Tour de Friends

Back in the day I used to scoot in and out to work to the centre of Edinburgh from my home in Portobello, the Scottish capital’s town seaside resort.

But since relocating to hilly Co. Wicklow I’ve let it slide. Until….

It took my friends at Travel Department to come up with the brilliant and masochistic idea of getting a bunch of travel professionals to cycle one of those multi-cycle trucks around Dublin.

The ghetto blaster might have been boasting about walking 500 miles but we were out of puff cycling 500 metres. Still the playlist of karaoke classics kept us going… Don’t Stop Pedalling as Journey really meant to sing.

The magic bus: And we’re doing the pedalling

We were rewarded though with refuelling stops at the pizzatastic Pizza Yard in Ranelagh with its almost yard-long wooden board of pizza www.pizzayard.ie and Keshk Cafe Restaurant www.keshk.ie on Mespil Road with its array of Egyptian, Greek and Turkish fare.

All of which made us think of the types of exciting foreign destinations TD specialises in.

A bicycle made for two… and a few others: With Ruth Marnell, of O’Hea PR

For 2020 TD is offering cycling holidays with group sizes of 6-16. Imagine then whizzing around Italy, Portugal, Spain and Vietnam.

TD takes care of flights, transfers, accommodation, expert cycling guide and bike hire. Prices start from €2,229 pp for the 8-night Portugal Azure Ocean Cycling Holiday. 

Taking a detour for a minute (and I did, trying to find my way along the canal back to my DART station), let’s talk about Albania and how I wouldn’t have been allowed in when I was a young buck.

It’s my hairy-facedness that was the problem. Then it was only a moustache but Enzer Hoxha, their mad dictator (is there any other kind?) had a downer on furry top lips.

Albania, of course, has changed and has opened its doors to the West (and that means us). We had hoped to get in when we honeymooned in Corfu, a spit from Albania, but their Troubles put a paid to that.

So we’ ve unfinished business there. And TD active Holidays do business there. Result.

Take a horseback ride in Antigone National Park, a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Berat, with its collection of Ottoman houses, and a hike in Llogora National Park. Tours start from €1,399 pp for 10 nights. 

A vineyeard sitting at the base of a mountain in the evening sun.

One of the great joys of travelling is meeting new people and particularly so if you go solo…. as sometimes The Scary one insists I do.

TD knows its solo traveller… It has launched solo twin share options.

You will share a room with a fellow solo traveller (of the same gender) for the duration of the trip. I’m remembering introducing myself to bewildered and befuddled Aussie Harry across the bedroom in the middle of the night recently in Jordan. We became great friends.

This will appeal particularly to value conscious travellers, enabling them to avoid single supplements. The most popular tours for solo travellers booking with TD active Holidays include searching for vampires on the Explore Transylvania trip.

Write your own caption above for this one who has always wanted to go there… in search of her ancestors.

Visit www.traveldepartment.ie and www.tdactiveholidays.ie.

Published by funtime65

Lets dance! I’ve waltzed with Judy Murray, partied with Brian Lara, manned the barricades with Civil Rights leader Myrlie Evers and even unmasked The Donald as a mariachi fan. Join me (and my bandana) on a madcap tour of the world with the people who make it all possible, our wonderful travel providers.

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