Yesterday we took a day trip to Tarpon Springs, the Greek sponge fishing town made famous in the 1953 Robert Wagner movie Beneath The 12-Mile Reef. We first visited this interesting town on a trip to Florida several years ago and loved the waterfront area, with its little shops, great restaurants, and friendly people. We have wanted to get back ever since.
It was only 60 miles from the Escapees Sumter Oaks campground to Tarpon Springs, but it took us 90 minutes to get there, because traffic was heavy most of the way. It had been overcast all day long, and started to rain a few miles from our destination, but it stopped by the time we got there.
On our last visit, we were able to park on a side street near the waterfront, but this time around there were No Parking signs everywhere, and the parking lots cost $2 or $3, which isn’t bad for all day. But I still prefer free. 🙂 I guess we could have parked further away from the waterfront and ridden the trolley, but we didn’t see it until we had made it half way down the street on foot.
The few short blocks of Dodecanese Boulevard are lined with shops where you can buy everything from souvenirs to trinkets, essential oils, custom made soaps, seashells, and clothing. Many of the shops have inventory on display on the sidewalk, giving the place a kind of bazaar atmosphere.
And sponges. There are sponges for sale everywhere you look, which I guess makes sense, since Tarpon Springs is the Sponge Capitol of the World.
We had a good time, stopping to check out many of the shops, and chatting with the clerks, who were all friendly.
And who can go to Tarpon Springs without a stop at one of the Greek bakeries and restaurants? We remembered Hellas Restaurant from our first visit, and especially their delicious pastries.
They have everything from mouth watering baklava, to cheesecake, to cookies and pies. We each had a piece of chocolate dipped baklava that was so rich that it almost made your teeth ache.
Terry found a couple of shops with some spices she has been looking for, which made her happy. One place, The Spicemans Kitchen, even had a sea salt blend made with ghost chilies, which we were tempted to get for our buddy Greg White, who loves hot stuff; the hotter the better.
There were quite a few sponge boats lined up on the docks, many of them with sponges hung up to dry, or docked at the waterfront warehouses and repair shops, getting ready for their next day of work.
This statue honors the sponge fishermen who have been lost at sea over the years.
Our friend Bob Meredith had told us about Howard County Park in Tarpon Springs, and suggested we check it out while we were there. But I had slept since then, so I got it all wrong, and thought he said Honeymoon Island, which is actually in Dunedin, about twelve miles south. By the time we got there, I knew I had made a mistake, but what the heck? The scenery was nice and the company was good.
We stopped on the causeway to watch lightweight sailboats and kayaks out on the water. The wind had picked up, and it was getting chilly, but everybody seemed to be having fun.
Well, this fellow was, until the wind flipped his boat!
But apparently this happens often, because nobody seemed too concerned, and after a few minutes he managed to get it back upright.
On our way back north, we stopped at Cafe Masaryktown, a few miles south of Brooksville, for dinner. We both chose the pork medallions, which were incredible. We got back to the campground about 9:30, tired from our busy day, our tummies full from the good food, and with happy memories we’ll keep forever.
Thought For The Day – I will always love the false image I had of you.