My Big Fat Greek Vacation

By: Kate Pursell

Start out Greek in Tarpon Springs, then go Scottish in Dunedin.

Though many people's introduction to Greek came courtesy of the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Tarpon Springs offers a real education in Greek life and culture — minus the baby blue bridesmaid dresses and cure-all Windex.

Greek sponge divers converged on Tarpon Springs in the early 1900s and developed the world's largest sponge industry. The city has "sister-city" status with a Greek Island, and Greek divers are brought over to work.

Today, visitors can cruise local waters on the St. Nicholas Boat Line and see a live demonstration of sponge harvesting in which the diver uses traditional diving gear. Or they can cruise through the streets, stopping at local shops and cafés.

From the Greek Isles to the Scottish Highlands

Nearby Dunedin's Scottish heritage is displayed with kilt-clad, bag-piped statues at either end of the city limits and a community newspaper, the Dunedin Highlander, with a tartan-plaid masthead. Docks built to accommodate schooners drew pioneers from as far as Scotland, and Dunedin became a chief Florida seaport.

Today, the town's upscale shops and restaurants draw many visitors. One local shop alone offers Highland apparel, foods, gifts and music.

You don't need to cross the ocean to experience Greek or Scottish culture. Just come to Tarpon Springs and Dunedin.

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