There are some moments when a blogger must ask herself, How cool am I? For instance, am I cool enough to put on a helmet and ride a Segway? Can I mount with elan the two-wheeled vehicle that makes a pushbike look butch?
I discovered it helps if you’re zooming up and down hills in the Sant Llorenc del Munt Obac Natural Park, the first natural park in Spain about a 45-minutes drive from Barcelona. We all know the city is a tourist mecca. Costa Barcelona is now highlighting activities visitor can get up to when they venture beyond the city itself. You can, for example, see the beautiful landscape of this park, which is part of El 3 Monts, a hiking and biking trail that connects three natural parks of Barcelona Province. And you can do this on the transport most closely associated with mall cops across America
How to ride a Segway
First of all, it’s easier than you think. You step on, hold the handles and simply lean forward to advance; shift your weight to your heels to move backward. To turn, you don’t so much turn the handlebars as slide them sideways. It does not take much effort and generally you are just standing there on the machine. Try not to assume the appearance of someone waiting for a bus. Enjoy yourself. (Watch my How to Ride a Segway video to see it come to life.)
It turns out that this too is easier than you might think. Segways are powered and engineered to stay upright, so I quickly relaxed and started to enjoy the views around me as well as being able to cover more ground than if I was walking. Our ride was not without minor thrills — there were moments going over bumpy ground, advancing up hills that would normally have you breathing hard. My 15-year-old stepson would have loved the novelty of touring on one of these and to be honest it is just that little bit more exciting than hiking.
A farmhouse for staying inside the natural park
We Segwayed (is that a verb?) up a large hill to Masia Sant Llorenç (also referred to as Masia “El Romeu”), a handsome farmhouse built in the typical rural style, available to rent, and right in the middle of the park. You can bring the extended family here — it accommodates up to 18 people — to swim in the private pool and take in views over the park.
Touring the park on two wheels
Next we headed over to cultural centre Marquet de les Roques, once home to a famous Catalunya poet. Unfortunately, the centre is now closed because of structural problems but we stopped to take photos and admire it because zooming up to get a gander from the gates.
The park offers everything from caves to rock climbing to museums to natural water fountains, as well as the rare breed of ‘Catalan Ass’ (go ahead, make jokes), which lives as a transport animal on the mountain.
Too soon we were heading back along the road dirt road to our bus and handing back our machines to the Dinamic Solutions guys. It was a bit of a shock to be back with my feet on the ground, having to do all that tiresome locomotion myself.
Dinamic Solutions offers guided tours as well as organising personal or corporate events. You can see a list of their tours here, which include urban tours, off road tours and (gulp) enotours — that is, wine tasting Segway tours.
The area we visited was part of Els 3 Monts, where you can do 3-day treks of the 66-mile tourist itinerary, or day trips like ours.