Thursday, February 18, 2010

Going (further) south for warmth… to Palm Beach

Vintage postcard of Palm Beach, Florida


My husband’s birthday was in early February so about three weeks ago I asked him if there was anything special he would like to do. He replied that he would like to go somewhere where the climate was warmer than in Georgia. That day it just happened that AirTran airline had a two-day special fare for flights from Atlanta to Florida - $46 each way (33 Euros or 29 British Pounds.) The choices were: Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Pensacola, Sarasota, Tampa or West Palm Beach. Since we had already been to 5 of the choices I took a closer look at West Palm Beach. I found out that there is a great museum, a couple of places to see wildlife and it is not too large a town where we could easily spend four interesting days. I booked a room with a special 25% off the weekday rate and a rental car for $15 a day with my AAA club rate plus my corporate discount. So we went last week.


Map of Florida (West Palm Beach is on the bottom right, five towns up from Fort Lauderdale)



Seal of the city of Palm Beach


The temperature was 72 degrees F (22 C) when we arrived– quite pleasant. Our room was large and the little Ford Focus did not use much gas (only spent $18 on gas the whole time.) We drove around a bit and liked what we saw. Many palm trees, very tall.



Click on pictures to enlarge them

In 1878 a cargo ship named “Providencia” on a journey from Havana Cuba to Barcelona sank off the coast of Florida. It had a load of 20,000 coconuts. The shipwreck washed ashore and the settlers planted the coconuts, which were not native to Florida. They grew to tall palm trees (hence the name Palm Beach.) Actually Palm Beach is a barrier island about 13 miles long. Three bridges cross the Intracoastal Waterway for access to the city of West Palm Beach. Palm Beach has about 10,000 inhabitants, a small downtown, many beautiful houses and large condominium buildings.



In my collection of vintage postcards I have one which says “Jungle Road.” I did not know where this was until we walked on the avenue along the beach and saw a street called Jungle Road.


Picture Vintage postcard of Jungle Road (must be quite old)


After I had made reservations to go to West Palm Beach my eldest daughter told me that this was a city for the wealthiest Americans. I did not know this or I may not have considered going there, which would have been too bad as with my planning the trip was quite reasonable and within our budget. Of course we stayed in a West Palm Beach motel and not on the island at a hotel like the Breakers which was built in 1896 by Henry M. Flagler, the Standard Oil Company magnate. This hotel is luxurious and opulent (the rate is from $500 a night for a standard room to $1,280 a night and up for an ocean superior room – in February.) We just drove to the entrance gate so I could take a picture (I also found some interior pics on the Net.)




The Breakers Hotel was built on the beach side portion of an earlier hotel called the Royal Poinciana Hotel. This latter hotel had been built in 1894 as a winter retreat for the wealthy elite. The hotel claimed to be the largest wooden structure in the world at that time with 1700 employees and accommodations for 2000 guests. It closed during the Great Depression. Below is a postcard showing the Royal Poinciana Hotel.



We decided to walk on the beach. There was no one in sight - just a little seagull. This was curious since it was a sunny day but by then it was a bit cooler.


Click on pictures to enlarge them


While my husband talked to the lonely life guard I came closer to the rocks and waves.




Boats were passing by, jumping in the waves.



We drove through the little downtown and we passed a small independent bookstore. So we stopped to check it out. It was called The Classic Bookshop. We parked by an interesting fountain, almost longer than downtown.




I bought a couple of postcards and my husband purchased an early Valentine present for me – a beautifully illustrated book by Deborah Pollack entitled “Laura Woodward.” Laura was an American artist who started painting in the late 1800s. The book contains so many lovely illustrations and gives the history of early Palm Beach. I am reading it and in future posts I should be able to relate more about the history of Palm Beach and Florida.



I noticed that very often the front door of the houses in Palm Beach and West Palm Beach had a couple of columns on either side, like below.




Also a great number of houses had very thick and high borders around their houses made of privet shrubs, some as tall as walls – up to 10 ft tall. These are pruned in a formal hedge for privacy and security I guess. All the shrub privets we saw were well manicured and resembled smooth walls so dense that it certainly was difficult to see the houses behind them. Many garden professionals are needed to keep these hedges trimmed closely for them to look so neat – providing some good jobs in the area for garden professionals.




