Canals without Gondolas

And Polo said: “Every time I describe a city I am saying something about Venice.”
-Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Being in Venice felt a little strange to me. When I studied abroad in London, I was housed in an area known as Little Venice. Years later, I visited Zhouzhuang in China, which is sometimes known as the Venice of the East. This summer I finally made it to the original.

Watching the gondolas in the Grand Canal
Watching the gondolas in the Grand Canal

I have to admit that Venice is as beautiful as many people before me have said it is. As usual, however, I encountered more than a little scaffolding and reconstruction work. The canals were cleaner than I had heard years ago–I was told Italy has been cleaning up the canals, which certainly makes it more appealing for tourists.grand-canal

No matter how you view the canals of Venice, they’re beautiful. Alright, there are some that aren’t as pleasant to see–graffiti and ill-maintained homes abound in some areas. Still, it is a beautiful city in which the tourists outnumber the residents and the prices are astronomical for those of us on a budget.

Venetian parking lot
Venetian parking lot

I was warned against riding in the gondolas before arriving in Venice–even the Italians think their cheesy and expensive. I didn’t find them cheesy; they’re works of art in the form of a boat. They are ridiculously expensive though. From what I saw, a gondola ride costs 80 euros for a half hour, but you can have multiple people on that gondola. Of course, after the slow and sometimes crowded boat ride through the canals, the gondoliers will also ask for a tip. Even if I was traveling with someone (or three) to split the cost, I probably would’ve said no to the gondolas and just saved my money for a decent meal.

Looks like a traffic jam
Looks like a traffic jam

Have you been in the gondolas of Venice? Was it worth the price? Where else have you been that was ridiculously overpriced?

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