Another overcast, cold day here in the Andes Mountains. I am blaring Best Coast’s album Crazy for You and it inspired me to write about a place that I have not mentioned in this blog very often: my home for the last four years.
I lived in Tallahassee, FL from 2007-2011 and got both my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Florida State University.
I’m not sure I would have enjoyed the city and university culture nearly as much had I not found my closest friends, but it is an interesting place nonetheless. I have heard it mocked on the tv shows Lost, Sex and the City, and The Office, but why?
At first glance, it does seem a tyical Southern town divided along racial lines by a set of train tracks. However, there is so much more to Tallahassee than a short visit has to offer. Like Quito, it’s not a place you would really grow fond of unless you had time to live there and get to know it, like a shy friend that you are glad you forced yourself to get to know. I never took any photos of the city because it never occurred to me I would want them, so most of these photos are from Google images.
Tallahassee food is the BOMB. I miss all of the ecletic restaurants so much. As a whole, it’s very anti-corporate and pro-local stores, so the restaurants are all one of a kind. Dive sushi places, Southern creole food, vegan soul food, Southern home cookin’ buffets, cheap margarita Mexican places, Tallahassee has something for everyone, and most of the time it’s cheap. They also have a lot of farmer’s markets and organic food stores.
My Favorite Restaurant- Kool Beanz
Farmers Market on Park Avenue
Believe it or not, Miami is NOT the capital of Florida! That is Tallahassee. Though our capital building might look like a giant penis, it’s not all fun and games downtown. There is a big yuppie community of lobbyists and legislative aides that make for overpriced happy hours. Also, lots of fun protesting going on pretty much everyday that you can always join in for whatever cause. (Women’s Rights! More funding for Education!! Our Governor looks like Voldemort!!)
Florida's Beautiful Capital Building
I drove by the Governor's Mansion every day on my way to work
and never once failed to roll down my window and flick him off.
Rick Scott is pure evil.
Tallahassee is how you would imagine the deep South combined with Florida. Loads of beautiful parks with lined with massive trees, springs bubbling fresh from the aquifers, big pine forests. They maintain the parks really well because the city is really proud of how natural it remains despite population growth. My favorites were Lake Ella, Maclay Gardens, Tom Brown Park and the Greenway.
Coffee culture is what I miss most about Tallahassee, just because it is the one thing (other than a good nutty brown ale) that is really lacking here in Quito. I miss throwing my laptop into my bag and running to a coffee shop to smoke cigarettes and hang out with friends all afternoon while procrastinating yet another paper. Some of my favorites: All Saints, the 24 hour punk vegan café with baristas who don’t give a shit what customer service is, here’s your coffee dammit. Black Dog Café, the best coffee in Tallahassee with a pretty patio overlooking Lake Ella and a constant stream of folk and indie music to keep you going.
View of Lake Ella from Black Dog Cafe
Yes, this is a drinking town. FSU is ranked in the top 10 party schools every year by Newsweek, but I actually avoided the typical college kid bars for the most part. My favorites were Fermentation Lounge (50’s style lounge with a constant cycle of microbrews and really knowledgable bartenders), Waterworks (Tiki style bar with fun cocktails and good music), Engine Room (Sweaty electro playing warehouse where it was acceptable to sneak in a 4 pack of PBR Tallboys), and Leon Pub (Smoky dive with over 200 bottled beers and a menu to blow your mind). Club wise, Rehab was about the only club you could drag me to (Gay/Fetish bar with gogo dancers and drag queens).
Getting my dance on at the Engine Room (RIP)
Apartments and houses in Tallahassee are soooo cheap, you should never have to pay more then $500 no matter what neighborhood or how many roommates. Students live around the universities, but I always loved the Midtown neighborhood a little bit north of FSU. Most places have a huge yard, shade in the trees, friendly neighbors, and lots of loud house parties.
My lovely duplex in Tallahassee. I miss this apartment!
Living in a college town means lots of cool stuff to do most days of the week. I know I complained when I lived there about the lack of culture, but looking back, we always found ways to entertain ourselves. There is a huge international community associated with the university that is constantly hosting events, and FSU itself brought in a ton of cool concerts for free (Janelle Monae, Broken Social Scene, Yann Tiersen, Stars, Weezer, Bob Dylan, Architecture in Helsinki, Born Ruffians, Eisley, Of Montreal, Mates of State, RJD2, Blitzen Trapper, Kimya Dawson and Paul Baribeau, Beats Antigue, Girl Talk, Ting Tings, Ratatat, Iron and Wine, Neko Case, Polyphonic Spree, Yeasayer, Black Kids, etc.). I got to see Sarah Silverman and Brian Posehn do stand up, and participate in cycling events and zombie walks. There was also one of the only student run cinemas in the States, thanks to our kick ass film program. I got to see a lot of movies as a ‘test’ audience before they ever came out in theaters. Notice I do not mention the football games with enthusiasm. I avoided that shit like the plague.
FSU Stadium, where I worked during college as an Athletics Tutor
One of my favorite parts about Old Town was the feeling of history walking along Park Ave near the Old City Cemetery. It is a Civil War cemetery divided into white and black sides (the white side is divided into Union and Confederate graves). I visited more than one house with a really cool story, and lots of the establishments around town have been there for over a hundred years.
Unmarked Confederate Graves in Old City Cemetery
Tallahassee is an easy weekend getaway from New Orleans, Savannah, Orlando, Atlanta, and lots of other fun places. Even if there isn’t always something happening in Tallahassee, you can drive a half hour south to the coast and eat a bowl of fresh lobster bisque, still making it back in time for a Seminoles football game.
I could keep going forever about all the small quirks and randomosities I found in Tallahassee, but instead, next time you are driving through that part of the States, you should stop there and see what you find (other than a Waffle House, that is).