After a brief nap this afternoon, we set out on foot again to see what adventures awaited. We started out on a different path than we took earlier in the day, happy to wander and absorb whatever awaited us down the road.As we walked amidst the wonderful smells and sounds of the city (no cars!!), we decided that we definitely needed to take a gondola ride.
We came across a few gondoliers, but they were in the peak traffic areas. Deciding we would like to take a voyage off the beaten path, we strolled a little further. Soon we came across Mateo, who hollered across the canal to offer his services. We asked him if he sings, and he said no, but when he quoted a price of 80 euros we couldn’t resist his service. We were thrilled with the price, as the gentleman at our hotel thought we would have to pay at least 90. We boarded his boat, and immediately began an unforgettable experience.
Transported through Time
We got off a bit on the wrong foot when the 3 ladies attempted to sit in the back for a photo. Mateo was not happy, as we weren’t following his directions very well, essential for maintaining balance in the vessel. We got the hint that we needed to obey better, and settled in for our ride. As our boat got moving, and we headed further away from the hordes of people, Venice transformed before our eyes. Seeing the old, beautiful buildings from the level of the water, surrounded only by the sounds of lapping water, we all slipped out of the year 2010 and into the old world. The sheer peace and beauty of the city was magnificent…too indescribable for mere words.
I could leave our gondola experience at that, but I would be leaving out half the story. You might get the impression that we had a calm, tranquil ride, traversing the canals of Venice peacefully for 40 minutes. However, I have to say that Mateo was quite the character, and contributed to the unforgettable experience we shared. He answered our questions about Venice with a smart wit and obvious love for his town and country. Whatever he spoke of, he did so in dramatic fashion, and was equally eager to show up his fellow gondoliers. We found ourselves racing past 4 other vessels at one point, as he paddled and maneuvered rapidly (yet elegantly) passed them. We erupted into cheers, obviously pleasing him and his competitive spirit.
At the end of our tour, Mateo conceded to allowing us various seating arrangements for photo ops. When he took one of our cameras to get a group photo, our companion joked about him stealing her camera. He quickly replied, “I have your camera, you have my gondola. Why would I take your camera?” Clearly, his gondola was far more precious than even a fancy camera. What a guy! We will always remember you as a special part of our Venice trip, Mateo, as you fit the personality of our group so well. Grazie!
Lisa is the travel loving, animal adoring, Mickey Mouse hugging owner of Dreams Delivered Travel.