I was not sure what to expect of Tarpon Springs, Florida. The small fishing town on Florida’s Gulf of Mexico coast was “famous” in Greek America for being an authentically Greek fishing village. In an America where we arrived for the most part
in the past 100 years, after the country was settled and usually in large, multicultural cities, the idea of an authentically Greek enclave in a Florida characterised by suburbanisation and the mass migration of sun-starved and over-taxed Northerners seemed a bit rich.
And yet ...
I arrived in Tarpon Springs one balmy evening this year, guests of my dear friends Dr Ted and Lisa Vlahos. I was scheduled to talk about Byzantium in the nearby town of Clearwater and I insisted that we go to Tarpon Springs for dinner. The town of Tarpon Springs at first glance looks a lot like dozens of other charming fishing towns along the Gulf Coast of Florida — palm trees, modest clapboard houses, usually white, gardens in various degrees of upkeep. A few hints pique the radar. A profusion of flowers, professional offices (law, medical, accounting) with Greek surnames, and then to your right, there is the church of — wait for it — St Nicholas, suitably but not totally Byzantine, recalling the Patron Saint of Sailors.