So, here we are back in rainy Bristol, makes a change from the 30 + degree temperatures of the last 2 weeks!
Anyway, we had an early start yesterday, around 6 o’clock, (too early for everyone), and wondered down to the train station. As usual, the assistance was there to greet us and the brand new train which I was very ecstatic about awaited us. It was clear that they hadn’t really used the lift before which was the same invention as on the trains to Vienna and Budapest because they were struggling out how to even use it. In the end they resorted to using the conventional ramp to get me on, before they discovered that there was a screw still in place, which is why the lift wouldn’t work. It seemed that they hadn’t had any whelchair users on the train yet. Oh well, now they know how to use it!!!!
After two and a bit hours of high speed travel, we arrived into Warsaw Central station. To make life easier and so that my PAs didn’t have to go yet another train, we planned to get the bus to the airport. However, it became clear that that wasn’t accessible, so we caught the train instead. This was the only train that we hadn’t booked assistance for, but as we had our own escort around the train station, they got me on it straight away.
European trains seem much more accessible for wheelchairs, even if the train carriages date back to the 1950s in Poland.
We arrived at the airport around 6 hours before our flight so we just chilled for that time until check in opened. The check in went smoothly and we were homeward bound. The Poland baggage handlers seemed to listen to what we told them about super bunny, as it came off in one piece at Heathrow. Where another PA was there to greet us to chauffeur us home.
Well that’s it for Europe Round Three and our adventures for this year. The plan at the moment is to go to Madrid early next year and the South America in the summer. However, this will probably change as I had first intended to spend a month in Europe this year and that didn’t happen! In the meantime, we are doing what we do best, traveling the country doing workshops, how I love Travelodge! (Well they are meant to be Travelogical).
See you next year!
So I told you it would be a short post! We went down to the train station this morning to book our tickets for tomorrow which will take us take us along the newly upgraded high speed line (which I’m excited about) up to Warsaw. On the way there I checked out the accessibility of the trams and buses around Katowice. As in Vienna, there is an old type and new type of tram which are accessible, as are the buses are. If you every find yourself in Katowice for any reason at all (there’s not a lot here!).
For the remainder of the day, we went down to the juccuzi and swimming pool to prepare ourselves for tomorrow. Where we fly from Warsaw Chopin airport to London Heathrow. we were unable to book assistance for the train that goes from Warsaw central station to the airport so that will interesting. Then, of course, super bunny gets to fly again with British airways.
Lets see how Polish baggage handlers take care of super bunny….
You’ll find out on Friday when I write the final post for out Europe round 3 trip
So I was absolutely knackered yesterday that’s why I’m writing this post this morning. Oh and I forgot to mention in Monday’s post that the ramp on the train to Katowice was actually stored in the toilet which is an intriguing place to put it!
Spent most of yesterday at Auchswitz. It was a good idea to take my manual wheelchair as firstly, the van that was suppose to be accessible from the hotel (well they said they had a lift for elderly people on the phone!) in fact it was just a standard people carrier.
The driver could speak little English, so the journey was fun, trying to use a phone to translate in order to speak to one another.
We arrived at Auchswitz to be greeted by a long queue line for tickets for the guided tour. It was interesting the amount of wheelchair users considering the poor accessibility of the place.
After an hour of waiting, our guided tour began, which lasted 4 hours. Our guide was very informative and understanding as we went through the various sections.
As I saw whilst doing my research, the paths were very rocky which meant that my PAs had a workout during the tour, which they enjoyed very much. Some of the tour consist of seeing inside the blocks, which have steps so I would of had no hope with super bunny. However, even in my manual wheelchair, some of the tour involved steps so I waited at the bottom and listened through my head set.
There are two sites within Auchswitz itself, Auchswitz 1 and Auchswitz 2. Number 2 is considerably bigger in size than the previous. They are connected via a shuttle bus, which as usual, is accessible with its folding ramp.
The second side is a little more accessible and they have smoother paths running along the sides of the main track.
At some points you have to cross the railway tracks which is fun, but I saw that there was a level crossing which super bunny could of probably got over. At the end of the tracks there was a memorial which is kind of strange as they have ramp up to a certain point and then it stop before they reach the top.
After finishing the tour, we were starving yet again so we found somewhere to eat whilst the taxi driver was trying to ring us probably trying to find out where we were.
We got the taxi this morning at 10.45 and returned around half 6, it still only cost us 410 zlotys, which was £69 – extremely cheap. For the remainder of the evening we found the jacuzzi and the sauna, which we will probably do again today; as well as a massage ahead of our 14 hour trip home tomorrow. We arrive at London Heathrow, my favourite place in the whole world.
