The Italians may have their gondolas I Venice but England has its punts in Cambridge and although many people have said they are the same thing, there are in fact many differences between them and those differences are more than just that one advertises ice cream and the other doesn’t. The gondola for starters has pointed ends and so is more of an oval shape with points whilst a punt on the other hand, has an oblong shape with square corners at the front and back. The bottom of the punt is also flat unlike a gondola but yes, they are both powered by someone using a pole and both of them, today at least, are designed with carrying passengers in mind.
Punting in Cambridgemay not have reached the worldwide fame of the gondolas in Venice but they are still well-known in the UK and do receive a reasonable number of foreign tourists as well, making it a very profitable tourist attraction for the city which in turn prompts the local authorities to enforce rules to try and maintain if not increase its popularity and help the city to prosper. As well as punting, Cambridge is also known for another river activity, one which takes place every year and is attended by thousands and watched on TV by millions and that is of course the annual University Boat Race.
The University Boat Race is a race by boats and oarsmen along a stretch of the River Thames in London. The teams that compete only number two, one from the universities of Oxford and one from the universities of Cambridge. Both of these cities are renowned worldwide as being the homes to some of the world’s most prestigious universities and so they are both rife with rivalry between each other, This race is therefore for the bragging rights for one year and is vigorously contested by each of the teams.
As Oxford is itself located on a stretch of the River Thames, the students from the oxford universities can be regularly seen on the river by their campuses, training for the next race. The River Cam however, which Cambridge is built around is different, more slowly moving and shallower than the Thames and so what can more often be seen there are students in punts whilst the racers look elsewhere to train. Both of the cities universities therefore have strong links to their relevant rivers which become a part of the students’ lives outside of studies.
As mentioned though, tourists from all over the UK come to relax on a punt in Cambridge and many will take one of the punt tours which allows them to sit back and relax as a guide not only poles them gently along the river but also provides them with a running commentary about the different buildings and other structures along both sides of the river as they slowly pass by them, a good insight to the city of Cambridge and its history.