One of the three best things about our weekend in Brussels – the others are to be blogged – was seeing the city by Segway. If you don’t know what a Segway is, above is a video of me riding (driving? operating?) one.
It is FUN!
Brussels Segway tours don’t usually start runnning until April/May. But it is possible to commission a tour earlier from Thierry at Segwaynam.be, which is how we found ourselves in the Place d’Espagne having a quick lesson in how to operate this amazing high-tech, electric, environmentally friendly vehicle. (For the price of a tank of gas, you can go more than 15,000km on a Segway.)
The crux of it is: if you tilt yourself forward, the Segway moves forward. The more you tilt, the faster you go (potentially up to 20km/h). There are no brakes – you just bring yourself back to upright to slow and stop. Move your body left or right and there’s how to turn.
It is a miracle of modern engineering. How in heck does it work?
So said Thierry. I didn’t fully understand so I looked it up. I still don’t understand. Try yourself by reading this explanation of how a Segway works. Essentially a system of gyroscopes, sensors, microprocessors, electrolyte fluid and electric motors sense how much you are tilting and work to stop the machine falling over.
The result is a peaceful, posture-perfect tour of town.
Not only is riding a Segway fun but you get to see the sights quickly, leaving you free to really experience the city or at least work out which ones you want to go back to.
Brussels is a hilly city with lots of cobbled streets so the Segway was a bit hard on the soles of the feet (though good for wobbling the fat on your thighs). The feeling of going downhill slowly was particularly weird as you are not applying brakes but balance to pull it off.
But by the end I was precision-steering past lampposts and people, up and down kerbs, and over cobbled potholes and unpaved roads. Even better, half way through Thierry adjusted our speed to enable us to go faster. Then we found a boulevard with a cycle path and woohoooooooo…..
You can cover a lot of ground on a two-hour tour. We criss-crossed the centre of Brussels, on pavements and cycle paths, and saw:
Notre Dame church
Palais de justice
Sablon’s old streets and antiquities shops
Comic strip murals
Place Poelaert glass elevator
Royal Palace and gardens
Museum of Fine Art
Museum of Musical Instruments
We still had sore feet by the end, as with a walking tour, but we were still smiling the whole time.
Info/how to book
With the Segway not legal in the UK – it’s not a bike and it’s not legal to drive on the road – Brussels offers a chance to ride one of these amazing machines.
There are a number of operators and tour options available. A 90-minute tour costs around 30 euros. Or for special reservations, contact Thierry via Segwaynam.be for a quote.