Gondola rides in Venice

Old Jul 19th, 2006, 05:23 PM
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Gondola rides in Venice

We are going to Venice in September and wondered if the gondola rides are all they are hyped up to be? If so, which site is the best to book one on? If not, would we see just as much if we just walked all around Venice?
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Old Jul 19th, 2006, 05:31 PM
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I think that a gondola ride is a touristy but absolutely necessary part of visiting Venice. I can't imagine not doing it if you can.

Yes, you can find gondolas available for business almost everywhere. I wouldn't worry about booking a ride before you go.

Have a great time!
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Old Jul 19th, 2006, 05:39 PM
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The gondolas are ubiquitous in Venice and do not need to be booked in advance. (I suspect only tour groups do this.) You would be better off shopping around a little when you get there. (i.e. do you want 30 minutes, 50 minutes, etc, and a singing gondolier or just the ride? --they also charge more at night). If you can manage the 80-100 Euros, do it because it is a way to relax and see the canals --which are such a distinctive part of Venice--up close. (We justified it by taking the slow, cheap Alilaguna boat to our hotel while we were jet lagged instead of the $$$$ water taxi. So our splurge was on the gondola once we were able to enjoy the views.) Be sure your gondolier spends most of the time on the smaller canals because you could do the Grand Canal by vaporetto. For the rest of Venetian sights, you'll be walking, walking, walking...There is no way it is "worth" what it costs, but if we thought that way, few of us would travel to Europe at all given the exchange rate and the cost of things over there...
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Old Jul 19th, 2006, 05:39 PM
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I agree.. very touristy but a "must do". It is pretty expensive- but certain hours (pm for example) tends to be more expensive. We cut down costs by finding another couple that wanted to go and then split the cost.

Have fun..
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Old Jul 19th, 2006, 05:41 PM
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Thank you for the quick response. This is my first forum posting..
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Old Jul 19th, 2006, 06:02 PM
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Good advice here, bb-you know, in all the considerable time I've spent in Venice (and am going back for a nice long stay next month-got an UNBELIEVEABLE deal on a two-bedroom apartment!) I have STILL not done the gondola ride-oh, I've had offers from gondoliere of up to 50 percent off at night, when it was slow-but I've not done it because I don't really want to spend the money on it- I also like the vaporettos, and find them, when they are empty late at night, to be just as romantic as a gondola, silently gliding down the Grand Canal-it's so lovely at night.

You can wait and see how you feel about it once you get there, and observe them in action. Victoria's point is well-taken, you do need to BARGAIN with them, ask for that discount (sconto) -think of a reason why you should get a discount, and lay it on them-they're always a few lounging around at their stations, laughing, chatting, and checking out the folks as they walk by.

Also, I would suggest going to a gondolier station AWAY from the San Marco waterfront, as the gondola rates are highest there-the rates of the gondoliere station up by Ca'd'Oro vaporetto stop, just below the Ca' Gottardi B & B for example, are less-the more senior gondoliere get the more expensive spots near San Marco, the less senior get the stations further away. You can walk around and see gondoliere stations on the bridges in Venice everywhere-so walk up and see what their rates are, and start bargaining-if you don't like their quotes, then move on to another station further away and try there.
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Old Jul 19th, 2006, 06:18 PM
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Hi bblount, girlspytravel gave you excellant advice! If a gondola ride fits into your budget it is wonderful to do it once. But again, follow girlspytravel's advice. And I hope we get a trip report! Enjoy beautiful Venice.
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Old Jul 19th, 2006, 09:39 PM
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A splurge on a gondola ride at dusk is pure magic. Don't miss it.
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Old Jul 20th, 2006, 12:30 AM
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IMO a gondola ride is no more "touristy" than going to Venice in the first place.

DO IT..you won't regret it and be sure to go to San Marco in the evening after all the other tourists and daytrippers have departed..absolutely magic.
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Old Jul 20th, 2006, 03:29 AM
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A vaporetto ride is perfect for the Grand Canal, but a gondola can get you into smaller canals to get a totally different view of the city. You can get to places and see things that you would not otherwise see.
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Old Jul 20th, 2006, 03:47 AM
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Hi

Here are the official gondola hire rates - http://www.gondolavenezia.it/storia_tariffe.asp?Pag=43

Don't forget the champagne and glasses.

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Old Jul 20th, 2006, 04:19 AM
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If you are just 2 people, you might enjoy the gondola caravan experience. It would be less expensive than a private gondola and some find it more fun. Enter the phrase gondola caravan in the search box and you will find postings with more detail and instructions on obtaining tickets.
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Old Jul 20th, 2006, 04:38 AM
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I've just returned from a trip to Venice & we did splash out on a gondola ride. It is a lovely experience & very peaceful as they take you along quieter small canals, as well as on the Grand canal. We paid 90 euros for a 50 min trip, however, my niece, who went the wk after me, haggled with the gondolier & got the same trip for 60euros!
Hope you have a wonderful trip to this magical city!
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Old Jul 20th, 2006, 06:33 AM
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Where's the best spot to begin a gondola ride? (Price? Do specific drivers "camp out" in specific spots? Do routes differ?)
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Old Jul 20th, 2006, 07:08 AM
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Travel-as I stated in my previous post above, if you bargain with the gondoliers, you'll get a better rate, and the published gondolier rates don't mean a whole lot-they're there as a general reference point for tourists -they are by no means the last word on gondola rates!

