Shhhhh I’m on vacation part 3

Don’t you love vacations where you can take your time seeing things? St. Augustine is that type of place. You are transported to another time there. Once the fort has been seen and you have had lunch and a drink or two, then we are ready for the afternoon and here there is an unlimited amount of options.

This is when you will need to grab a map at any welcome stand located throughout the city.


There are many map options; you can pick the one that you will use the most. At this point, I will start on St. George Street and go down the street letting you know what I would see and what I would skip.

Depending on how long your stay is or how much walking you want to do; you may want to look into getting a trolley pass. It’s worth it! You get off where you want and hop back on when you want. And along the way you get some great history. If you are smart you will sit near the front so you can talk to the tour guide. As them where to eat, where their favorite place is, they are a great place for inside information.

Medieval Torture museum – cost is $16.80 a ticket. There are two sides to this museum. One is a micro art side that is where the real art is and worth seeing if you like art and history. The Medieval torture side is set up like a wax museum with different torture techniques displayed in scary situations. If you have small children or children with weak stomachs skip this one. If you like the weird and gross and just want some fun, then go for it! If you are watching money put this one further down on the list there are others to see first.

As you walk down St. George St. you pass many places to eat and each place is great. St. Augustine has a high standard as a city of good quality food. They range from different prices due to the venue. There isn’t a place I would not recommend. Some places like the Columbia was named : Named One of America’s Most Historic Restaurants by USA Today per their web site . We have eaten here many times and it is a nice relaxing dinner, we haven’t seen the ghost yet, but who knows— maybe I’m not drinking enough sangria ….

Colonial experience or Colonial QuarterThis will cost you $12.99 for adults 16 and older / $6.99 kids 5-15 / 4 and under free. This is normally a stop on school tours if they can afford it. It is great for history, has a restaurant, wonderful demonstrations, and blacksmiths, climb the watchtower, and learn how to load a musket. The Colonial Quarter is partnership with the University of Florida Historic St. Augustine, so it’s great history being taught. I would try and work this one in.


Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse – cost is $5.00 adults /$4.00 kids 6-12/ 5 and under free. Ummmm, ok if you just have to see it, then by all means go and see it. There is some controversy over the fact that this is the oldest wooden schoolhouse in American. It is indeed the oldest in St. Augustine, first appearing on the books in the 1700’s. It’s a one room schoolhouse, and there were a small handful of children that went to school. There are other better things to see, and I would add it to the bottom of the list somewhere.

Take the trolley and go see the Jail – Adults $9.99/ kids $5.99 but most trolley tours will have a bundle to get that will include the old jail. Painted pink to make it look pretty, it stands apart from the city. The jail was built in 1891 it was not a place you wanted to visit. It is said to be haunted and if you want to visit at night for the ghost tour it is worth the visit, but it is scary just be aware. There is the old store here and the tour will take a little bit of time to go through so if you have small children keep that in mind.

Whew! I think it is about time for dinner and another drink—- maybe that martini bar again! We haven’t even touched on the great hidden places no one talks about yet. Well, tomorrow is another day.

SHHHHH I’m on vacation part 2

After a great breakfast the first thing we do in St. Augustine is head for the fort. It is a must when visiting. If you don’t visit the fort you may have the ghosts of Spanish soldiers follow you home. It will cost you $15.00 a person ages 16 and up, under the age of 16 are free. If you have children you can check out the website before going. There are pages for the kids to learn from and have fun with.


What schools want you to know:

  • The fort was built by the Spanish out of coquina 100 years after St. Augustine the city was established.
  • Coquina is a rock that is made from shells that over time have been bounded together. So the fort is made out of fossils. This material allowed the walls to absorb in impact instead of resisting it. So cannon balls and bullets did not destroy the walls yet acted like dough that pebbles are being thrown at.
  • The fort has been named three times, first Castillo de San Marcos by the Spanish, then the British in 1763 named the Fort Saint Mark, and then the Unites States Army in 1825 named it Fort Marion. The National Park Service in 1942 went back to its original Spanish name.
  • Over the years the fort was used for military defense and storage, it was also used as a prison for a short time.
  • The design of the fort is called bastion. This design means it is not square. There are angles and curves that make it harder to attack. This fort has a star design.
  • The fort sits on 20.5 acres, to give you an idea, Disney’s Magic Kingdom sits on 107 acres. So the fort would sit in just one area of the magic kingdom.


