venice

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Jun 25th, 2002, 11:05 AM
  #1
charles
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venice

going to venice next week with my girlfriend. i've been reading all the posts here, but no one talks about gondola rides. whats the skinny on them? of course we'll have to do it, but any tips about thiem would be great. thanks
 
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Jun 25th, 2002, 11:34 AM
  #2
Capo
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Hi Charles. There are official gondola stands (how many, I'm not sure), as well as individual gondoliers that station themselves at various bridges. Our Rough Guide recommended only using those at the official stands to minimize the chance of being ripped off.

Did we listen? No.

We took a ride from an individual gondolier after negotiating a 45 minute ride for 80 euros, during the day. Instead, he shortchanged us 15 minutes. Now, how common something like that is with the individual gondoliers, I have no idea, but it's something to be aware of. (I'd guess it's much less of a problem, or no problem, with gondoliers at the official stands.)

Anyway, while we didn't enjoy being shortchanged like that, we really loved the ride and felt the experience was well worth it. There's nothing quite like smoothly and quietly gliding through the small canals.
 
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Jun 25th, 2002, 11:44 AM
  #3
Dayle
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Hey Charles,

You don't have to do it if you don't want to. I've been twice & haven't done it yet. I wanted to, but somehow the idea of joining the flotilla of tourists lost its appeal once I saw the crowds.
 
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Jun 25th, 2002, 12:00 PM
  #4
lIVINGSTON
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In May we went to Venice and for 45 cents (lee than 1/2 of 1 Euro) rode the traghetti gondola across the Grand Canal to the opposit side. The traghetti cross the GC at 6 locations, and takes just 2-3 minutes. I took pictures of our family with the gondolier in the background. The ride was fun, inexpensive, and for all the world knows from the pictures we could have been circling the lagoon at a cost of 85 Euros per hour. A very good investment of time and financial resources!
 
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Jun 25th, 2002, 12:07 PM
  #5
Alice Twain
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lIVINGSTON

Traghetti are not the same as gondola. The gondola is a very specific kind of boat, that can not be confused with any other boat that crosses the lagoon. Many so called "gondolieri" use different kind of boats, boats that were originally designed for moving gear and goods, for instance, and call them gondola, but only at official stands you will get the real thing.
The point is: is it worth a ride on the gondola? Honestly I personally even wonder if it is worth going to Venice at all, but this is for the single tourist to decide.
 
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Jun 25th, 2002, 12:07 PM
  #6
sandi
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See that little box at the top of the page that says "text search"? If you type in "gondola" or "gondola rides" you'll see dozens of threads that'll give you lots of info. People talk about it all the time. The skinny is that it's expensive but most feel that you have to do it at least once even though it's pretty touristy. Also, I found that you couldn't haggle much on the price.
 
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Jun 25th, 2002, 12:12 PM
  #7
Capo
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Charles, I second Livingston's recommendation of the traghetti. They're older gondolas which, as noted, cross the Grand Canal at about six different locations. Not only are they very inexpensive but what's especially fun about them is that it's traditional to stand up in them while crossing.

Anyway, we did both and, while I'd highly recommend at least one traghetto ride, it and a normal gondola ride are completely different experiences.
 
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Jun 25th, 2002, 12:13 PM
  #8
gaye
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We're just back from Venice. I had my heart set on a gondola ride before we went, but once there did not want to. During the day it was way too hot and at night was $100& up plus seemed like a tacky tourist kind of thing to do. But I could see that lots of people disagree with me.
 
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Jun 25th, 2002, 12:14 PM
  #9
Nancy
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We negotiated for the price and from an official gondolier. It was at sunset, the crowds were dwindling and it was wonderful. We settled on the price before we got in and he dropped us off at our restaurant for dinner. The restaurant had it's own gondola ramp and we stepped right off and into the restaurant. We also picked out the route we wanted to take. Just be selective and pick out a professional gondolier who is willing to negotitate. The sunset ride was wonderful, how could it not be?
 
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Jun 25th, 2002, 12:20 PM
  #10
Beth
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Hello.
I just returned from two weeks in Italy with my boyfriend. While we were only in Venice for one night - the highlight was our gondola ride. It was incredibly romantic. We took an official gondola around 12:30am - we were the only 2 on the boat and the only gondola we saw. We negotiated 60Euro for 30 mminutes. It was definitely worth it.

Ciao!
 
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Jun 25th, 2002, 12:23 PM
  #11
Capo
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Hi Nancy. I assume the price you negotiated was for a particular amount of time; did your gondolier (unlike ours) hold to that amount of time?

It's nice that you were able to pick out your route too. I'd specificially pointed on a map to one particular place I wanted to go, our gondolier said "Yes, Yes, we'll go there" but we didn't.

