A bit late for Valentine’s Day, but still in the right month for romance, I thought I’d tell you about a sweet little thing to do with someone special. On the surprisingly beautiful Lake Merritt, just minutes away from Downtown Oakland, you can take a gondola ride. The boats are identical to the ones that might exist all over the world but that I, personally, have only ever seen in Venice. The gondoliers even wear black pants with black and white horizontally striped shirts and those funny hats. It’s all very authentic.
Here, even, are a few reasons why riding a gondola in Oakland is better than doing it in Venice: First, there are only a couple of gondolas in Oakland’s fleet and, really, there’s mostly only one out at a time. If you, then, are in that one that’s out, then you’re doing something special. In Venice, where there’s a constant gondola traffic jam, the experience can, perhaps, feel a little less personal. Second, someone told me recently that Oakland has the most temperate climate in the world. Whether or not that’s true, one thing I can guarantee is that’s it’s milder there than in Venice. Meaning that you will never, ever go out in a gondola in Oakland, even on the hottest day of the year, and worry that you’re going to die of sun exposure. Not true of Venice. And, last but not least, as I learned last summer, riding a gondola in Venice costs many, many Euros. Riding in one of Oakland’s copycat gondolas is much more economical. Not that saving money should be a factor when you’re planning your perfect romance, but, then, throwing tons of money away on a generic experience that, in real life, turns out to be a sweaty, tourist trap isn’t so very romantic anyway. It’s better in Oakland.