What School Won’t Tell You:



  • There are a couple of ghost stories that go with the fort. The first is one of a soldier that carries a lantern on top to warn boats at they come in from the water. You would have to view the fort at night to see if this is true or false. The second is a love story gone wrong.


  • Colonel Garcia Mari and his wife Dolores are living in St. Augustine and the Colonel is very busy and can’t devote as much time to his wife as she would like. She turns her attention to Captain Abela. The Colonel finds out and is not happy. He takes the two of them and chains them to the walls of the fort and then orders for the room to be sealed. They die there and you can still smell Delores’s perfume in the room some will say.


  • This is an urban myth. There is no evidence to the story. It is true there is a room in the dungeon that was found sealed and when they discovered the room they did find bones inside the room, but no one knows who they belong to.


  • You can go into the hidden room and smell for yourself if you can still smell the perfume. They have left part of the wall open so you must bend down to enter the small empty room.


  • There have been lots of deaths throughout time here at the fort, are some of those spirits still hanging around? Maybe, you would need to experience for yourself.


  • The tour guides are great at the fort and can fill you in on so much information. Don’t ask about the ghosts; they only are allowed to tell you actual facts about the fort.

Ghosts of the Fort:



  • We must remember the age of the fort and that it has been owned by Spain, England, and America. So are these ghosts real? You are the only one that can answer that question.
  • Some people say they can smell Dolores’ perfume in the fort.
  • People have heard the sounds of soldiers’ boots walking the grounds.
  • A staff member once claims he saw a full apparition of a soldier lying in one of the beds.
  • In the cannon room some people claim they are shoved or pushed.
  • A soldier is claimed to be seen with a lantern patrolling the grounds.
  • And the TV show Ghost Adventures gathered what they claim is hard evidence that the fort is indeed haunted.“> 


If you survive the fort visit—-then go for some ice cream on St. George street or some lunch at the Prohibition Kitchen.



SHHHHH, I’m on vacation….

I’m one of these people that just want to chill on vacation. I want to see things, learn things, and just relax. No time line to follow and no one to entertain. If I go with a group, great, but I don’t have to do everything with the group if I don’t feel like it. I also like to know about the place I am going to, so I can weed out the things I want to see down to the things that I have crossed off my list.

St. Augustine, Florida is one of my favorite cities to visit. If you are on a budget try booking at the pirate haus Inn . It’s clean, great breakfast, fantastic people, and great if you have kids.

If money is no object then there are a ton of bed and breakfast, as well as the Hilton and Best Western to checkout. For a great place to visit without the kids is the Tini Martini Bar. You will know you are on vacation with a Martini in one hand sitting outside relaxed around the tiki torches.


A horse drawn carriage ride is worth it before or after that Martini bar visit or in between the visit to the martini bar works as well also. Tell your driver what kind of experience you want. They will focus on history, ghost stories and legends, or just shut up and drive you around. Every time we go to St. Augustine we have taken the horse carriage ride and every time we have come away with a different and unique experience. Personally we look for the American flag carriages, but they are all just as good.

st augustine horse carriage

Things School wants you and your kids to know about the city of St. Augustine:

  • It is the oldest city in the United States
  • It was founded in 1565 by Spain
  • Pedro Menendez de Aviles names St Augustine after a saint
  • The city was 107 years when construction of the fort began
  • The fort Castillo de san Marcos was a military fort used by Spanish and British troops

Things that Schools won’t tell you about St. Augustine:

Not all of the buildings in the town are old. Most of the buildings have a plaque that read, “Recognized as a restored colonial structure by the city of St. Augustine.” This means it was built on the spot and has the same size and layout as the original structure. Read the plaques to know which ones are old and which are rebuilt.

The City is not the oldest in the US, it is the oldest occupied city in the US, but that is too long for t-shirts.

Because of the age of the city it comes with great history and great ghost storied along with great urban legends. Sometimes it is hard to separate the truth from the fact.

