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A Day in Tarpon Springs
No trip to Florida is complete without a trip to Tarpon Springs. Tarpon Springs became an important centre for sponge fishing when Greek divers came to the area in the early 1900s. Although the industry has now diminished, the Greek influence is still very evident in the remaining sponge boats and in the dock area. , where sponge shops and genuine Greek restaurants and bakeries are plentiful. The older Greek ladies sit outside their shops dressed in all black, with their hair tied back in a bun, and their lace shawls wrapped around them, faces old and withered by the mid-day sun, and the town is just like being in Greece and yet it is in the centre of Florida, USA. There are sponge diving exhibitions, scenic cruises and deep sea fishing charters available for hire from the dock area. The Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum features a variety of items pertaining to as well as a video presentation about the history of the sponge diving industry.
A replica of St. Sophia’s in Constantinople is the centre of colourful pageantry and processions during Greek Festivals. The ancient craft of brass rubbing, transferring designs from brass engravings to paper can be attempted at the Medieval Brass Centre which is open every day.
The Konger Tarpon Springs Aquarium is located on the St. Petersburg College, and comprises of eight galleries that exhibit the works of Allen Leepa, Abraham Rattner and various internationally recognized artists including Picasso. The Challenge of Modern Art Interactive Gallery includes hands on displays, murals, artwork and research books.
The St. Nicholas Boat Line offer 35 minute narrated round trip cruises through the historic sponge docks of Tarpon Springs. A diver in traditional diving gear provides a demonstration of sponge harvesting. The boat has been used in several movies and television shows. The trip lasts approximately 1 hour. There is also the exciting Sea Fari Adventure Cruise and this is narrated by a trained naturalist. This 75 minute trip traverses the Anclote River and Gulf of Mexico. Visitors learn about the area’s history, local sponging and fishing industries, and wildlife. Sightings, if you are fortunate, may include dolphins, eagles, osprey, herons and a variety of birds in a protected nesting area. There are binoculars available on loan throughout the tour. This is a tour that should not be missed.
There is plenty of parking available, and Tarpon Springs is a fantastic place to spend a day.
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