Boats with hundreds of sponges dangling from ropes hung along the decks line the sponge docks to unload the day’s catch. Proud Greek women hand out coupons from sidewalks to the many eateries in town. Baskets full of sponges of various sizes and types line the storefronts shops that dot the main road into town. Gulls add to the ambiance of this seaside village. This is not a town in Greece; it is Tarpon Springs, Florida.
Greek immigrants came here in the early 1900’s when the sponge industry switched from the Florida Keys to the Gulf coast. Sponges supported a multi-million dollar industry until a red tide destroyed much of the sponge beds in the 1940’s. The town adapted by changing to a tourism economy with boat tours, museums and shops. Today you will experience some of the finest Greek markets, restaurants and bakeries in the country. Anne and I visited this quaint village recently, bathed in the Greek culture and ate authentic Greek food in one of the many restaurants along the Anclote River. If you want the feel of visiting a foreign land without leaving the country, check out Tarpon Springs.