The city is known for many things, but did you know that the Spanish freed slaves from the Carolina’s? Slaves would escape and head to Florida to join the Spaniards. They took on Spanish names, and converted to Catholicism. In 1738 Florida Governor Manuel de Montiano granted some land to the slaves. They built a settlement named Fort Mose and it became the first free black settlement in North America. You can visit what is left of Fort Mose.

The Spanish had slaves but they had rights. The Spanish view slaves as human beings, so they were allowed an education, right to marry, they could buy their freedom, and they had rights in court. Slaves were not allowed to be taken away from their families either. So if you bought a slave and he was married with children you took on the whole family. The English on the other hand treated slaves as property with no rights.

The Spanish and black settlers got along great with the native Indians. They married them, traded with them, and even had feasts with them. Some historians would say the first Thanksgiving was actually in St. Augustine.

So when I go to St. Augustine, I get my room, book in, head to Pizza Dina on St. George St. Great pizza pie and we can snack on the left overs in our room when we get the munchies. After we eat we hit the shops on St. George street. Up and down the street to get any purchases out of the way or on the back burner to see if we really want it by the end of the visit. If there is enough time in the day we can hit a ghost tour. There are a lot to choose from and they are all a hit and miss. It really depends on what kind of a tour you want – walking, riding, fun, historical, just research what you want to experience and choose one. They are all worth it in their own ways.

During the next week I’ll take you on a journey to St. Augustine for you to see and view it for yourself, fall in love with and go, or return to it.


Impress your Friends and Family

Treasury Street is the narrowest street in the country. It is seven feet wide.

Travel – verb to make a journey

To travel means to make a journey, or to go or be moved from place to place. Now that right there started me thinking and you know what happens when I start to think…. Yep grab that glass of wine or whatever and let’s take a trip!

Travel means different things for different people. To some it means leaving their native country and traveling to a distant land. To others it may mean to leave the town they live in and visit a neighboring town.

Travel to me means making a memory. It doesn’t matter how far you go as long as you make a memory that will stay with you. I was a care giver to my Father-in-law for many years with Parkinson’s dementia. His memory failed him. One of the worst days I had with him was on the day my husband graduated with his master’s degree.

It was a beautiful day and the family all gathered together to celebrate this great achievement. I had begged with Pop days before to please work with me on this day to make it special for his son. I explained to him that we would get up early, drive and have breakfast, attend the ceremony, and then the whole family would drive to a nice restaurant for a family meal and then come home. He was aware of the events and agreed to do these events.

I had everything in place. I had pills to help with his anxiety, pills for riding in the car, snacks in case he got hungry, water to drink, juice to drink, extra clothes in case he needed a change, his wheel chair, I had thought of everything. I had thought of everything, except for an extra mind with memories.

He started out being confused and not knowing where we were going, well that was understandable. We ate breakfast and arrived at the graduation ceremony. We got seated and greeted the rest of the family. Pop wanted to be right by my side and didn’t want me to leave him. That was ok as well. It was crowded and I understood it was overwhelming. And then it started.

“Why are we here?” “Who are all these people?” “When are we going home?” He didn’t even know his son walked across the stage, even though I was right there telling him to clap for his son who was shaking hands on stage. He didn’t understand why after the event we were taking pictures of the family, and then we get in the car to drive back to town for a late lunch.

Immediately, he started complaining that he was car sick; I was prepared and out came the pills. Then he started with the gagging noises. We grabbed the small trashcan in the car and passed it to him. Then we had to listen to him complain and want to go home. I was pissed.

I had asked for ONE day, one bloody day to have a memory for my husband, his SON, and he couldn’t give it to me. Oh, he gave a memory alright; a horrible, blankity-blank memory and I just wanted to kill him for it.

We wound up taking him home and my teenage daughter stayed with him while my husband, sister, brother-in-law, and I went to lunch. I sulked all the way through lunch. At the end of the day, my husband came and put his arms around me and gave me a hug. He told me he loved me and thanked me for the memory I had given him. He also added, “I know you are upset with Pop, and I was too, but then I realized that he gave all he could. He really wanted the day to go smooth, but it was just too much for him. His memories are going and he doesn’t have the ability to add new ones.” I burst into tears knowing he was right.

