Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Day Trippin’ To Tarpon Springs, FL

Recently, I had a houseguest from out of state visiting me and one of our sightseeing trips included the Sponge Docks and Greek Village in Tarpon Springs, Florida.  I’d like to take you along for “Outdoor Wednesday,” which is hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer.


Tarpon Springs, a small community of about 20,000,  is located on the west coast of Florida, just a hop, skip and a jump from Tampa and St. Petersburg.


The first settlers to Tarpon Springs  arrived in 1876.   Although the area quickly became successful as an exclusive winter resort for wealthy Northerners, it wasn't long before it was discovered that money could be made by harvesting the sponges growing in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  By 1890, the sponge industry was firmly established in Tarpon Springs and became the community's most important industry.  In the next few years, over 500 experienced divers from Greece were brought to Tarpon Springs to work as sponge divers. 

sponge diver

diver statue

diver statue 


In addition to seeing exhibitions of sponge diving/harvesting, visitors can experience the Greek influence on Tarpon Springs by  sampling authentic Greek cuisine at one of the many Greek restaurants.


There are plenty of yummy Greek pastries to chose from, as well as other traditional Greek dishes.

greek bakery 

The main street through the Greek shopping district is lined with quaint, quirky shops.

greek village (2)

If you need a natural sea sponge, Tarpon Springs, “The Sponge Capital of the World,”  is certainly the place to get it!


 Spongeorama a

 sponges (a)

If you aren’t in the market for sponges, I am sure you would definitely enjoy browsing through Catherine’s Linen Shop on Athens Street.  It is  filled to the brim with all kinds of lovely linens!   And just look at that old-fashioned display window!  It reminds me of the window of the old 5 & Dime store where we used to shop  when I was a little girl.

catherine's linens

This big tile mural of a sponge diver on the side of this building is really pretty. 
sponge diver tile mural
Well, all this sightseeing and shopping has made me really hungry for a piece of sweet, flaky, authentic Greek baklava. 
How about you?




Claudia@DipityRoad said...

Great shots!!

What a fun get away...Hmm i should be saving up my $$


TTFN~~Claudia ♥

Lorna ~ Lace and Ivy Cottage said...

Shari, what a great tour, thank you! I never really thought about how sponges were harvested, but now I know! Wish I could peek inside that linen store. I love linens!

Anonymous said...

That's a lot of sponge! I think it's fun diving and seeing the beauty under the sea :-) I like the feel of your neighborhood. It looks so relaxed. And i wouldn't mind trying different kinds of yummies :-)

Happy Outdoor Wednesday!

Hootin' Anni said...

What a fun tour!!!!!

My Wordful/Outdoor Wednesday is all about something that was 'taken from our yard'. But at our request. Happy Wednesday to you.

irene said...

Thank you so much for taking us there. Love the tour..

Pat@Back Porch Musings said...

Wonderful post!

The photo of Hellas Restaurant made me think of the photo I shared, of my grandchildren, last month. My grandson, aged 2, was admiring some of the desserts at the restaurant, in the photo. They visited Florida, in May. When they are there, they always go to Hellas.

g.suzie said...

I have used those kind of sponges for faux painting many times, but never really gave a thought as to where they came from! Very interesting, and the pastries, oh my that looks like trouble, especially the baclava. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

What a fun and informative tour! Love the photography too. Looks like a beautiful place.

Mary said...

I loved the photos and want to thank you for taking us on the tour. My favorite photo was the sponge diver. This really looks like a great spot.

Rhonda @ Shellbelle's Tiki Hut said...

Okay, so now I'm in the mood for some saganaki and a little wine at Hellas. The problem is, it's only 10:38am! Let's see…once I finish visiting OW posts and get some work done, I could probably make it before the sun sets. Wonder if it will still be raining then? Hmmmm………………

Lisa said...

Oh what fun!!! I love the yummy food!!
Hugs, Lisa

Becky K. said...

Mmm-yum! I am so hungry and now I want greek food! There was a little greek restaurant I used to go to regularly years ago. It was so neat and the food was so good!
Thanks for the memories.

I am glad you had a nice day for your day trip.

Have a Happy day!

Becky K.
Hospitality Lane

stefanie said...

what a great post, the sponges are beautiful, i am glad you showed us how they are harvested, happy ow

Mary @ Framed and Tagged said...

What fun you had!...I think the sponges are really neat...I would really like to go in that bakery.
Happy OW!

Marie said...

That's pretty cool Shari! All the Greek influence would make me feel like I'm in Greece. Thanks for sharing your great photos!

Mari at Once Upon a Plate said...

What an interesting tour ~ I had no idea! Thank you so much for sharing this with us, I enjoyed it so much! xo~m.

Country Wings in Phoenix said...

Thanks for sharing Shari! I have a best friend who is Greek and she makes baklava to die for. I don't remember the actual name of the other treat but they are a type of cookie - greek - and she rolls them in powdered sugar. At work we nicknamed them trackers as you could tell when someone took one and walked away eating it, as they left their tracks. What a wonderful tour. Thanks Shari. Please stop by Country Wings in Phoenix. I would love to share with you. "Country Hugs", Sherry

Janie's World said...

Very interesting narrative on Tarpon Springs. Loved seeing all those sponges! Great place for a daycation!

Crystal said...

Hello Shari,
I had no idea about Targon Springs. I guess I never gave much thought to where sponges are harvested from? Now I know a little trivia about the USA.
Thanks for sharing the great photos,history and tour.

Crystal said...

Hello Shari,
I had no idea about Targon Springs. I guess I never gave much thought to where sponges are harvested from? Now I know a little trivia about the USA.
Thanks for sharing the great photos,history and tour.

Glenda/MidSouth said...

Thanks for the tour. Looks like a fun spot to visit.

Light and Voices said...

Look out Tarpon Springs....I have you listed on my bucket list now. Happy 4th of July.
Joyce M

Betty said...

Did you ever go into the Greek Orthadox Church there? It is beautiful! There used to be a Pappas restaurant there also, did you see it? It would be down by the docks area, unless it has been moved.

Shari @ My Cottage of Bliss said...

Betty, yes, the church is truly magnificent. Sadly, Pappas restaurant closed about 4 or 5 years ago. It had been a Tarpon Springs landmark for years and years. They had the best Greek salad.