ExperiencePlus! - Bicycle Tours since 1972

Travel Stories

Exploring Ireland By Bike

by Jo - Thursday, February 7, 2013 BaldwinAK

“Have you journaled today?” My mom’s frequent inquiry still rings in my mind, an  question ingrained in my head that is now a part of every trip I take, no matter how short or long, exotic or ordinary. Growing up as the oldest of three I took her seriously, recorded each observation and experience, saved tickets and retold stories. My sister Jenica recorded her trips in snapshots with witty captions; my brother Brett took note of every animal we encountered and was quite attentive to any music playing in restaurants and on street corners.

The allure of a country that would enable each member of the family to embrace their interests was the deciding force behind our decision to head to Ireland this summer. I will be seeking how history is reflected in culinary tradition, Jenica  I know will capture the personality of the Irish people on camera and in prose, and Brett I hope will find some way to beat-box Celtic music. Not to mention this is all fueled by our parents’ interest in bicycle travel and golfing.

Jenica loves the expressions, smiles, and stories behind each person she meets on her travels. With a bubbly personality, she naturally gravitates toward people and her journaling tales aren’t complete without a detailed description of who she met. Ireland opens up a plethora of options as she’ll be able to carry on conversations in an English-speaking country with the language barrier (mostly) broken.

While the warmth of it’s people’s personalities speaks to a country’s hospitality, I am fascinated by the culinary history of a destination. Ireland is not often described as a country exuding culinary specialties, and this presents me a challenge as I seek the un-sung specialties that I know exist. Be it a delicate seafood dish or the tried and true Irish stew, I look forward to summarizing my findings in my journal, in hopes that my descriptions can help evoke memories of the meals and tastes from this trip long after they have left my taste buds.

With a destination decided, the means of transportation was the next question. The idea of a bicycle tour has always intrigued us. As kids we remember staying with Grandma and Grandpa while Mom and Dad rode bikes in Italy and France, eagerly waiting for them to come back to share their stories.  Hoping to participate and join them, we would set out to build our endurance starting with rides around the block.  Skepticism ran high in the ranks when the occasional 15-mile day trip seemed to last for an eternity, as time went on, we started looking forward to our longer bicycle outings.  Even the local triathlon became an annual family event as we trained together and celebrated completion each summer.  As we grew up we started to have more adventurous trips as a family: we’ve explored by tuk tuk in Thailand, gondola in Venice, luge in Switzerland, kayak in Alaska, our own feet in the Tetons, car to Utah and Canada, rollerblades in California, and subway train in Paris and New York City. While all those activities were enjoyable, we’ve determined (possibly with a bit of bias) that nothing compares to the freedom and pace a bicycle can provide.

This June, our tour with ExperiencePlus! to the Emerald Isle will be our first multi-day bicycling vacation as a family. The west coast of Ireland shines brightly as a new destination.  We dream of the rural riding and days exploring at our own pace through the verdant countryside – all ending with the clink of pint glasses in a cheerful pub.  We have always cherished travel for the opportunity it gives us to experience a new place together, spend time outdoors, and engage in learning about what local life is about. I’m confident that Ireland will more than satisfy all of the above desires. We’re reading books voraciously, testing out rain gear and creating music mixes of Irish artists and traditional Celtic tunes.  On warmer days, we’re getting our bicycling legs ready too.

Once we’re on tour, maybe now that we’re all adults, the “kids” can be the ones to remind Mom to make sure that she’s journaling too.

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Jo - JoAnne “Jo” Baldwin was our Reservations and Marketing Associate from 2011 to March 1, 2014. She enjoys looking for new projects and places to visit, and always eager to try a new recipe or climb another hill (either on bike or on foot). She seeks to share various elements of local culture and history with our followers, particularly recipes. In 2014 Jo headed west towards Seattle to look for more hiking, camping, or skiing, but luckily for us she still shares her favorite recipes and travel stories in our Rambler e-newsletter.