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St. Augustine’s Inn on Charlotte

February 6, 2011 by · Comments Off on St. Augustine’s Inn on Charlotte 

Inn on Charlotte, St. Augustine, Florida

Hotel Review: Inn on Charlotte, a Bed and Breakfast in St. Augustine, Florida

No smoking, no pets, no kids: may sound a little harsh off the tongue, but when you connect those words with lodging, you quickly envision a quiet, clean retreat– perfect for a romantic getaway.  And that’s what you get at the elegant  Inn on Charlotte in St. Augustine, Florida.

But, why stay at this Bed and Breakfast?  Location, location, my dear. The property rests off  narrow brick-lined Charlotte Street which runs with one-way traffic and limited entrance. Plus the Inn offers free reserved parking spaces, a real plus in this part of the city. Stash the car as you won’t need to drive until it’s time to leave. All of St. Augustine’s best sites, shops and restaurants are within walking distance.

Rodney Holeman took over the 1918 Inn in September, 2010 and he is meticulous, something you can appreciate when you are the guest.  Spotless bathrooms- with new tile and fixtures, crisp linens and not a speck of dust anywhere.

The main floor boasts a warm, welcoming sitting area which leads into the dining room set with eight tables for two. No community table, so you don’t have to chat to others, unless you want to. (A lot of folks have told me they prefer separate seating.) The hall refrigerator stays stocked and complimentary wine is served from 5 to 6:00 PM, usually enjoyed on the front porch.

Find five bedrooms upstairs, plus one on the main floor,  each tastefully different and two open to the front balcony.  The rooms are freshly painted and charmingly decorated with style and pizazz.  No cast off antiques, they are adorned with high-end sturdy furniture featuring classic lines and comfort. Lovely.

Guest Room at the Inn on Charlotte

Two additional guest rooms are tucked away in the rear, separate from the main house, making them true escapes. The bungalow on the ground floor includes a  private patio and both upstairs and downstairs rooms boast a small fireplace and wall-mounted flat-screen TV.

But, visitors don’t go to St. Augustine to watch television. America’s oldest city bursts with Spanish architecture and history. Here, streets names speak the influence: Avienda Menendez , Cordova Street and Castillo Drive. The city’s treasured fort, Castillo de San Marco, reigns as a National Park landmark and must see.

Cathedral Place bordering the city park lies just two short blocks from the Inn and overflows with numerous ethnic restaurants. Athena, with great Greek cuisine and Bistro de Leon with fabulous French fare are two of my favorites. Cross the green and visit A-1A AleWorks or O.C. Whites, two popular pub type restaurants.

Guests in the parlor, Inn on Charlotte

Turn in the opposite direction and you’re a stone’s throw from Cuna Street, which leads to the pedestrian only shopping area.  Meander just beyond Cuna Street and you’re standing at the corner of Castillo Drive- perfect for a drop-in at the new Pirate and Treasure Museum and, of course, the1672  historic Fort abutting  the Matanzas Bay.

Consider a romantic retreat for Valentine’s Day or longer stay taking in Anastasia Beach or nearby Ponte Vedra Beach. The Inn on Charlotte puts you right in the heart of your desires.

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Inn On Charlotte Bed and Breakfast

52 Charlotte Street

St. Augustine, Florida  32084

Phone: 904-829-3819

Email: innkeeper@innoncharlotte.com

Front Porch, Inn on Charlotte

Nova Scotia ~ A Mystical Escape to Oceanstone Inn

November 12, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

When one arrives in Nova Scotia they enter the spellbinding zone of tidal time. On this Canadian province Mother Nature takes charge with clocklike precision, her tides ebb predictably and massively.

In fact, the miraculous shift of water in Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy is the highest in the world. Twice a day 115 billion tons of water move in and out causing a rise and fall of 20, 30, often 40 feet. During a full moon and high winds, Bay of Fundy tides rise as high as fifty feet as if to emphasize the smallness of man relative to nature.

Upon arrival, I was greeted with beguiling moonlight and the seductive sloshing of waves lulling me to sleep as they broke near my door. The fullness of the beach emerged with morning’s low tide, reminding me of the regularity of the universe:  spring follows winter, rain falls, the sun rises.

If you head in the direction of famed Peggy’s Cove, a tiny fishing village known for its iconic lighthouse, you pass Indian Harbour where the sprawling Oceanstone Inn dons the landscape. Seven maritime cottages pepper the estate creating a private, romantic retreat, one of simple, rustic splendor and homey comforts. You kick-off your shoes and feel at ease, time slows and distractions fade. Nature’s vibes seep through my toes and feet.

