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My recent trip to Budapest was a blast – I did the Gellert baths, took a short Danube river cruise, strolled around the city taking in the stunning views, and partied until the wee hours of the morning.
One of the other things I did, which was a first for me, was take a Segway tour of the city. Let me just preface this by saying that I’ve always been one of the people who’ve made fun of people on Segways, but I had a slight change of heart when I saw a small tour whizzing by one day in Budapest and it just hit me that I had to do it. If anything, it would make for a great blog post!
So I spoke with the Four Seasons concierge and she highly recommended it and said that every guest that has been on the tour absolutely loved it. She called to make an appointment and they were all booked on Sunday, but she was able to get us a reservation after some negotiating with the company.
We chose to do a 2 hour tour of the Buda side, which is the, hilly, classic side of the city with fantastic views of the city. The total price per person was 65 euros with Budapest Segway Tours.
After we showed up and signed our lives away with waiver forms, our friendly tour guide Judith taught us how to use our Segways. They operate based on a gyroscope underneath and it’s all based on your balance – if you lean forward slightly, you start to roll. Same with stopping – all you need to do is lean back – no pulling or use of your arms necessary.
In the beginning it was awkward and jerky as I shifted my balance back and forth (and a little bit scary!), but before I knew it I was feeling more and more comfortable and starting picking up speed as we began the tour throughout the city.
Judith ended up being a gem. She was born in northern Hungary, but has lived all over the world and was a great storyteller. While it is difficult to speak while we were in a line zipping through the city, we got enough information about all of the key stops on our tour.
Since we started the tour on the Pest side of the city, we had to cross the bridge to Buda, which was a mixture of fun and fright since it’s pretty heavily trafficked. But we managed not to hit anyone (or anything) and came through to Buda unscathed. Plus the day was just perfect – gorgeous and sunny – so we had amazing views of the city and its monuments, as well as the river.
Once on the Buda side, we sped up and down its famous hills, dodging the lumbering tourist buses heading to the same sights as we were. Because of our mobility, we were able to maneuver around them, beat the crowds, and get in and out of places pretty quickly, so we weren’t stuck in the usual tourist jam. It was also great to be out in the open air, alfresco, interacting with people, listening to Judith, and just generally getting a better sense of the place than we would have sitting in an overcrowded, over air-conditioned tourist bus with everyone else.
While on that side of the river, we got to hit the major attractions like the Royal Palace, the medieval Castle District, the Fisherman’s Bastion lookout point, the Matthias Church, the street with all the famous Bauhaus architecture, and the old Main Square.
All in all, it was a fantastic way to spend part of our day, and a great way to get a feel for the old city. I’m not saying I’m a total Segway convert yet, but you won’t hear me making fun of the helmeted hordes anymore.
For a quick look at one of the downhill portions of our ride (complete with Lori’s signature hip wiggle), check out this short action video I shot.