The 1st thing that surprised me about Venice was that there are 0 roads, just canals. You may think that I am a complete berk, and you’d be right.
Because of the lack of roads everything is done by boat:
- White van man – Just a bloke with a dingy with paint and tools onboard
- Buses – Big boats that have designated stops with interiors that are just as depressing as real buses
- Emergency Services – Ambulance boats with stretchers and firefighters with a giant hose that I imagine is just connected to a hole in the floor
- Taxis – The taxi rank outside of the train station is a rank of boats
Gondolas in Venice
Having a ride on a gondola is one of those things you have to do in Venice; and that’s why they get to charge such extortionate prices:
- €80 for 25 minutes in one canal
- €120 for 40 minutes for a longer ride
We made our way to Piazza San Marco where we picked up a gondola ride. During our trip we went under the Bridge of Sighs and entered a series of small canals over-taking other gondolas at speed; I suspect this was because we had opted for the “cheaper” 25-minute ride. Our gondolier mentioned a few museums and spoke about the prison as we sailed passed, but the gondoliers spent more time chatting with each other than their riders.
As you’d expect with most Italian cities, Venice is very expensive. A can of Coke can cost up to €5 and the hotels are very expensive; our hotel was over double what we paid for Rome even though it was small, noisy and the window looked out onto a tiny dirty courtyard.
Unlike Florence, the ice creams are actually fairly responsibly priced which is a bonus because you really need something to take away the burn of paying €80 for a speedy gondola ride where it felt like the guy had attached an engine to the boat.
Venice feels like it was made for tourism, not because it’s not a place in its own right with regular residents etc, but because its economy is mainly funded by us tourists who are happy(ish) to pay €5 for a coke. The stop before Venice on our Italian Interrailing trip was Lake Como, which is very different from Venice; there’s fewer tourists, fewer lesbians (there were so many in Venice), less buzz but more gorgeous scenery. I guess you can’t have everything…
Our next stop was Rome!
Have you been to Venice? What did you think of it and what did we miss out on?