" is the key word on prices all over this family-friendly town. Restaurants and lodging run the gamut in style, price, and cuisine. Leave the historic district and lodging at chains like Sleep Inn is dull, but inexpensive. We stayed at two charming B&Bs right in town, each on the water.

At the first, Bayfront Westcott (circa 1880s), guest rooms have fireplaces or double Jacuzzi baths. (146 Avenida Menendez; 904.824.4301; www.westcotthouse.com) Sunday-Thursday, $129-$169. Friday & Saturday, $199-$249.

Down the street, overlooking Matanzas Bay, Casablanca Inn (circa 1914), features sprawling verandahs that transport you to a gentler time of rocking chairs, hammocks, gracious Southern breakfast, lemonade and homemade chocolate chip cookies. (24 Avenida Menendez; 904.829.0928; www.casablancainn.com). Sleep Number beds. Low season — Sunday-Thursday, $129-$239, Friday & Saturday, $179-$319. High Season — Sunday-Thursday, $139-$299, Friday & Saturday, $199-$349.

Day Trips: In addition to the historic attractions of St. Augustine, you're only minutes from several beaches, Unspoiled Flagler Beach is 40 miles away. Jacksonville, Daytona, Cape Kennedy, and Orlando are all close enough for day tripping.

Get More Here: For information about St. Augustine and/or to have information mailed to you, please call the Chamber of Commerce at 904.829.5681 or visit www.staugustinechamber.com. Good info, especially pertaining to the Birding and Nature Festival, is available by calling 800.418.7529 and at www.Getaway4Florida.com.

Copyright © 2007 - Frank Kaiser


GET SUDDENLY SENIOR EVERY FRIDAY. SIMPLY SEND A BLANK E-MAIL TO GET-SS@SUDDENLYSENIOR.COM

TO CANCEL YOUR FREE SUDDENLY SENIOR E-MAIL, SEND A BLANK E-MAIL TO REMOVE-SSLIST@SUDDENLYSENIOR.COM

BE SURE TO CHECK OUT THE FUNNY LINKS BELOW


NEW AT SUDDENLY SENIOR

Getting Old Stinks!

Suddenly Senior reader, Nora Ortega, grabs this month’s golden ring with her April “Letter of the Month.” As she says, “Even with severe Fibromyalgia, life can be good. Especially when we're able to look back to our youth.“ Read Nora’s letter here.

Safe Sex for Seniors

The latest in Joan Price‘s informative series about senior sex, “Better Than I Ever Expected.” Read all about how to make the most of your relationships, including tips on choosing a lubricant and safe sex toys. Read Joan’s inside scoop here now!

Do We Ignore Health Care Reality?

HOW AARP LETS SENIORS DOWN AT OUR PERIL. Another excellent column in retired pharmacist Tom Braun’s column, “Confessions of a Drug Pusher.” Read what happened when Tom wrote AARP about seniors overdosing on Tylenol. CLICK HERE!


TRAVEL COLUMNS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED

The Charms of Madison County

If you ever want to get away from it all, and return to the friendlier world you knew as a kid, I suggest that you visit or retire to Florida's Madison County. Its comfort and ease is akin to that first deep breath you take as you step off a jet following a particularly harrowing flight.

All about how to reinvent yourself. Again. Maybe through a hot-air balloon flight. Retirement is about being what and who you want. Fresh starts without fear.

Aging Tarzans, Janes Discover
Why Americans Love Costa Rica

From the primeval rainforests and volcanoes (see photo) to the ever-smiling, waving and helpful Ticos, Frank and Carolyn explore this Central American democracy and find it fascinating from Atlantic to Pacific. Inexpensive, too.

And the answer is “Yes, You Can Afford to Retire in Costa Rica!” Also read “A Fresh Look at Costa Rica for Retirement“ by Andrew Mastrandonas, an American living in Costa Rica where he owns a relocation tour company designed to provide an introduction to Costa Rica for retirees considering moving there.

Today's China is the safest, friendliest, and most fascinating country you can visit this year. Frank and Carolyn just returned from what Frank calls their "Spoiled Rotten in China" tour.

China Smiles

Our love affair with China, seen through Carolyn’s sharp eyes. Great tips on how to fit in, photograph, and generally charm any country, anywhere.

Carolyn, and I are three miles up — 15,000 feet — falling, tumbling, soaring through space at 174 feet per second, 120 mph or "terminal velocity." Read why two old goats jumped from a perfectly good airplane.



THIS WEEK'S BEST SENIOR CARTOON


THIS WEEK'S BEST 222 SENIOR SITES
http://www.suddenlysenior.com/links.shtml
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
THE BEST OF SENIOR SEX
http://www.suddenlysenior.com/sexpage.html
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
SEE THE BEST SENIOR NOSTALGIA ANYWHERE, http://www.suddenlysenior.com/nostalgiapage.html
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
SEE THE BEST SENIOR TRIVIA ANYWHERE, http://www.suddenlysenior.com/triviapage.html


HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND, EVERYONE!

Frank Kaiser frank@suddenlysenior.com

http://www.suddenlysenior.com/

Suddenly Senior — the nationally syndicated column read by more 2.3 million over age 50 in 131 countries who've become senior way before their time.

PicoSearch
FIND IT AT
SUDDENLY SENIOR!




SINCE 1999, AMERICA'S MOST TRUSTED SENIOR CITIZEN WEBSITE


Seniors Having Fun
• To be a Kid Today in Florida

How Suddenly Senior began
• E-MAIL FRANK


Now read by 3.1 million in 83 newspapers from Florida’s St. Petersburg Times to the Mumbai, India News. CLICK FOR MORE INFO


ADVERTISE WITH
SUDDENLY SENIOR


ite(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost + "google-analytics.com/ga.js' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E"));