Florida is like a dripping wet sponge

Florida. “All of Florida is like a dripping wet sponge,” Jessica Heller says. 1883, the town burned down almost entirely on Thanksgiving Day before it had revived after the American Civil War After this traumatic event, the local fire department always wants to have fire fighting water on hand.

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In other parts of the huge promontory, springs offer scenic attractions that some prefer to a beach vacation on the coast. Backcountry exploration begins in Orlando. Winter Park is only a half hour drive north of the airport. Rain-stricken industrialists from the New England states had Florida’s first planned resort built here in the mid-19th century. Galleries and museums were built on the main streets in place of everyday shops and administrative buildings. Even today, neat North Park Avenue looks like a model for Main Street USA at nearby Disney World.


get there

Lufthansa takes off frankfurt to Orlando (www.lufthansa.com). A corona test I sat down entry It is no longer required.


Lakeside Inn Mt. Dora, historic log cabin hotel with a beautiful lakeside pool. The classic is a sunset on the airy porch. Double room from 142 euros, www.lakeside-inn.com.

the Alfonso Inn Winter Park, elegant 4-star hotel with lots of modern art owned by Rollins College, double rooms from approx €215, www.thealfondinn.com.


Guided boat tour of Winter Park, daily from 10am to 4pm, 1 hour costs €15, children €7.85, www.scenicboattours.com.

With the two-seater catamaran all year round until sunset, a 2-hour guided tour from 156 euros, without the need for prior knowledge, www.catboattour.com.

KP Hole Park with rubber tires and boat hire from €7.85 per hour, additional entry, no disposable bottles www.thekphole.com.

Alexander Springs Recreation Area, €7.85 or €10.75 on weekends, www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/florida/recarea/?recid=83546.

General information

www.visitflorida.com; www.visitlakefl.com; www.ocalamarion.com. MWE

The real attraction, however, is the chain of landscaped lakes across which Skipper Pete drives his speedy pontoon boat. “Since 1938, our tours have been the oldest tour still offered in the state,” the pensioner murmurs under his wide-brimmed hat. On the hour-long tour, he shows passengers the wealthy Rollins College with its own art museum and several boathouses, as well as a private estate with 10,000 square meters of living space. Narrow channels connect central Lake Osceola with its neighbors Lake Virginia and Lake Maitland.

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Forty-five minutes further northwest is Mount Dora on the lake of the same name. In addition to a German restaurant, gun shop and dog bakery, the retirement resort also has a rental company for agile two-seater catamarans. They’re either huffing and puffing at seven or racing at 30 miles an hour across the chain of lakes, which can be sailed from here across the St. John’s River to St. Augustine on the Atlantic. In order for boats to ride the waves even in a crosswind, you need to go into turbo gear and get a free full body shower. Fortunately, the water in the shallow lakes is warm and, like almost everywhere else, of bathing quality. You shouldn’t venture too close to the reed belt on the two-hour drive. Mother alligators live there, who get angry with brazen intruders.

That’s not something you need to fear at Alexander Springs in the Ocala National Forest. The “swimming hole” in the middle of the forest, as the locals call it, is guarded by lifeguards. With azure blue water at a constant temperature of 22 degrees Celsius, the Calm River Bathing Bay is the perfect substitute for any over-chlorinated hotel pool.

You can easily dive into a deep limestone funnel with the actual spring in the unusually clear water or just watch otters across the bay playing in the shallows.

A little later, you can kayak down the Rainbow River from KP Hole State Park near Dunnellon. While American visitors drift downriver almost exclusively on wide rubber tires, canoeists in the opposite direction can become a narrow side arm. Turtles bask on tree stumps on the shore. Herons and ibises are waiting for fish. The water becomes flatter and glows green on the sandy bottom. You make your way through a real jungle under branches and vines. Anyone caught in the thicket of aerial roots and tree stumps just get out and take the kayak out. Only after a series of curves does nature suddenly end at a fence with a metal gate, as if the raptor enclosure from “Jurassic Park” was behind it.

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