Believe it or not, this photo was taken in Oakland, California.

Yep, there is an authentic gondola, piloted by an authentic Italian, available for passage on Lake Merritt.

Recently my beau and I set up an outdoor picnic in the Bonsai Garden near the lake. Table, chairs, crystal glasses, fancy foods, the whole nine yards. Just for added fun,  we wore our 1920’s outfits from the Gatsby Afternoon we had attended last month. After we finished our lunch, we surprised our picnic guests with a ride in the gondola. (Which came complete with complimentary Italian love songs and parasols!)

It was a lot of work to plan and implement the whole afternoon. But you know what, it was so memorable — an outstanding day, which felt like it fell out of the pages of an old-fashioned storybook.

I am saying this to remind myself — and anyone who’ll listen to me — how important it is to seek out (or create!) adventures of the spirit. It is easy to settle for what is right in front of us. But with a little abracadabra — what is in front of us can become extraordinary.

If you live in the Bay Area and haven’t had a gondola ride, do it. Surprise someone you love. ( A 30-minute tour is $40; skip dinner out and opt for this instead!)

If you don’t live in the Bay Area, what unique experiences are in your town/city? A covered bridge tour? Circus arts training? Cave music? Indoor flying? Do a search online for “unique experiences in “my city.” Or ask your friends.

Seek the unique; you won’t regret it.

(And please, write and tell me what you do!)