Saturday, August 17, 2013

Fat Tire Bike Tour – Royal London

It’s become a tradition for us to take bike tours when we travel. We’ve done it in South Africa, Paris, Barcelona, Dublin and now London.  Fat Tire is a group who offers tours in London, Paris, Barcelona and Berlin – this was the first time we had ever used their services.

We booked online a week before the tour. A booking isn’t required, you can just show up at one of their regular scheduled tour times and they’ll take you (unless for some reason they’ve got 100% of their bikes reserved, which seems pretty unlikely, but if I’m planning on this tour, I’m reserving my spot, that’s for sure).

We met at the Queensway Tube Stop at 11h00.  There were 14 of us on our tour and we walked en masse to the Fat Tire office/storage unit to fill out our paperwork and pick up our bikes.  There were three groups in our tour, an Irish family consisting of 4 people and a couple German families with 8 people total and me and MS.


We hopped on the bikes and headed into the park. Our first stop (after a quick stop inside the park to make sure all the bikes were working properly) was Kensington Palace.  After a brief discussion we continued riding through the parks and moving to the bike paths of London seeing sites like Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and Trafalgar Square.


We made our way to Trafalgar Square where we learned a bit about the Battle of Trafalgar and Admiral Nelson.  Did you know that instead of the standard burial at sea, his men wanted to bring him back to London and since the 6 week trip without refrigeration the dear Admiral would have been quite ripe.  So to  keep him preserved they dumped him in a barrel of brandy. By the time they got back to London and they cracked open the barrel and found half the brandy gone. Evidently the crew wanted to have a drink of the Admiral flavored brandy.

We then took 35 minutes for lunch on our own, at Trafalgar Square. We opted to get a quick bite at Pret a Manger and sit outside, since it was outrageously beautiful in London. Sunny without a cloud in the sky.


 
 
My bike was called Sylvia Pankhurst
 After lunch we continued on to St. Paul’s Cathedral learning of all the people who are entombed, moving on to Parliament, then back to the Parks with our final stops being the Princess Diana Memorial and Prince Albert Hall.










The tour guide was funny and knowledgeable, but I wouldn't go on this tour if you wanted a in depth history of the Royals, British History or London’s Park System.  It was a great casual tour which really exceeded our expectations.

Both MS and I had been to London before, we had seen all of these sites in the past.  If you are a first timer and you want to go exploring Kensington Palace or any of the other places we visited this tour is not for you. If, on the other hand, you want to spend a few hours enjoying London as a local would, having enough time to snap some great photos and move on to the next stop, you must sign up for this tour.

I plan on signing up for one of the other tours Fat Tire does. In London, in addition to this tour they do a Thames River tour (by bike) and a few other walking tours (including food and pub tours). I would definitely use these folks for a tour in one of the other Cities in which they operate.

Give it a go – seeing a City by bike is a fantastic way to experience a place like a local would.

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