BrakeAway Bike Tours // London
While in London in May my colleague and I wanted to find a good way to get our tourism fix without joining a cult-like walking tour. Having lived in the DC area and now Heidelberg, I loathe the packs of tourists that mob each attraction while a guide barks cliche factoids. I say this with complete awareness that I’m a true hypocrite as a former campus tour guide in college. Ultimately though, I’ve come to learn that a densely packed, unrelatable, monologue from even a local isn’t going to sink in and make a true impression on a place. When scooping TripAdvisor for activities in a new place there’s a few things that I always consider:
1. The Guide – Funny? Serious? One of my favorite tours I’ve ever done was at the Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The tour itself was an ab workout from hysterical laughter. Our guide may as well have been a professional comedian with his take on the brewing process.
2. The Guide’s Goals – What money is involved and how do they get it? In Sevilla (Seville) Dan and I took a tour with Pancho Tours, which was completely free with the guides only operating on tips. From the first second his energy was contagious, he genuinely wanted us to enjoy our time and he knew he’d reimbursed well if he did.
3. Subject Matter – Do I care? I’m come to learn that art just isn’t my cup of tea, so I should steer clear of art museum tours. Before leaving DC I took a tour at the Corcoran Gallery, and although I would love to be passionate about impressionism, brush strokes and color palettes, I am not. So, count on me as the distracted person in the back fumbling with my head phones.
4. TripAdvisor/Yelp – As the old saying goes, lines make lines, if others enjoy it then odds are I will too.
So, back to London, prepping for the visit I checked TripAdvisor and found BrakeAway Bike Tours. Although the reviews sounded great, we figured biking around London would be just fun in general. I’ll hold off from sharing my full review but safe to say it was a GREAT way to see the city and we loved our guide, Chris. We choose the ‘Grand London’ route to see the highlights, Chris was awesome and showed us not only the famous sights – changing of the guard, Big Ben, and Trafalgar Square but also unique local spots like the wig shop for Parliament and the only street in UK that isn’t backwards.
The tour starts in a famous graffiti-filled tunnel below the Waterloo Station.
Check the graffiti-artist before our tour started and after:
Fast-forward to September, having gone on and on about the tour in May, Dan and I decided to go on another BrakeAway route. This time, ‘Secret London’ – again, the perfect way to explore the city. This time our tour guide, Kraig, took us to Jack the Ripper murder scenes, Borough Market, canals of East London and the Cable Street Mural.
If it isn’t obvious, I highly recommend BrakeAway Tours. You’ll love it.