It sounds like you had a professional gondolier that was trustworthy, unlike ours. Also sounds like you had a very nice ride, especially getting dropped off at your restaurant. The one thing we *did* like about ours was that we happened to take it on the day of a general strike so the vaporettos weren't running on the Grand Canal, making it more serene.
 
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Jun 25th, 2002, 02:20 PM
  #12
Ruth
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The prospect of negotiating has pretty much ground to a halt thanks to the strong Japanese economy. When we were there two weks ago, there were so many Japanese tour groups waving money at the gondoliers that the price was pretty much fixed during the daytime at 80 EURO and 150 at night. The whole time we were there, we didn't see any gondoliers hustling business on the bridges like we had in the past. Instead what we did see was large groups of Japanese (sorry, didn't see any other such organized groups) standing in line waiting to board the goldolas, like they were at Disneyworld.
 
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Jun 25th, 2002, 05:54 PM
  #13
Pam
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Ruth, we must have been there at the same time, because we saw exactly the same thing. The Asian tourists were lining up for the gondoliers. The three different ones we asked all quoted us 100 Euros for 30 minutes (for our family of four). We refused to pay that much, but there were plenty of others willing to pay that.
Pam
 
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Jun 25th, 2002, 09:26 PM
  #14
Andrea
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If it is something you (or your girlfriend!) are interested in, by all means, do it. It is expensive, but of course, that's relative - personally, we tend to stay in less expensive hotels so that we can spend our money on other things during the trip.

The gondola is an international symbol of Venice; for me personally, a trip to Venice without a gondola ride would have been like a trip to Paris without visiting the Louvre or a trip to Beijing without visiting the Great Wall. Our traveling companions disagreed, and felt no remorse for skipping the gondola ride. I always try to ensure I do what I have my heart set on doing when traveling, and carry with me a handful of regrets for experiences I've missed.

We were in Venice this fall, and the gondola ride was one of the highlights of our trip. If you decide to do it, I highly recommend that you hire a private gondola for just the two of you, and that you do it at night. Like the previous posters, I had no desire to share my gondola ride with a group of strangers.

We had a private gondola that we hired around 9 p.m. This is nearly when they stop running, so we couldn't find one on a side street as we'd planned, and instead went to the Rialto Bridge, where there were still several. It's true that you will pay more in the evening and at Rialto bridge (do be sure to negotiate the exact price and time BEFOREHAND), but for us, it was absolutely worth it.

The ride was completely peaceful (and very romantic); the silence was broken only by the gentle lapping of the water against the gondola, the swish of the gondolier's oar, and the occasional faint echoes of conversation or music from a dinner party inside one of the palazzi lining the canals.

Another expensive-but-worth-it experience is a drink inside Caffe Florian at Piazza San Marco (http://www.caffeflorian.com). If you don't want to pay (the exorbitant price for) a drink, at least stop in to admire the unforgettable decor. And a last tip: call the Doge Palace in advance and reserve a "Secret Itineraries" tour, and bypass the exceedingly long lines for a small group tour in English of areas closed to general admission guests.
 
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Jun 26th, 2002, 03:34 PM
  #15
Karen
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I just got back from Italy last week, and I also was not going to take a Gondola ride because it seemed so corny and expensive. Then someone told me about a group of five or six gondolas that go out together at 7:30pm and 8:30pm right next to the Gritti Palace Hotel. You buy your tickets from the American Express office or any travel agency. It's 31E per person for a whole hour with singer, guitar, and accordian. Somehow I didn't feel likeI was on display being with a group of boats. We stayed on the Grande Canal for 40 minutes and small canal for twenty. It was much different than a traghetti ride which just crosses the canal in five minutes and it's not decorated. Completely different things. The tour for 31E each was a bargain. Arrive at 7:00 for the 7:30 tour and ask one of the Gondoliers if you can ride on the Gondola with the music. That boat definitely gets the best ride.
If you can't go that night the ticket is always good until used. I believe they may sell more tickets than they have boats sometime, so just arrive early.
Karen
 
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Jun 26th, 2002, 03:49 PM
  #16
Nancy
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Capo, I think we chose the route first making sure that we ended up at the restaurant. Then we talked about the time and he said it would be (whatever) and we said ok. He didn't rush us and it was very peaceful. Like the poster above said, all that we heard was the lapping of the water and the guests in the palaces. It made me feel like we were in the 18th century. Also we were there a little past the tourist season, maybe that made a difference.
 
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Jun 28th, 2002, 08:15 AM
  #17
Karen
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This thread should reall be called "Is it worth it to take a gondola ride in Venice? The title "Venice" seems not to spark responses.
 
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