Monday, June 30, 2014

St. Augustine: A Welcoming Place

I have just returned from a delightful long weekend in St. Augustine, Florida. I decided to take Thursday and Friday off from the office (the magazine is uploaded) and drive down on a whim, having never been there and having an offer for free lodging (my roommate is there on business). I invited one of my best pals from childhood, Mariann, to meet me since she lives in Florida. The result was a tantalizing weekend of good food, touring the city and wallowing in decadent relaxation.

In fact, it was probably one of my top five out-of-state vacations. I've been thinking about what made it such a winner, and I came up with the solution: It's because I pretty much lived like a local the whole time. Oh, sure, I did enough touristy stuff -- Mariann and I took a ghost tour; I bought some souvenirs; I stayed in a hotel and shaved my legs with a Bic. But the bulk of the weekend was spent getting to know how the natives of St. Augustine live. Below is a list of the ways I fit right in with the scene.

1. The first afternoon I was in town, I wandered to St. Augustine Beach and struck up a conversation with several locals in a beachfront bar that had no AC (just a bunch of fans blowing), befriending them to the point of trading poems with one guy and scoring free drinks.

2. While I was waiting for Mariann to arrive on Friday morning, I Googled a local yoga studio and signed up for an a la carte class, which just happened to be the same type of yoga I'd taken at home in Mount Pleasant two days before.

3. I went to Mass on Sunday morning, paying a visit to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine. It was lovely. Sure, I was wearing a strapless sundress like an obnoxious tourist. But so was everyone else. Plus, Catholics don't really dress up for church much.

4. John and I went shopping at Target. I bought a pink swimsuit bottom. We also went to Barnes & Noble, where i picked up the local publications.

5. Hanging out with Mariann (or any close friend) always makes me feel more at home. It was fun laughing at random stuff like the old days in 1993.

6. I read three poems in a local coffee shop called City Coffee. John and I had lunch there, and I noticed they were hosting an open mic that afternoon. So, I signed up and read off my phone screen, just like I would in Charleston!

As you can see, playing tourist was only part of the agenda over the weekend; I also did a swell job at playing local. I can't wait to go back and visit St. Augustine. It's hard not to love a place where you feel so at home.

No, that's not cough syrup. We're at a wine tasting. 

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