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Ditching Gondolas for DIY Travel

By: Bianca Bartz - Published: Jun 1, 2008 • References: travel.nytimes
When you think of Venice, kayaks are probably the last thing to come to mind. However, one athletic traveler decided to bypass the clichéd gondola rides, and instead, paddle his own way around the famed Venetian canals.

For most people, the romantic appeal of the Grand Canal resides in the corniness of being chauffeured by water taxies, or perhaps for those looking for extreme cheese, being serenaded by gondoliers, but each person has his own mode of travel, and his own way of enjoying life.

Instead of taking the traditional tourist approach, David Kocieniewski and his girlfriend instead opted to paddle between the water taxis, ferries and delivery boats in an inflatable kayak.

"Slipping through the mist, with the gleaming marble palaces lighting both banks, we could hear the murmur of strolling tourists. On one side, rats scurried outside a garbage can. A few yards away, a couple was being photographed in midkiss. As we passed under the Rialto Bridge, the water reflecting so much light it looked electric, it was almost like gliding through a dream."

His article for the New York Times is permeated with an enchanting vibe, but he points out the journey wasn't all smooth sailing.

"The canals are a drainage basin for 1.4 million people in the area around Venice, and a sewer system for the 60,000 residents of the historic center and the 20 million tourists who visit it each year," the article reminds.

As kayaking is often accompanies by the misfortune of flipping and rolling, the pollution in the water could be a good deterrent.

The video shows a clip from Vogalonga Venezia, an annual dragon boating, rowing and paddling event in Venice.