On an uncharacteristically cold day for Florida, my best friend and I decided to drive over to Tarpon Springs. Tarpon Springs is located on the west coast of Florida and was once known as the "Sponge Capital of the World" in the first half of the 1900s.
The sponge docks of Tarpon Springs started in 1890 when it was realized that sponging in the local waters could be profitable. Experienced divers from Greece were brought in and the community grew. Unfortunately, in 1946, a red algae bloom wiped out the sponges and by the time they recovered, synthetic sponges were cheaper.
The community still has a small sponge industry and Greek heritage is very much alive in the docks' museum, shops, and restaurants. We spent most of the day meandering through its shops and stuffing ourselves with delicious Greek food while admiring the murals about Greece and Tarpon Springs.
The shops offered all types of different sponges - they were literally everywhere. Another thing that Tarpon Springs sells a lot of is - soap. Shops were filled with soaps made of olive oil, goat's milk, and shea and they all smelled of different heavenly scents. I ended up buying a goat's milk soap that smelled like lemongrass with a sponge attached.