Welcome to my "Florida" blog

Being a third generation Florida native, I'm completely enamored with the diverse beauty of this gorgeous peninsula. For most of the year the weather is divine which makes exploring its unlimited nooks and crannies fun and easy.

Wherever I go I appreciate nature and the world around me. Come along with me as I share the places I visit and perhaps a few other amusements I find interesting along the way.

(FYI: Every post prior to January 1, 2009 was previously published and imported from my garden blog)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Where Am I? Revealed: Tarpon Springs

It is one of our favorite things to do any time of the year. We hop in the car late on any given afternoon and drive over to a place that is like being transported to another world... and it's only 30 minutes away.
Admittedly, it isn't the sponges we are off to enjoy in Tarpon Springs. But, that said, there's something about just knowing we are right in the midst of the little city considered the sponge capital (I believe there's a spelling error on that sign??) of the world.

So unique it is in so many ways. The main hub of activity makes one feel a bit like you're stepping into a miniature slice of Greece. I say that for several reasons. The Greeks have an amazing respect for the elder members of their families. Even to an outside onlooker that sense of honor and respect pervades the Greek locals milling about there. Speaking of the locals... the Greek folks sitting around in the restaurants and at the outdoor tables and on the park benches still mostly speak their native language.

It could also be the live Greek music drifting out of some of the pubs and eateries. It is definitely the feeling one gets from the O-pah's and hand clapping that can be heard above laughter and singing.

Our favorite seafood restaurant there is at the end of the main street where we can sit outside overlooking the water. We go to Tarpon Springs to EAT... at least that's what we do there first!

It's also very pleasant, on a beautiful Florida evening as the sun is beginning to drop, to take a stroll through the quiet streets and peek into some of the shops. I'm not too tempted to "shop" but it is an experience all its own just to walk down the sidewalks and take in the ambience of this quaint little town.

The bakeries are full of fresh homemade Greek goodies. With individually owned bakeries at a minimum these days it is like an old timey experience to stand in line, pick out the sweets you want from glass encased trays of calorie packed desserts. Can anyone say authentic baklava!

On our most recent jaunt to Tarpon we were joined by our youngest son and his wife. The breeze off the bay was perfect that night. With coffee in hand we all sat on the park benches that line the water. We relaxed and chatted breathing in the goodness of the salty air, taking in the sights and sounds of boating life until the beautiful sunset was gone from the horizon. A great time and a great memory.


ChrisC and JonJ said...

We just went there!And now you've made us want to go back!
We love Momma's for the best Greek salad.And Paul's Place(we know the owner)for the bestest beer ever(it has ice in it,it's so cold).

nanamoo said...

Tarpon Springs was part of the 2nd grade social studies curriculum at our school. My students enjoyed seeing what real sponges look like. I enjoyed the day trip with my family collecting them.

gigi said...

"Tarpon Springs History:
The region, with a series of bayous feeding into the Gulf of Mexico, first attracted attention as a place for winter homes about 1876. Some of the newly arrived visitors spotted fish jumping out of the waters and so named the location Tarpon Springs. The Greek population first arrived to this city during the 1880s, when they were hired to work as divers in the growing sponge harvesting industry. In 1905, John Cocoris introduced the technique of sponge diving to Tarpon Springs. Cocoris recruited Greek sponge divers from the Dodecanese Islands. By the 1930s, the sponge industry of Tarpon Springs was very productive, generating millions of dollars a year.

When a red tide algae bloom occurred in 1947, wiping out the sponge fields in that region of the Gulf of Mexico, most of the sponge boats and divers switched to fishing and shrimping for a livelihood. The city then converted most of its sponge-related activities, especially the warehouses where they were sold, into tourist attractions. The Sponge Docks are now mostly shops, restaurants, and museums dedicated to the memory of Tarpon Springs' earlier industry. Most sponges sold on the docks are now imports: Very few sponges are harvested from the area. Attempts have been made in recent years to restart local sponge harvesting."

i got this info online, ref. Wikipedia. it is still a great trip into another culture anytime you can visit. and as you mentioned, "go to Tarpon Springs to EAT... at least that's what we do there first!"
beautiful pictorial! didn't i mention spectacular sunsets?

Meems said...

I am SOOOO behind on my blogging. Thanks everyone for your comments... I REALLY do appreciate that you play along with my Where Am I posts.

Chris, I will have to give your selections a look-see... you know what that means... I'll just have to bop over there more often.

What a perfect place for students to learn about a micro culture so close to the big metropolis.

Great additional information Geeg! Mr. Meems was saying that many of the sponges come from Steinhatchee... that reminds me... I've never done a post about that little town we like to make detours to... hmmmmm.

JG said...

Nice post and great pics. We sure enjoyed our time there with you and Dad. You described the experience perfectly.

Meems said...

Fortunately we picked a good night to go there... the weather couldn't have cooperated better! And of course the company was even better. Hugs to you and our beautiful DIL.

TROLL Y2K said...

Nifty blog. I've gone to T-Springs for the "epiphany" festival twice. Big fun.

Carol said...

A beautiful shot. I'm partial to boats. We spend a lot of time on the St Johns River on a 27' Albin. Not a big boat..but comfortable for extended stays.