Venice gondolas--Too touristy?

May 23rd, 2005, 09:28 PM
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Venice gondolas--Too touristy?

Just returned from a magical 2 1/2 week stay in Venice.
We rented in an apartment in Dorsoduro and generally avoided the San Marco and Rialto Bridge areas for quieter, less crowded pursuits: strolling along the canals, drinking in the ambiance, keeping away from the tourist hordes,although of course the museums could be crowded.
We'd read in the guidebooks that it's a bit trite to take a gondola ride. Only tourists do it, it's expensive...But how could we visit Venice and not do this? Another couple joined us for a week, we offered to share a gondola with them but they refused, for the reasons given above. That would have been our second gondola ride.
We paid 90 euros at the Accademia gondola dock to glide on the Grand Canal and then to smaller canals, under the curving bridges.
We deliberately chose to go around 10 am, when there was a lot of water traffic, which made it more interesting and fun. Traffic jams of gondolas, vaporetti, water taxis, boats delivering various supplies...So much better than being stuck in the San Franciso financial district in a car, with horns blaring.
I know it's possible to bargain cheaper, but we loved it! The handsome gondolier, in his striped shirt and straw hat, didn't sing, but whistled sometimes. We have wonderful photos and videotape of that experience, which some pooh-pooh as too touristy, but it's an only-in-Venice experience.
The gondola's design is ancient, like no other boat. Gondoliers learn their craft as part of their family heritage. I was fascinated to watch how they use the oar to steer and propel forward and back.
We also very much ejoyed taking a traghetto (a commute form of the gondola, with two gondoliers) across the Grand Canal for half a euro. A short trip, standing up, but priceless. One of the passengers had a dog.
Any thoughts, experiences to share?
May 23rd, 2005, 09:32 PM
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I agree.
Took the wife there years ago and never saw anything like it since.
JoeSlammovitch is offline  
May 23rd, 2005, 09:57 PM
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Hi oaklandlady, good for you! Isn't it always fantastic seeing all the various marine vessels in Venice. The garbage boats, the police, the supply boats etc. etc. besides the gondolas. I love a special hotel where I can sit and look out the window at the Grand Canal and it is like a freeway. "So much better then being in San Francisco Financial District, with horns blaring". Oh yes, you are absolutely correct LOL.

Hope you can find time to tell us about the rest of your visit in Venice.
LoveItaly is offline  
May 23rd, 2005, 11:55 PM
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We took a gondola from the Danieli to go have dinner at the Gritti; arriving by gondola at the restaurant was very special!
Tulips is offline  
May 24th, 2005, 01:17 AM
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To go to Venice and then snub a gondola ride because it's 'too touristy' is just plain daft. The whole of Venice is touristy, so who cares?

However, I do think they rip you off. The cost is blinding.
Kate is offline  
May 24th, 2005, 04:11 AM
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Hi oak,

Taking a traghetto across the Grand Canal is a truly unique experience.

Good for you.

ira is offline  
May 24th, 2005, 04:16 AM
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Kate--the cost to buy, operate, and maintain a gondola is blinding too.
RufusTFirefly is offline  
May 24th, 2005, 04:19 AM
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"I do think they rip you off. The cost is blinding."

Given the cost of living in Venice, given what it takes to maintain a boat, given the rising cost of insurance, and given what it takes to endure a year-round, outdoor occupation (in spite of the weather), and let's not forget the physical skill required to man a gondola, I WONDER what price-point would satisfy anyone with such a shortsighted attitude?

A gondola ride in Venice may be viewed by "some" as the equivalent of an overpriced amusement park attraction but, frankly, this service is an age old tradition in Venice and a highly respectable career.

It's so easy to diss something one can't afford as a "rip off" but it's also disingenuous, to bite my tongue and say the least.
NYCFoodSnob is offline  
May 24th, 2005, 07:33 AM
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I don't understand why people feel that this is a "rip off" and yet still participate.

Take a gondola ride if you like, skip it if you feel it is too touristy or too high priced, your decision. But don't insult and bad mouth the gondoliers and their services. Seems kind of rude.
suze is online now  
May 24th, 2005, 07:51 AM
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I quite honestly couldn't see going to Venice and NOT taking a gondola ride. It's just part of the Venetian experience, matter what the cost.

I was fortunate enough to have my first ride on a gondola while renewing my marriage vows with my husband. It was very, very special.
Statia is online now  
May 24th, 2005, 07:53 AM
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"I WONDER what price-point would satisfy anyone with such a shortsighted attitude?'

$40 an hour would be a good price.
degas is offline  
May 24th, 2005, 07:41 PM
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I am looking for an apartment in Dorsodura for next year - what agency did you use? Would you recommend them? Thanks
donnapg is offline  
May 24th, 2005, 08:47 PM
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donnapg, We rented a wonderful apartment in Dosodoro from which I recommend very highly. You will be renting directly from the owners, a very lovely and helpful family. Check out their website and good luck in your searh.
JerryS is offline  
May 24th, 2005, 09:04 PM
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"$40 an hour would be a good price."

As long as my attorney's make $250 per hour, I'll let the gondolieri take me for a ride any day. At least it's one I'll enjoy.
NYCFoodSnob is offline  
May 25th, 2005, 02:06 AM
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That apartment looks wonderful - only it has one bed too few - we need to sleep 4 (2 adults 2 kids).

I will keep searching.
donnapg is offline  
May 27th, 2005, 01:06 PM
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Once in your life you need to take a gondola ride...if you don't you will always wish you had. You can negotiate the price, some go for $40 some for $75. That is part of the fun. It is a whole differenct perspective floating on the quiet little back canals and exciting on the Grand Canal!
Geckolips is offline  
May 27th, 2005, 02:08 PM
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I have to agree that seeing Venice from a gondola is a whole different experience than seeing it from the vaporetto or even a water taxi.

donna, if you are still looking for an apartment, try We used them on our last trip and were so pleased that we are using them again this fall.
Statia is online now  

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