Thursday, July 2, 2015

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

This is a gondola.
Silly Venetians.  Boats go in water, not in a palazzo!
Part of the picture people have of a romantic trip to Venice involves a gondola ride.  If you are part of the many couples in this city who have been making me want to vomit by sucking face all over the freaking place, you may want a gondolier (boat rower) who can sing to set the mood, or perhaps have an accordian player along for the ride.  If you are one of my fellow single ladies, you might prefer a smoking hot one with some sexy guns from "rowing his boat" all day (namsayin'?).  But here's the thing about a gondola ride: it costs 80 euro for the first 40 minutes, and 40 euro for each 20 minutes after that.  If you want to do this in the evening (ie, the time of day when you are NOT covered in grotesque amounts of sweat), well, it goes up to 100/50 after 7 pm.
If you are smart but you care enough about the bragging rights of saying you've ridden a gondola, you can do what I did in my poor, broke college days and take the traghetto across the Grand Canal.  That only costs 4 euro (now...like everything else, it was much cheaper in 2001), and doesn't involve all five hundred bazillion tourists taking photos of you and your love bunny playing tonsil hockey because it makes a good photo.  It also only lasts a couple of minutes - the traghetto is basically a quick way to ferry across the Grand Canal, and is cheaper than the vaporetto (water bus).
Now.  If you are no longer a poor broke college student, and would end up being by yourself in the damn boat (and thus, probably reading, which means really a waste of money and possibly making yourself motion-sick), and furthermore, have run out of penis festivals and temples of erotica to visit, thus shifting your raison d'voyage to having some kick-ass learning experiences, then Row Venice might be for you.  For the 80 euro you would have spent for 40 minutes riding, you can get 90 minutes of instruction on how to row yourself.
I think I came across them on TripAdvisor, and immediately I signed up to take a course.  It sounded like a lot of hot, sweaty fun (pretty much every kind of fun there is to have in Venice is hot and sweaty, come summer).  I've paddled a canoe a time or two, and although I don't have the greatest track record of staying afloat (ask Babysis and she'll tell you), their website talked about the boats that they use: batellini coda di gambero.  It's a slightly different design from the better known gondola,  a design that is flat-bottomed and thus, a LOT harder to flip...or to fall in from.

I met Nan, my teacher, near the marina, where she helped me in and showed me the basics.  They seemed pretty...well, basic.  Then I got to start trying, and oh my freaking sweet Hell, it was a lot harder than they make it look.  It was easier on the body than paddling a canoe - I guess the oar lock helps your body do the work, and the motion is a lot like walking, or it's supposed to be...I never quite got it right, and my oar kept popping out.  Which brings me to how it's harder than canoeing.  I don't know why I couldn't figure it out.  Possibly because - contrary to how graceful I ALWAYS seem, haha - I am not a very coordinated person, and your body does a lot of different things when you voga properly.  There's the weight shifting back and forth, while not going up and down, but your knees are bent softly, twisting your wrists, pushing the oar FROM THE TOP, pulling it back, keep it flat!  So many different things going on at the same time, and while it's something you just have to do and practice, I'm a visual learner, and you can't see all that, so I followed Nan's commands not to look at the oar, and I didn't fall out or drop my oar, which given my track record is success.

The sweat absolutely rolled down my face.  It was hot, but it wasn't as hard work as I was expecting it to be, and it was as much fun as I was expecting.  I'm not sure if I'd do it again, but I'm really glad I tried it.

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