Florida is so much more than just Disney World and Daytona Beach. The family parks and the lovely the beaches are great, but Florida has so much more to see and experience. It’s an exciting state where the second language is Spanish, and where Latin American culture is often palpable.
During our Florida trip we stayed most of the time at South Beach, a small town linked to Miami. South Beach has the historic Art Deco district made famous by the popular 80s TV series Miami Vice. Fortunately, the crime from that classic TV series is not on the street here these days, even though it’s a 24-hour district filled with people. Walking along the seafront our nostrils are filled with the smells of seafood (how about a seafood paella?) and the Latin American rhythms of the beach taverns make me want to dance. Suddenly I feel like I’m on a Caribbean island or in Cuba or some other exotic location – not in the US. In the Miami area 70 percent of people have Spanish as a mother tongue, so it’s no wonder that Florida sometimes feels so exotic.
From South Beach we take a guided bus tour to Key West. The journey across the many varied Florida landscapes is very beautiful. Once we arrive in Key West, it feels like we are in another continent. The old Victorian houses and the mix of hippie culture and Cuban style confuses me at first. The atmosphere is chilled and the old hippies and young surf bums certainly love the free vibes of Key West. A group of guys from Södertälje tell me that “this is the good life – chilling out and taking one day at a time.” I remind the guys that the temperature makes a difference: “It’s not so much fun to sit with a surfboard under your arm on a park bench when it’s below zero!”
Whenever we visit Florida, a trip to the Everglades is a must – it’s a huge marsh area not far from South Beach. The trip goes through an Indian reservation and we stop off at the Seminole Hard Rock Cafe and Casino. “We have to buy T-shirts here!,” shout some girls in the group. Naturally, we do that before our journey continues.
In the Everglades, we are met by an old hippie (again) and we get a thrilling ride on his boat through the grass-bordered marshes. I see several alligators and many beautiful birds. “Keep your hands out of the water!,” cries our guide. Thankfully, none of us are tempted to dip our fingers straight into an alligator’s mouth.
After all excursions I think it’s so nice to swim for a while in the hotel pool or take a walk on the beach. Sometimes I do it just before the return trip because then I can soak up the smell of the beach and ocean and feel the warm sun on my skin before the long flight.
Florida is so delicious!
Gabriella / Club Paf