Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Visit to Tarpon Springs

     On Friday 4/7/17, we returned to Sarasota from the Okeechobee KOA near Lake Okeechobee,  where we attended our first Tiffin Rally.  We've attended a Good Sam and an FMCA Rally, and we had heard numerous good things about Tiffin Rallies.  Best of all, the 2018's would be there, and we would get our first glance at the new rigs.  The KOA was filled with about 300 Tiffin RV's featuring all years, makes, and models, and Bob Tiffin and the rally organizers did a great job at making us feel welcome.  Even Elvis showed up the last evening and put on a great show after dinner.  We survived a week of high 80's, high humidity, and an afternoon of tornado warnings, but it was nice to move back to Sarasota by weeks end.
     On Saturday, we packed up and headed over to Tarpon Springs.  I had been receiving some notices of a new RV park being built along the Gulf, and I wanted to check it out.

Tarpon Springs also has a historical downtown, which reflected the Greek culture that became so prominent in early Florida with the discovery of the sea sponges growing in the gulf.  
     The first settlers arrived in Tarpon Springs in 1876, and by 1890, the sponge industry was going strong.
 Immigrants from Greece brought their diving expertise to this country, and soon over 500 divers using rubberized suits and helmets were operating out of a fleet of 50 boats.   With the divers came their families, and Greek restaurants and bakeries now line Historic Downtown.  For 30 years, the sponge industry flourished, and was the largest industry in Florida, greater than tourism and citrus.  A blight in the 1940's decimated the sponge industry, and the area turned to the tourists.  In the 1980's, the industry revived after the discovery of new sponge beds, and the weekly auctions are again happening along the sponge docks.
     Downtown buildings are decorated with festive murals, all dedicated to the sponge diving industry, and a bronze statue on the waterfront commemorates the Tarpon Springs Sponge Exchange, incorporated in 1908, and still active today.  
     We had a delicious lunch of chicken and pork at Yiannis Greek Restaurant, and it included a wonderfully sweet dessert called baklava.  If you like sweet, you have to try it!  Debbie and I walked the shops and gazed into the bakery windows we found along the way.  Debbie laughed when a t-shirt clearly explained all she had experienced that day.  It said - I'm not hollering...I'm Greek!

     We even found one of our Freedom Boat Club franchises down at the waterfront, so it looks like we'll be returning up here to do a little boating.  Our next adventure is boating down at Pine Island on Tuesday, which will give us a look at some bigger water, and a chance for Debbie to experience her first "cheeseburger in paradise" out at Cabbage Key! 

No comments:

Post a Comment