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  • Des & Sandie Nichols

APALACHICOLA (1)

Updated: Oct 26, 2020


We have finally, after 5 months, left St Augustine. We packed up the cats, stowed away all out bits and pieces and headed West yesterday morning. Such is the originality of our intrepid explorations that we arrived, 275 miles later, at our old friend Apalachicola. This is the one town that left a simply indelible memory. We set up in the same RV park as before and immediately headed down to the unbelievably charming old town. The Hole In The Wall Oyster bar was still there and open so we piled in. The same wonderfully eccentric staff were there, including the old shucker with his grey locks falling down his back in a ponytail. "I been shucking oysters since I was 16' he once told us.The staff, incredibly, remembered us immediately from our December visit. They're that round here. Next door, some twentylocals sat outside the small brewery, in exactly the same places we had left them six months ago. They're like that round here. One guy still had his parrot on his shoulder. They're like that round here. As soon as we sat down with our beer the struck up a conversation. They're like that round here. Two men and a woman had two bags of popcorn, which is free at the bar. They didn't offered us a pinch. They gave us a whole bag. They're like that round here.We are off today showing Georgie, armed with her camera, the sights and people of this fabulous area. But in the meantime, we thought it was worth giving the December blog another run. Nothing changes here, so it seems as relevant no as then. love America. Its confident but justified pride might be hiding its glaring divisions, its obsession with lightning fast development might obscure its inherent natural beauty, its inward thinking might currently overshadow its sound global intentions, but these are good people. This is the strongest, wealthiest, most successful nation on earth, and boy do they know it. But America has lost so much in its hyper speed evolution. Cities are just concrete, corporate megacenters, small towns are reduced to dormitories with unloved 20 year old houses, many ready to be torn down. The car and the soulless malls with their identical chain stores rule supreme.

So what a joy to find Apalachicola. Set your watch back to a long lost era and find for yourself how life should, and could, be. This is the nearest thing to a true village we have found. It reminded me of parts of the South Island of New Zealand. A small, happy, smiling community who love what they have and have pride in their town and are in no rush at all to join the modern chaos. Apalach, as it is called by those who live there, seems to have been spared the burden of discovery. It isn’t a sanitized living museum. It is still a hodgepodge of local quirky shops, fishing boats and sheds on the river and a small brewery bang in the middle of town. It is a wonderful, quiet center of existence for 2000 people. There is, we were told, one traffic signal, but we never saw it. Someone said it must be like Key West was 20 years ago. No, its soul and lifestyle are what living must have been like 100 years ago throughout America. Unrestricted, welcoming, unconcerned. Time seems to have just stood still.

So you can gather we loved it. And, what’s more, it has the best local oysters outside Prince Edward Island. Plump pearls of a delight and absolutely delicious eaten, with a speck of horseradish, in the most unpretentious setting.

Everyone here greets you as a friend, with a southern charm that we have never experienced in Florida. Indeed, can this really be Florida? Answer - it can’t be. But it is. The aptly named Forgotten Coast. It is so very different. Only the few cars (parked wherever the driver wants to stop) give you a clue that these are modern times.

We went into a ‘boutique’ called La Robe. In a gorgeous y’all accent, a fabulously colorful lady owner, her smile as wide as the river itself, welcomed us with ‘Parlez-vous français?’. I replied ‘oui, je parle français un peu mais pas très bien’. She laughed and said in her southern drawl. ‘Ah don’t know what yer sayen. That’s the only French ah know’. Then she pointed to a small table. ‘We have real French perfume here ..... from France’. We could have been in a scene from Bonanza. We then went to a local oyster bar called The Hole In The Wall. The conviviality continued with merry banter exchanged across both sides of the old bar. It is the sort of place where everyone joins in the same conversation. And in the loo, or men’s room as it is called, there was a large basin on the wall, full of ice, into which we were invited to pee. Ask no questions.

This place is special. Come in winter when there are no swarms of tourists covering its real charm and character like a smog. We were totally seduced by the name, Apalachicola. The seduction was completed by the welcome we got from the most warm and interesting people; it was a glorious submission into a forgotten age. Let’s hope it remains the Forgotten Coast. Today we go to St George’s Island.


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