I've mentioned it here before:
there's nothing exactly like the gondola business, but there are some similarities in other lines of work.
As a gondolier, I tend to notice them in things like horse-drawn carriages and limo services. Operators of hot-air balloons and sailboat charters share some of our methods and have challenges familiar to some of ours.
Another group of passenger taking people, one that I've identified with a lot over the years, are the operators of pedicabs.
Sure, you can easily laugh at the comparison, but look closer and you'll find some strong parallels:
- they are tour guides
- they often take couples who are out to have fun and often there is romance
- like rowing gondolas, they rely on their own athleticism to take their passengers from place to place
- just as gondolas in most places have to share the water with larger,
faster vessels, pedicabbers share the road with larger, faster vehicles
- a good personality can result in better successes and better tips
- like gondoliers in Venice, drivers usually have to drum up business
(pre-arranged fares are rare).
One of my jobs in college was driving a pedicab.
I was crazy for cycling, and loved the idea of training...while being paid.
The job was brief, but the fond memories have prooved to be permanent.
Everywhere I go, I notice them, and when I was in Berlin a while back
I couldn't resist snapping a few photos of these pedal-pushers
in their natural habitat.
There are many different types of pedicabs out there, here we see two of the more commonly seen versions in Berlin, and most European cities.
Two guys pedal their passengers just a few feet from where the Berlin Wall once stood (the two rows of cobblestones in the lower left hand corner marks the footprint of that infamous wall).
Like a gondolier, this pedicab driver is also "part tour guide."
The old and the young - an older driver chats with a younger driver, as they stand with their pedicabs, which are of appropriately contrasting designs.
With the columns of the Brandenburg Gate in the background, we see a bright yellow, um, well I'm really not sure what you call it, but it looks fun and I'm sure that's the idea. I've seen these before - passengers participate in the pedalling, and the guy who operates it steers. They pay...and then pedal. Something tells this guy took a page from the Tom Sawyer playbook.
Another creative approach to pedalling around Berliin is the "Bierbike",
you pay, and you pedal,
but you also get beer!
"Clever German Engineering"
Also take a look at:
NYC's "Other Gondolas"
I still think there's nothing quite as great as a gondola,
but we can learn from some of these similar vocations.