Florida Getaway: Part One

When it comes to travel, sometimes mixing business with pleasure produces the best kind of trip. That’s exactly what happened with my five-day jaunt to Florida.

It began with a weekend in Jacksonville to visit my Titi (auntie in Spanish) Eneida. Titi defies her 72 years, with a vibrant, energetic spirit to match her youthful, trim looks.

Titi Eneida and me in St. Augustine

Saturday, we made the short drive to St. Augustine, the nation’s oldest city. A charming beachside hamlet known for its rich history, Spanish-influenced architecture and unique shopping, St. Augustine is a fun excursion. Titi and I spent the afternoon strolling around pedestrian alleys, browsing everything from a New Age boutique and vintage candy shop to a garden flag store.

Along the way, we stopped at French Fry Heaven, a Jacksonville franchise that takes this indulgent side to a whole other level. We shared a cone of parmesan garlic fries. In a word, yumm!

French Fry Heaven's GarlicParm supreme fries are delish

Capping off our action-packed afternoon, a late-afternoon stop at St. Augustine’s Premium Outlets just in time to take advantage of Coach’s 50% off handbag sale. Huzzah.

Sunday was spent mostly in the kitchen, watching Titi cook to perfection some of the Puerto Rican dishes that remind me of growing up and my beloved late grandmother, who was born and raised on the island. Joining the festivities were my cousins Monica and Steven and their families. All of us savored every bite of Titi’s homemade arroz, platanos and meat-filled empanadas.

In between all of the shopping, eating and catching up, Titi and I did a lot of reminiscing about my beloved, late mom. The legacy of family is one of many great gifts she left me. Being with Titi was a wonderful, much-needed reminder of that.

Coming up…part two of my Florida getaway and my first-ever super-sized experience as part of the Starwood Hotels & Resorts team.

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