A Segway segue through Luxembourg
Thrill seeking activities are the stuff of my dreams, though
not necessarily my reality. I’m accident prone, afraid of heights and of a slightly
nervous disposition. Let’s just say that bungee jumping is not exactly my thing!
I did do a zip-line in Portugal last year, overcoming a huge psychological barrier, and lo and behold it went a bit wrong with a grand finale of me smacking myself in the
face on impact.
OK, I agree – Segways might not qualify as a high-octane activity to get the adrenaline of hardcore thrill-seekers flowing, but for me it was enough to quicken my heart beat and moisten my palms. I was determined however – I was going to go through with it!
On a recent trip to Rotterdam I saw civil guards (similar to police) stealthily zooming out of nowhere and swiftly disappear around the corner in true Blade Runner style. They looked so cool and futuristic and I wondered how that felt. Well, a few weeks later I was in Luxembourg and about to find out, minus the powers of arrest of course!
The second generation of Segways are surprisingly intuitive and easy to drive/ride. Neither description seems appropriate as the machine soon feels like a true extension of your body. The movement is fluid, responsive and before you know it you are floating along simply by leaning slightly forward, or breaking by leaning backwards. It’s a similar principle to riding a horse, albeit robo and much more predictable - a very good thing in my world!
Our group of three was fitted with an earpiece each allowing the guide to speak to us all at the same time. Helmets were compulsory, sporting the motto: “I love my brain”. Indeed, I do and I’ll happily wear the helmet to protect it!
For those of you lucky enough to have flying dreams, the feeling of being on a Segway comes pretty close, bar the altitude. Turning the handlebar slightly to the left or the right produces an instant turn, one which you can turn into an immensely satisfying and fun twirl. For me and my fellow fear-of-speed-and-height peeps this could well be the closest to superhuman we get!
The above aside, Segways are an excellent way to take in the sights of a city in a slick, fast and sustainable way, throwing off the shackles of tourist buses or trams. Depending on the tour and the guide, you can get an off-beat perspective of a place, gliding through your chosen location.
The tour went from a square in the old old town, through some of the city's plentiful parks (up to a third of Luxembourg is covered in green - the lungs of the city), across the red bridge (yup, you guessed it, it's red!) to the financial/EU area of modern architecture. Here there is shiny glass as far as the eye can see and some funky architecture combining ancient parts of the city fort with new design.
After this we twirled our way down cobbled streets to the Grund part of town, built below the fort in what is effectively a gorge. Grund was my favourite part of Luxembourg with bundles of character and plenty of quaint restaurants and bars to chill out in for a while. This is where the tour finished and I got off feeling surprisingly wobbly. Despite the fact that all you really do is stand there, you definitely use your leg muscles!
Bottom line – I got to see lots of Luxembourg in a short amount of time and I loved it! I also covet a Segway myself! Flit, slide, glide, flitter, flut and fluidly strut – these are all things I would associate with being on one of these wonderful machines! That it is electric just sweetens the deal. Until I found out the price...
Clocking in at 7,500 euros it might be a little while before I can afford one! The battery takes six hours for a full charge letting you ride 40 km. It also recharges when going downhill. There is an ingenious locking and immobilizing mechanism setting off an alarm if anyone tries to move it whilst locked (see video below). All in all, a perfect way to get around town if riding a bike isn’t your thing.
How long, I wonder, until this super cool mode of transport catches on in urban centres, complete with parking and charging points? My guess is that the price will have to come down considerably before that happens – for 7,500 euros you can buy a small car! I really do hope that happens though to make Segways viable mode of transport for more people.
MobilBoard organize Segway tours in a number of European cities and beyond. It isn’t the cheapest activity with a 1.5 hour trip costing around 45 euros. If you can afford it however, it is worth money just to experience the sensation of gliding through the air and it's the perfect solution if you only have a short amount of time to see a place.
I visited Luxembourg as part of my On Track for Summer tour, exploring sustainable treasures of Europe by train. You can follow the tour on Twitter on the hashtag #SusTrack. My train travel is kindly sponsored by Eurail and I received a discount from Mobilboard for the Segway tour. Views and opinions expressed are, as always, my own.