Attending the TBEX Conference in Dublin, attendees were offered complimentary tours/experiences during our stay. Keeping with my new “see the city by bike tour” credo, I signed up for a bike tour (The Taste of Dublin) with See Dublin by Bike. It had rained for most of the week in Dublin so I was thrilled to see the blue skies and sun on Saturday for my bike tour. The weather was perfect for a ride in the city and given it was a Saturday, the traffic not so bad.
Walking up Grafton Street, I would miss the two turns I had to make to find the bike tour office. I stopped someone on the street who guided me there and I met Sean and Julian, the owners who are renting space out of the bike shop/cafe. They explained the tour, the rules of the road and outfitted me in this lovely blue vest and the always attractive safety helmet.
I was surprised (and disappointed) to learn that out of 600 conference attendees that I was the only person who signed up for the bike tour of Dublin. I was even more surprised that I was the only person for the tour that day, my own private bike tour of the city (they had groups all week so where Saturday could have been a day off, they agreed to take me on the tour). As a solo traveler, most companies require two people or they cancel the tour, so I was encouraged that they will accomodate solo travelers when I asked.
Sean and Julian started the bike tour about a year ago after working in television/film (when we passed a local news van, colleagues said “hi” and we would see more colleagues shooting a film later in the ride). This is a second chapter in their lives and they seem to be having alot of fun meeting tourists and showing them the city that they love. Sean was filled with facts, stories, history, poems and so much more that it was hard to keep track as I was riding on the OTHER side of the street (this takes a bit of getting used to) – I wanted to take so many notes!
We started off easy enough in the neighborhood where there was little traffic and then progressed into traffic and a few (slim) bike lanes along the way. We visited Dublin Castle but it was closed due to government use that day (hence the news vans we passed).
Continuing onward, we would be passed by a competitor bike tour company which had about twenty guests, and here I had my own VIP tour (I felt so special). With a bit of hill we visited a church and gardens before cycling to the Guinness factory. Having attended the opening TBEX party there, I was familiar with Guinness, yet Sean had a new story to tell about the family’s history and I hung on every word, fascinated by it all.
We would ride up a few more hills, nothing too taxing. We stopped for a snack (a snack bar is provided) and then continued with the criss cross of the city. The day really was fantastic – a slight wind in my hair as I rode passed the large former Georgian homes that are now businesses, past the churches, art museums, colleges, parks and the crowds in Temple Bar and O’Connell Street that give the city it’s unique vibe. The downside of any bike tour for me is that I want to take a million photos and write down all the facts but instead I need to concentrate on not being a hood orament and enjoy the ride.
Along the Liffey, near the convention center is the Harp like bridge as well as an art installation that reminds residents and visitors of “The Famine”. The sculptures can’t help but affect you – they did me.
Nearing the end of the tour (we would go over the normal 2 1/2 hours as I took many photos), we would stop in the park to see the Oscar Wilde statue. I can’t remember ever seeing a marble statue so life like and colorful down to the smirk. He was (and still does) seem to be having all the fun.
With a picture perfect day after a week of rain, spending my time with Sean was just a wonderful way to explore the city – I felt that I saw all four corners and everything in between to get a good sense (taste) of Dublin. The Taste of Dublin tour cost 20 Euro and is one of three tours offered by See Dublin by Bike.