Considering I am a cliché hopeless romantic, I sometimes find it funny how I ended up with a man on the polar opposite end of the spectrum. Mr Practical (AKA Pumpkin) is not a creature who will whisper sweet nothings into my ear, pen love poems in my absence or assemble candlelit, petal strewn dinners. He is, however, a man who spent most of last weekend constructing a dressing table for me, as a surprise, because he had noticed I put my make up on in a corner of our room with dim lighting; he is a man who senses from my texts when I have had an emotionally charged day at work and leaves a Creme Egg on the kitchen table as a much-needed, sugary pick-up; and he is the life-saver who insisted on staying up with me till 5am, bleary eyed with laptop in hand, the night before our early morning flight a few years ago when a technical glitch meant I was on the verge of losing a year’s worth of hard work.
Pumpkin is practical to his very core and shows love through selfless actions. As for the red roses, soppy messages and Eiffel tower kisses, he is quite content with leaving such gestures to the Matthew McConaugheys of the world.
Perhaps you can imagine, therefore, what he made of my suggestion to fork out on a gondola ride in Venice this year. We all know Venice is renowned for being costly and gondolas, love them or hate them, are undoubtedly one of the most expensive activities you can experience there. After a few mumblings referring to “value-for-money”, Pumpkin remained sceptical and politely opted out.
Fortunately for me, the fairy Godmother over at Tinggly sensed my desire to try out this quintessentially Venetian tourist activity and kindly invited us to try out a gondola ride gift experience in Venice, leaving Pumpkin firmly out of excuses!
The Gondola Ride Experience
The company that coordinate the gondola experience is used by various other booking agencies and operators so when we arrived, we found there to be a bit of queue, which was perhaps not such a bad thing given that we were running late ourselves and were becoming all too familiar with the feeling of being lost in Venice.
As we unintentionally eavesdropped on the British couple in front of us, we learned that Michelle Obama was in Venice that very day. And the next day when we were in Murano, we would see a dense crowd populate one of the bridges. We would walk over out of curiosity only to see the masses dissipating and only then would we learn that we had missed seeing the First Lady by less than a minute.
We had already read the fine print so we were aware that this was a group gondola experience, which we did not mind at all and frankly, I am quite certain my practical Pumpkin would have struggled to keep a straight face if someone was serenading just the two of us and lunging long-stemmed roses between us. There were six in our gondola and although we were beaten to it, I would recommend the seats at the back of the gondola from both the comfort point of view as well as for the best photo opps.
Four gondolas floated down the Grand Canal together as the sun was starting to set, leaving a peachy glow permeating across the water and allowing us to appreciate the beautiful, crumbling architecture in a new light and with the contrast of the dimmer, more atmospheric tiny canals we traversed.
As we had strolled up and down the tiny passage ways in Venice, I had paused to snap away every time I spotted a gondola lazing along a canal, undeterred by the countless other, virtually identical images already stored in my gallery from the preceding days.This time, it was a strange feeling looking up and noticing tourists standing on bridges and balconies staring down at us and doing exactly the same thing, all of us united by our desire to capture a classic and timeless photograph of Venice.
The gondoliers were all dressed in a characteristic stripy uniform and I was impressed at their ability to stand upright and maintain their balance as they propelled us along the docile waters. Our ride lasted half an hour and shortly after commencing the journey, the musicians in a neighbouring gondola started to work their magic with the melodies of the accordion and a grey-haired Italian singer proudly exhibiting his range of pitch. I have always seen images and clips of singing gondoliers in Venice in films and TV programmes but funnily enough, despite the abundance of gondolas we had seen in Venice, this was the only musical one I had actually come across during my trip there.
Tinggly Gift Experiences
For those of you unfamiliar with it, Tinggly is a treasure-chest of a gift experience website, offering exhilarating and inspiring experiences all over the world with everything from snorkelling in Iceland and wine tasting in Chile to parasailing in New Zealand and horseback riding in California. For one set price, you can purchase a Tinggly gift box for someone special (or heck, even for yourself if you are feeling the urge to pat yourself on the back!) The voucher is then redeemable against any of their gift experiences across the globe with a two-year shelf life. For travel addicts like myself, those of us who favour memories over materials and even those of us keen to try out new experiences in our own cities, this is the place to resolve those gift dilemmas!
I know gondola ride experiences are rather touristy and predictable but I personally would have regretted leaving Venice without trying it so was grateful that the Tinggly gift experience voucher enabled me to do so and I will certainly be popping back to this site when I am seeking a gift for travel enthusiasts, couples heading on honeymoon or the next time that Pumpkin can’t be persuaded into an activity that I am tempted by 😀
Have you ever been on a gondola ride and what was your verdict on it?
We were guests of Tinggly but I am an opinionated, little, hopeless romantic and all views, good or bad are entirely my own.