• Lisa Wain

Loogies with Luigi- a Venetian gondola ride for the ages!

I'm back! I've had a really busy week, but today is my birthday, so my gift to myself in the midst of my crazy is to allow myself the time today to write on my blog. I mean, let's be real. A birthday for a stay-at-home mom like me is basically no different than any other day, just your social media is quite active. Otherwise, you're cooking and cleaning just like any other day since these precious "gifts" of yours still need to eat and make a mess, mommy's birthday or not. I will say, once my husband gets home it does feel a bit more special. He's a great help on any day, let alone my birthday. I was thinking about what I should post about on this, my second ever blog post, and pretty much knew almost immediately what I would post about. For those who don't know, my husband, Matt, turned 40 over the summer. In honor of this big milestone we decided to take a trip of a lifetime in May to celebrate. We were so blessed to be able to leave our little creatures home with my parents and spend two weeks in Europe. We spent a week and a half exploring Italy and then that last half of the week we were in Paris, because, well, Disneyland Paris obviously. In Italy, we visited Rome with a day trip to Naples, Florence (our favorite!), and Venice. In France, we just stuck to Paris and Disneyland Paris which is about a 30 minute train ride out of the city itself. It was a great trip! While there, I did mini trip reports each night on my social media, but there was one moment I left out since it was such an *cough* experience that I felt it needed it's own post and I was not emotionally ready to post about it just yet. Once I was finally home and emotionally stable enough to share it I was back to cooking, cleaning, and refereeing the little terrorists and I totally forgot to post about it. So buckle up and enjoy this little gem from our trip.

Our last city in Italy before heading to Paris to end this magical trip was Venice. While in Venice we decided we couldn’t leave without doing a gondola ride. That’s the epitome of romance when you’re in Venice just you and your husband. So we ventured out to take our romantic gondola ride on our last evening in Italy. Now there’s a whole process in taking a gondola ride. Thanks to my Uncle who lives in Rome and his helpful tips, I was in the know. Would you have even thought there was a whole strategy in taking a gondola ride? Well, there is to ensure you have a ride to remember.

First, you gotta find the right gondolier. It’s like an interview process and just anyone won’t do, their personality is everything.

Next you decide a price and how long, and if you want a singing gondolier.

Finally, once you’ve decided on the type of ride you want, and you fully recover from cardiac arrest upon hearing the price, you take the most scenic, romantic, EXPENSIVE, 30 minute boat ride of your life. You sit on the gondola, taking in this beautiful, remarkable city looking into your spouses eyes just feeling so in love. It’s really something magical...unless you’re Matt & I.

This was the day we set out for our day of romance on the water. We easily found our nearest gondola stand and then interviewed a gondolier and he seemed just right. He was an older guy, sarcastic, and fun. Perfect! I didn’t want a dud who’d be silent, I didn’t want a tour guide type, and definitely not a singing one. We hadn't told him yet that he was our guy, so he starts kinda messing with Matt a bit trying to sell us on taking our once-in-a-lifetime, romantic ride with him and that was the final check off my hypothetical gondolier checklist. Anyone who teases Matt, is a friend of mine. So here we go. Let's do this!

Our gondolier, who we never got his name but we affectionately named “Luigi”, helps us in the gondola. That was an experience in itself that I truly feel they should sell a t-shirt for. You know like, “I rode a gondola & didn’t fall in...” t-shirt. I guess anyone who's ridden in a canoe would know what I'm talking about. So like 1% of you, but whatever, you get the idea. The gondolas at this particular stand were tied together, lined up one after another, so we had to step into one and then another to get to our gondola on the end. That's probably the closest I'll ever get to wake boarding, so yay me!

Once we managed to get ourselves into our nice and roomy gondola, since I was not about to take this romantic trip with a bunch of strangers, we were ready for the ride of our lives. Lovely Luigi starts going and immediately “bang!” he hits his first wall while turning us around to actually start cruising. Um. Okay. At that point I was starting to feel grateful that we asked him to stay in the small canals and not go in the Grand Canal. The Grand Canal is like a highway in Venice with big and small boats of every speed, where the smaller, inner canals only allow smaller boats. Think highway vs. country road. We were definitely staying on the "country roads" with Luigi over here.