As a coincidence about a week before we flew to Florida I had read a post on the blog “My Carolina Kitchen” which showed a nice market in Palm Beach Gardens. On my map I saw that it was not very far so we drove to this market called Carmine Gourmet Market. It is a market which started in 1972 and is now selling quite an array of produce, gourmet products and other delicacies. We walked around the market and wished we had a kitchen to cook the beautiful seafood they showed on their shelves. Or take home some of their appetizing salads or hot Italian dishes.


Do not forget to click on the pictures to enlarge them


All this delectable fancy food made us hungry and we decided to eat at their small La Trattoria restaurant. My husband had pasta with seafood and I had pasta with mushrooms, olives and goat cheese. Quite yummy – with a nice glass of red Chianti and then a small pastry to finish the meal.




By then it was getting dark so we decided to call it a day plus I wished to read more on Palm Beach to plan as much as possible for the next three days.


Painting by Alexei Horlamoff, Russian, 1842-1923

32 comments:

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

What a comprehensive tour of West Palm Beach! Thanks for taking us with you. I like how you mix the vintage postcards in with your photographs.

Alaine said...

Another lovely post and a fabulous birthday present! Thanks for showing us West Palm Beach; I'll never get there but now I know a lot more about it.

Tinu and Jessica Thomas said...

a nice little break from the 2 feet of snow outside...

Vicki Lane said...

What a nice getaway! The food market is especially tempting!

Putz said...

you save so much money on your trips, but taking us on a blog vacations must cost a fortune in film for your camera, of course your souveniors can be the blog that you make for all of us....thanks

DJan said...

I knew nothing about Palm Beach except that only the richest people visit there. Now I know that is not true, and what a wonderful journey we are having! I know it has only begun. I love the picture on the cover of that book.

Marguerite said...

What a great birthday gift and post!! Looks like a wonderful place to have fun and be warm. That market is fabulous and I enjoyed the tour very much, cher! Love the water photos and they are reminding me that I need to go to a warm, sunny beach! Soon!

lorilaire said...

Merci pour ces vacances que tu nous fait partager !

Elaine said...

Another lovely trip and a lovely sun break for you. That market looks heavenly. I think I would want to keep going back to it every day.

loveable_homebody said...

I LOVE palm trees! They are so beautiful when they blow in the wind. I always imagined I would feel so important riding in a car down a road lined with palm trees on each side of me.

claude said...

Je repasse demain, Vagabonde.

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Isn't Palm Beach lovely, especially in the winter.

I'm so glad you liked Carmine's. It's one of our favorite spots in Florida. If you're still there and want to drive up to Jupiter, another one of our favorites is The Food Shack. It's on US1 on the SE corner of Indian Town road near Publix. It looks like a hole in the wall, but trust me, the food is to die for. I especially like the Basil Tuna Rolls under appetizers.

Thanks so much for mentioning My Carolina Kitchen. Enjoy Palm Beach. I love your photos.
Sam

Pondside said...

Thanks for that beautiful tour!
Years and years ago we spent several holidays exploring Palm Beach and the surrounding area. We were poor newlyweds living on the estate of a very wealthy woman who had a home on Jupiter Island. Every winter she'd invite us to stay with her - what an experience that was! I've always wished to revisit Florida, but it seems very far from the Pacific Northwest.

Friko said...

You really are amazing and you certainly have a right to your name.
Your details are always interesting and exhaustive, I feel like I've been to the places you describe myself.

Shammickite said...

Oh, lucky you, to stroll along a sandy beach and enjoy the salt air and the waves. I am so envious! I would love to be on a beach right now. I've been to Florida a few times but never to the Palm Beach area. Thank you for the guided tour, I'd love to see it for myself one day.

Anonymous said...

Palm Beach looks beautiful and so does that Laura Woodward book cover. What kind of tree is that?

claude said...

