Pre-Holiday Getaway – A St. Augustine B&B Escape
St. Augustine Bed & Breakfast Holiday Tour 2011
What do you do when the Christmas crunch is on with presents left to buy, packages to wrap, cards to mail, cookies and rolls to make? My solution is to run away for a holiday getaway weekend with six of my closest friends (and husband) to St Augustine, Florida. Only two hours from our home in Orlando, St. Augustine is the ideal place to tour historic B&Bs, all fully decorated for the holidays. (At least that is the idea, but with two upcoming birthdays within our group, there is a lot of merriment that enters in). So we left all the “crunch” and packed our bags in anticipation of a great getaway.
‘Ready’ and I checked into the Victorian House Bed and Breakfast Inn in St Augustine on Friday afternoon, there we met our friends, who were also staying at the Inn. Now, although this wonderful B&B has new owners, Anthony and Marilyn, you would never know they have only been hosting guests for less than a month. I looked at their smiling, welcoming faces and thought to myself, “I wonder if these guys have any idea of what they are getting themselves into as they open their doors to this crazy crowd.”
They were wonderfully accommodating, and provided us with glassware and china for the cheese, crackers, sliced salami and wine we brought with us. We anticipated the need to celebrate on a moment’s notice. After a brief walking tour around St Augustine, we gathered in the Inn’s parlour with our libations and began our TGIF celebrations, as is our usual custom, welcoming the owners into our gathering.
The weekend treated us to dinner celebrations that night, tours of historic Inns all afternoon Saturday, more wine, snacking, and Saturday night dinner reservations – food and wine, wine and food, plus lots of laughing, teasing, and sharing that best friends always offer. The weather was in the sunny 60s, and the city was all decked out for Christmas with lights in every window and on every tree. St. Augustine couldn’t have been better.
The 2011 Bed and Breakfast “Ghosts of Christmas Past” holiday tour is an annual event hosted by the St Augustine Historic Inns with the goal to delight their guests with the finest traditions of Southern hospitality.
Many local restaurants, confectioners and friends partner in creating this annual touring event. The historic Inns are decorated in their finest Holiday flare and opened to the public for tours. This year we were allowed to take a peek into each Inn’s past as members of each team shared stories of holidays past and the rich history surrounding St Augustine. To our delight, samples of foods and drinks were served at every Inn.
As we made memories with our friends, we also created new memories and friendships with the Victorian House Inn’s owners and guests. The Victorian House Inn was built in 1895 and restored in 1983. This Inn offers a look back into the Victorian era with antiques, lace, flowers, marble and linens. Our room, named “Jennifer’s Room,” featured a four-poster spindle bed with lace canopy.
The decor filled with lace and flowers also featured sewing paraphernalia of a much earlier era. As a sewing enthusiast, I was pleasantly surprised by the old sewing machine, patterns, needles, thread, Singer machine oil and sewing supplies displayed throughout our room. This picture on the wall must have been the inspiration to the entire decor of Jennifer’s Room. I found myself inspired, as well as thankful for my new modern sewing machine and serger back at home.
The bathroom had a period sink that was just like one in my Mother’s bath in my childhood home in Pennsylvania. When we sold her house after her death, I thought I would never see a sink like that again, but there it was for me to remember and enjoy for two lovely days.
Staying in a B&B is a special experience that we began years ago. Unlike modern hotels/motels, a B&B offers a homier atmosphere, and encourages camaraderie among guests as they share the Inn’s porches, living and dining room areas. Each B&B offers a unique experience. The atmosphere reflects the area where it was built and the history of that place, as well as the personality and hospitality of the owners. Guests are offered a home-made breakfast in the dining room, complete with china, silverware, linens and flowers as they share stories of home, family and employment. They talk about the touristy things, too, sharing reviews on local restaurants and must-see attractions, such as a great singer at a local restaurant or a beautiful historic museum. The B&B owners/hosts are as helpful and kind as can be.
So, next year at this time when you are running around the mall, wrapping presents, baking and buying, you will find my husband and me with six of our closest friends in the parlor of the Victorian House Bed and Breakfast Inn in St Augustine, waiting for or simply resting from the 2012 holiday tour of B&B Inns and the local holiday festivities in St Augustine. Check it out the next time you just need to run away!