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Though most people will associate boating trips with relaxation and travel, there’s much more to be experienced on the open waves, if you can find the right vessel.
From a boat in Norway which is home to a spa, to a floating supermarket in Southern India, here at Asda Money, we’ve picked out some of the quirkiest boats around the world which offer much more than just sailing.
It’s hard to imagine your local shop floating along the river, but for some people, it’s the only way they can easily buy essential items. The low-lying Kuttanad area of Alappuzha in Kerala, Southern India, is full of small villages along the backwaters, and the people who live there can only access the mainland by boat. So, to make life a little bit easier, the government-run company Consumerfed launched the floating Triveni Superstore, a red and white chequered boat that sells everything from rice to refrigerators.
The boat caters to more than 100,000 people, docking at 53 villages along the backwaters. It’s lined with shelves which are stocked with everyday provisions such as grains and shampoo, and the villagers also have the option of ordering more expensive items such as televisions, which are delivered within two to three weeks.
The floating Triveni saves residents from having to spend time and money making long journeys to find a shop, and items such as rice, wheat and sugar are priced at least 10-15% below market rates. As well as being extremely useful for the people living in the area, the boat is also a great tourist attraction for people visiting the area. Kerala’s unique geographical features make it one of the most sought-after visitor destinations in Asia, so be sure to look out for the boat if you’re staying there.
To get to the Kerala region, you’re best getting a transfer from Delhi airport. Flights to Delhi from the UK start at around £300 in October, which is when the monsoon season finishes. The currency in India is the Indian Rupee (INR), so remember to pick this up before you travel to get the best rates.
If you fancy the idea of a spa day with a difference, then the Vulkana Drift in Norway could be the perfect destination for you. This old whaling vessel has been transformed into the ultimate Nordic Spa experience, complete with an optional dip into one of the most unique natural plunge pools in the world, the Arctic Ocean.
The Vulkana’s journey starts in the city of Tromsø in northern Norway, before heading out into the beautiful Arctic landscape. Facilities on board include a Finnish wood-fired sauna with panoramic views out of a large window, a Japanese-inspired Zen Lounge, a saltwater hot tub which sits on the deck of the boat, and a steam sauna with a refreshing cold pool.
Although the Vulkana is an incredible experience, it tends to be on the expensive side. However, there’s also an option to use the spa on a Sunday, whilst the boat is still docked. This way, you can explore the boat at your own pace, and use the sauna, steam bath and hot tub for just 199 Norwegian Krones per hour (around £19.00).
Going to the gym is something that many people don’t tend to get too enthusiastic about, but some innovative new designs by Italian architects Carlo Ratti Associati could make working out much more exciting. Yet to be created, the 20-metre-long Paris Navigating Gym will be a floating gym which is designed to meander down the Seine River, powered simply by Technogym’s revolutionary ARTIS machines, which produce workout-generated energy.
The boat will hold up to 45 people, who’ll power it by pedalling on exercise bikes and using cross trainers. Augmented reality displays will show them how much energy is being generated by their workouts in real-time, alongside information about the river’s conditions. Supplementary solar cells on the roof will also help power the boat, which will have a transparent glass covering.
Although the boat is currently still in development, it’s anticipated to be sailing down the Seine in as little as 18 months. The designers are hoping that it’ll inspire people to exercise more, whilst enjoying the views from the beautiful river all year round. For those who aren’t too keen on the idea of exercising on a boat, it’ll also be used for parties and celebrations. The cost of using the gym is still unknown, but if you fancy a trip in the meantime to this capital city, a return ticket to Paris on the Eurostar starts at just £58.
Amsterdam is the perfect place for a city break and is renowned for its easy-going culture and picture-perfect canals. When looking for somewhere to stay, former passenger ferry, the Amsterdam Botel, offers a unique experience compared to a regular hotel or apartment. This floating hotel is located in the middle of the IJ river, next to NDSM Wharf, which is a former shipyard that’s fast becoming one of the city’s artistic hotspots.
The three-star Botel has 175 rooms. Whilst the cabins are simple, consisting of a bed, bathroom, and TV, a quirkier experience can be found within the Loftletter rooms, situated inside the huge red letters that spell out the Botel’s name on the top deck. Each of these rooms has its own style and design, from a skateboarder’s dream pad in “B”, to a mini cinema in “E”.
The Amsterdam Botel offers a free ferry service which runs twice an hour into the city centre, so it’s the perfect base for exploring the popular sights. It’s also good value if you’re on a tight budget, with rooms starting at as little as £59 per night outside of the school holidays. If you fancy staying in one of the Loftletters, it’s best to book a few months in advance, as they can get booked up fast.
If you decide to experience any of these locations, don’t forget to collect your travel money beforehand, and make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance.
*The above figures are provided for indicative purposes only and are based on the exchange rate correct as of 16:30 on 22/02/2017.
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