Segway to go

The Zuzu company has launched a new guided Segway route through parts of Jerusalem's Old City, with an accent on the Jewish Quarter.

Zulu's Segway 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Zulu's Segway 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Old City of Jerusalem presents many people with a daunting dilemma. While its attractions – religious, cultural, aesthetic and gastronomic alike – are enticing, the logistics of packing as many sites as possible into the allotted time, not to mention the energy reserves needed for the job, can be prohibitive.
What do you do if you fancy soaking up some of the ambiance of the Armenian Quarter, the Christian Quarter and the Jewish Quarter in a single afternoon? While it can be fun to wend your way along the walled-in alleyways, dodging local shoppers, tourists and the odd careening cart, even the most pedestrian of strolls can eventually become tiring, and you end up running out of steam before you’ve ticked all your boxes for the day.
The solution is to be found on two wheels, although not of the pedal-power variety. Around a month ago, the Zuzu company launched a new guided Segway route through parts of the Old City, with an accent on the Jewish Quarter.
The new service was created in conjunction with the Company for the Reconstruction and Development of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem, and the launch was marketed as “the first Segway tours through the quarter’s alleyways for 3,000 years.”
It’s not clear how King David or King Solomon would have reacted to the sight of these silent twowheelers, but the “horseless chariots” would have gotten both royals around the city in double-quick time.
The Zuzu trip takes you through the New Gate, via the Armenian Quarter and Christian Quarter, to any of four ultimate destinations: the Hurva Synagogue, the Herodian Quarter, the Burnt House or the “Alone on the Walls” exhibition.
Running the company is husband-and-wife team Yossi and Dvorit Graiver. Though some might think the name Zuzu is a play on the Hebrew word “to move” (lazuz), Yossi says this is not the case.
“It is because, three years ago, we started a unique service in the world – the first Segway tour through the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem and the Safari Park in Ramat Gan,” he explains. “We would have called the company Zoozoo, but the name was already taken. After that, we developed more Segway tours in Mishkenot Sha’ananim and to Jaffa Gate.”
He says the tours are a perfect marriage of practicality and enjoyment.
“On the one hand, you have the fun motor element of the Segway, and you have the cultural and educational benefits of visiting the four sites managed by the Company for the Reconstruction and Development of the Jewish Quarter,” he says. The service’s goal, he continues, is “to enhance the attractiveness of the Jewish Quarter and to draw new groups of people who have never been there before, under their own steam.”
“Fun” is the operative word, and the shopkeepers, locals and tourists we whizzed past, standing tall above the crowd, seemed to enjoy the spectacle of five grownups smoothly navigating along the byways of the Old City on our two-wheelers.
Dvorit notes that the Segway is also probably the most efficient means of getting around.
“The Segway can go uphill easily,” she notes. “These are pretty powerful devices, and they are easy to use and environmentally friendly. You know, people get to the Old City and, often, before they know it, they are tired out climbing up and down all the steps and ramps. You don’t get that on a Segway.
You have to be in pretty good shape to see a large number of sites in the Old City in the same day, but the Segway solves that problem.... There’s almost no physical effort involved in getting from A to B.”
The proof of the Segway is in the using, and I enjoyed an in-depth tour of the Herodian Quarter, with all its sumptuous archeological finds – mosaics, mikvaot, household utensils, jewelry and coins – and impressive architecture. The Jewish Quarter has so much to offer, and it’s gratifying to be able to appreciate the beauty and majesty of the sites without having to gasp for breath.
Dvorit believes there is an added advantage to facilitating one’s way along the alleyways.
“Some people, even though they are drawn to the Old City, feel there is a sense of heaviness in all this history,” she says. “Using a Segway makes it all a fun and a lighter experience.”
There are a couple of restrictions to take into account when planning your Segway trip around the Old City. Users have to be at least 16 years old and match the weight constraints – between 45 kg. and 120 kg. – and pregnant women are not allowed to use the machines, for insurance reasons.
For reservations and more information: 626-5906 or