That travel trip to the next town over will stay with me for the rest of my life, even if I lose my memories, I won’t lose that one. The main thing that I learned that day was to make journeys you want to remember. It isn’t worth going to the next town, the next state, the next country and coming back with bad memories; you have control over those memories so make them count.

What works for one person for travel may not work for another. You could not drag me onto some cruise ships. I just heard some travel agents gasp. It’s ok, take another sip of wine or whatever. I am not into crowds, I avoid the mall as much as I can, I hate the feeling of being trapped. When I go to the grocery and I see more than two people down an isle; I will avoid that isle until there are less people on it. So the thought of getting on a cruise ship with a ton of people, the size of a small town, just makes me feel sick. That is me, not you. You and your family may like the small floating town.

Netflix’s original “Jack Whitehall Travels with my Father” is the perfect example of two people with very different travel ideas. You must know what you want and what you are willing to overlook in order to have a great trip experience. When you have found what works for you, don’t let someone talk you into doing something you know deep down, you are going to hate. In the end trust your gut. A good travel agent or consultant will listen to what you want and be able to accommodate you properly.

I encourage people all the time to travel in your area to find the right event or town to explore. Once you do that you get the travel bug bite. You want to go further and see more. How do you know where to start and what to do? A really good web site that has everything right there is a good start. You want events in towns, restaurants, museums, specials going on, bands, and a variety of events to check out. A place where you know there will be something listed you will be interested in.

There are so many different web sites out there, but a good one I’ll share is this web site covers most of Pennsylvania, but is getting ready to add more cities and states.

Most cities and towns will have events listed on their city web pages, but it’s nice to have a web site dedicated to just events and travel and not have information about utilities and things you aren’t interested in knowing about that place.

So get out there and start making your own travel memories and join me on these great trips!

Bring me a bucket, or Getting sick on a trip

Ok, grab that glass of wine or whatever and let’s go on a trip.

My brother was in the coast guard many years ago and he worked in the medical side of things. I went to go see a demonstration of him simulating a rescue from the water using a helicopter. It was thrilling to watch my brother hang from a cord attached to the helicopter as he and a basket were lowered to a boat in the water and a passenger was then put in the basket and then lifted up to the helicopter. I was in high school at the time and it was the first time I had seen by brother in a real role as an adult. It was cool knowing he had the skills to actually save a person’s life.

This week there was a video released of a rescue just like the one I saw with my brother, only this one was real. An elderly woman was ill and needed immediate attention and the coast guard came to her rescue.

Bring me a bucket— a famous line from “The meaning of Life”. The actor eats so much that he just can’t even eat a thin wafer without getting sick. I’m sorry, but that was funny.

Let’s face it, no one wants to get sick and especially not while on a cruise or trip, but what happens if you do? Every cruise ship has some kind of medical facility on board, but don’t get all excited. The doctors and nurses are qualified and have equipment to handle a range of treatments and diagnostics, but they aren’t a hospital. This means they can treat you like your regular doctor at home would treat you.

Remember that these doctors don’t have your medical history, so on your tablet or smart phone have a list of all your medications, allergies, surgeries, anything that you would be giving a new doctor. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure and you have a log of these, by all means, take them with you. These are simple apps you can put on your phone or tablet to keep a record of and could help doctors with a treatment.

The ship has an onboard pharmacy, but again it is limited. This isn’t Walgreens, or CVS where we can just pop over and they can get our meds out to us right away. They have simple medications like antibiotics, seas sick medication, and aspirin. They can get you back on your feet for the most part for most minor illnesses.

If you have an ailment that could spread to other passengers then you could be quarantined to your stateroom. After all we don’t want an entire ship getting sick because someone sneezed wrong, or didn’t use proper hand washing methods.

What will all this wonderful treatment cost you? A pretty penny so make sure you have that trip insurance. Just to walk into the clinics could cost you as much as $90.00 and that is billed right to your room. OUCH !! Yeah take another drink of that wine right about now. You pay for the service then you file a claim with your personal insurance carrier and then travel insurance normally covers the rest, but yep, you read that right, you cover it out of pocket first.

So what about if you are so sick you need to visit a hospital? Oh boy, let me take another drink of my wine before I continue.

