July 23, 2024
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July 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Venice by gondola. (Credit: David Roher)

4 days until Ironman United Kingdom

As the plane started to pick up speed, it began to sway side to side.

“Oh man, I’m gonna be on the 5 o’clock news; plane crashes killing triathlete without his bike.”

(Were you scared?)

I only fear three things, my parents, my God, my wife; and this was not one of those things.

The distance between Rome and Venice is 343 miles or one hour of flying.

(Why didn’t you take the train?)

Haven’t you been paying attention?

(Right, you only had a day to see Venice.)

We landed at Venice’s Marco Polo airport and we were met by a driver.

This is where the trip began to take on a 007 vibe.

(Did you bring your tuxedo?)


The boat that took us, and maybe James Bond, to Venice. (Credit: David Roher)

(Did you order a martini?)

I did that at our first meal in Rome.

It was a short drive from the airport to the docks where a boat was waiting for us.

(This is some James Bond stuff.)

The boat looked like the one from the “From Russia with Love” movie.

(A 1963, Fairey Huntress with a 200-horsepower engine?)

I didn’t look closely, but it did look a lot like that boat.

(Did you ask the ship’s captain for a martini?)

Still, no. The boat took us around the canals of Venice to a landing on the far side. The sun was shining, the air was warm, the green tinted water of the canals was calm. As we came into the dock, I half expected someone from MI6 to meet us with an envelope.

They did use the city in three separate James Bond movies; “From Russia with Love,” “Moonraker” and “Casino Royal.”

Venice is located on the north-east side of Italy and the city is made up of 118 islands separated by canals and linked by over 400 bridges. The city has narrow alleyways, tall buildings, bridges and steps. Lots of steps.

(Are you complaining?)

Quite the contrary. I loved everything about this city. The tall building created those narrow alleyways. We would walk down these ancient streets for one block and then they would open up to a courtyard. It seemed like every courtyard had a statue, a gift shop and a coffee shop. The place was a maze for humans. There were almost no cars, just boats.

The apartment we stayed in was tiny, just 11 x 11 feet.

(I bet you are glad that you didn’t bring the bike with you to this city.)

All the rooms on these islands are tiny by comparison. The office of the Airbnb could almost fit all four of us in it.

It was 1:30 pm by the time we got settled into our room, so I said to my family,

One of the 400 bridges of Venice. (Credit: David Roher)

“Let’s get lunch.”

(How? This place is a maze with a series of tiny bridges.)

Google Maps. Venice feels huge, but it is actually tiny. When you look at Google Maps, you think it will take hours, but everything is minutes away. Naturally, the kosher restaurants were on the other side of town, but that was one mile away.

(That’s kinda far.)

I walked farther as kid every Shabbos a to get to shul.

The Ba’Ghetto restaurant was in the Jewish part of town.

(You mean the Jewish Ghetto?)

Yes, that.

(How could you tell?)

We saw a sign for the Chabad nearby.

Now, I had a dilemma. Everything on the menu looked amazing.

“Do I order the spaghetti carbonara with smoked goose breast or do I order the spaghetti with truffle and beef tartar?”

(Order both.)


(What did you drink?)

Margaritas with Mexican tequila I’ve never heard of.

Each of us ordered something different and we were all in heaven. Then we had to walk back through those narrow streets where the tall building almost blocked out the sun.

(Why didn’t you just sit and relax?)

Me, sit and relax?

(Good point.)

It was gondola time.

(You can’t come to Venice and not take a gondola ride.)

We walked back through the maze of streets. Me, in the front following my Google Maps, with my family in tow. The navigation was easy, the crowds were tricky. I had to keep looking back to make sure I didn’t lose my wife n’ kids. I kept thinking to myself,

“If they let any more people into this city it will sink into the water for sure.”

Riding the gondolas of Venice was more like a ride at Disney and less like a cab in NYC.

(You can’t walk up to one and hire him?)

You buy a ticket at the port and wait in line.

They never mention that the boat you are about to board is riding swells and is therefore moving as you climb on board.

The ride was a fun experience. Once we got out of port the jade green water had a gentle rhythm and the architecture of the city was stunning. We passed other gondolas with singers and musicians serenading passengers. My wife found it romantic. My 11-year-old son found it exciting. My 17-year-old found it terrifying. I found it calming.

After we were back on land I asked,

“Hey Stevie, what did you think?”

“That was awesome! Can we go around again?”

My 17-year-old gave him a look like “That scared the heck out of me” and I just laughed.

David Roher is a USAT certified triathlon and marathon coach. He is a multi-Ironman finisher and veteran special education teacher. He is on Instagram @David Roher140.6. He can be reached at [email protected].

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