Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Taking on Kungsholmen by Kayak

We had friends in town last week. And what better time than to do the things you always talk about doing in the city where you live? Because for a limited time only, you can do those things together. So we did just that. We biked everywhere, everyday - sometimes in gorgeous sunshine, sometimes beneath heavy, ominous clouds. We picnicked. We visited the Old Town and museums. We ate dinner on cliff tops. We made skagen from scratch.

And we also kayaked around the island we live on, Kungshomen.

that's the cafe up there - who wouldn't want to rent kayaks from this quaint place?

I've been talking about kayaking around Kungsholmen since we moved to the island 3 years ago. But as often these things go, we never got around to doing it - there's always another time, right? 

Last Sunday, though, we made it happen. I booked 4 single kayaks with a lovely fellow named Richard of Kafe Kayak (on Wednesday, mind you - have to be quick with the ever-planning Swedes!). That was my first mistake - 4 single kayaks. But of course I can make it around the island! Not a worry in my mind! 

We arrived right on time, and after adjusting the balancing pedals to our heights on land, we were off! 2 hours and counting! 

A scenic stretch to start along the south side of the island with gorgeous, elaborately lined rooftops marking a soft rainbow of facades. Then around the corner past Stadshuset, the City Hall of Stockholm. And on to calmer waters in the narrow channel separating Kungsholmen from the central station.

obviously we're pro's

Little did I know that this quite narrow channel turns into a wind tunnel - against us, naturally. My arms were pretty tired and we weren't even halfway.

My energy came in spurts. I got inspiration from a fellow kayaker who passed at literally triple my speed, with seemingly no effort at all. Arms straight-ish. Torso upright. Paddle only until your waistline. I don't know if this is correct kayaking, it's just what I interpreted from observing speed-demon-athlete-muscle-man sweep by, nearly creating a wake for us to flounder over.

Back in the open water on the last third of the journey didn't do me much good either. Apparently, I've come to discover, kayaking makes me sea sick. Me, who's been on boats my whole life! How could this be? I'm convinced it's just kayaks... has to be, right?

Anyways, by this point, I needed to get out. But what could I do? Keep on paddling. My sea-sickness was worsening with every stroke, even as I tried to distract myself by watching all the happy people laying on the cliffs, enjoying the summer day. I had so often been one of them, watching kayakers cruise by - and they'd always made it look so easy. Perhaps they don't actually go around the entire island? That must be it. 

We eventually did make it back to the floating dock of safety - miraculously within a few minutes of the 2-hour mark - and I dragged myself onto the wooden planks and collapsed. I made it! 12 kilometers! (Or so we decided, as running around the island is 10.) 

A big check on the to-do-in-Stockholm list. And truly deserving of the entire pizza that followed - that is, one pizza for each of us.

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