on August 11, 2011
Venice is a beautiful city that actually covers over 100 separate islands which is navigated by a network of canals and bridges. The graceful black gondolas are the traditional form of transport and these can be hired at various points around the city. Each gondola is hand-crafted and as our striped-jumper clad Gondolier steered us expertly through the labyrinth of waterways we had chance to notice that the metal decoration and rope work varied on each one. Gondoliers stand elegantly on the end of their crafts and using only one oar they nimbly guide their boats around. I couldn’t believe how easy these men made the whole process look (it seems it is very rare to find a woman Gondolier). The traditional striped mooring poles can be seen throughout the city and these are the original basis for barber poles. Considering the hustle and bustle of the main waterways it was amazingly quiet as we explored some of the smaller canals and it gave us time to wonder at how this city has managed to sustain itself when it looks like it should crumble into the water at any minute. After the Grand Canal one of the most congested waterways is the one that flows under the Bridge of Sighs as the Gondoliers started a story that if you kissed your loved one in a Gondola as you travelled under the bridge you would stay in love forever. Since I am not a great believer in superstition we decided to avoid the heavily trafficked area and stick to the quieter parts. Our Gondola could seat six people and the fare is for the craft so it makes sense to try and fill up the boat although somehow our children managed to get the comfortable double seat and the adults all ended up perching on boxes and chairs with cushions! Getting into the boat was rather hair-raising as they were bouncing about a lot and we had to grab hold of wooden post to help stabilise us. I think we paid about 70euro for our trip but I can’t remember exactly. Some Gondoliers like to sing and some also give information throughout your tour but ours had very little English so we just sat back and enjoyed the passing scene. It was fascinating to see how the homes have steps down into the water and most hotels have doors that open onto the waterways as well, even for the delivery of luggage.The Gondolas are used now mainly by tourist to enjoy the sight-seeing, the mode of transport for the Venetians is the motorised Vaporetti (Vaporetta-singular) and the floating stopping places are easy to see around the city and the services are very frequent. Maps of the service are easy to find in the city and you can pay per journey or buy a travelcard that lasts varying amounts of time.No-one can visit Venice without travelling along the canals as it is what makes the city so famous. Unusual sights greet you at every turning whether it is a historical building or a petrol station positioned on the edge of the water ready to refuel all of the boats. We thoroughly enjoyed our Gondola ride and although expensive it was worth every penny.
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