He recovers from our first hiccup and starts really going. Pretty much immediately we start to pass other boats and as we pass other gondoliers he begins speaking to them in Italian. Let me rephrase, not "speaking", but borderline yells to the other gondoliers, like full conversations at full volume. It was kind of annoying but still cool 'cause we're in Venice, and the Venetians are living their lives while we're just along for the ride...literally and figuratively. Matt and I are pretty easy going so we weren't going to let that damper our final day in Italy.

We continue on still pretty euphorically happy considering the situation, that is until Luigi starts mixing into these already loud conversations, with intense coughing that resulted in him hocking up a loogie and spitting it out like every three minutes of our thirty minute ride. The man was making all kinds of absolutely disgusting sounds standing up directly behind us, then taking aim at the canal waters beneath him. Guess who else is sitting beneath him. 👋🏻He continues this wonderful internal lung cleansing the rest of our gondola ride, standing directly behind us. I was cringing just waiting for one rouge loogie to get caught in the wind and hit me square in the back of the head. Talk about being on edge. I was dying.

Since the romance factor is now pretty much completely gone at this point, we start to make small talk with Luigi. Big mistake. Literally anything we asked him about he answered with blaming and cursing out the tourists. Hi. That’d be us, Luigi. #awkward We could have asked him about the tower of Pisa and his answer would have involved the "s*** tourists" who caused the tower to lean. Read the room, Luigi. You're talking TO tourists! We just tried to keep the peace and agreed with him, "...yeah those lousy tourists." while Matt and I made faces at each other. Oh the laughs that we were holding in. I knew Matt was seeing the humor in this situation just as much as me. I felt sorry for Matt though, since I'm pretty sure he was worried that I was crushed about how this was turning out. Thankfully, I really wasn't. We had already had such a wonderful trip and the next morning I would be in Disneyland Paris so I was choosing to find joy in this totally unreal and unsanitary moment.

At about ten minutes into this adventure of "blame the tourists" we hear a cell phone ringing. Yup, it's Luigi's and but of course he is gonna answer it. So he now is blabbing on and on in Italian on his cell while also still hocking those loogies. At this point I’m just relieved he’s not talking to us "terrible tourists" anymore. I think I may have taken this opportunity, when Luigi was distracted, to quickly assure Matt that I was fine and laughed a bit to drive the point home. Matt instantly lightened up. The last thing I wanted was Matt to lose his temper on this guy in the middle of a canal. Could you imagine? At lease one of them would have ended up in that canal and it probably would have been all of us when the gondola capsized.

Finally, he hangs up but takes it upon himself to tell us that it was his son on the phone and shares basically the whole conversation he just had with his son about needing a computer chair. Good to know, Luigi.

Finally there's silence again, except of course the periodical loogie hocks. We couldn't have silence though. No, since my gem of a husband decides to take this moment to ask follow up questions about the phone call. I swear he’s lost his mind. I’m like “why are you continuing this????” And then the unthinkable happens. Matt asks if he has other children. No joke, Luigi suddenly gets all somber and then proceeds to tell us the most heartbreaking story about how his other 31 year old son "went to sleep and never woke up". Oh, and it doesn’t stop there. He then follows it up with all about how his mom in the same month also "went to sleep and didn’t wake up". So we awkwardly gave our condolences and then sat in awkward silence. In between loogie hocks, of course. I feel for the man and don't want to belittle his loss but at the same time, hearing about how he tragically lost his son at such a young age and then his mother too, all while we are on what is supposed to be the most romantic and memorable thirty-minutes of our lives was unbelievably awkward. It felt so inappropriate to have any type of joy for the rest of the ride. I can’t be sure but I think it was at this point I was pretty confident our "romantic gondola ride" was gonna be one for the ages.

