A Visit to Tarpon Springs and the Sponge Docks

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Niki and I traveled a short way up Florida’s Sun Coast this afternoon to have lunch with three charming ladies from the Hoosier State.
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Former RVing neighbors and friends who were just in the area for a few days. We met for a really nice lunch at one of the better reviewed Greek restaurants on the famed Sponge Docks in Tarpon Springs – Dimitri’s “On the Water” Restaurant.
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We were blessed with a beautiful warm and sunny day, the boats – large and small – were moving up and down the waterway. We had a fun and relaxed two hours getting reacquainted over good food, service and great scenery.
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After lunch we all walked the couple of blocks down to the Greek and European Bakery for dessert. The selection of decadent desserts in their display cases are straight out of a chocoholic’s dream. I had to try the baklava tiramisu – now that is a combination to write home about!
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Tarpon Springs is a fun place to visit if you find yourself in the Tampa Bay area. Settled largely by Greeks and a thriving source for the sponge industry for many years, they are proud of their history and food and happy to share both with visitors from all over the World.
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More photos on our Pinterest pages at https://www.pinterest.com/snowbirdrvtrail/tarpon-springs-florida/

Ahoy Snowbirds! Winter fun ahead….

Learn to build your own fishing kayak
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Bedard Yacht Design in Tarpon Springs sells DIY boat kits & plans but now also offers Boat-Building Workshops and Build-Along. The workshops are evening classes intended as a leisurely and fun introduction to small-boat building. The students will collectively build a fishing kayak kit for hands-on experience.

The Build-Along is a 40-hour/one-week seminar where each student builds his/her own boat under the guidance of an instructor.

Classes: Oct 16, Dec 16, Jan 17, Feb 17 & Mar 17
Registration: 727-488-4573
or visit us at:
www.bedardyachtdesign.com/boatbuilding-workshops-build-along/

News Release to snowbirdrvtrails.com 8/18/16

Park “Hopping” on Memorial Day 2015

The Anclote River Park in Holiday Florida
A. L. Anderson Park in Tarpon Springs, Florida
A. L. Anderson Park in Tarpon Springs, Florida

It started out as a beautiful 90 degree Memorial Day 2015 here in the Clearwater Beach area so we decided to go for a ride and visit a couple of the beautiful parks in the area that we had not visited before. We wanted to see how families were enjoying this special day.

There are so many great parks to visit in this area and we have listed close to 100 Parks in the Tampa Bay Area on our http://www.tampabaysnowbirder.com website. Each Park offers something a little special or different so we enjoy finding out what it may be, in addition to great photo ops and we never know what wildlife might make an appearance.

A.L. Anderson Park a Pinellas County Park is located on Tarpon Lake at 39699 US Hwy 19 N in Tarpon Springs, Florida. It’s a nice wooded area with a dog park, walking trails & picnic spots, plus a boat ramp & fishing access. It even has its own “sink hole” on-site. The boat ramp on Salmon Bay was seeing plenty of usage this day. The picnicking families were having a great time. (More information can be found at their website: http://www.pinellascounty.org/park/01_anderson.htm).

Not too far up the road North of Tarpon Springs we find the Town/City of Holiday Florida. The Anclote River provides a good boating channel into the Gulf and along its banks we found the Anclote River Park (below). This is in Pasco County and the address is 1119 Baillies Bluff Road, Holiday, FL. This neat little Park features a 300-foot beach, a boat launch, designated fishing areas and a pavilion for picnics. (Their website: http://www.pascocountyfl.net/index.aspx?NID=674).

We were enjoying ourselves and looking forward to another brilliant sunset over the Gulf when the first rumbles of thunder began. This was followed shortly by the lightning and just as we pulled back onto the main road the sky opened up. When it rains here it can be a deluge and often ends as quickly as it begins. By the time we reached Clearwater and home the rains had stopped.

It was a very good weekend having shared a picnic get together with friends on Saturday, a quiet day of reflection on Sunday and a nice ramble to see new countryside on this day.

The Tampa – St Pete – Clearwater Area has so much to offer visitors and locals alike. There is always something new to do.

The Anclote River Park in Holiday Florida
The Anclote River Park in Holiday Florida

Snowbird RV Trails Visits Tarpon Springs, Florida

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We spent a beautiful 74 degree and sunny touristy day on the “Sponge Docks” section of Tarpon Springs, Florida just up the coast from our Winter base in Clearwater Beach.

The area is heavily steeped in Greek culture and nowhere is more apparent than in the shops, restaurants, and attractions along a stretch of Dodecanese Boulevard.
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The many shops offer all types of Greek merchandise as well as handmade soap and many, many types of sponges.
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If you like Greek food there are many restaurants with indoor, outdoor, and harborside seating. Our hands-down favorite place is called “Touch of Greece” for the desserts of your dreams. You gain weight just walking in the door!
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The view along the harbor with its many types of working boats coming and going is beautiful. You can book passage on one of the tour boats ($8) and be introduced to a diver and the art of sponging and perhaps see a dolphin or two along the way.
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”The west coast sponge beds were discovered accidentally in 1873 by Key West turtle fishermen whose nets were fouled by sponges off the mouth of the Anclote River. Spongers came to the area to work the beds, and some moved to Tarpon Springs. In 1890 John Cheyney, a Tarpon businessman, opened the Anclote River and Rock Island Sponge Company across the river from Tarpon. During the 1890s, sponge packing houses were built in the city, sponge presses were installed, and buyers moved to town. Gradually the sponge business shifted from Key West, Cuba, and the Bahamas to Tarpon, and by 1900 the city was considered the largest sponge port in the United States.

It was, however, the Greek immigrants who expanded and refined sponging in Tarpon Springs. In 1905 John Corcoris introduced the first mechanized sponge fishing boat to Tarpon Springs and brought in 500 Greek divers from Kalymnos, Halki, Symi, Hydra, Spetse, Aegena and other islands. Other Greeks soon followed and businesses were established to serve the Greek community, including restaurants, candy shops, coffee houses, and grocery stores. Sponge merchants and brokers then came to Tarpon, and their presence helped to create a well-integrated industry. They built boats, loaned money to boat owners, and supplied tools and equipment to the entire sponge fleet.

The sponge industry prospered, but in 1938 a blight infested the sponge beds and many of the sponges died.

Tourism has replaced sponging as Tarpon Springs major economic activity. Thousands of visitors come to the city each year to enjoy the outdoors, playing golf or fishing, visiting the Sponge Docks, and to experience the Greek culture.” – Source: Tarpon Springs Area Historical Society
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Tarpon Springs, Florida – just off Highway 19N – is definitely worth a visit when you are in the area.

On the Road with Niki, Jack, and Snowbird RV Trails