Vikings did not wear stupid plastic (or even leather) helmets with horns. There were no Viking duck boat fleets in days of yore.
But don’t let this historical inaccuracy, or any other hangups, dampen your fun if you find yourself touring Dublin aboard an amphibious vehicle.
The question of what to do with a couple of days in Dublin is a tough one. There’s much to do, see, taste and explore in this bustling and history packed city. There’s literature under foot and around every corner. Everything from Leprechaun museums to turreted castles and so many notable churches… just listen to the dueling bells on any given Sunday.
But choices sometimes must be made. For families with kids, and a taste for both history and adventure, I recommend going Viking.
Our Viking day of exploration began on the top level of a double decker on/off bus. We rode this vessel through a wide swathe of the city, past Georgian homes with colorful doors, green parks and statues of local authors. Their Oscar is nothing like the golden LA version. There’s something about riding in the open air, on the top deck of a tourist bus in a rainy season city. We basked in stolen sunshine and wished away any stray raindrops, so that we might hang onto our miraculous vantage point and set sail about the city like quiet windswept conquerors on our blue plastic seats.
At St Stephen’s Green we hopped off the bus to buy tickets for an afternoon tour on the Amphibious Viking Duck Boat Tour and then went for a quick stroll through the park where we saw the original O’Connell bridge, before warming back up at Starbucks.
There’s a large cozy Starbucks conveniently located near the on off bus tour and Viking tour bus start. Bless their Irish hearts – the Dublin Starbucks all had Gluten free muffins and more. I felt welcome. Sufficiently reheated, we hopped back aboard our two story cruiser bound for the Christ Church Cathedral and the Dublinia Museum.
Dublinia is a museum dedicated to the Viking history of Dublin and does an excellent job of inserting humor and interactive displays that make this dose of history seem exciting, even to a fidgety tech obsessed 8 year old boy. Hands on displays including runes rubbing stations and “try me on” impossibly heavy chain mail shirts. As if that’s not enough, the museum is peppered with just the right amount of rude kid friendly humor. A re-created outhouse (complete with shocking sound effects from the animatronic occupant) does a fine job of bringing the story to life. I did video tape this, but I’m not posting it here. It’s that crude, and good.
Upstairs we got to experience what it was like to live in a Dublin Village a thousand years ago, and then on the top level, in the modern area, we learned about the how archaeologists are working to learn more and preserve the finds that still lay beneath the soil of this history filled city.
After more tea and cocoa, we headed across to the Cathedral for a quick peek and then made our way on foot back to the square to catch our second ride of the day.
Double decker buses are great fun, but Viking Duck Boat tours are definitely a superior way to learn about Dublin history with kids, while still getting acquainted with all of the city’s most famous sites. But first, you must don a ridiculous, historically inaccurate Viking cap.
Of course, my first thought was lice. Welcome to the paranoid thoughts of a tourist whose family has caught international lice in the past. My second thought was “Do lice stick to historically inaccurate plastic hats?” My final thought on the subject was “Just put the hat on and stop being so damned uptight!”
This was of course the correct thought. But just to be sure, I wore my knit cap under the Viking Hat as a barrier.
Note: The guy sitting behind us was so drunk (or should I say pissed?) that he had to jump overboard and find a restroom, a third of the way through the tour. But he was good comic relief.
Our guide was hysterical. Once this trip was in motion and all the occupants of the amphibious vehicle were randomly yelling “Arggh!!!” at unsuspecting tourists along the way, it was impossible not to laugh and have fun. I taped some bits and pieces and shared on Periscope – here’s the recap.
By the way, follow the Live Travel Video Facebook page if you’d like to see more fun impromptu videos like this one, as we have a great group of travelers sharing content there.
We traveled some of the same routes as the On/Off bus but there was an obvious advantage to experiencing the story with an entertaining guide and saucy attitudes. And of course the Viking Duck Boat had the added advantage of being amphibious. After driving around to see the major city sites we donned lifejackets and drove into the water.
Our captain kindly let our son do some steering when he heard it was his birthday. That’s an experience my son won’t ever forget.
Vikings are not the first thought of most Americans when they think about Dublin. But we will always have to suppress a slight urge to yell like a salty invader whenever we remember our trip Dublin.
Planning a trip to Ireland with kids? You should also check out Malahide Castle.