Road Trip: Vietnamese Sandwiches and St. Augustine

“I think life is better when people can just laugh, instead of getting caught up in I could’ve been this or I could’ve been that.” is what Dick casually said over my shoulder while he added sugar and milk to his coffee. He was flirting with all the pretty women in the shop. “When you get to be my age, you learn all the tricks.” he said to a stranger, as he winked at me.

Two days ago I hit the road, excited to leave Miami behind for a bit and let myself wander through the country. I made a brief stop in Orlando to grab a #1 at Banh mi Nha Trang, a little hole in the wall that came highly recommended from a trusted source. 😉 I arrived two minutes after closing time, crossing my fingers that I could still grab a bite to go. To my surprise, the adorable owner invited me to take a seat and enjoy my meal. “How many?” she asked. Clever woman. “I’ll take two.” I replied. The sandwiches were delicious, and she smiled wide when I told her I raced from Miami to try them.

I continued my journey onto St. Augustine, Florida, a place I’ve passed many times but never visited. It’s always interesting to see the irony that surrounds historical sights—the tourist traps, gift shops, the nonchalance of the locals. Best of all, I enjoy the stripping of romance that we so often attribute to history, as if it were all freshly-pressed period costumes and reunited lovers. I had a chance to tour the Castillo de San Marcos, the resilient sea-side fortress that crowns St. Augustine. The dress I was wearing was light and fresh, but in the hot Florida sun I was sweating buckets. As I sauntered in and out of dusty, stone rooms, I thought about the soldiers bearing the weight of their uniforms, the Indians who were held as prisoners there, the population seeking refuge during times of war. All the bodies. Hunger, Gunpowder.

At 6 am, that morning, I drove to the coast and dipped my feet in the cold Atlantic, while I watched a tangerine sun glow on the ocean waves. I’d been thinking about it since the night before, which was detrimental to my sleep, but well worth it when I finally arrived. Breakfast was pretty good at Café Eleven, where I sketched a little, while sipping Iced Tea.

The shops and restaurants in St. Augustine were charming, but after spending $9 on a small packet of truffle salt at The Spice and Tea Exchange, I forbade myself from entering any others.

I ended my visit by taking a tour of The St. Augustine Distillery, where I had a chance to sample their Gin and Tonic and Moscow Mule. Both were delicious. Everyone at the Distillery was cheery and kind. The place itself was laced with the sweet smell of bourbon aging in Kentucky barrels that were beautifully crafted and displayed. It was like something out of a dream.

St. Augustine Beach

Lisa Diakova Feet

St. Augustine Beach 3

Scramble at Cafe Eleven

Scramble at Cafe Eleven

Lisa Diakova Road Trip Sketch 1

Lisa Diakova Road Trip Sketch 2

Castillo de San Marcos

Castillo de San Marcos

Castillo de San Marcos 2

Fish Tacos and Clam Chowder

Fish Tacos and Clam Chowder at Catch 27

St. Augustine Distillery

St. Augustine Distillery

St. Augustine Distillery

St. Augustine Distillery 2

Banh mi Nha Trang in Orlando

Owner and I

4 Responses to “Road Trip: Vietnamese Sandwiches and St. Augustine”

  1. I’ve realized that the small things like the paintings make your journey really memorable.

  2. Thank you for your unbelievable talent and for sharing it, and also your trip. The poetry on your description makes me feel like a phantasmical companion. Your use of words maps it all, involuntarily invalidating your permiating beautiful photographs. I beg of you, without imposing on your FREE TIME, to continue writing and posting. Take me with you on this magical escapade.

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