Thursday, June 22, 2017

Tübingen Today

A friend of mine was in Tübingen, Germany today - it's a little ways south of Stuttgart.
There , on the waters of the Neckar River, they have some unique boats.
These are long, narrow vessels, which are piloted by solo captains who push them along with poles, with passengers relaxing.

Here are a few snaps taken of these gondola-like boats.

This photo is my favorite.
Notice the on-board grill with bratwurst cooking.

Only in Germany.

The guys who drive these boats in Tubingen do an expert job with passengers aboard, but like American gondoliers, these pole-pushing pilots also have an annual competition to look forward to each year.  It's called "Stocherkahnrennen", and you can read more about it in my post "Stocherkahnrennen 2011".

As it happens, the annual race took place last week, and there's so fun footage on YouTube now.
Here are a few for your viewing pleasure:


Saturday, June 17, 2017

A Loaded Six-String On My Back

Photo courtesy Allison Images

Not all gondoliers sing,
and even fewer carry an instrument with them on their boat.
Here we see Jimmie in Irving, Texas - ushering his passengers into a perfect state of relaxation, pausing from time to time to serenade them with his soulful voice...and his six string.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Long Beach Sensa 2017

For centuries the people of Venice have celebrated their relationship with the sea. 
From the very beginning, when the first Venetians took refuge in the shallow waters of the lagoon, to the naval success, to the great wealth acquired through maritime trade, Venice and the sea have shared a connection of historic significance. 

Venice is in fact married to the sea, and that is commemorated each year in a ceremony where the leader of the city tosses a gold ring into the water, following a parade-like procession of boats. 

Another city which has a great connection with the sea is Long Beach, California. 
This major west coast shipping port owes a lot to the Pacific Ocean. 

Among the many similarities between the two cities, there is one that might surprise people: gondolas. 
And while nobody has as many gondolas as Venice, one of the largest servizios outside the Veneto floats in a picturesque corner of Long Beach known as Alamitos Bay. 
Launched 35 years ago, The Gondola Getaway began as an idea. Michael O'toole had grown up in the Long Beach neighborhood of Naples on Alamitos Bay, he needed an idea for a business class, so he built the project around a gondola cruise business. 
In 1982 he decided to give it a try, and The Gondola Getaway was born. 
Each year a group of rowers from the company rows in the famous Vogalonga in Venice - a Gondola Getaway tradition for 32 years so far.
But this year the gondoliers of Alamitos Bay had something else to celebrate:
An official connection between Long Beach and Venice. 
A new "friendship city" status was recently announced, and to commemorate it, O'toole set up a marriage to the sea ceremony, which took place on Sunday, the 21st of May in Alamitos Bay. 

Invitations were extended to many other local gondola companies, and some of us even brought our own boats. 

Gathering in the morning at the Alamitos Bay Yacht Club, we sorted a few things out, and rowed over to the raft of two caorlinas that would serve as the stage for the ceremony.

Music was playing, the Naples Island Contessa and her court were delivered to the caorlinas, and Deacon Miguel Torrado officiated. 

Boats of all types were in attendance, the entire Gondola Getaway fleet, kayaks, stand-up-paddlers, a few dragon boats, and Tim from Sunset Gondola brought his red gondola. 
Kalev and I joined in with our pupparin from Newport.

After the ceremony, i popped a bottle of prosecco, and realized that everyone was already on their way to row the course around Naples island. 
This was not a race, but rather a "fun row" along the same lines as the Vogalonga. 
The great thing about this kind of rowing is that you can carry on conversations with your friends in other boats, you can pull over so people can snap a photo, and in our can stop for a short prosecco break now and then. 

After a full loop of the route, and some of the boats headed back to the yacht club, Kalev and I took our boat through the canals. 

Once everyone had made it to the Alamitos Bay Yacht Club, Mike O'toole shared some announcements, and we all feasted on various dishes from Belmont Shore icons: Angelo's Deli, Buona Gente, Domenico's, Michael's and Papalucci's restaurants 

A lot of people were talking about how this is going to be an annual event, and I for one hope so.
It was a heck of a lot of fun, and I look forward to next year.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Friday, May 12, 2017

Solo Sandolo

Among all of the gorgeous and iconic gondolas in Venice,
there are a few smaller black boats that might look similar
to the untrained eye, but are quite uniquely different in their own way.

These are called sandoli, and the passenger versions of these boats
are a rare treat to ride in because their compact size,
and low clearance allows their operators to take them
some places where a gondola might not venture.

Here we see a lone sandolo plying the waters of the Grand Canal,
with happy passengers - taking in the view and the experience.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Twenty-Two Degrees to Port

photo by Greg Mohr

Walking around the iconic Squero San Trovaso, I came upon this gondola which the workers there (known as "squerarioli") had tipped over onto her port side for maintenance.

Looking at her straight on from the front, I saw a gondola from an entirely new angle (something that doesn't often happen for me),
and I couldn't help but snap a picture.

As I stared at the photo later, I couldn't help but wonder
what the exact angle might be.
A little creative work with a protractor,
and I believe the angle to be 22 degrees from the horizon.

Oh, and that unusual conglomeration of stuff in the right-hand side
of the frame is very unique to Squero San Trovaso - you can see
 another angle of it in my post "The Wall at Squero San Trovaso"

If you want to see a larger version of the above photo, click on it.
There's so much to take in with this image.