Me voilà !
Je viens de faire un merveilleux voyage en Floride. Merci pour cette visite.
Ton histoire d'hotel de luxe me rappelle que notre Ami Larry a travaillé pour les parcs nationaux Américains. Chaque fois qu'il partait en déplacement et qu'il dormait dans un hotel il obtenait des points.
En juin dernier, il nous a offert avec ses points une chambre luxueuse avec hottub, douche en marbre, dans un hotel casino à Wendover. le grand luxe pour nous.
Lumière tamisante, un lit à coucher à quatre dedans et miroir au plafond...

Baino said...

Certainly earned it's name. 72 degrees . .perfect. Gorgeous pics as usual. It's about that here at the moment. Just right. It looks like a pretty ritzy area frankly. Very posh. Oh and happy belated birthday to your husband! Lovely present.

DianeCA said...

Oh the food looks fabulous, and I could really go for some warmer days now. Palm trees would be heaven to me. Here I feel like I am living in a snow globe. Somebody is shaking us daily because the white stuff just keeps coming down. Those classic postcards are very charming as well. Lovely and warming for us here up north.

Reader Wil said...

J'aime la peinture de la jeune femme! Je connais pas Alexei Horlamoff, mais il est certainement un grand artiste peintre!

lunarossa said...

So wonderful! Lucky you. We are still snowed under and I cannot stand snow, ice and cold anymore. I dream of beach and sand every nich! All the best. Ciao. A.

Vagabonde said...

Bonnie, Alaine, Tinu and Jessica, Vicki Lane, DJan, Marguerite, Elaine, loveable_homebody, Friko, Shammickite,Baino, DianeCA and Lunarossa – Thank you for coming to my blog and checking my visit to Florida. We spent 4 days there so I should have 3 more posts to describe our stay – I hope you’ll come back to read the rest about our trip there. Thank you for taking the time to write a comment.

Vagabonde said...

Putz – You are right, this blog is wonderful as a souvenir for our trips. When I used my film camera I did not take so many pictures because of the expense of developing them, but now with a digital camera I can take hundred of pictures on my memory card. For the trip to Florida I took about 900 pictures. It is hard to choose which ones to post.

Vagabonde said...

Lorilaire, Claude et Reader Wil – merci pour votre passage sur mon blog. Nous sommes restés 4 jours en Floride alors je vais avoir encore 3 posts la-dessus, j’espère que vous reviendrez les lire. En attendant je passe sur vos blogs.

Vagabonde said...

My Carolina Kitchen – we only stayed in the Palm Beach area for 4 days. I should have asked you for more restaurant ideas. We enjoyed our stay very much – as you said it is a lovely there. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Vagabonde said...

Pondside – I did not know about Jupiter Island – it is very exclusive it appears. Celine Dion and Tiger Woods spent millions on homes there. It certainly must have been a treat to be a guest on this island. Thanks for your comment.

Vagabonde said...

Anonymous – the book shown on the cover of Laura Woodward’s book is a Royal Pionciana, a flowering tree native of Madagascar. It is also called Flamboyant Tree, Mohur Tree, Red Flame, Malinche, Krishnachura, Gulmohar, Peacock Flower and other names. It is from the species Delonix Regia. Thank you commenting on my post.

Peter said...

Hardly possible to make anything more complete and informative in one post ... and one day!

Ruth said...

You did a marvelous job sharing Palm Beach and your travel plans. Traveling on a budget is a lot of fun, if you ask me, more of an adventure. It looks like a beautiful community, and that Breakers is a place I've heard about for years. Quite posh. But it would be an entity removed from the real community, like its own compound.

The color of the sea is so beautiful. Wonderful post. I always look forward to these travelogues from you.

Deborah said...

Vagabonde,
I feel like I've had the most sumptuous 10-course meal! Your posts are wonderful, really, and I particularly like the fact that you give so much background information. I don't know if I'll ever have occasion to say that I know why Palm Beach got its name, but you never know.

Your thrifty travelling style is great - makes me think more about taking advantage of all the cheap fares you can get in Europe.

Thanks for the travelogue, and all the time you took to do this.

Vagabonde said...

Peter, Ruth and Deborah – thank you for coming and reading my post. I did enjoy our trip to Florida and I am pleased that you did too.

Cécy said...

Ah Carmine's, my sister in law introduced us to it, they always shop there for seafood. My SIL lives very close to it which is great.

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