There are certain things one must do in Venice – but Mr Gallivant and I didn’t necessarily agree as to what these were.
He insisted that we must have coffee at Caffe Florian in St Mark’s Square. He demanded this last time we were here, too – and I still remember the gasps when the bill came.
This time we also had the children with us, so the gasps were twofold. The bill – for three fancy hot chocolates and a coffee was 70 euros (about £51 even at today’s pretty good exchange rate). Quite outrageous. But…but….I have to admit that this stunning square is a great place to sit and people watch – and they do have an orchestra who play for you whilst you sip (even if you are working out the price per sip as you do it!).
The clichéd thing that I wanted to do was to go in a gondola. This was my fourth time in Venice and I had never done it, always having dismissed it as being very uncool – after all, I told myself, you can get around by water bus for a fraction of the price. But… I did wonder what it would be like – and the kids wanted to do it. Mr Gallivant was not keen. ‘It’s 80 euros for half an hour’ he moaned.
‘Well it’s not much more than we just paid for those drinks at Florian’s’ I countered. He conceded.
We all agreed that it was money well spent. A gondola feels totally different to a water bus. Venice is a noisy, touristy place. In a gondola you can glide silently along tiny ‘backstreet’ canals – many of them have no pavements either side, so the only way to see the beautiful buildings lining them is on these exquisitely beautiful boats. Some gondoliers will give you a bit of a narrative as you go. Others, not so much.
I’m not sure what the moral of this story is. Except, perhaps, that sometimes things are popular for a reason and therefore worth a try. Sometimes one needs to challenge one’s inner ‘Travel Snob’!