There are gondola stations at naturally, in front of the Hotel Danieli on the waterfront at San Marco, Rialto bridge, Ca'd'Oro, San Moise, San Giovanni Grisostomo bridge (in Cannaregio, just past Rialto bridge) - literally, all over-just walk around, and you will see them hanging out at a bridge. But to get the better rates, you need to head away from San Marco-and I think, the better place to start would be at one of the stations in Cannaregio.

I should say also, that not everyone has a great gondola ride experience-not all gondoliere are charming-some don't like their jobs (but they pay more than univ. profs. make) and, just as in any job, there are those that aren't very good at what they do.

Hate to tell you all this, but I was reading in the Venice newspaper just 3 days ago that a gondola right out in front of Piazza San Marco overturned, with an entire Saudi family-a one year old, a 3 and I believe a 6 year old, and the parents. By the greatest of good luck, there were other gondoliere, and Venice law enforcement patrol boats in the area that helped save the family before one of them drowned. I believe one of the parents had fallen in, the other parent rushed to the side of the boat as did the gondoliere, to help get the person back on board, and the whole gondola tipped.

There have been, within the last few years, very young children who have almost drowned-have literally been picked out of the Grand Canal, and had to be taken to the hospital.

Not to put a damper on things-but I wouldn't go out in a gondola at rush hour during the week (late afternoon)-and with young children, I wouldn't go on a ride unless I had a life vest for them-which they don't provide.
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Old Jul 20th, 2006, 07:48 AM
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I have three kids and we didn't take a gondola ride. The canals were so crowded with them - end to end (they ALL seemed like caravans!) - that it seemed like SUCH a Disney ride. And if you catch one near St. Marks, you wait in a roped off line, just like at Disneyworld. It all seemed so fake I could have sworn that the gondolas were running on tracks at the bottom of the canals!

We did, however, take two tragetto (sp?) rides, for .50 per person each way. That seemed to satisfy the kids. I will say that the gondola was "tippier" than I would have thought. It's not surprising at all that they sometimes tip over.

If you really want to do it, I'd take my ride at night, from an out of the way spot.
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Old Jul 20th, 2006, 09:21 AM
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No, the gondolas are real. As to the gondolas being "end-to-end," it depends on where you go and the time of day. There are miles of canals in Venice, and the gondolas are not end-to-end everywhere.

Again, get the gonodlier to take you on smaller canals, not the Grand Canal and immediate surrounding areas where the large tour group gondola flotillas congregate.
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Old Jul 20th, 2006, 09:30 AM
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Missypie brings up a very good point-if you don't want to lay out the money for a gondola ride, but you want the experience of a gondola boat-take a Traghetto (ferry) (plural: traghetti) across the Grand Canal, for only 50 euro cents! The one traghetto ferry I like (because there are almost only locals on it) is the one leaving just down from Ca d'Oro that runs across to San Polo, and the Rialto fish market area. There are traghetti points at San Samuele, San Toma, Santa Sofia-about 6 or 7 in all I think-and all they do, all day long, is go back and forth across the Grand Canal. At rush hour in the morning and evenings they are naturally filled to capacity with locals going to and from work.

They say that all Venetians stand when using the traghetto, so you should too, to show that you're hip and cool to their customs like they are. This last year when I took that partic. traghetto, we did stand, (and I do always) however, there were locals on the boat that did not. I guess they didn't feel they had anything to prove to us, or didn't feel like showing the pride, whatever-point is, you don't have to stand during the crossing if you don't want to, BUT one really should try the traghetto once-and see how well you do standing-it's a bit trickier than you think, but fun!

.
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Old Jul 20th, 2006, 09:41 AM
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standing in a Traghetto scares me, I am not the most balanced person and I can just see myself wobbling back and forth, grabbing whoever is next to me for balance and taking us both overboard.
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Old Jul 20th, 2006, 09:57 AM
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you know, lyb, having taken years of ballet and other dance classes, I consider myself to have pretty good balance, but I had to use all my concentration to stay upright and not wobble this last traghetto ride I took-particularly after you hit a small wake from another boat! (the traghetti try not to go across until the vaporetti and other larger boat wakes have passed-but you can't always avoid them).

By the way, the supply boats you see constantly in Venice have a special name for them "mototopo" (plural: topi) "topo" means "rat" in English, hence, "ratboats"-fitting term for them- doing all the dirty work of transporting everything to and from the city.
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