Possibly apart from a hot-air balloon ride (something I highly recommend if you ever get the chance), can you think of a better, more relaxing way to enjoy the beauty of the European countryside than the comfort of your own boat?
I certainly can’t and I should know – I’ve travelled through Europe by car (complicated), by train (too crowded), by plane (just ghastly), by bike (it rained), on foot (it rained) and substantial parts of it on horseback (fun in places but I wouldn’t care to repeat it at my age).
Going by boat offers so many advantages over most other forms of transport.
It’s very comfortable of course, which is of increasing importance when you get to my age. If I start feeling a bit stiff I like to know I can stretch my legs, which you can do on a train of course, but the corridors always feel a bit cramped and unsteady beneath my feet. Or if I feel tired my bed is within easy reach so I can enjoy an afternoon nap or relax with a book for a few hours. Nowadays if groups of like-minded family or friends hire a cruiser it comes equipped with all the mod-cons to make one feel quite at home. Fully-fitted kitchens and bathrooms as well of course. You needn’t ever set foot on land if you don’t feel like it!
Boating is such a relaxing form of travel. I don’t know about you but if I’m in a car and someone says to me “Do you see that strange bird over there?” – after first checking they’re not talking about me I feel obliged to crane my head in the right direction, unfailingly missing the creature because I wasn’t fast enough. So I end up unsatisfied and with a sore neck to boot. Now on a boat, you’re chugging along at your own pace. If someone points out an unusual tree or whatever to me, not only do I have time to turn and see it, I have time to fold my newspaper, put on my glasses, even nip into the kitchen area and pop the kettle on first if I so wish.
Comfort and relaxation both add up to a very stylish mode of transport. To me it always seems more elegant to be sailing peacefully along a river or canal than it does to be stuck in traffic gridlock on a busy road, or straining away behind a set of handlebars. I like to wear a white-peaked cap when I’m behind the wheel, as the finishing touch.
Finally of course, a boating holidays is just so affordable. If you’re part of a decent-sized group you can hire a top-of-the-range vessel for a week for around the same price as it would cost you each to hire a small car. And that’s your transport and accommodation rolled into one! You can’t argue with that.
Aboard your own private cruiser (no boating experience necessary of course) you can visit the caves and Châteaus of France’s Loire Valley; the beer cellars and chocolatiers of Belgium; and the fjords, windmills and tulips of Holland. Or venture further into Europe and explore the magical fairyland castles of Germany, and the outstanding architecture, and wonderful food and drink of Venice. Talk to a company such as Le Boat about what you want to do, and when you want to go, and they’ll set you up with a first-rate boat and an enjoyable itinerary to follow at your leisure. Pleasure and leisure, it’s no surprise they sound so similar when you think about it…
Rob is a huge fan of the waterways of Europe and contemplating his next trip to Germany with much anticipation.