Sunday, May 1, 2011

Introduction to Gainesville Florida

For those of you who don’t know, since December last year I have been living in Gainesville, Florida, a college town in north central FloridaGainesville FL is famous for its large university and the University of Florida Gators College Football team.  It also has a strong musical heritage and boasts Bo Diddley, Tom Petty and Stephen Stills as its creative offspring.  The strange but interesting Phoenix family also reside here.

Gainesville Politics and culture

Gainesville is a liberal oasis in a redneck sea.  If you enjoy eating in trendy little ethnic café restaurants and being served by vegetarian lesbian gothic wannabe rockstars, then this is the place for you.  In British terms, it is not a million miles away from places like Headingley in Leeds, or Brighton on the south coast.  (Don’t get me wrong, I do actually like the vibrancy and open-mindedness that young people can bring to a place.  If you ever put me in a redneck backwater or bible belt town, I would probably shrivel up and die.)

Things to do in Gainesville Florida

If you ever tire of eating in the trendy little ethnic café restaurants, you can watch the bats emerging from their bat houses at dusk beside Lake Alice in the grounds of the University of Florida (there used to be only one bat house, but that became so overcrowded that all the crap from the excessive bat population ate through the floor - so now there are two rather splendid bat buildings, one with a refurbished floor and the other wholly brand new).

Bat Houses
Or you can drink margaritas and eat tapas at Emiliano’s Restaurant.

Or maybe you would prefer to look for alligators at Lake Alice (I saw ten of them one morning, including a particularly impressive 12 footer!).

Alligator on the move at Lake Alice

Or chill out and enjoy the freshwater springs at Rum Island

Rum Island

Or if you want to experience some culture (haha!) you could try attending one of David Maas’ poetry events at the Laboratory Bar.

Plus, you might also want to pay a visit to the Harn Museum of Art.

One thing that I have not done, but would like to experience, is to attend a Florida Gators football game.

The Weather in Gainesville FL

The weather in Gainesville varies from being very hot to being extremely hot, depending on the time of year.  There were rumors of a snow flurry last Christmas, but I never saw anything and I am still waiting to see the photographic evidence.  Hurricanes are rare in this part of Florida, but now and then there are dramatic tropical storms that knock the power out for several hours and bring down trees.

Animal life in Gainesville

Animal life is varied and includes alligators, snakes, vultures, raccoons, armadillos, and yappy little dogs owned by ladies with oversized posteriors.


Well, that’s about it, as far as my introduction to Gainesville Florida goes.  I would recommend the place to anyone.  Especially, if you buy me a beer.


  1. I love those giant bat houses - I've never seen anything like them before.

  2. Haha, nice review on the city. I bet living in a 'college town' is never boring. Well, maybe at Spring Break, but not other than that. And those gators, scar-ree!

  3. At Happy Homemaker - the bat houses look great! they don't smell too good, however! :-)

    At Tex - Yes, I like it here, though I was used to walking around in the UK and I can't go anywhere without a car here as we're out on the edge of town!

  4. Paul, when we lived in Central Queensland we used to watch the bats take off at dusk from around the mangroves. If you could stand the stench it was really interesting. We found it amazing that they would all decide to take off in the same direction...perhaps a particularly strong smelling mango tree was on the nose that night!!! We learned very quickly never to park overnight under one or the car would be covered in bat sh*t in no time!! Robx

  5. How come bats have a bigger property portfolio than I do?!

    Those springs look good right now - Florida weather always has a way of making water seem extra appealing.

  6. I have never seen bat houses like that before.

    The nearest I have come to that number of bats has been at the tarn above Keighley where they always appear as day turns to night. I sometimes used to go up there to relax after a late shift at the hospital and although I knew the bats would not fly in to me it was at times quite unsettling. Although I never saw an alligator there!!

  7. Hot to very hot would suit me fine, I hate the cold winters we get in Europe.

  8. @ Robynne - that sounds amazing watching the bats emerging from the mangroves!

    @inconsq - it was a truly beautiful scene. And the water was as gorgeous as it looked!

    @David A - there are literally thousands of bats living in those houses! They swarm out when the sun sets.

    @LindyLou - I don't mind the cold of a Brit Winter, I find the dark days when it never gets light v depressing though. It provides a contrast for the Spring however, I guess! :-)

  9. I hope you are enjoying our town! We have some good music and poetry here too!