By Meenakshi Shankar
A holiday to remember is how I would put traveling around Europe in a houseboat – a world removed from touristy hotels and villas; a world where a sense of freedom and adventure beckons you – wherein you could chart your own course when you take hold of the wheel of a houseboat.
Simply put …in a houseboat, everyday the choice is yours.
The brochures invited me to come and explore a different journey of sorts.
Which is what prompted me to shrug away the usual ‘hotel’ accommodation and board a houseboat – wherein, every morning, the balmy breeze would caress my wanderin’ soul and come twilight …. sipping my glass of wine, I would let the alluring beauty envelop me. My neighbors’ who would drop by to say a quick hello – would be a handsome swan pecking at a porthole of my rented houseboat waiting for some handouts or seagulls who would keep me company on an odd day.
Well, this is exactly the kind of thing that I signed up for – a world away from the usual. In the dreamy European city, Italy, laced with canals, there’s water, water everywhere, and well, I thought I might as well stay on some. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I booked myself onto one of the city’s hundreds of houseboats – Would it rock back and forth, or bob up and down? Would I get a hot shower and a decent night’s sleep? Would I get cabin fever, or worse, become seasick?
Needless to say – all my fears were unfounded — and every expectation was exceeded.
I signed up for a boho lifestyle aboard my own personal houseboat and it was a bargain – (some of the very best are for rent, and at prices on a par with three- or four-star hotels).
You can move around while sunbathing on the dock with a book, grilling steaks, or indulging in other pleasures that car, plane, or train travel would prohibit. Even the most banal daily chores, like making beds or washing dishes, become a novelty when they’re performed on a floating abode.
The landscape slips by. Squadrons of swallows skim low over the water ahead of the bow. Cruising into the glittering path of a shaft of morning sunlight, with the smell of bacon and eggs cooking on the on board barbecue, it’s easy to see why people choose to live on a houseboat.
Life is visibly slower.
And if you are traveling with children -I believe there’s no better place for children to live out their Huckleberry Finn fantasies. Pelicans, carp and young boys have a symbiotic relationship. On a good day on the river, with only a bit of bread for bait, the fish virtually throw themselves on the hook, and the boys throw all their efforts into catching them.
Reasons to head out on a house boat trip around Europe
1. If you are a Wanderer like me and want a slice of travel with an edge to it, then a house boat trip is a definite must try. It’s different and panders to your Wandering soul.
2. There is a freedom to discover…unearth and feast on the glorious sights, landmarks and cuisines. In fact, you could discover more than the usual fare. Sailing along, you could chance upon a little tucked away cove, a tiny island hidden away from the usual tourist trails, a quaint cafe which serves the best breakfast…all of that and more.
3. At first glance, it may seem that houseboats are an expensive option (because they look plush) however they work out to as much as a 3-4 star accommodation.
4. Yes, it is an ideal getaway for a family vacations – simply because it gives you a feeling of adventure. Pirates of the Caribbean, Huckleberry Finn and other fantasies come alive – it’s an adventure like none experienced before.
5. There is no license required to drive a houseboat. It’s very easy to work your way around.
6. The best part of a houseboat trip is the simple fact that there are so many options available –
Go on a long weekend – a perfect break from your routine.
A week long trip/roundabout trip – The best way to enjoy your holiday sights. You can take in all the sights and explore the wonders at your pace.
2 week plus – For those who want to simply enjoy the feeling of being on a boat and wandering.
7. The boats are fully equipped – so you don’t miss out on the creature comforts. It’s luxury redefined.
8. Catching up on your reading, nurturing your writing skills, meeting new friends, fishing, angling …the possibilities are endless. The freedom to bask in the glorious sun and do things that you otherwise wouldn’t have done in a holiday trip is what makes a houseboat trip ‘oh-so-tempting’.
9. Cycling tours available – The houseboat trip is not just ‘a world of waterways’ – you can leave your boat securely moored in a safe harbor and jump on land. Explore the local museum, the market – enjoy the rich flavors of the street side café and more…In fact, some of the islands in Venice’s lagoon are considered sanctuaries for cyclists.
10. The houseboat trips are available in France, Holland, Ireland, Italy, England, Germany, Belgium, Scotland
Check out our latest package on Ireland