Some hospitals depending on where you are will make you pay before they will even treat you. We aren’t in Kansas anymore Dorothy. You must file with your insurance after you get home.

Ok enough of the horrible side of things, the good news is that the ship can treat you and get you off at the next port or if an emergency comes up they will call in the coast guard or air vice to get you to a hospital.

If someone dies on board, which sometimes happens, well then we either have a mystery or murder at sea on our hands; or we have someone that was just at the end of their time and they are kept in the morgue until the ship gets to the last port. This very rarely happens so don’t freak out and dwell on this.

Some tips on how to not get sick on a trip would be:

  • Wash, wash, wash your hands – sing the song as you wash them. Oh come on, you know you want to sing the song now. And if you don’t then have another glass of wine or whatever with me.
  • Use hand sanitizer —gern ex wipes these are great because they are small and can fit into any purse or backpack. They also are large enough that when you sit down to eat you can clean off the table and chairs if needed. I’m a little bit of a germophobe and love these wipes.
  • Drink water! stay hydrated
  • Don’t drink water! Unless it is bottled. Don’t drink local water, trust me on this one, your body isn’t use to it. One of the worst times I was sick on a trip was when I went to London and to save money was drinking water, I was sick on the flight home.
  • Use sunscreen, getting a sun burn is never a good idea so just lather up.
  • Take your medication. Be smart and don’t forget to take your medication. Put an alarm on your phone or tablet to remind you.
  • Don’t over eat. They have buckets on board, but just don’t ask for one.


So, for now, have another glass or wine or whatever, and stay healthy so we can see you on that next trip!

Dreams from a child

Growing up the National Geographic magazine was always a big deal in my home. When that magazine arrived we knew we were in for a treat. My older brother was in hope of seeing a woman’s breast no matter how saggy they were, my sister and I were in hope of see some far off land or water exploration. No matter what you were looking forward to, no one touched that magazine until we knew my Father was done reading it. He normally took it to his home office and when he was done he would bring it out in the living room where it was up for grabs. There it would remain until the following month when the new one arrived and the old one was put on the library shelf in the order it was received.

You can imagine my joy when I discovered National Geographic does expedition cruises. How freakin cool is that? For someone like me that doesn’t have a whole lot of money, I was looking to see if there was something that was actually within my reach, and there WAS !!!!

It’s added to my bucket list for now, but they have 5-6 days starting from $2490 at the time of this research. They even tell what type of activity level will be required for old farts like me. I’d have to hit one of the light or moderate activity levels, but young people could do the moderate only ones.

So check this one out, they have special offers for kids! You can save $1000.00 per child under the age of 18 if you book by a certain date on some cruises. This would be fabulous for Home Schoolers. I Home Schooled my kid, that’s why I mentioned that. Can you imagine not only the life lessons you could teach but the whole package of learning experience is untouchable. They would never forget a single thing they learned from that trip. They also have activities just for kids. They focus on the education and fun part so kids are engaged as well as the adults.

Don’t have kids or someone to travel with? Then they offer special deals to solo travelers of select cruises. The size of the ships are small so about 100 passengers are onboard. This makes it nice and cozy. If you want night time entertainment then may I suggest you bring a good book.

Let’s not forget on select cruises there is a complimentary bar tab and gratuities included! OMG sign me up now. That’s what I’m talking about. As a kid I’d sit with a glass of juice or tea and read and dream away. As an adult I’ll take the real thing with a glass of wine please, may I have another please? Not all cruises offer alcoholic beverages so you have to check.

Want to know who you will travel with? Check out the expedition team for each cruise. The photographers and the dates and bio on all are included. Do you have a favorite; pick them on the dates they travel. Again, I’m blown away with the details of these cruises.

Just want to focus of the photography part? Then they have you covered as well. Under the special photography expedition’s part, there are dates that they dedicate just for photography.

Food is very important to me. If I’m going to be stuck on a ship for days; I want to know that the food is going to be good quality. I had some trouble finding out about the food on these cruises because they focus on the expedition. I did find a very good review and while I knew the food would be good, it added some more information on the food and what to expect. Read the rest of his review while you are there, he really gave a great overview of the whole experience.

Well, it’s on my bucket list that is for sure, I’m sold. Who wants to join me? Any home school families want to come? Let me know!