Sometimes it’s all about perspective.
When different people travel, they see different things. One person will love a city, another person hate it. The lucky thing is, this big wide world is large enough that there is probably something for everyone out there. But what if you travel a lot and you begin to get tired of the same old way you see things? What if you’ve visited a city a million times and have seen everything that the guidebooks suggest?
This was the case with me and Berlin. I had been there for 3 weeks on this particular trip before I decided to take to the waterways and see what the city looked like from the famous River Spree. The Spree cuts through the very heart of Berlin and winds around the Eastern districts, past Museum Island and all the way to the Reichstag. If you are walking or cycling around Berlin you will cross it many times on its endlessly picturesque bridges and be offered a different view of the Berlin skyline. So why not travel on it? If you’re anything like me, the idea of a boat cruise doesn’t appeal all that much. They’re slow, usually very crowded and generally pretty boring. The answer is simple: hop into your own mini cruise ship and take a kayak tour of Berlin!
Kayak Berlin Tours offers four different kinds of tours for you to paddle your way around the city; The East Tour, The West Tour, The Potsdam Tour and The Night Tour. Tours last around 2 hours so I would recommend a hearty breakfast! Don’t be put off if you’re concerned about fitness, the pace could best be described as ‘leisurely’ and I managed even with my weedy arms. The tour I chose was the Night Tour, as this takes you through the waters of Kreuzberg and Neukolln, my favourite two districts of the city.
Tom, our group leader, is a born-and-bred Berliner and he had hundreds of interesting little stories and facts to tell us about the places we passed as we meandered down the Spree at 6 pm. There were four in our group, two German and two English speakers, and Tom switched with ease between the two. The light dimmed as we made our way through the curious neighbourhoods, gliding unnoticed past couples and friends sharing a drink or a smoke on the river bank – and we reached the Landwerkanal just as the sun was setting. We stopped paddling for a while and just admired Berlin and the colours of the sunset on the water. On the way back we attached lanterns to the front of our Kayaks and made our way through the darkness. It was a bit chilly so don’t forget your jacket. We talked less and enjoyed the feeling of being at the heart of the city, but also part of nature by being on the river. It felt special and was definitely a new way of looking at the city.
The meeting point for all of the tours is by the riverside at the right-hand side of the ‘Van Loon Restaurant Ship’ in Kreauzberg, near the Ubahn Station Prinzenstraβe. Simply look out for a large van that says ‘KAYAK’ on the side and you can’t go wrong!