My Self-Care Sunday in St. Augustine

We all know that the start of a new semester can be stressful. Looking at all of the test dates and assignments that are eventually going to sneak up on me can leave me spiraling before the real work even begins. So instead of spending my Sunday feeling stressed and procrastinating starting my assignments, I grabbed my camera and drove for about an hour until I was in St. Augustine. No friends, no real plans; just me and my camera.

Going out on my own meant that I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. And for some reason, the first thing I wanted to do was climb up the 14-story St. Augustine Lighthouse. This wasn’t exactly how I pictured my morning going, but I paid $12 for admission to see the lighthouse and keeper’s house so I had to get my money’s worth. (I could get at least 3 Starbucks drinks for $12.) When I had reached the top — 219 steps later — I was only a little bit out of breath but had no regrets because the view was everything. I could stay at the top for as long as I wanted to without worrying about any of my friends getting impatient and wanting to head down before I finished taking it all in. As much as I wanted to stay and look at the water all day, I decided to make the long journey back to the bottom and head to the historic downtown. 

Downtown St. Augustine is the St. Augustine that you remember if you ever went took a middle school field trip to “The Nation’s Oldest City.” I’m a secret history and architecture nerd, so the city has always held a special place in my heart. All of the Spanish Colonial Architecture and the Castillo de San Marco make St. Augustine a dream come true for me. After hunting for a parking spot that wouldn’t cost me $20, I made my way to the historic fort just in time to see a quick cannon demonstration before exploring the different streets and shops. 

The best part of walking around St. Augustine is the mix of eclectic shops and restaurants. I almost walked right past The Cuban Cafe & Bakery until I was hit with the smell of freshly baked pastelitos and Cuban coffee that reminded me of home. I stopped in and found the best Cuban food north of Broward County. After my quick lunch, I spent an ungodly amount of time in The Golden Gypsy looking at all of the art and jewelry the owner had created and collected. I could’ve spent all day (and all of my money) shopping, but I had to stop at Flagler College before it was time to head home. 

Before making my way to the campus, I visited The Kookaburra Coffee for my daily iced almond milk latte. I wish I could say that visiting this school made me love UCF even more, but as I enjoyed the quiet campus and historic buildings I was seriously considering filling out a transfer application. While some things are universal of all college campuses, like students hanging out in hammocks and almost getting run over by skateboarders, I can’t imagine another school being able to recreate the same mix of charm and history that Flagler has. Seriously, the bell tower played “Bridge Over Shallow Water” by Simon and Garfunkel — UCF could never. I really wish that I could’ve stayed and started a new life as a history major at Flagler but I had to make it back to reality before rush hour.

I’m a firm believer that one of the best ways to practice self-care and develop self-love is to spend time with yourself. It’s not always easy. I hadn’t packed up and gone to St. Augustine the day before because I would let anxiety get the best of me. But just being spontaneous and not caring about what I looked like or about what other people were thinking and getting off of my phone made everything easier. Here’s the only picture I took of myself that whole day; in a parking lot at the end of my day, tired and happy. 

All images provided by the author.