Venice in San Diego…just close your eyes & Dream

Thankfully my fashion has evolved since Venice.

The Grand Old Gondola. We’ve all heard of it. Seen pictures. Envisioned floating down the canals of Venice as your gondolier belts out beautiful music. Well, perhaps most of us have. And perhaps it doesn’t always go exactly as you have might have dreamed it would. It usually doesn’t but then again, that’s what makes the best memories. I was in Italy with my cousin Margaret in the summer of 1998. We were staying at an apartment in Florence but we had a Eurorail pass and on the weekends we would travel all throughout Europe. We decided it was time for Venice. We didn’t have a game plan. We never did. I’m generally a wing-it type of girl. A basic game plan is fine but nothing was set in stone. We had a few ideas. Shopping. Check. Drink wine. Check. Did I mention shopping? I wanted Venetian glass. I know my shopping. I’m a professional. Oh and of course we knew we wanted to go for that gondola ride. I mean, seriously, who goes to Venice and skips out on the gondola? We didn’t waste any time.


Day one – shopping. Mission complete. Drink wine. Mission Complete. Day Two. Uh oh. Drank too much wine. Get on a gondola after too much wine. Damn. Apparently I didn’t think this through. I knew I couldn’t skip out on this so I had to suck it up. We were pretty excited. We boarded our gondola and couldn’t wait for the music to begin. What fine opera would we hear this morning? Pavarotti? Bocelli? Nope. Elvis Presley. That’s right. Our gondolier excitedly pressed play on the tape recorder and said for us he would play Elvis. We couldn’t stop laughing. Don’t get me wrong, it was an amazing ride and I like Elvis but we were in ItalyOn a old fashioned gondola. But hey, he was thrilled so we went with it. The history and architecture of the buildings was absolutely amazing. I could have ridden all day. Almost. When you decide to ride a gondola, or any kind of sea-going vessel, remember to do it on an alcohol-free stomach. I learned my lesson that day.

It’s ironic. Italy had never actually been one of the countries on my “to visit” list and yet I had the best time ever and I have always been plotting a return trip. The gondola is also another ride that I needed to revisit. I didn’t know when it would happen but I knew it would. I put it out of my head though and moved on. Then came my birthday. Mike had a surprise for me. I’m not a good surprise person. I detect. No, I don’t snoop, I detect. It’s not my fault if I just figure things out. Sometimes with no clues at all. It’s a gift. But I promised that I wouldn’t even try to and I didn’t.
So this time I had no idea what I was in store for. We headed South. When we reached our destination I still didn’t know what we were doing. We were on Coronado Island and that’s when Mike pointed it out to me. There it was. The Grand Old Gondola. Whoa. I smiled and started to tell him about my first gondola experience. It brought back so many memories. This one would bring new and different ones. For starters, I could happily say I did not drink too much the night before. This is always a great start to any boat excursion. This time we actually had the wine with us. This is definitely the way to go. Drink the wine on the boat. On the boat. I’ve definitely learned so much through the years. We also had snacks and a blanket. Now this is what I call planning ahead.

Our Italian Wine - Thanks Kevin!

We settled into our gondola, food in lap, wineglass in hand and pulled our blanket all around us. We were toasty warm and settled in. All we needed was our musical selection. Uh oh. What would we get? A flashback to my 1998 Venice gondola ride where my gondolier was trying to be more American? Or would we actually get an authentic Italian experience, right here in the heart of San Diego? Authentico it was. We cruised the bay for the next hour, relaxing to the sounds of Italian opera, enjoying our Italian wine, compliments of our friend Kevin, eating our antipasto. For a brief moment, we didn’t think about anything else. It was just the two of us. And the gondolier. Enjoying the peace and tranquility of everything around us in San Diego. One last time. At least this year anyway.

I love to experience new things in new places. I also love to experience things that I have already done but love to do again and again. I’m not one of those people who thinks if you’ve done it once you can cross it off the list and never do it again. Where’s the fun in that? I love to shop. Does that mean I won’t ever shop anywhere but one location? Being able to go on this gondola ride wasn’t just a fun experience.  It not only created fun memories from San Diego but it took me back to Venice, to a time where I really had no worries. Where I could take off for Europe for the month and do what I wanted for however long I wanted. It let me see what I had and what can be once more. If only I remember to dream. Anything is possible.
If you’d like to experience a taste of Venice in San Diego, visit the Gondola Company at to find out how.
For an alternate ending and for different pictures, go to my other blog at:

The Venetian gondolier made me where this hat.


4 responses to this post.

  1. The article you wrote is really good.


  2. This article was really good. I look forward to reading another one.


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