Tourism: The Viking Splash Tour
Do you enjoy roaring at perfect strangers until you become hoarse? AAAAAAAAAAAAARRGH! Do you think you would enjoy a bit of the aul pillaging? AAAAAAAAAAAAARRGH! Do native villages infuriate you so much you just want to burn them to the ground and piss on the ashes? AAAAAAAAAAAAARRGH! Do you look at a skull you have just lopped from your enemies neck and think to yourself ‘That would make a fine drinking vessel’? AAAAAAAAAAAAARRGH! Do you have ‘the look of the fox’ about you (i.e. are you ginger?)? AAAAAAAAAAAAARRGH! Do you know a shocking amount of Dublin trivia? AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRGH!!!!!
Well Sir/Madam, you could well be a suitable candidate for a Viking clan. If a trip on the Viking Splash Tour has taught me anything, it’s that Vikings were a great bunch of lads, if you can excuse their habit of indulging in a bit of the aul murder.
Since 1999 AD, Viking Splash Tours have been carting tourists around the city, by land and water, in the strangest vehicles you could ever place your Norse-y rump: their collection of 70+ year old, bright yellow WWII amphibious ‘DUKW’s.
The tour, lasting around an hour and 15 minutes, takes in all the major tourist attractions including Viking, Medieval and Georgian Dublin and the water segment of the tour covers the Dublin Docklands area. It’s one of the most unique ways to see or rediscover Dublin, particularly because it’s the only tourist attraction that encourages screaming bloody murder at innocent strangers. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRGH! The first few roars would strike fear into the hearts of any mortal man, woman or child but by the end of the tour, they become suitably half-arsed as the enthusiasm wanes.
One unique advantage of this tour, aside from the roaring, is that you are supplied with your own Viking helmet which gives you the rather unique opportunity to assess just how big your head is. Mine is fucking enormous apparently. The biggest helmet on board perched precariously on my noggin to the point where it needed to be constantly held in place, giving me the appearance of a weepy Viking suffering from a bit of a headache. Fellow Ramp.ie writer, Colm, went a step further.
Some people didn’t wear the helmets, which were provided for both adults and children, but they are known as ‘spoilsports’, lads.
You would be forgiven for assuming that the ‘Splash’ element of the tour would be the highlight – like a gigantic puddle to stomp around in – but the novelty of travelling in a DUKW does wear off once you are assured the bus/boat doesn’t appear to be leaking (although you will continue to eye the floor suspiciously). In truth, the tour commentary was worth the fee alone. Our Captain managed to make dry facts about Government buildings actually seem interesting and on more than one occasion we learned something that we didn’t already know like for instance, there is an alarming number of boats in Dublin made entirely of concrete. Also, down at the docks lives the strongest Labrador the world has ever known: we watched him emerge from the water, proudly clutching in his teeth a piece of wood the size of a large adult man. This wasn’t part of the tour but it was so impressive, it needed to be shared. You are welcome.
Having been selected by the Captain to ‘raise the anchor’ at the beginning of the tour, I obediently looked about for said anchor only to be met with a withering ‘Laura. It’s a bloody bus. There is no anchor’. My fate as First Mate was sealed and I was subjected to a barrage of slagging ranging from ‘Why Laura’s boyfriend shouldn’t marry her’ to being the living evidence that Vikings brought red hair to Ireland. This crowd interaction from the Captain broke up the commentary nicely because apparently people don’t like to think they are learning.
By mixing genuinely interesting facts with amusing anecdotes and moments poking fun at passers by to break up the time between sights, our guide really was entertaining and held our attention throughout.
The only real downside was the organization of the tour.
We made our bookings individually on the natural assumption that there would only be one bus (boat?) per time slot. Upon arrival we discovered there were actually two vehicles per time slot and we were informed that one our party had been assigned to a bus by themselves doomed to roam the roads and sea as the loneliest little Viking. We asked the tour representative responsible if there was anything she could do to move us around so we could be together but alas, we were told we were to split or stay behind. Given the price of the tickets (see below) we thought it would be a waste not to go so one brave soldier in our group, with balls of steel, volunteered to do the tour alone.
It was only when the rest of us got onto our bus that we realised there was an empty seat next to us and two seats free at the back. Those empty seats were never filled so our friend could have been with us after all. This dampened the experience altogether particularly since we were told in no uncertain terms we couldn’t be seated on the same bus.
However, from a review perspective, this provided an opportunity to hear a point of view from another tour. Irrespective of her being by herself, our friend did not enjoy her experience at all. Her tour, whilst interesting, was plagued with bad, unrelenting puns from their guide and poorly delivered jokes that by the end had left her contemplating the consequences of jumping in the Liffey in order to escape.
When comparing both tours, it seems the experience is the luck of the draw. Obviously weather has a huge impact, for a start. The weather was mercifully pleasant during our tour, but we can imagine how grim it would be if it had rained. In addition, if your guide is as good as ours was and less like our poor mate’s, you’ll be entertained and feel you have had your money’s worth. Your experience is also entirely dependent on the other people on the tour. It’s all well and good getting into the spirit of things but if you are the only buck eejit wearing a helmet and roaring, you’d look absolutely demented.
It was fun and educational. The helmets. The roaring at perfect strangers (AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRGH!) Being convinced that if you jumped into a time machine and plopped back into 950AD you would make an excellent Viking. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRGH!
Your experience is entirely dependent on your guide, the weather and your fellow newbie Vikings. Poor organisation when it comes to group bookings. This does not cater for anyone with a sense of shame.
Tickets are priced at 20 Euro for Adults, 10 Euro for Children and 18 Euro for Students & OAPs. For more information please go to: http://www.vikingsplash.com/