Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Kayaking in Venice, Italy

In mid-April, Ysabelle and I travelled to Venice for a holiday. Luckily for us, Rene Seindal had just opened his kayak tour business for the summer and he took us on a magical day paddle. Rene took the photo above of the two of us in front of Piazza San Marco.

Rene is from Denmark but he speaks Italian and English well. He knows Venice's history, its canals and the rules of the road for the many types of boats. Lucky for us!

Piazza San Marco with the Doge's Palace on the right and the Campanile or bell tower on the left, and gondolas everywhere.

We paddled down the smaller canals with the gondolas, passing many homes, palaces, churches, towers and more.

The beauty of Venice was hard to miss. To be honest, so was the smell. Sewage from some of the older buildings still goes directly into the canals, so kayaking is not for those with delicate sensibilities. I was just glad we visited in April and not August! In any case, the aroma did not detract from our appreciation of the amazing surroundings.

Here is Ysabelle near the Rialto bridge on the Grand Canal. The boat traffic on the Grand Canal was intimidating at first. It felt like trying to cross highway 401 on a motor scooter ... at rush hour! But Rene was an excellent guide and boldly led the way.

The variety of different boats was astonishing. Everything is done by boat in Venice: garbage collection, fire fighting, ambulance, delivery, taxis, and weddings! The multi-person gondola above is from a local rowing club.

Like I said, lots of traffic on the Grand Canal but what a view!

And paddling in Venice is very civilized when you can just pull over and stop at a canal-side cafe.
I highly recommend paddling with Rene if you get to Venice. You will have the trip of a lifetime. Check out his website at http://www.venicekayak.com/