Recently, on a five week trip down south in my RT Adventurous, I visited my friend in Clearwater for a few days. Jackie has been down there a few years and knows all the best spots to go- one of which was Tarpon Springs.
I hadn’t read about it, but a lot of folks had advised that I must make it a stop on my tour. We arrived about lunchtime and Jackie hustled me into her favorite restaurant at the docks. I was torn- I love Greek food but the area was vibrant and I didn’t want to go inside. However, she reminded me that we had all afternoon to sightsee and I was hungry.
We were seated in a huge dining room that was jam packed with other diners. It was blue and white- the colors of the Greek flag. And when I say blue, I mean blue. Our seriously Greek waitress took our gigantic order (after all, get while the getting’s good!) and we tucked in for a delicious meal.
After lunch, we rolled ourselves over to the attached bakery (can you believe it? Heaven!) and I got a piece of fresh Baklava, dripping with honey, to top off a fab meal.
Back out into the sunshine and another country.
Tarpon Springs was a fishing town by the late 1800’s when the first Greeks were lured over for sponge diving. Today, the town boasts the largest Greek American population in the U.S. It had a thriving sponge industry until a red tide algae bloom in 1947, after which, the town’s livelihood switched to fishing and shrimping. As a result, most of the warehouses around the docks were sold, and the area became a tourist attraction with shops, restaurants and museums dedicated to the history of sponge diving.
Today, most of the sponges sold are imports, but sponge diving made a comeback in the 1980’s and, today, is profitable again.
Jackie and I strolled down the docks, checking out the boats and browsing the shops and museum. We even talked for a while with an real sponge diver. It was like being in an actual Greek fishing village, complete with tourists. It was lively, sunny, yummy and loaded with plenty of photo ops.