See you later for a very short post.
We woke up to another sunny day in Budapest ready for our 8 and a half hour train journey to Katowice in Poland. We caught the metro line 4 to Keletei train station. As usual, it contained stunning architecture that one could only imagine being in Budapest! Our train to Vienna awaited us but there was no assistance, however, after one of my PAs Hungarian friend spoke Hungarian to the station staff, someone came to help. It was then that we discovered that the ingenious invention form of lift which was the same that was used in Geneva and Vienna wouldn’t go down it reminded me of being at home a bit as everyone was running around trying to work out what to do whilst delaying the train a little. The manual lift came and eventually got me onto the train to Vienna.
It has surprised me how helpful the train staff in Vienna actually are, probably better than UK stations (well bar Bristol Parkway but only because I know them too well!) there was two guys waiting to greet us at the station with a lift and then escorted us to the next platform to get the train to Katowice.
We arrived in Katowice in Poland and I was rather unsure whether there would be assistance to get me off but all was fine. We headed to our hotel after a stop in McDonald’s in the train station to re0energise. Our final hotel check in went well once more.
Tomorrow we plan to book a van to take us to Auschwitz which I know isn’t very accessible so we’re taking my manual wheelchair this should be interesting…
See you tomorrow 🙂
Oh and I ordered cheesecake for dessert thinking it was an actual cheesecake …and I got this …
So going to the Houses of Parliment last night was a very bad idea as we discovered half way that the public footpath along the river was closed for refurbishment. Following the diversions that were in place, we ended up walking the streets around Budapest for what seemed like forever (2.5hours) which took super bunny down to under half of its battery. Plus, it took a battering as there were no drops curbs on some of the crossings. However, one good thing about it was that I got to see new type of trams which are completely accessible but they are only running on the other side of the city, so that didn’t help us to get back to the hotel.
When we eventually reached the House of Parliament, we got to experience its architecture which was accompanied by birds circling its spires; making it magical…
This morning we headed straight out to visit the Fishersmans Bastion with its neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque style which over looks the city. There is no clear accessible route up to the top of the hill on which its situated and its mostly steps, so we had to navigate around some side streets to see it. When you actually get to the top, most of it is actually wheelchair accessible, which is interesting because it’s an old piece of architecture (1895). It seems that the area has been recently refurbished which is probably why its accessible….
Whilst promoting disability awareness it’s always nice when I see an outstanding effort to accommodate disabled people. On the way back I noticed a model of the Bastion which was decorated with Braille, however the only problem was that it was metal, metal sitting in the sun tends to get hot, very hot, so it physically burns those who touch it; nice thought though.
After stopping at lunch at Costa (there are so many British brands in Budapest – including Tesco and M&S but I suppose that’s what you get for being I a highly sought out tourist destination) we returned to the hotel to work out a strategy for tomorrow, as we are catching a train from Budapest back to Vienna, then Vienna to Katowice, Poland.
See you tomorrow
I forgot to say in my blog yesterday about how much Budapest is like Iceland in that everyone speaks English and there is no real need to speak Hungarian but that shows how touristy places get. Another thing that I forgot was about the sudden change in scenery as we crossed the border from Western to Eastern Europe because they just generally look poorer compared to Austria.
Anyway, we spent the whole of today visiting the Széchenyi Baths. Again, we were unsure of the accessibility of public transport not including Metro line 4 but just in general. As there is no lifts that go to Metro Line 1 which takes your close to the Baths, we caught an accesible bus instead. It was surprising because when I did my research, people said that buses weren’t that accessible but it seems like the majority are and have unfolding ramps which my PAs got told off for lifting themselves (that reminds me of when me and my friend used to visit Bristol and the same thing happened but that was in English and not Hungarian but at least you could understand what they were saying!).
The entrance to the Baths had steps going up to it but there is a stair lift to get up so its fine. At first, we were unsure that there was a ramp down to the baths so you could potentially access it in an electric wheelchair (and Superbunny could of played in the baths…. Actually no that’s not a good idea seeing as what I did in 2013 when I drove bad bunny, my other electric wheelchair into a river). However, as they were in the middle of refurbishing, they had a temporary walk way into one of the inside sections which had stairs but luckily we didn’t have time to explore further inside as it was time for my extravagant back massage. The massages take place upstairs and they didn’t have a lift so we improvised by walking me up. I had a lovely back massage and the staff were really helpful and understanding coming out nearly half asleep and after one of my PAs finished theirs we headed back to the hotel in the rain which was a nice experience as it has been so hot.