So now we’re sitting all awkward not knowing what to say, and I’m seriously considering how to dive off this boat of torture, when all of the sudden Luigi starts yelling in Italian. Like yelling yelling at all the other gondoliers in the canal at full volume, with passion, mere moments after telling us about the loss of his son and mom. Someone clearly forgot to take their bipolar meds. This yelling at the other gondoliers goes on for sometime and even continues after we were around the corner and they were out of view. I didn't even want to know what was going on, oh, but I was gonna get to find out! I didn't have to wait until we got off this thing to get the translation from Matt since Matt speaks some Italian. No. After a few minutes of yelling in Italian he feels the need to translate his own yells. (Please don't.) So he quits yelling in Italian and then looks at us and says... and I quote... “My wife caught me in bed with my lover and now everyone likes to talk about it.”

Ummmmm. You can let us off here. No, it’s okay. We’ll just swim the rest of this filthy canal. No, really. I need the cardio. Please?

So after that gem, which by the way, at this point I’m still videoing our "once-in-a-lifetime, romantic ride", we really didn’t know what to say and it’s not like Matt and I could consult with each other on how to handle this new little nugget of info. I mean, the man is like two feet from us. Oh, how I wanted to be in Matt's head so bad.

Not knowing what to even say or how to make it stop we just repeated “oh” and “oh, no” every few seconds as he begins to tell us all about his affair, how his wife caught him, and how these gondoliers are all gossiping about it. He stops talking again, still loogie hocking though, so I thought we were good. Oh, no. Because my gem of a husband decides once again to start a new conversation with him. So while I’m yelling in my head “What are you doing?!” Matt’s asking about the canals’ walls themselves & why they looks the way they do. "Oh, that’s because of the s*** cruise ships." Of course, because the tourists caused World War II so why wouldn’t the cruise ships also cause issues. Got it.

*loogie hock*

Then Matt asks for restaurant recommendations. "They're all s***."

*loogie hock*

He then goes on a rant about how the tourists drove all the Venetians off the island and into the mainland so all the restaurants are now... well, you get the idea. The man had a favorite word and he used it often.

Finally, our once-in-a-lifetime (for different reasons) ride comes to an end. Matt, being the awesome guy that he is, still tips him 20% since obviously this older gentleman has lived a tough life and clearly needs to retire but can't afford it. Would you believe though, after we paid an insane amount of money to even go on this ride, experienced that loogie hocking, nut-job, gondolier's "talents", and still tipped him 20% even though he's the owner, he had the nerve to give Matt some lip acting like the tip wasn't enough. I'm sure the man is used to ripping off naive tourists for a living, but pulling that stunt didn't work on us. Thankfully, Matt just brushed off his comments as we walked away. I'm sure Matt was just desperate to salvage what was left of our last day in Venice the best he could.

I think all of you can see the humor and total unreal circumstances we experienced on this one, thirty minute gondola ride. Matt and I ourselves just looked at each other in disbelief and laughed knowing no one would ever believe this story, once we were out of reach of Luigi's impressive loogie shot that is. Maybe though since you are just reading this you also are feeling a bit annoyed or sad for us. Let me just say that, thankfully, I am not the typical girly-girl type in a lot of areas. I don’t like going to the salon, or getting my nails done. I’m not into girl’s nights out or the typical “romantic” dates. Out of the two of us, Matt is more likely to want to get dressed nice and go to a classy restaurant. For me, I just want to throw on some sweats & a t-shirt (my "classy sweats" of course since this is date night after all), order some Chinese takeout, and then finish off a box of donuts (Donut Plant donuts to be exact) while binge-watching Netflix or maybe get real fancy and throw on some jeans and head to the pool hall with Matt and just laugh and joke, particularly at what a terrible shot I am. I just love to laugh and have fun with Matt and especially if food and an elastic waistband is involved. So at about five minutes into this gondola ride when I knew there was no coming back, I just embraced the crazy and started filming since no one would ever believe this Seinfeld-like moment in our lives.

We have yet to rewatch the video. I'm not sure Matt is quite ready to re-live this moment, but maybe one day soon we will and I know we're both going to be crying laughing when we finally do. And just to answer the followup question that I know a lot of you will ask. No, I'm probably not going to share the video. There's a lot of cursing in it. I mean, like a lot, in both Italian and English. I know we're all adults but I kinda feel bad. But we'll see. It may just make an appearance one day.

The infamous Luigi decided to pose for our picture.