VENICE, ITALY — “Ride a gondola in Venice” is one of those phrases that have been scribbled on travel bucket list to-dos for decades. But when you’re standing in front of a striped Venetian man who’s demanding €100 for a 20 minute boat ride, it’s easy to let your Italian dream slip away. Especially when hotels, drinks, coffee, water taxis, and food are at sky-high Manhattan prices. But if you don’t take a cruise along the canal, you will regret it. So fork over the cash and skimp elsewhere.
Save money by taking a ride during the day (usually around €80 instead of €100), grabbing a gondola off the beaten path instead of near St. Mark’s Square, or finding two friends to share the ride with you. You can split the cost with whomever jumps on the boat. Just remember that there are only two of those romantic seats in back. The two others must sit on stools facing each other with their legs pretzeled together.
If you wait a little later in the night, long after sunset, you may be able to talk a gondolier down to €90. A nighttime gondola ride is almost therapeutic. It’s a spooky, zen-like trip through ghostly canals that brings back memories of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Disney World. Except this is real. At least as real as the curious sinking city can be.