Tonight, we are taking a walk along the Danube to see the spectular lights of the Houses of Parliment and other significant places of interest. Tomorrow, we plan on doing a general wonder around the city in the lovely temperature of 38 degrees Celsius.
See you tomorrow 🙂
We headed straight to the train station this morning to catch the train to Budapest. As predicted it was the train type of train as we caught to Vienna as such had the same ingenious lift system. A video of this can be found on VEUcan Twitter and Facebook pages so if you have nothing better to do, you can watch a video of me going up a lift onto the train, how exciting!
Prior to my trip to Europe, I did some research into the accessible of the Budapest public transport system and discovered that there is only one fully accessible metro line ( which is line M4, if you’re interested or just sad like me) so I booked the hotel around that. The metro line reminded me a little of the Docklands Light railway in London except this obviously had a driver. The trains and the platforms are all at the same level with only a tiny gap between the train and the platform which any wheelchair could get over. Again, we checked into our hotel without any problems (this is going so well so far regarding the hotels!) but again it seems that the Hungarian version of an accessible room consists of a bath rather than a shower.
After heading out of the hotel to be presents, we decided to take a walk down to Balna which is a marvellous piece of Modern architecture and is basically a shopping centre. However, it seems that it is rather empty inside but still a pleasant walk around if you like empty shopping centres!
We took a stroll to the Hard Rock cafe only to discover that there were steps to get inside the actual cafe and, as usual, I wouldn’t sit outside due to the flappy things so instead we found an alternative resturant which did literally everything.
Tomorrow we are going to the Baths where we will attempt to inflate my lovely inflatable horseshoe bouy rescue system which we discovered comes with its own whistle and flag and then we will attempt to go for a massage which should be hilarious!
See you tomorrow 🙂
Today has been another hot and sunny day and we started by taking a trip to one of my favourite places, the train station to pick up our set of tickets. As usual, I managed to skip the queue and it went well without any problems. It was then time for Superbunny to experience the U-Bahn that would take us to the sightseeing bus tour that we were hoping to be accessible. We caught the bus from Karlsplatz and it took us around the old city for about an hour, it was magical and very informative as to the history of Vienna. Oh and the music was very enjoyable too as we travelled around the city, it really set the mood! The buses themselves are wheelchair accessible with fold down ramps and you are able to hop on and hop off at any given point so it’s a great way to explore the city.
After having lunch in the most fanciest Burger King that I’ve ever seen, we decided to visit the Vienna Operahouse. We were unsure about the accessibilty but after a short while we found the accessible enterance where we were greeted by Nelson who assisted us throughout the whole guided tour with the various lifts etc. The tour was very informative and most areas bar one were fully accessible. What I found interesting was that the Vienna Opera Theatre is sponsored by Lexus and Samsung and they had their own engraved pillars which contradicted the old architecture before it.
We then found our way back to the hotel and returned to the train station to collect more tickets for our journey in a few days time from Budapest to Katowice in Poland which went without a hitch again.
Tomorrow we travel to Budapest using the same train company that brought us to Vienna so hopefully everything should be fine, I’ve probably jinxed it again now! When we arrive to Budapest, we will catch the only accessible metro line to our hotel which should be interesting.
See you tomorrow 🙂
So I’m writing about two days in this post as we arrived in Vienna at half 11 last night! We left our hotel in Geneva at 11am planning to get a bus to the train station. However when it arrived my PAs tried to signal to the driver that I required the ramp but the driver decided to drive off instead, meaning we had to wait for the next bus. We still made it in plenty of time, luckily. The buses in Geneva are just like the ones around Bristol, where the ramps fold down from the the door.
The train to the Zurich where we had to change in order to get to Vienna left around 11:45 and we went up to the platform in order to ensure that the assistance was there. Interestingly, the assistance arrived half an hour before the train arrived, it was a bit awkward because they could talk little English, soon enough the train arrived, a magnificent train. Somehow we were put in the wrong carriage so I spent the journey in the door way. I’m very used to this when I go on trains frequently in the UK, so it was like being back at home. Although the train is low floored, there didn’t seem to be anyway kind of ramp bridging the gap between the train and platform edge which is quite a wide one.
Super bunny manged to get across the gap with a little help from my PAs, however if I was on my own I would of probably of died. We had a 12 minute stop over at Zurich train station, giving my PAs plenty of time to find the next platform. The train from Zurich to Vienna had a very modern, fancy self deploying ramp which puts the British trains to shame.
