While strolling through the streets of Italy’s (and probably Europe’s) most unique city, one cannot help but feel an overwhelming sense that you’re in another world; some alien species has abducted you and transported you away to some fantastical city that couldn’t possibly exist on the planet Earth. But, you’d be wrong. You’re only in Venice.
It would be impossible (and completely insane) for me to try and convey how it feels to be in Venice. Some have called it romantic. Others magical. Sure, it’s both of those, but it’s also so much more. It’s a quaint, quiet, small town that is like nowhere else I have ever been. There are buildings one cannot get to without being on a boat!
Of course, it’s far from perfect. Nowhere is perfect. And Venice is plagued by some of the same problems that other cities in Italy and elsewhere in the world have. There are places under construction. There are hawkers shouting to sell their wares. There are noisy crowds of half-lost tourists. And there are traffic jams. The only difference is that these jams aren’t in the streets: they’re in the canals.
The quintessential image conjured in most people’s minds when they think about Venice is the gondola – an elegant, streamline boat, built for two, and rowed by a crooning Italian local in a red and white striped hat and shirt. And that image, my friends, doesn’t exist in reality. It’s purely fantasy, just like the idea that you’ve stepped onto some alien planet millions of miles away.
The truth is that the gondola ride is one of Europe’s most overrated (and overpriced) tourist traps. Yep, I said it. Not attraction, trap. A 40 minute ride runs you about 80 Euros. And the price skyrockets from there (apparently the city regulates what the drivers can charge you). An additional 40 Euro for each additional 20 minutes! It doesn’t stop there. You want some of that crooning? The price and tip for the singer must be negotiated by each gondolier, and you better believe they know this will most likely be your only time in one of these boats. So they hose you for all you’re worth.
The horrors don’t end there. Let’s say you actually bite the proverbial bullet and purchase a ride, because, hey, it’s the thing to do and you’re only in Venice once, right? Well, get in line. Because you weren’t the first (and you won’t be the last) to come to that logic. The canals quickly become crowded with rows upon rows of gondolas. And most of the gondoliers can be heard shouting to each other, not singing, shouting.
I personally spotted one of these ‘cabbies’ (yes, they share a lot in common with NYC taxis) on his mobile phone – while he had passengers! His mobile phone! Need I remind you of the price again?
Suffice it to say, we opted to not take a ride on the gondolas. If we ever get back to Venice (which we would love to do), I doubt we’ll ride on one then either. Trust me, the city is an amazing place to be without being on the water.
Hasta La Proxima…