Rediscover the Sponge Docks
Before sponges lived in pineapples under the sea, they could be found in the warm waters off Tarpon Springs.
If you haven’t been to the Sponge Docks lately, I suggest an immediate return to this wonderfully quirky and absorbent destination.
It had been quite some time since our family had meandered along the colorful Dodecanese Boulevard, winding through the shops that smell of the unique nose cocktail of perfumed olive oil soaps, sea salt and Vera Bradley. I had almost forgotten that there were still souvenir shops that sold shells, bromeliads and of course, sponges, from plastic laundry tubs on the sidewalk. That sudden urgency to stock up on the different sponges for artists and car washes is still as powerful and comforting. It’s Old Florida at its best.
I could list all of the interesting things to do at the Sponge Docks, but no one does a better sales job than the folks that line the streets talking up their wares of boat rides to Baklava. There are boating excursions, shops, an aquarium and diving expeditions.
And there are restaurants-- lots and lots of Greek restaurants.
You can smell the fragrant dishes from the open air dining as you walk past, but it’s best to sit down and order some gyros, souvlaki or pastitsio from one of the many wonderful eateries you'll find. (Some of the parking lots will offer you discount coupons when you park.) And before I sound too much like a Travel Channel episode with Anthony Bourdain, you’ll kick yourself later if you don’t stop in at one of the bakeries and take home some fresh pastry in a little white box. That's the best souvenir if you ask me.
So as the weather warms and nothing sounds better than killing an afternoon by strolling the stroller to the street sounds, sights and scents of a simpler time, the perfect place isn’t too far away.
-- Tracey Henry, the Suburban Diva
[St. Petersburg Times files]