The weekend before I left for North Carolina, El Hombre and I went to Gainesville to celebrate a friend's graduation. Except for driving through in the middle of the night on my way to karate events, I have not ever been to Gainesville. Years ago, when I was contemplating law school, UF was one of the schools I was most interested in. But alas, I didn't end up pursuing law school because I knew I would hate it, and I ended up in Miami instead.
The most immediate difference I noticed between the two areas was the hills. It sounds silly, but except for getting on and off the interstate, there are no hills in Miami. Anyway, to get back on track, our time in Gainesville was full of misadventures, from broken down cars to what I affectionately refer to as the "Alachua Ritz." But our time, though short, was fun.
We got to Gainesville on Saturday morning, after a brief stayover in Otown. Our hotel was basically off the interstate, and it was just a cheap stopover, nothing fancy. Now, I don't consider myself to be overly picky, but checking into a dirty room with the lights off was a little over the top. No big deal, we get another room.
After we settle in, we head over to the party, which was fun. Music and food and interesting people with fireworks is always a good combo. Just your typical house party, good times.
We get back to the "Alachua Ritz" and El Hombre and his friend crash out. I get in bed and find that sleeping on my pillow was the equivalent to sleeping on a sack of potatoes full of eyes. So needless to say I was a little delirious from lack of sleep the next day.
But Sunday was good. We ate at "the top" which was tasty, and wandered around the city:
I would totally have gone to this bar, simply because it is painted like a cow.
(dumb gator doesn't realize his sign is upside down... go 'canes)
you know I can't go places and not take pictures of wall murals. There were so many! But this was my favorite
This store front reminds me of Asheville or old-school Charleston somehow
This also reminds me of Charleston... loooooove Spanish Moss!
But don't get confused, we are still in South Florida
Even Gators want to be in Miami! (ok, I know it's so they can go to the Orange Bowl)
Walking around downtown Gainesville, it reminds me alot of Chapel Hill. I love that most of the stores and restaurants are locally owned. To me, locally-operated stores keeps the soul of the city intact. I know it sounds cheesy, but I'm not really sure how else to put it. Unfortunately alot of these places were closed down, due to the economy. As you get closer to campus, more things are open, but between the lack of students because of winter break and what's going on economically, its obvious that these places are struggling.
Gainesville also reminded me of downtown Charleston, when I first moved there. All the places were local boutiques, affordable to college kids. Now from what I hear, it's chain store after chain store. I saw it happening when I left, 5 years ago, and I have little interest in going back. I hope that doesn't happen to places like Gainesville or Chapel Hill....