Owners Ron and Carole Ron MacInnis manage the establishment with a benevolent spirit. They welcome each guest as family and coax them to relax and enjoy the glorious gardens and magical coast. Ron, the resident Thoreau, is a peaceful environmentalist concerned with discovering life’s spiritual needs. He’ll quote a line of poetry to make a point in the most charming way. Carole, on the other hand, darts about the grounds like a fire-fly. She is Goldilocks delivering baskets of breakfast goodies or offering help whenever needed.

Oceanstone Inn and Cottages from the water's edge.

I decided to venture along the property’s shoreline, negotiating a challenging, tiered mound of rocks.  A torrent of random thoughts entered my head: be strong and tenacious, withstand the gusty storms just like these stones. But at the same time, be free to wander akin to the pebble I tossed in the ocean. I picked up another and rubbed my fingers along its smooth worn edges, perhaps a reminder to soften my own. Then, I simply sat, breathed, absorbed the sun’s warmth and began to feel radiant.

Next morning, I awoke before sunrise and slipped out on the upper deck of my two-story cabin, the Crow’s Nest. I stared to my right at the stalwart beacon of a tiny dilapidated light station. Paddy’s Head Lighthouse shined brightly within the vibrant, planetarium-clear night sky. I tiptoed down the cottage stairs to a small kitchen and brewed morning coffee. Sinking into a dreamlike stupor, I surrendered and relished the nothingness of the moment.

At dawn, my group and I departed to photograph the famous red and white lighthouse of Peggy’s Cove. Ghostly filaments of mist gradually evaporated as lavender skies awakened the coast. We carefully crossed over massive granite slabs; their elemental strength bespeaking ancient age. The Cove thrives as a stopping place for tourists, the most photographed destination in Canada, but also offers a pause for inward reflection. I listened and heard the repetitive beating of my heart as it matched the rhythm of the sea.

The wonderment of a new day emerged with gulls flying and squawking a cheery greeting. The treacherous taunts of the Atlantic turned more playful, frolicking and shooting salty spray over the gray behemoth boulders, only to retreat with a whimper. Again, I aligned with the ebb and flow of the tides.

Waves crash below the famous lighthouse at Peggy's Cove.

Nova Scotia is home to some fabulous fishing and luscious lobster beckons as a decadent treat. After indulging in the savory crustacean, I practically dove onto a bed of yellow-green kelp to capture a picturesque shot. As kelp sustains sea life, I found  it nourished my soul.

Kelp covers the Cove

I returned to the lighthouse in the late afternoon and eyed purple hues and shades of mauve glittering off the water. They danced a sensuous bolero that I longed to join. The wind’s chill bore down on my skin stealing my concentration and resisting my attempts to stay warm.

Suddenly, low angled rays hit the windows of a small house reflecting a fiery golden glow. The scene looked so hauntingly dramatic and surreal. Was I actually in such a mystical place?

Eventually the sun set and an ancient Celtic ballad rose in the air sounding like a bagpiper’s lament. It’s been said there are thin places where the dividing line between the spiritual and ordinary come closer. Indeed, Nova Scotia is such a place and I lingered betwixt and between.

Afternoon sun in Peggy's Cove

If you go:  Oceanstone Inn and Cottages

http://www.oceanstone.ns.ca/

1-866-823-2160


 

Tybee Island, GA. Lighthouse Wedding

May 27, 2008 by · Comments Off on Tybee Island, GA. Lighthouse Wedding 

Islands Magazine Cover — June 2008NUPTIAL NIGHT LIGHT

If you're looking for a unique site where you can seal love's flame with an intimate wedding ceremony, consider Tybee Island Light Station off the northeast coast of Georgia. Surf kissing the shore creates the processional music as you ascend the 178-step lighthouse. (Don't trip on your train!) Emotions will swell bright as the old, 9-foot First Order Fresnel lens when gray-haired Captain Longwater ties the knot at an elevation of 144 feet.

Afterward, you'll savor low-country cuisine: a dish of boiled shrimp, sausage and potatoes. The island remains enchanted by Geechee/Gullah culture, Civil War ghosts and legendary pirates. Just across the bay, luscious Savannah drips with social grace, Spanish moss and that tale of good and evil.

www.romanticweddingsofsavannah.com DEBI LANDER

Official Link to Islands Magazine article: www.islands.com/article.jsp?ID=1000060239

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