The Vikings never left

As we remember the epic battle that saw Dublin banish its Vikings, 1,000 years ago this month, one could be forgiven for thinking the commemorations are premature. I cannot manage to walk through the city without the part amusing, part humiliating experience of Norse-helmeted marauding foreigners roaring at me from close-by. The Battle of Clontarf is re-enacted every day.
As sure as a capital city’s history is to have the odd incursion, a metropolis will also have its city bus tours. Three come to mind here: the Dublin Bus ‘hop-on hop-off’ tour, the Viking Splash and the new Dublin Road Train Tour.
It’s been a few years since I took the ‘hop-on hop-off’ tour of Dublin Bus, but this 90 minute trip is pleasant and convenient. It stops at the main attractions, points out the landmarks, and, as with all city tours, the driver is brimming with anecdotes, the veracity of some still unverified. Passengers can hop-on and hop-off to visit places, and the ticket is valid for two days. There are multilingual tours, and a new tour of the docklands has been launched, with tickets for both tours valid on the other.
The successors to King Sitric Silkenbeard and his Norse warriors are long established on the city’s streets. Around since 1999, the Viking Splash is extremely enjoyable. Driver-passenger banter abounds, then extends into the famous passengers’ roar at denizens walking, gawking or sitting outdoors. The route is similar to the Dublin Bus tour until the amphibious DUKW vehicle eases over to Grand Canal Dock, where it gives passengers a taste of Dublin by water.
At full steam since early 2014, the Dublin Road Train runs on the hour from Merrion Square, and gives you approximately an hour of road tour, piped commentary and Irish ballads and the comfort of a ‘carriage’, making your journey impervious to bad weather. Like the Vikings’ roar, there is pleasure in waving from this anachronism.
For a bit of a jolt, and an interesting vista of the buzzing Grand Canal Dock, the Viking Splash should appeal. If you’re not in the mood to roar, or want to do the city at your leisure, the Dublin Bus tour probably makes sense. The Georgian mile plays a big part in the south inner-city’s history, and the Dublin Road Train Tour gives a good feel for Georgian Dublin’s streets, buildings and characters. On a wet day, the latter two are more likely to keep you feeling comfortable.
But always remember: like most of Dublin’s tourist attractions, the term is a misnomer. The local is as likely as the tourist to find these attractive.

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