An alternative way to explore a city
Venice seems to be my favourite topic of conversation these days. Every time I go to visit this enchanting city, I make a point to do something a little different and unique by finding ways to see Venice from a different perspective.
Back in October 2012, I was a panelist on a debate, organised by the Battle of Ideas,called ‘Death in Venice: is tourism killing or saving the city?’ I argued that although tourism for Venice was good thing, tourists needed to be less passive and be better educated about how to experience the city. So rather than the stereotypical scenario of “having” a holiday through “doing” the sights, visitors to should be encouraged to experience and see the real everyday life of Venice instead. So what better way than to do it in a kayak!
Touring the canals
Leaving from Certosa Island, I went on a 3-hour private tour with René Seindal, Founder of Venice Kayak around the lagoons. I had never kayaked before, so prior to departing, René took me through the basics of getting in and out of the kayak and how to paddle in addition to some other health and safety instructions.
After the prep talk, off we went to see some wonderful sights such as Giardini, Punta della Dogana and San Giorgio Maggiore. René is a historian so it was very interesting to get a meaty insight into the magnificent history of Venice. I also surprisingly didn’t bump into any gondolas or boats which was a miracle for me. Nethertheless, René takes safety very seriously and chooses the routes for his tours very meticulously in order to avoid busy and congested areas of water traffic.
Capturing real day-to-day Venetian life
One of the great advantages is that being as low as one can be to the water, only by kayaking can you see what really goes on in Venice. The most unique, one-off moments that made the tour special to me was seeing a local woman putting up her washing and listening to the music that was softly playing from peoples’ houses.
With only 60,000 residents left living in Venice, It made me realise that the local population was very precious, and that sometimes, we as tourists can totally disregard their existence.
Overall, the tour was truly fun and stimulating. I also took away some really interesting historical facts that were different to what you get on a normal guided tour. So if you’re one to do things differently, forget about the gondola ride and get in a kayak instead. At least you won’t feel you’ve been ripped-off.
Venice Kayak – Tel. +39 346 4771327, Certosa Island, Venice www.venicekayak.com
Suitable for all ages from five years and upwards. Single and double kayaks available. The price of a tour includes an English or Italian speaking guide, use of kayak and related equipment (paddle, buoyancy aid, spraydeck, jacket and dry bags), insurance and use of toilet facilities at the launch site. Please visit the website for package options.
Certosa Island – www.ventodivenezia.it
The island is served by vaporetto lines 4.1 and 4.2 (formerly lines 41 and 42), which are circular lines spanning most of Venice and Murano. These lines connect the island to the bus terminal and parking facilities at Piazzale Roma, to the railway station, and to many central vaporetto stops like San Marco, Fondamente Nove and Murano.
The Certosa stop is on request.When boarding, tell the driver of the vaporetto that you need to get off at Certosa.
Photo credits – © Frank Van Delft
To make the most of this neighbourhood, stay at the boutique hotel, The Bauer Palladio Hotel & Spa, Giudecca Venice