Row row row a boat, gently down the streammmm~
I've always wanted to sing it out loud whilst rowing a boat. Don't we all?
When we learnt this song at the age of 4 or 5 we always had accompanying actions mimicking boat rowing. Prior to this experience, I've never had the opportunity to row a boat in my 21 years of living, but in my head, boat rowing feels like it would be a calming, and therapeutic activity.
Just 2 months ago I was on my summer trip in Europe, and my friend and I got the opportunity to ROW A BOAT! We jumped at that chance, and it is now one of the most memorable times I've ever had!
As we were walking around Lake Bled the first evening we were there, we saw people rowing boats around the lake, and so, on the 2nd morning, we got up early, had breakfast at one of the cafés around the lake and then went on to rent a boat.
I expected there to be some sort of a mini lesson, but the guy just took the 15 Euros we gave him, helped us on to the boat, untied it from the dock, told us to unhook the paddles, and shoved the boat out into the lake.
That was it. We were stranded on the boat in the middle of the lake. Our 1 hour of free-rowing time began just like that.
Of course, instead of freaking out, my friend, who offered to begin rowing first, was on it with figuring out how to work paddles.
Since my friend agreed to take on the paddles for the first half of the ride, you can tell I was very much chilling and enjoying being rowed by on the lake as she began struggling to get used to the paddles - some friend I am eh? haha! After fumbling around with the paddles for a bit, my friend got the hang of it, and we were rowing smoothly on the lake. We rowed, had our own competitions trying to row faster than other boats, stopped occasionally to watch other paddle boaters, and took a bunch of photos.
The water sparkled under that bright morning sun, it was pretty much your ideal morning!
After about 15 to 20 minutes of rowing, we reached the Bled Island - a small island in the middle of Lake Bled. We considered attempting to dock our boat, tie it and hop out on to the island on our own. However, as we got closer and closer to the island, we chickened out. We figured, judging by how long we took to row, how inexperienced we both were with paddling boats, and more importantly how MUCH is at stake if we capsize - our camera, our bags, our... life? We decided to go around the island instead.
After going around the island, it was time for me to take on the paddles. We spent an awkward fearful couple of minutes attempting to switch positions (because one could only row the boat if they sat at that spot) and now I was the one fumbling around trying to get used to the paddles.
The thing about paddling with 2 paddles is that IT IS SO HARD TO CO-ORDINATE!
My hands were going at different speeds and just bumping into each other. After some tries, I realised I could use my body weight; I had to lean back to pull the paddles further back, and not whack my own legs, I kind of got it.
What I Wore
Shorts: SheIn (or SheInside)
Eventually, I got used to paddling and began rowing faster, surprisingly, with the help of the winds, the boat moved pretty quickly, but rowing for a while, we realised we were heading back a little too quickly and we still had more time before the hour was up. Plus, at this point, my arms were kind of tired, and we just floated along the lake for a bit.
One discovery I made is that controlling the amount of energy exerted in each paddle is so important. My right arm is significantly stronger than my left, and so every time I pulled the paddles, the boat heads in the slanted direction. It was so tricky to get it to go straight!
By the time it hit afternoon and the sun was radiating intense heat from above, it was time for us to head back to the boat hut. I steered the boat towards the docking point, bumped a few things along the way, and my friend and I were helped out of the boat by the same guy.
That ended our 1 hour virgin experience with boat rowing, and boy were we hungry and thirsty. We headed to a café overlooking the entire lake, and enjoyed some cocktails with a great view.
I must say boat rowing is NOT as easy as people make it seem. Some people just do it so effortlessly. Sometimes when other boaters zoom past us, it felt as if the paddles were an extension of their arms. There was not awkward going in the wrong direction, neither was there any fumbling or bumping of arms and legs. But trust me, it isn't that easy!
Still, if I get another chance to row a boat in the future, IM TAKING IT! Perhaps I could attempt paddle boarding too - the paddle boarders looked like they were having a great time!
All in all, it was so much fun self-navigating the boat. Especially when we got to floating in the middle of the lake (and not paddling). It really is as calm and therapeutic as one would imagine!