I was just finishing my last bite of dinner when my phone rang. It was my friend and colleague Elsa O’Grady owner of Washingtonian Tours. She specializes in groups from Spanish speaking countries and is often in need of Spanish speaking guides. “Hi, Deirdre,” she said. “I know it is short notice, but I wondered if you might be able to lead a group tomorrow.” Before I could answer, she added, “There is one more thing you should know before you answer. The tour is on a Segway.”
As a guide, the name of the game is flexibility. Go with the flow. I’ve never been on a Segway, wasn’t sure I could maneuver it, but what the heck? It sounded like a fun adventure so, “Sure, Elsa! I can do that!”
We were to meet at noon to get a short “how to” lesson and then two hours of touring the city. When they arrived at City Segway Tours, we were directed to three bins marked “small, medium and large” to select and fit our required helmets. We then divided ourselves into three groups for our lesson. One by one, after the first tentative grasp of the handles we learned how to mount, dismount, move forward, stop, turn – all the basics. It is a fun, quirky mode of transportation, easily learned and quickly mastered. Our instructor and guide, Grace, was clear and patient in her explanation to each person. I was there to assist with translation as needed.
On completing the lesson, each person climbed aboard his own Segway for a short practice session around the patio before heading out into the streets of Washington. Moving off with Grace in the lead, I brought up the rear keeping the group together, in a single file as we traversed the city. Our first stop was Pennsylvania Avenue and White House. Grace explained the various visual priorities – the Eisenhower Office Building, the Renwick Gallery, Blair House and ultimately the White House itself. I provided additional commentary in Spanish and answered questions for the guests. It felt odd for me as I am usually doing the commentary for my own guests, but I was happy to be able to try out the Segway so I sat back and enjoyed the moment! However, I must admit I lapsed into tourist mode as I couldn’t let the photo op pass – I wanted photographic proof of the day’s adventure!
Due to the group’s schedule, the tour had to be slightly shortened. Normally, we would have visited the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial and both the Korean War and Vietnam War Memorials. As it was there was only time in their itinerary for a stop at the Washington Monument before traversing down Constitution Avenue to finish our tour.
It was great fun and I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to try out a Segway. Rolling along the streets is a fun and different way to visit a city. For information on tours and prices contact City Segway Tours 502 23rd St., NW, Washington, D.C. (877) 734-8687 www.CitySegwayTours.com