The benefits of guests

Evelyn C. McDonald
Arts & Culture Reporter
March 8, 2018 3:00 p.m.

Centre Street Fernandina Photo Courtesy of Wain Wesberry

It’s fun to have company from out of town. I had the pleasure of entertaining an old friend from Toronto last weekend. I found that it is also fun to show off our town to a big city resident who enjoyed what we have here.

When I lived in the Washington, DC area, I liked to have people visit. It was a way of exploring my city and enjoying it all the more. The same thing happens here. I was lucky to have two big advantages as host city.

The first advantage and a spectacular one is the ocean. Although Toronto is on Lake Ontario, it isn’t the same as our Atlantic and it doesn’t have as nice a beach. We are truly lucky with our setting. My friend was properly impressed. We drove up to the north end of the island and into Old Town. The sun on the river made the wave tops sparkle.

The other advantage had to be the lovely weather. I lost no opportunity to mention it as the weather was awful when I visited her in Toronto last year. That trip was cold, windy, and rainy. We were able to offer sunshine, breezes, and no humidity.

A highlight of the visit was the Chamber Music Festival concert at the Plantation Chapel. Garrick Ohlsson entertained with the music of Beethoven, Scriabin, and Schubert. The venue is a great place to hear a concert. I particularly appreciated the cushions on the seats.

We browsed the stores on Centre Street and shopped at several of them. My friend did her best to address the balance of trade between Canada and the U.S. I took her to our newest book store, Story & Song, and she said we were lucky to have two good book stores.

When I thought about it, I realized that we had a full spectrum of food choices in our restaurants. We ate at The Olive Cove, a new restaurant in Yulee that serves Italian food in a bistro atmosphere. The Sandbar was great for lunch and simply watching the ocean. Baxter’s has been one of my favorites since I first discovered Amelia Island. The Patio Place offered a different take from beach restaurants and was good for brunch.

Seeing your town through the eyes of a visitor brings home how much we have here. There’s variety in dining, shopping, and things to do. It is surprising when you contrast it with other towns our size. Granted the big cities offer much more but ours is an easily enjoyed town.

Evelyn McDonald moved to Fernandina Beach from the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. in 2006. Evelyn is vice-chair on the Amelia Center for Lifelong Learning and is on the Dean’s Council for the Carpenter Library at the UNF. Ms. McDonald has MS in Technology Management from the University of Maryland’s University College and a BA in Spanish from the University of Michigan.