"Being here gives you a slice of Europe."
I can't remember who told me this in reference to St. Augustine. The phrase stuck with me though. I find it to be true and it makes me love this city all the more, while spurring a desire to visit some of the places that inspire the ambiance enjoyed here.
While walking the streets of the historic district, it isn't difficult to see the European influences on the brick paved roads, Spanish themed street names and tiled roofs. Some of our local eateries are so authentic in their respective displays of French, Spanish or Italian culture that you might lose sight of where you are, even if momentarily.
St. Augustine draws tourists from a variety of international destinations. Whether to attend school, tour or relocate - I have met people from the UK, Australia, South Africa and Spain here.
Seeing the enrichment enjoyed by far-flung visitors raises curiosity about the places from which they come. St. Augustine is home to countless snowbirds. They hope to get the best of both respective worlds by alternating time here and various northern destinations to avoid extremes in weather.
The St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Visitors & Convention Bureau (VCB) works hard to raise domestic and international awareness of our historic city. Their publication of Florida's Historic Coast Calendar of Events and Annual Travel Planner have helped countless tourists discover this quaint city.
I don't want to overlook the value that visitors from nearby cities and counties has also had. Florida has so much to offer by way of places that are only a day trip away. Speaking directly with someone from a nearby city is a great way to get acquainted with it and potentially build a desire to explore it in person.
In my childhood, I was accustomed to seeing fireflies on spring and summer nights. After living here for several years, it dawned on me that I hadn't seen a single firefly in the Sunshine State. In researching this, I came across the suggestion that those in search of "lightning bugs" should wait until the right season (early to mid-April) to catch sight of the nostalgic insects. The pursuit also involves a visit to Blue Springs State Park, which is north of Orlando.
Whether traveling locally, nationally or overseas, it's never certain that others will know of St. Augustine. I tend to be surprised either way. St. Augustine seems to be more on the map now than ten years ago. Having said that, I often anticipate that those I meet outside of this ancient city won't be familiar with it.