Follow-up: A kayak trip on the Danube between Giurgiu and Oltenița on Labor Day: the best outdoor experience I’ve had

One day prior to the Labor Day (the 30th of April, 2011) and on the Labor Day itself (1st of May, 2011), I went kayaking from Giurgiu to Oltenița. The event was organized by TID Romania. Costin IATAN led the group on the whole 60 kilometers of the two days. Below you’ll find photos, a comprehensive video and my thoughts.

Photos from the two days (see in full-screen):

Some photos with me (see in full-screen):

A video I’m fond of:

(also see the video on Trilulilu).

History of events

(you can also see a follow-up of the event here: Follow-up la tura de 1 Mai dintre Giurgiu si Oltenita | TID Romania’s Blog);

  • The day of the trip started in the very morning of 2011.04.30. We first met at a gathering point, then drove to the place of the kayaks. Not long after, me and my also absolute-beginner-in-kayaking partner, were told that we should start earlier, to have a clue on what’s kayaking all about. At first I was in the back seat, which meant I had both a bigger control of the kayak and (as a direct consequence) more responsibilities. I had difficulties in handling the kayak (the steering seemed very fragile, we barely moved the kayak forward, and instead we were doing a lot of turns, left-right-left-right). My partner initially blamed me for the difficulties in handling the kayak, so we decided we should switch places. We did so. It was soon obvious that he was no better so, the logical consequence at that time, we blamed the kayak, considering it was hard to handle.
  • The trip, with its about 6 or 7 (something like that) stages began, with us trying to figure how to paddle. We began practicing, and by the time we ended the second stage, we were pretty good at handling the kayak. We had a good boat, two of us were paddling, so although we were no experts, we traveled fast.
  • Prior to the event, I was very scared of doing something wrong (like turning over). While the event wouldn’t have been all that wrong, I would have got wet, some objects from the kayak could have been lost, and I would have been both scared and embarassed. I was pretty sure that if someone were to fall, that would be me. In the first stage, the unbelievable thing happened. Someone did fall, and that person was not me. It was actually an experienced sportsman (OK, perhaps not an expert, but also not an absolute beginner like me). I was sorry for the poor guy, but I was also very relieved that it wasn’t me. By the time I found out that his kayak was much more prone to turning upside down than the one I was in, I was already satisfied in my ego, and in love with kayaking to care for such details.
  • For the stop in the first night we had some fish (recently caught) and other goodies. It was the second time I slept in a tent. On a fun side, in the morning (around 5:30 AM) there was an earthquake. I was awake, and I thought to myself it was quite an irony – I rarely sleep outside concrete walls, and some earthquakes happen just when you’re safer – in the middle of the fields.
  • What was funny the second day of the event was the anticipation of possible danger. We were told there would be some harder-to-pass areas. We were all focused on anticipating the moment. At some point, we were told via phone that we passed them and didn’t even notice them.

Why do I consider the two days to be the best outdoor experience I’ve had?

  • Imagine this: you’re on the kayak, you paddle your way through the water; small drops of water land on your skin, face, head, clothing; everywhere around you there’s water; it’s silent (most of the times); you get to hear (from time to time) birds; you constantly hear the water, as you hit it to move ahead; the smell is also very special; the nature is full of colors (trees and vegetation are green; most of the times the sky is blue; the water changes its color after the sun, but it’s mostly green; your kayak is, most of the times, in an atypical color); you touch the paddle with your hands; while your hands are doing most of the effort (paddling), the rest of the body also works to get you to your destination; your thoughts, usually either in the future (planning things), or in the present, but making connections with other events (connecting things), are, to your surprise, right here (you savor the moment, ignoring both the future and other things than those around you); how can’t you love this? It’s one of the occasions I felt I really liked the nature;
  • I felt like a child doing the thing he loved while paddling; that’s all I had to do – paddle; little worry about direction, other boats; a strange feeling of both security (the paddle was stable, very hard to turn over) and of adventure (it was, after all, a big river, with a lot of water); a huge feeling of liberty was there;
  • By the penultimate stage of the first day, I had muscle soreness at both hands; sometimes, due to trying a bit too hard to do a good job, I also tensed both of my legs, and they hurt a bit also; the soreness would persist for the entire trip (three more stages); but it didn’t matter; I was too much in love with this;

What tips would I give to a newcomer?

  • Use sunscreen, and reapply it frequently; my skin got red in the first day and it burned the second day (only face and hands, but it wasn’t good);
  • Wear a hat, it’s good protection against the sun;
  • Get some sunglasses;
  • (I did this) Wear clothing with sleeves / long pants;
  • Have clothes that can dry easily and/or are waterproof;
  • Sleep well prior to the event;
  • Use gloves, to be protected against the sun and to avoid blisters (I didn’t put pictures of these on the blog, but I did have blisters at both hands);
  • If you have shoes that aren’t waterproof, it’s best to stay barefoot while not walking for long distances (prior to and after the race, wear anything you like; for the small breaks during the trip, either have waterproof shoes or no shoes at all);
  • (I did this) Do get yourself some water and food;
  • (I did this) It’s perfectly normal to ask for help when you need it;
  • (I did this) Do eat what’s provided by the organizers (in this case, local food, with veggies and meat);
  • It may be wise to have a lightning device and a small knife, though not mandatory;
  • (I did this) Avoid using the phone on the trip, keep its use to a bare minimum;
  • If you have a boat partner, help him to keep dry and clean;
  • (I did this) Although most of the time you can count on others to take pictures, it’s great to bring your own camera and get your very own perspective on the trip; if the camera can also make small clips, it’s even better; avoid water and sand at any cost;
  • If you have a problem with mosquitoes, you can bring some solutions for these.

You can also read an interview with the event organizer:
Costin IATAN from TID Romania – short interview – Get a result now!

Bottom line: I am very grateful to the organizers for the best outdoor experience I’ve had!

Update: Two videos made by other participants:

Two other web photo galleries:

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12 comentarii la „Follow-up: A kayak trip on the Danube between Giurgiu and Oltenița on Labor Day: the best outdoor experience I’ve had”

  1. Frumos. Dunarea ar putea fi folosita mai mult in scopuri de genul asta. Daca gasesc un amic sau doi de pe aici o sa facem si noi un trip.
    Cum este in Romania cu permisul de camping? Poti pune cortul pe malul Dunarii, in natura?

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