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Long Beach's Canals Awash with Romance
February, 2009 - Issue #52
As far as timing goes, scheduling Valentine's Day in February was a brilliant move. I don't know who makes these decisions, but I'm sure it's a woman.

She undoubtedly scanned the calendar for a time when men would be free from obvious distractions. February certainly is the obvious choice. The Super Bowl is a distant memory. March Madness is still weeks away. What a perfect time for a girlie holiday!

For us men, celebrating usually means planning some combination of candy, flowers, dinner and a movie. But that won't cut it this year.

"Why not?" you ask.

V Day '09 falls on a Saturday.

"Yeah, so?"

Follow along closely while I lay this out for you from her point of view. Saturday is a weekend day. You're off work. Therefore your whole day is free to devote to her.

I know; it's diabolical. First the February scheduling and now the Saturday thing. Women clearly know how to work us to achieve their own devious ends.

But we're men. We can handle it. So if it's romance they want, it's romance we've got. You can't miss with this plan.

Step 1. Book a gondola ride. Who needs Venice when you've got Alamitos Bay? Though perhaps not as historic as the famed Italian city, this Long Beach locale has both canals and gondolas. Make a reservation with The Gondola Getaway, and then cozy up together while you glide along the canals of Naples Island sipping your favorite beverage and noshing on appetizers from your picnic basket. In between kissing under the bridges (a tradition your gondolier will be sure to point out), admire the waterfront homes and pricey boats moored at the private docks.

The trips run from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunset cruises are available, as are larger gondolas if you want to do a group date.

Step 2. Pack the picnic basket. The cruise includes a serving of bread, salami and cheese, but she'll be so impressed if you assemble a collection of her favorite snacks. You do know what her favorite munchies are, right? The cruise is BYOB, so plan accordingly. You're free to bring whatever you like, and your gondolier can ice down your selection if need be.

Step 3. Make a dinner reservation. Long Beach is rich with restaurants, but you need to choose carefully for this occasion. While you and I might be impressed with The Yard House and their 250 ales, lagers, and stouts on tap, chugging a yard of beer on V Day is not what she has in mind. (If I'm wrong, then you are so lucky.)

So, go with Cafe Piccolo. It's on Broadway, about two miles from the gondola dock. This charming little Italian eatery is tailor-made for V Day. Its intimate dining rooms feature cozy tables, dim lighting and attentive waiters. The rear atrium room offers views of the outside gardens. It is hung with cafe umbrellas and a small fire pit in the center of the room adds to the ambience. Sit in the front room and she'll be taken with the frescoes and murals that evoke a rustic villa. With seafood, pasta, chicken and beef, plus a variety of specials, you'll both find something tasty on the menu.

After dinner, head over to 2nd Street in Belmont Shore. There are shops to browse, coffee to sip and people to watch while you stroll.

And when she asks, "Did you see this month's Inside SCV?" play it smart. Deny ever reading the magazine and take all the credit for your successful V Day date. And then mention you booked a March Madness trip to Vegas with the guys.

Cupid's Little Helpers
The Gondola Getaway

5437 E. Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach
562-433-9595 • www.gondolagetawayinc.com

Cafe Piccolo
3222 East Broadway in Long Beach
562-438-1316 • www.cafepiccolo.com

Eric Harnish lives in Newhall.
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