We had been looking forward to our trip to California for a long time. It had been over 12 years since we’d moved back to Ohio from California. Our older two kids were too young to remember it and our youngest was born after we moved. We stayed at my sister’s house in Oakland for a few days while we explored the San Francisco Bay Area. For the day of our arrival, my sister planned a relaxing outing to Oakland’s Lake Merritt. First we had dinner at the Lake Chalet at the Lake Merritt Boathouse.
The restaurant has a lovely view of the lake and just behind it is something unique: a gondola cruise company. This is Angelino, the owner of Gondola Servizio.
Angelino is originally from Venice, Italy, and ordered his gondolas from Venice, so they are truly authentic. His company offers several different tour options. The shortest and least expensive is a 30-minute tour for $40, but he also offers longer cruises that include wine, cheese, or dessert. The prices are for two people. Additional passengers are $10. The gondolas can hold up to six passengers.
We had small children with us and held a few on laps, so there were more than six of us on our tour. Angelino took out our boat, but he had other gondoliers out on other boats.
The cruise provided a scenic view of Lake Merritt. It was a gorgeous day. It was a little windy, so it was nice that Angelino had blankets on board. You might want to make sure you have a jacket with you, just in case.
While Angelino paddled us around, he told us about Venice. The gondolas of Venice go under bridges. The gondolas of Oakland go under bridges too, but they look a little different from those in Venice. 😉
It was at about this point on our tour when we got a surprise. Angelino started singing! In Italian! He sang several songs for us during our cruise. It was wonderful.
Although this experience would definitely make a very romantic date, my kids and their little cousins also thought it was very cool.
I haven’t been to Venice yet, so I thought it was really nice to have the opportunity to ride a gondola without leaving the U.S.
Ready to visit?
1520 Lakeside Drive, Oakland, CA 94612