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/


Tony said...

Excellent pictures Neil, what a way to see Venice.

Tony :-)

René Seindal said...

Hi Neil,

Thanks for the generous mention. I really appreciate it.

I do want to correct you on the sewage question. They do have proper sewage handling now in Venice, and it is required by law that all buildings attach to the sewers whenever construction or reconstruction takes place. It means that some of the older buildings still let the sewage into the lagoon, but the number of such palaces is limited now and falling.

The problem is not 100% solved, but they've come a long way in the right direction.

René Seindal
Venice Kayak

Brian Newhook said...

Great pictures Neil. Looks like you had a great visit. Me and Ang will be in Venice on Monday and also have a tour booked with Rene, and judging from your post, we have a lot to look forward too!


Shane Braddock said...

Excellent post...

Stan Mac Kenzie said...

WHat a paddle! Sure looks sweet. Nice touch to incorporate a kayak paddle into a vacation.


Canadian Tourism said...

Here's a video we shot a little closer to your home.

michael said...

Hi Neil
Great pictures and description of your trip.
Good to know Rene's tour business is working out well.
I am putting Venice on my list of places to go. mike

landandwater said...

Perhaps good in the past, but no longer...

As a frequent kayaker, the idea of paddling the canals to see Venice for the first time sounded really exciting, and based on reviews I read, Venice Kayak seemed like the way to go. Unfortunately, the reality was a complete disappointment, as this outfitter is highly irresponsible. With a trip to Venice planned for April 2012, I attempted to book a day tour by twice emailing Venice Kayak. After a month with no response from them, I called and finally got someone on the phone. All then seemed fine, and we booked a tour for the day after my arrival in Venice. I was given detailed directions on how to get to the meeting point in Certosa, and was asked to call at 8 AM just to confirm that the weather was going to be OK. On the scheduled tour day I called repeatedly from 7:30 AM until 9:00 only to get voice mail, where I left messages with my phone number and email address, and a reminder that we had a tour scheduled for that day. Now 3 weeks later and back in the U.S., I still have yet to hear from them. Needless to say the whole thing was frustrating and disappointing, and I suggest you avoid this company so as not to have a similar experience. Perhaps they were good in the past, but they seem to have lost interest in acting like a responsible business.