Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Segway sightseeing

Our original plan to visit Berlin was to do a segway tour of the city on Sunday, orient ourselves and return to those sights of which we wanted to see more. It would have been an excellenet plan, too, because Sunday was the day we had beautiful sunny weather, unlike today which has been the coldest, rainiest day since arriving.

Sadly, all the tours were booked on Sunday and yesterday promised to be the worst day weather-wise, so we reserved our spots on the segway tour for this morning. We arrived at Alexanderplatz this morning well in advance of the appointed time, treated ourselves to a Starbucks, then headed over to the office and met up with our tour. Our guide was a very energetic young man from Belgium and there were two other couples: an older one from England and another one of Hispanic heritage from Washington, DC.

We spent several minutes trying out the two-wheeled transporters, which was kind of intimidating and a bit more difficult than I imagined. The segway accelerates based upon how you distribute your weight, so leaning forward or backward can suddenly send your vehicle darting along. After sort of getting the hang of it, we were off!

We first stopped at the fountain in Alexanderplatz, where the British woman promptly fell off her vehicle, landing very gracefully on her back. I thought maybe that was a portent of things to come, but it was the only accident of the day. We buzzed along the Berlin streets, visiting Museum Island, several squares that had importance either due to Nazi activity or Cold War-era tensions, then quickly found ourselves at a cafe, in order to escape the freezing cold outside.

After warming our near-frozen digits, we took the obligatory photo at Checkpoint Charlie, saw a stretch of the Berlin Wall, zoomed along to Potsdamer Platz, visited Hitler's last-stand bunker, headed to the Brandenberg Gate, enjoyed a view of the Reichstag and dove into dangerous traffic. I had a near-miss with a bus that refused to yield the bus/bike lane to us, but fortunately had my wits about me and stayed to the side as it passed.

We viewed the TV Tower, then returned to the office, turned in our plastic ponchos and headed home. It was a fly-by view of the city, and I would highly recommend the activity on a warmer day. At the end of our tour, we all seemed pretty adept at navigating our segways, but we didn't really get a chance to take in any of the sights. And since we depart tomorrow, it means we have many reasons to return to Berlin!

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