The 8 hour train journey took us through spectacular scenary as we travelled through Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Austria. By 11pm, I think we had all had enough and just wanted to get off the train as we approached Vienna. We checked in to our hotel which was minutes from the train station with no problems, other than my disabled room as requested is just a standard room.
Today was a day of more trains as we travelled the U-bahn network. We all had a lay in from the late night so we missed breakfast but instead we stopped around the corner in a rather healthy little cafe. From there, we worked a strategy on how to get to a skyscraper the other side of Vienna, which we then discovered another tower which you could go to the top and view its surroundings from its viewing platform.
As we were unsure about the accessibility of the metro, we decided to take my manual wheelchair. The U-bahn however, is wheelchair friendly with its ramps and lifts at every station that we stopped at. The majority of trains seem to be quite new so they are low floored and have ramps coming out automatically when they have stopped in order to bridge the gap. A few of the old trains had steps but I think that you could probably wait for an accessable one to arrive if you couldn’t get on.
We found the sky scraper standing proud in the middle of a park an lucky for me I only to paid for 1 PA, which was around €7. The view from the top was magnificent…
Oh and I forgot to mention that one of the lifts was out of order when we arrived at the metro stop, faced with 60 or so steps two kind Austrian men assisted my PAs in getting me to the bottom.
After looking visiting the skyscraper it was back off to the U-bahn to visit the town hall, where we stumbled across Viennas film festival, which was exciting.
Our final stop of the day was to visit the delightful stadium that hosted the Eurovision this year (I love Eurovision as you can tell by me coming all the way to Vienna in order to see a stadium). As I travel around Europe, I’m always amazed that even now some people think they can ‘cure me’ of my disability. This time it was an elderly lady who claimed to be studying my disability and its treatment through electrolysis, oh and potassium tablets, basically trying to finish me off. My PA asked how long it would take for me to spring out of my chair.
Tomorow, we plan to take a sight seeing bus around the historic centre before we attempt to collect our train tickets to Budapest.
See you tomorrow
So today was our only day in Geneva and we wasted no time by heading out to visit the United Nations building in all its glory. Straight away you can tell how clean the city is compared to Marseille where there were tramps living on every corner.
In comparison, the City of Geneva is beautifully clean. There is no litter nor vagrants. Oh and whilst I remember although we didn’t get to go on the trams, they are all equipped with low floors and are completely accessible with automatic ramps, bridging the gap between the tram and the platform edge, another hit for Geneva!
We wondered to see the United Nations building…
After getting a little moist from the sprinklers in the surrounding parks grounds we found or way to the visitors entrance, oh, and of course I skipped the queue to get inside. The tour itself was very informative and accommodating for disabled people. It showed of the marvellous architecture that the UN building as to offer.
Once we said goodbye to our amazing tour guide, we walked down to Lake Geneva with its picturesque views at the famouse ‘jet of water’ which shoots an impressive 120 metres into the sky and can be seen for miles!
By this time we were all hungry so we went on the hunt for an accessible and pigeon free resturant. Unfortunately most resturants have some kind of curb or step, but there are a few that are step free. In the afternoon we visited the base of the water jet…well as far as I was able to go without having to use any stairs.
Coincidently, today was Genevas turn to host a triathlon which was awesome for me because the ramp down to the lake which was erected for the swimmers enabled me to take a dip in an otherwise inaccessible lake…
(We definitely did a risk assessment for this!!)
My PA decided not to tell me that there was a bird sat behind me, within two feet watching me get my legs wet. It was only when I saw the photo afterwards that I realised I was within inches of a painful death.
As we have a 12 hour train journey tomorrow (which my PA’s are so looking forward too) we headed to the train station to pick up our tickets and make sure the assistance was in place and booked. However, Google maps failed us on the way to the station – taking us for a little tour around the red light district, and I will say no more on that…although I know a certain Irish PA of mine who will be reading this will want to know more. I can say however that the road works in place in the district ment that we spent a little longer than we could have admiring the sceneary. The staff at the ticket office at the station were very, very helpful in ensuring that all the assistance was in place, especially seeing as we have to change at Zurich.
Looks like tomorrow will be a day of trains which will thrilling for me, not so thrilling for my PAs (my European Sherpas as they call themselves).
We arrive in Vienna around 23:10, so I will write tomorrow’s post whilst travelling, how exciting!
See you in Austria