Monday, February 3, 2014

Bella Mae - Launched and Ready

photo by Robert Dula
The gondola that has played host to hundreds of lucky passengers in New Orleans is back in the water after a short haul-out for annual maintenance. 
In the photo above we see gondolier Liam Pierce rowing Bella Mae. 

Gondolier Robert Dula (also known as "Roberto") has been with this storied vessel through all kinds of weather, taking care of her in the most traditional ways, with the dedication that only a true gondolier has. 

His calendar for Valentine's Day is already filled, and the days surrounding it will surely get filled as well. Robert has gone to great lengths to operate his gondola in the waterway at City Park; he's been there for four years now, and is certain that the decision to modify the ends of the boat was the right move.She fits under the lowest bridges in the park, and passengers don't notice the change. 
He also told me:
I still have them and reattach them from time to time, for photo shoots and what not… The bridges are too low to operate with them on.  

Ten years ago Thom Price built this great gondola. 
She may be far from Venice, but she's become a beloved part of her new home in New Orleans, as is seen in this tourism video:
Nola Gondola on CityTimeTV 
That video has been seen in many places, and Robert tells me that it recently showed up on a New Zealand website. 

Way to go Roberto! 

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