February 16 & 17; Friday/Saturday Tarpon Springs, Florida
Why do I say “real Florida?” It’s warm!!! Today I wore shorts for the first time since we arrived on the Alabama and Florida Gulf Coast (where I thought it would be warm, but it was not to be this year). Yesterday and today were sunny and in the 70’s – how very nice.
So about Tarpon Springs… This small city has the highest percentage of Greek Americans of any city in the US. It is also home to the Florida sponge industry, which grew rapidly when Greek sponge diving was introduced to Tarpon Springs by recruiting divers and crew members from Greek islands. The sponge industry was once one of the leading maritime industries in Florida and is still the focus of the tourist industry here. Guess which type of restaurant is most prevalent here? Hint: Thursday night we went to Costas Restaurant and Friday night it was Mykonos. Lots of lamb and feta cheese. Both restaurants were very good and flexible enough to have at least one vegan option on the menu.
Friday morning Dirk and I walked to a popular breakfast cafe (Tula’s) which is along side of a 35 mile bike trail and explored a little of the main town. To get there we walked about 1/2 mile on tree-lined and brick paved streets where we found the banks, antique shops and eateries. The separate tourist area is by the harbor and called the Sponge Docks. It has the normal shops with t-shirts and jewelry, but most stores also have a large selection of the natural sponges of different varieties.
On Friday we needed to find a dentist since Dirk had lost a filling a few days earlier. We were lucky on two counts – he found a dentist that would see him in the afternoon, and boating friends Chris and Roger loaned us their car so we could drive him 15 miles to the appointment. He got a new cap and I took a walk and saw two ducks with about 30 little ducklings following them – too cute!
In the evening we ate with 3 other looper couples at a Greek restaurant of course.
Note: Left front to right front: Tom and Lili Hudson, Dirk and I, Roger Kay and Kris Martinsek, and Kim and Tom from Sweet Liberty.
Today I did some shopping in the morning, boat cleaning up for a while in the afternoon, and Dirk had a much needed hair cut and beard trim. Around 4pm our friends Ron and Jan Matuska from Dunedin came for a visit.
We met Ron and Jan first on their boat Adagio in Brick, New Jersey and then we met again when the Champlain canal flooded in Whitehall, NY. A number of boaters had to wait 3 or 4 days for the water levels to go down to a safe traveling level to allow us to go through the last lock on the canal. Jan plays beautiful dulcimer and I played along with the ukulele, and then we made music again today on our boat. We enjoyed catching up and trying a new Italian restaurant in town. (We are living it up these last 3 days – pretty unusual for us, but all good).