|Restored Sponge Boat|
The alarm went off at 7:45 and we both said, "Fifteen more minutes!" Then we dashed through showers and breakfast in order to make it to the ferry by 8:30. Julia decided to stay back today, so Mike and Brenda, Robbie and Patrick headed to the bus transfer station and boarded the Northbound Bus to Tarpon Springs. The ride took about an hour, but it was well worth it. Tarpon Springs was settled by several men from Greece who saw the profits that could be made by harvesting sponges. Today the industry has slowed way down from the $3,000,000 per year it once was, but we were able to see how sponges were collected and learned that 10,000 people died during the sponge diving period. Their underwater diving equipment was rather primitive. The Greek influence is still felt today and there were several Greek restaurants to choose from. We decided on Hella's because it had a bakery and coffee shop attached. We were not disappointed. The boys had gyros and Brenda had a pork pita. On our way out we picked up a cannoli and a diples (like a rolled up elephant ear).
The sponge dock area is about four or five blocks long and off to the side is the old Sponge Exchange where the sponges were off-loaded, bartered for and stored. The area is now converted into quaint shops and in the open plaza area a two-man band was entertaining us with authentic Greek music. The sun was shining and we were not in a hurry, so we sat and listened. We were hoping that someone would start dancing. There were a few people tapping their feet and clapping, but no one was brave enough to dance.
We boarded the Jolley Trolley for the return trip. It took us through Dunedin. This brought back lots of memories for Mike (this is where the original Wrinkles was bought). We want to come back for a day trip.
Patrick wants to go fishing, so maybe tomorrow......no schedule sure is nice!!