December 17, 2018

Christmas Lights & Gondolas

Buon Natale or Merry Christmas (in Italian!)  My 35 DayTripper Tour guests certainly felt like they were celebrating the holidays in Italy on our recent tour to Naples (California) for a gondola getaway. It was a trip worth waiting for as it was postponed one week due to the heavy rains we received. The weather improved to be a perfect evening on our new date with clear sky, glassy water in the canals and barely a breath of wind. The day began with a festive visit to Roger’s Gardens in Corona Del Mar, a landmark destination in Orange County for more than 50 years. It truly is one of the most beautiful home and garden stores ever, especially at Christmas!

From this seven acre, family-owned business, our driver Carolyn took us to the Islands of Naples in Long Beach for our Gondola Getaway.  Every year it’s turned into a Charles Dickens Christmas Carol of decorated multi-million dollar homes flanking the canals that we would see from authentic Venice-style gondolas. A little history of this place:  Gondolas were first introduced into the area back in 1903 when the three Naples Islands were developed as a Venetian-inspired island community with canals, five bridges, Italian street names and of course, gondolas!  Naples started as a resort where guests could arrive by the electric “red car” and stay at the beach some 35 miles from L.A.  Developers figured that if they could get people out to see the beauty of the beach, they’d have them sold on a house which was at that time considered “in the sticks.” In reality, it was a marshland and was difficult to build on. Those with a sense of adventure, imagination and foresight invested $100-$1000 on a piece of land that now is worth $500,000-$8 million. If the developers were alive today to see what their dream has become, they’d be smiling!

Many people would love to live here, but can’t afford the expensive waterfront properties. So for the rest of us, the Gondola Getaway ride gave us a taste of that life minus the huge mortgage, taxes and all that goes with purchasing and maintaining a multi-million dollar home. Brilliant! We were safely helped into four gondolas bobbing by the docks, given warm lap robes, cups of sparkling cider, and off we went into the fading December light. As night fell, all the sparkling lights came on on the elaborately decorated homes we floated by. Our gondoliers sang to us to add to the ambiance and as we passed beneath the bridges, our couples kissed (an Italian tradition we were told). Fifty minutes later, we came back to the dock, climbed out of our sleek gondolas and back into our sleek motor coach for the ride to our delicious dinner at Romano’s Macaroni Grill in Seal Beach. The service was superb and the Italian food (from ricotta meatballs and spaghetti, to chicken parmesan and fettuccine alfredo) was “delizioso!” With our tummies full and new memories made, we drove back to San Diego full of Christmas spirit, Italian style!

– Pat Brown
DayTripper Tour Manager
Tour: Christmas Lights Gondola Getaway
December 12, 2018


Categories: Blog