Hitchhiking a gondola in Venice - Journal of Nomads

How to hitchhike a gondola in Venice

Venice; the ‘Floating City’. Hundreds of canals flow through this beautiful place and separate it into 118 little islands. The city has been the film set of many movies and it’s a very popular tourist destination. We thought that Venice would be expensive, knowing that exploring the city by gondola costs € 80 for just half an hour. But we enjoyed this wonderful place for free including a boat tour through the whole city!

 

Hitchhiking a gondola in Venice - Journal of Nomads

gondolas waiting for customers

 

From the moment we started planning our trip through Europe, Venice was on Niko’s bucket list. Before my life as a traveler, I lived and worked for years in Bruges, a city called ‘the Venice of the North’. Of course I had to see the real deal!

 

Hitchhiking a gondola in Venice - Bruges - Journal of Nomads

Bruges

Hitchhiking a gondola in Venice - Journal of Nomads

Venice

It was a foggy morning when we arrived in Venice. After an intense week of long waiting hours to find rides and misadventures (a red wine box exploded in my bag as the cherry on the unfortunate pie; seeing it in a positive way: my bag became a lot lighter to carry) we weren’t very surprised that the weather wasn’t cooperating either. The mist was thick and we could barely see the road 50m ahead of us. It didn’t look like we would see much of the city. We even had a good laugh about it. Oh well, there isn’t much you can do about the outer circumstances, you can only control the way you deal with it!
The moment we got out of the train station and walked into the city we were mesmerized by the many boats floating on the Grand Canal. Although there was a lot of mist, the visibility of the water traffic was good. It even gave it a mysterious touch!

 

Hitchhiking a gondola in Venice - Journal of Nomads

 

We crossed one of the bridges over the Grand Canal and started wandering through the streets. One of my friends advised me to just enjoy the beautiful architecture, to get lost in the many little alleys and see where they would take us. His advice couldn’t have been better because it led us to a magical meeting!

 

Hitchhiking a gondola in Venice - Journal of Nomads

Love how the laundry is drying in the alleys

 

Near one of the many little bridges a man was rowing his gondola towards me. His reflection on the water was so beautiful I just had to photograph it. While I was trying to capture the moment with my camera (which turned sadly enough out as a blurred image) the man called out to me. He asked me if I wanted to come along for a ride. I looked a bit stunned, asking suspiciously how much he charged. Nothing. He said it was his hobby and he loved taking people along showing them his city. I still couldn’t believe it. I looked over to Niko, who also had a big smile on his face. Let’s do this!

 

Hitchhiking a gondola in Venice - Journal of Nomads

A free ride through the city by boat!

 

The boat turned out to be a sandolo (a brother of the gondola). The man, Felipe, rowed us through all the canals. We spent more than an hour on his boat, enjoying Venice from the water. We cruised on the ‘highway’ of the canals, which even has traffic lights, and along the many little ‘roads and alleys’. Felipe even taught Niko how to row the boat (not as simple as it looks like). The smile on our faces grew bigger and the mist disappeared. This was definitely the highlight of our trip through Italy and changed the energy of our misadventures back into a positive flow! This meeting might have been random, for us it was magic! So if you ever want to visit Venice, look out for this man. You’ll find him rowing his little boat between the islands, preferably in the small streets. Wave to him and he’ll be happy to take you along! Hitchhiking a sandolo is possible!

 

Hitchhiking a gondola in Venice -gondolier - Journal of Nomads

the man himself: Felipe

 

The mood for the rest of our day was set! We walked all happy around Venice, visiting the many islands, the beautiful historical houses and places. No wonder this was the home of many geniuses and artists (Leonardo Da Vinci, Vivaldi, Casanova,…).
If you ever happen to find yourself in Venice we not only suggest to you to wander around in the numerous streets but also finding your way towards following places which are worth a visit and guess what, it’s all for free!

This article from ‘The Guardian’ gives you a nice overview: Top 10 free things to see in Venice

 

Hitchhiking a gondola in Venice - Journal of Nomads

Two old lovers enjoying Piazza San Marco

 

The only thing we paid for was accommodation and a train. Camping wasn’t a possibility this time. We had to rent a room for two nights. After doing some research on Hostelworld (a website with cheap hostels and hotels) we found a cheap hotel called Giovannina. A private room with bathroom en suite for only €30 a night for both of us. Not bad at all! It wasn’t exactly a five-star hotel and the staff was a bit grumpy but the room was clean, the beds were comfortable and when you’re in Venice, you don’t want to spent the day in your room! The hotel is located in Venice Mestre, the city next to Venice St Lucia (where it all happens). A train ticket to St Lucia is only € 1,25. The train goes every 10 minutes from early in the morning until late at night. It’s a really good price and you wouldn’t find anything cheaper if you would stay in Venice St Lucia itself!

 

Hitchhiking a gondola in Venice - Journal of Nomads

 

Hitchhiking a gondola in Venice - Journal of Nomads

 

 

Venice was the highlight of our travels through the North of Italy. It’s a romantic city you can visit for a few days and still not get enough of ! And look out for our friend Felipe! Hitchhiking is fun, definitely when it turns out to be a boat in Venice!

 

Hitchhiking a gondola in Venice - Journal of Nomads

 

How to Hitchhike a Gondola in Venice - Journal of Nomads
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Join us for a visit in Venice:

 

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Writer, photographer and co-founder at Journal of Nomads

I have Belgian roots but the world has been my home for the past 7 years. I'm an artist at heart and often get lost in my thoughts. I like to create some-thing out of no-thing and once I feel inspired, I'm unstoppable. I love telling stories and taking photos, showing the beauty and extraordinary of the world around me. Oh, and I love making the impossible elegantly probable. Once you realize that you're a creator and the world is your playfield, there's no limit to what can be done!

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Tarah VongbouthdyelizabethAmi BhatPatricia - Ze Wandering FrogsRob Taylor Recent comment authors
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Tarah Vongbouthdy

What an awesome experience! Venice is definitely on our list and maybe well try hitchhiking in a gondola 🙂

elizabeth
elizabeth

You did well Venice is an expensive city!

Ami Bhat

Have been there but the visit was a lot more structured. I like your suggestion and am going with that the next time.

Patricia - Ze Wandering Frogs

Cool article! Venice is definitely on our list, what a great destination!

Rob Taylor

What an awesome story! We too wandered the alleys and bridges for hours, but didn’t find such a wonderful new friend. It really is the best (although stereotypical) way to see Venice.

RoarLoud

I love when exploring leads to a great adventure! Wonderful tips and beautiful photos!

birthevdm
birthevdm

Has Felipe a phone number maybe? 😉 My boyfriend and I are currently on a trip around the world. We started in SE Asia, and are now in Australia. Next up is New Zealand and America. In August we’ll be flying back home to Belgium. We’ve left Europa out of our one year trip, as we can also explore it from Belgium, city by city. We’ll be definitely doing so when we get back, so I’ll be following your blog for inspiration. I admire your way of travelling! What a challenge.

Sylvie
Sylvie

Très intéressant !! Merci de me faire voyager par procuration 🙂

Niko - Journal of Nomads

C’est avec plaisir.Je t’aime maman 🙂