I’d seen them dotting around the place – you know, those two wheeler ‘thingies’ with people wizzing around the place, knocking over unsuspecting pedestrians (OK, not quite, but you know what I mean).
But what, exactly, is a Segway?
This Daily Telegraph article describes it as “…a two-wheeled electric vehicle used as a convenient way to travel around towns and cities.” Apparently they can reach a top speed of 12.5 miles. That may not sound like a lot, but trust me, it can feel like it is!
They’ve become quite popular over the years, with Segway Tours operating in most major worldwide cities such as Paris, Amsterdam, Rome and Chicago (to name but a few)—so I was delighted when Segway Athens offered to host me on one of their tours.
Upon arrival in their offices, we were first given a demonstration as to how to use the Segway. Basically, you use your body to control it…don’t lean forward too much though, otherwise you’ll go shooting off down the street!
The Segway cleverly works out your balance level for you, thus helping you to get the hang of it. There aren’t any brakes on a Segway—unlike a bicycle, so you have to control it completely with your body. It’s actually very good for balance and posture, a good workout! I have to admit to feeling pretty scared first of all: would I fall off, hit someone? We were given plenty of time, however, to ensure we were comfortable with it before we set off with Panos, our tour guide…on a two hour Acropolis tour (59 Euros per person). We could also wear bicycle helmets if we wanted to.
Segway Tours in Athens is good in that all their tour guides are registered and have a vast amount of knowledge—Panos was no exception and speaks English fluently, German, French and a little bit of Russian. Two hours flew by (pardon the pun) as he guided us through the streets of Plaka, Thission and around the Acropolis and the Areopagus (“Hill of Mars” – or “The Acropolis Rocks” as I call them). We had plenty of time to stop, take photos, either idle on the Segway or step off completely. By the time we arrived back at their offices, I was actually quite sorry to say goodbye to my mechanical friend.
For more tours and their prices, check out Athens Segway’s website. They cater to individuals and small groups to big tours from visiting cruise ships, etc. I took part in one of their Classic Tours but they also run New Tours and Special Tours. I particularly like the look of the Athens Night Tour and think I shall be going back in the near future to do this.
Look out for a Segway Tour in your nearest city. Whether you’re a tourist or a local, it’s a novel way of seeing a place, and less tiring than walking. As Paniotis pointed out, what used to take 4-5 hours can now take 2 hours, in a more fun and entertaining way (so long as you all behave yourselves and not try to act like a teenager trying to pull a wheelie on a bike! Yes, Panos had some tales to tell there…)