Until I got to Cambridge, the only punting I knew was in sports. In England, it's apparently a peaceful recreational activity where one makes the like the gondolier of Venice and steers a flat-bottomed vessel across a quiet river.
|Punting basics. Photo by: Cathie Jao-Sevilla.|
Punting didn't seem difficult. As we stood by the port where many boats were moored, I saw many tour guides expertly chat and let their poles slide down to the riverbed, steering the punt in the process. As with many things in life, first impressions aren't always the right ones.
|A punt up close. Photo by: Cathie Jao-Sevilla.|
|Figuring out the right way.|
The other problem was figuring out which direction to go toward, and telling my arms to maneuver the pole appropriately. Because the procedure was opposite of what came naturally, I inadvertently let my pole wander in strange directions, setting us off in new paths. Sometimes, we would create traffic jams and we brushed passed other punts with punters in training. At that point, my passengers would just give the nearby boat a good heave-ho to untangle our mess.
By the end of the short, but internally thrilling ride, I was sweating and my arms were tired from picking up the pole from the river. It was quite a workout.
If I weren't driving, it would have been quite peaceful. The punts are perfect for small picnics. As the punt moved gently across the water, it afforded us views of Trinity College, the Bridge of Sighs and the Mathematical Bridge we wouldn't have been able to see on foot.
|Approaching sights from the River Cam.|
|The Mathematical Bridge is arched but is made up of straight timbers.|
Have you ever experienced an old place with new eyes just by changing the way you encounter it?