Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Venice Recreated - IN TEXAS???

It is said that
"imitation is the best form of flattery".
Nothing could be further from the truth with Venice.
A casino in Las Vegas will attest to that, along with an even bigger one now in Macao.
Dozens of malls, stripmalls, and other architectural works needing a theme have been dressed to look like Venice.

After the Houston Expedition in April, my wife and I headed back up the 45 towards Dallas.
Many years ago, my company bid on a project in a Houston suburb across the highway from the well-known Woodlands mall.
My friend Simon Goodyear got the contract, and helped them set up a gondola operation.
Simon did a great job, but not all gondola operations succeed. The gondolas ended up being sold, but the Venetian theme remained.
And, oh yeah, they went overboard in some areas.

Doges and winged lions are displayed in several places.

Some parts of the mall can be deceiving, especially if you see them in monochrome.
Here's the black and white:
Now here's the full shot in color, and also with the retailer's sign and a big ol' Texas truck.

Here's another monochrome:
And here's the full shot in color.
At first you think you're in Piazza San Marco, then you realize that it's not Venice, it's Famous Footwear.
Winged lions, spires, that clock...
Mmmm, and then there's my truck with the expedition gondola!
Now maybe I've missed the inspiration for this in Venice, but there's a very dramatic fountain in front of Famous Footwear.
Very dramatic. Actually quite painful looking.
And just to make sure you feel like you're in La Serenissima, there are these lamps all over the place.
Oooh, molto bene!


René Seindal said...

Is it true, as some of my Venetian friends tell me, that the gondolas in Las Vegas are electric and has foot pedals for going forwards and backwards?

Gondola Greg said...

Hi Rene.
Thanks for your great comments.
I'm intrigued by your kayak business.
Yes, it is true that the gondolas at The Venetian in Las Vegas and Macao have electric motors.
They are operated when the gondolier steps on a button on the deck.
Those gondolas also have modified forcole and the boats were designed to be steered with a remo.
What may surprise you is that many of the gondoliers at the casino in Las Vegas don't like to use the motors. They prefer to propel the boats in a fashion similar to soto morso.
It's not always a good idea though - the forcola is different and at a different angle - there have been gondoliers there who have developed a painful tendonitis in their wrist.

René Seindal said...

Kayaking in Venice has some major advantages if you want to explore the waterways of the city and the lagoon.

They're the three A's: Access, Autonomy and Ability.

The only way you can move around Venice by water without any restrictions is with a oar driven vessel. Most of the city centre is closed off for non-authorised motorised traffic. Rowed and paddled vessels are the only ones with unrestricted access.

Most other offers in Venice are managed. Somebody else is moving you around the city, and that somebody decides where you'll be able to go because they have to take you there. In a kayak you are your own driver and you decide where to go. Venice Kayak has a guide which imposes some limits, but they are there for safety reasons mostly. We impose very few restrictions on the autonomy of our guests, and certainly fewer than any other offer of sightseeing on water in the city.

Kayaking is a huge sport in most of Northern Europe and Northern America, so there's a lot of people how know how to paddle a kayak. With the ability to paddle they can move around the city and still be able to enjoy the sights in a safe way. Had we been doing voga alla veneta focus would have been on the rowing, not on enjoying the city, because most people would lack the ability.

Unknown said...

Hi, I am Mattia and I write from Venezia. I am graduating and my thesis is about the Venetian influences in theUnited States. I find your website very interesting.
I would like to find more photos of this shopping mall. Can you tell me precisely where it is located?
Thank you, regards.

Gondola Greg said...

Hi Mattia.
The mall is north of Houston, Texas, on Interstate 45.
It is actually in a suburb city known as "Conroe". The region of Conroe where this shopping mall is located, is known as "The Woodlands".
There's a canal waterway there, which is next to the highway.
The address of a restaurant next to that canal is:
19075 I-45 South
Conroe, TX 77385

If you have any other questions, I'm happy to help. e-mail me at;