As a professional gondolier, I often find myself in conversations
where someone asks what I do, and then is surprised by my answer.
frequently they tell me they had no idea there were gondolas in Newport.
They sometimes follow up by asking
"How long have there been gondolas there?"
Imagine how shocked they are when the answer is "since 1906".
with the exception of a certain casino in Nevada,
just about every gondola operation in the US is the best kept secret in their city.
It's not that we want it that way.
It just is.
It has a lot to do with the fact that we often operate silent black boats in the dark. We're like stealth ninjas, but less violent - more romantic.
Hunter Mitchell rows in the fog - photo by Oliver Johnson
The same type of conversation takes place when I meet people from out of town. As a gondola fanatic, I can usually name the nearest gondola to where they live.
Seattle? Gig Harbor.
New York City? Right there on the lake in Central Park.
And the list goes on...
New Orleans, Oakland, Providence, Fort Lauderdale.
Australia, Germany, the UK - there are multiple gondola operations or owners in those countries as well.
We watch movies where the coolest person has remarkable connections, and knows of all the best kept secrets when it comes to food, night clubs, surf spots, places to appreciate gorgeous views.
But while it might be great to find some secret taco stand that nobody else knows about...it's not so great for the guy who owns the taco stand.
So as flattering as it is to be referred to as a "best kept secret",
It's not so good for business.
I find myself having those conversations all over town.
"Yes, really, I am a gondolier. Here, see..."
(as I hand them a business card with a photo on it).
Best place to kiss?
photo by Cassandra Mohr - originally appeared in "Kiss Like You Mean It!"
Best place to pop the question?
Best kept secret in Newport?
Not so much.
I'm working hard to get rid of that title.