Let’s Segue to Segways


This is Bernadett.

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She is a segway trainer and tour guide for Yellow Zebra in Budapest. As I discovered, never having the chance before to ride one of the devices that at rare times are deadly, it is incredibly intuitive. You kind of don’t need a trainer as such, at least not one for more than 15 minutes. After those first few minutes of practice and brief instruction, Bernadett takes on the role of tour guide and segway pack leader.

I only went on the tour because my friend David won two free tickets for the tour from his insurance provider. If you don’t have a friend like David, the tour will set you back 18,000 Hungarian forints. This is roughly about $82.00, £48.00 or 60.00 for a two hour tour.

The tour information for me wasn’t the best, but then again, I live here, so a story like the missing tongues of the chain bridge lions isn’t anything I haven’t heard before. I simply enjoyed tooling around Pest (we wisely avoided the hills of Buda). I can’t fault the tour completely, as I did learn a few new things. For one, the statue of Ronald Reagan at Liberty Square is oddly walking towards the only remaining monument erected by the then ruling Soviet Union. Here’s me and Ron going to enjoy the sights of the once glorious USSR.

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As for the actual itinerary, it went like this.

Yellow Zebra to the Hungarian State Opera House (super short as they are located right behind the Opera House). It was a bit hard to hear our guide here as we were basically on Andrássy út. I also couldn’t pay attention because I was in the mood for a ride that would last longer than the two minutes it took to get from Yellow Zebra to the front of the Opera House. At least we got to cross the street. I did enjoy that.

Opera House to the Budapest Synagogue and the Jewish quarter. I had never been up close to the synagogue and it lovelier than expected. I am now planning a tour of the synagogue itself. On the segway tour, you get the chance to see the Holocaust memorial, but only through a fence. I can attest that the grounds around the memorial and the synagogue itself are lovely. After a short leg rest here, Bernadett kindly turned the speed governor off on our segways. This significantly increased my desire to speed away from the group at top speed.

Synagogue to Vörösmarty square. This seemed like a bit of an odd stop as it is largely a shopping district, but it has an interesting and lovely statue at its center of the gentleman whom the square is named after. It also is looked over by the rather lovely Café Gerbeaud. This building is stunning from the outside, and I am told it is equally stunning from the inside. It has been well cared for since 1995 by a German businessman.

Vörösmarty square to the Danube Promenade. Here we took another short break from standing on the segways. Even though they are amazingly easy to maneuver, they do make your legs ache a bit, and walking feels unnatural after riding them for a while. We had a chance to look at Gellért Hill and talk about the city’s many famous baths. This talk once again covered a grisly death, although it wasn’t a suicide for once. Instead, it was someone being rolled down Gellért Hill in a barrel.

Danube Promenade to the Chain Bridge to talk about the lions. I have to point out that as of writing this, I have heard three versions of the story about the lions. I won’t go into detail here, but I’m not sure anyone knows the actual story, and most of the Hungarians I know seem to tell the story that involves suicide. I am sure the truth is out there somewhere, suicide or not (I should state here that Hungarians in general seem to love a good story about suicide – a lot of the more famous poets have taken their own lives). We also had a brief talk about the Hungarian Academy of Sciences which is next to the Chain Bridge.

Then to Parliament square. In Hungarian, this is known as Kossuth Lajos tér. I just now remembered that we were given a task at the Academy of Sciences to think of famous Hungarians besides the inventor of the Rubik’s Cube. That would be Ernő Rubik by the way. We oddly never got around to discussing this at the Hungarian Parliament, even though this was our task. Well, there are many famous and infamous Hungarians, but that is another blog post, and apparently another tour as well. I did learn a bit about the buildings around the square, so this part of the tour felt quite worthwhile. It was also nice to consider that our lovely flat was just a short segway ride away.

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Then to Liberty Square to see Ron. This is a lovely square (including the fountain below). I mostly know it from the fact it has a great playground that my son really enjoys and the U.S. Embassy sits just off of it.

This awesome fountain below was one I had recently visited with my son just a week or so before. I did learn something new here, and that was the fountains stop if you stand in front of them, on a segway or otherwise. I had thought it random on the previous visit. Another note from the previous visit was that my son was enjoying himself immensely, sans shirt. A woman with a professional (media grade) camera was taking photos of him being his adorable self. My wife and I both thought this meant he might make the papers or some local magazine. He might have, but due to some difficulty in getting a shot and the fact he fell down after five minutes and wound up in tears, his moment in the spotlight had to wait. Notice us segway riders hogging the inside of the fountain area. Kids be damned!

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Liberty Square to St. Stephen’s Basilica to talk about bones and how tall things are in meters. There was some strange comment here about the matching heights of the Basilica and the Parliament, but I can’t verify this or agree with the sentiment expressed by our tour guide. You’ll just have to go for yourself if you want to hear that one. I did find out one interesting fact though. I knew they had the right hand of Stephen, but I never knew they apparently have the left leg of Puskás Ferenc. Actually, they have his whole body. He was interned there, but Hungarian apparently joke that there are two holy relics at the Basilica; the right hand of Stephen and the left leg of Puskás Ferenc. I should note that this was interesting to me because I pass the sports stadium named after him on a daily basis (Ferenc, not Stephen).

This was sadly our last stop before we returned to headquarters. It was about 10 minutes or so to get back, so there was at least some whizzing around left to do.

I can’t knock the tour. It hit all the right spots and gave a lot of pertinent information. It’s just that I have heard a lot of it before due to the fact that I live here now. For me, this was mostly about the segway ride and the beauty of Budapest. Overall, I highly recommend it, whether you are just visiting or want something a little different to do for a about two hours.

*All photos were taken by David, or Bernadett with David’s camera.

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