My next adventure: Istanbul/Eskişehir (Türkiye) – April 2024

Lisbon – June 2022

Day 4 (Lisbon) – The T2 Experience + Croatia Itinerary

…and the answer to the former cliffhanger is a big no! As predicted, the hotel booked a large taxi rather than a wheelchair accessible vehicle thinking that Superbunny could just fold up resulting in the staff frantically seeking one at 6.30am, easy right? Of course not! The Metro subsequently became our preferred option.

As I explained previously, our Easyjet flight to and from Bristol utilises T2 which is located on the other side of the airfield with no safe way of walking between terminals (it was pure chance that the assistance van dropped us at T1 when we arrived). T2 does not have access to the Metro hence it is necessary to catch a shuttle bus from the station to said terminal. As per usual, the bus has a ramp and a wheelchair space (which is a little tight but works all the same) and takes around 3 minutes.

Although T2 was designed with the vision of creating a ‘more functional and modern space’ for passengers than T1, personally it felt like meandering around an extra large cow shed! However, the main perk with this design was the dedicated security area for passengers requiring assistance, although it appeared as if we were entering the toilets…Anyway, our flight was scheduled for 10am and we were asked to wait in a certain area until assistance came to collect us. The time was now 9:25am and no one was in sight hence we headed to the gate by ourselves. Of course, the majority of passengers were already queuing so barging was in order. After a few conversations amongst different departments in Portuguese, the assistance resumed, even Bristol showed up immediately, shocking!

In just over 3 weeks, I will be travelling to the capital of Croatia, Zagreb for a few days. During this time, I plan to explore the city in addition to catching the train to Ljubljana (capital of Slovenia). If you recall my Inter-railing trip in 2015, you will know that the trains that operate through this part of Europe aren’t exactly new and accessible…said train to Ljubljana doesn’t even have a wheelchair space hence Superbunny will be confined to the hotel that day. Oh and accessible taxis are scarce in Croatia, took around 2 weeks of various companies chatting with each other just to arrange an airport transfer. Also, it is a 4am start to make the 8:55am flight from Heathrow much to the delight of PAs!

Day 3 (Lisbon) – Cable Cars and Sea Creatures

Before we delve into todays happenings, there are two nuggets of information that I omitted from the past two posts. Firstly, if you are attempting to navigate the Lisbon Metro, it’s useful to know that some drivers like to shut the train doors rather quickly after arriving at the station even when you are between said doors, oh, and the lift doors clearly do not have sensors on as the PAs have quickly discovered! The other nugget being that people in the street are adamant on selling you Marijuana…

Anyway, back to today, sticking to the plan, we headed to Parque das Nações for a gander. The weather today has been a mix of sunshine and heavy downpours thus we worked around said downpours. Although the area has been redeveloped, there is plenty of street art to keep one occupied whilst wandering…

A short walk from the Metro led us to the Estação Oriente train station which is recognised internationally for it’s architecture and you know what my love for trains is like!

Whilst wandering around the station, I noted that Portugal adopts the same way of boarding a wheelchair as the majority of its European counterparts (bar the UK) do in the form of a mobile lift which you simply roll onto and then the staff winches you up and positions the lift enabling a smooth transition onto the train…why do Network Rail make it so complicated in the UK???

The next heading was towards the Telecabine Lisbon cable car which runs along the waterfront providing views of the surrounding areas. Upon arrival, it was clear that there would be no way of getting Superbunny on due to the step up thus we suggested to the staff that I would walk on etc. It seemed as if their biggest concern was us leaving an electric wheelchair at the station thus the guy began to Google Superbunnys dimensions shortly followed by a ramp ushering us to board the ‘adapted’ car (at least said ramp was made properly rather than a wooden plank as in Russia!)…

After disembarking (much to the delight of a PA), the downpours began and it was decided that we would have a wander around Lisbon Aquarium which muggins entered for FREE with a PA receiving a 50% discount…it’s difficult to spend money even in a country like Portugal! Spectacular views of penguins etc awaited us…

It’s a 6am start tomorrow as we head back to the airport for the 10am flight back to old Bristol. Definitely T2 this time meaning that a taxi is preferred otherwise it’s an early Metro and Shuttle Bus…The cliffhanger here is if we can source an accessible taxi and how long will Bristol keep said plane waiting?

Day 2 (Lisbon) – Lifts and Tarts

The plan for today was simple; catch the Metros Red and Blue line down to the waterfront (Well…Praça do Comércio) and then meander our way back to the hotel through the historic centre stopping by the Santa Justa Lift and other sights of interest…

Although the streets around the majority of Lisbon are made to look like cobbles with mosaic patterns, the surfaces are, in fact, rather smooth to roll around on (a little like Bratislava). After a short wander, we stumbled upon the majestic Santa Justa Lift…

As you approach said structure, you will note that it is enshrouded by steps. Following advice from another blog, one PA went to inform the relevant individuals, however, as we were waiting beside the lift, the operator spotted us and quickly took us to the accessible entrance. In addition to this, the operator accepted our Metro cards…

Although it is only accessible to the midpoint (and the alternate entrance and exit have steps, it still provides panoramic views of the city…

The remainder of the day consisted of a journey to the hotel without using Google Maps, passing through parks, various monuments, oh and sampling a Portuguese Custard Tart…fun times!

The plan for tomorrow is to hop on the Metro (again!) to explore the Parque das Nações area which was initially built for the 1998 Expo and has since been expanded into a modern space (in contrast to today) consisting of an architectural gem of a train station (which keeps appearing on various TV programmes), an enjoyable cable car and more!

Day 1 (Lisbon) – Oh Bristol, you never learn!

Upon my return from Uzbekistan in October 2019, it never even came into consideration that my next travels would not happen for another 2.5 years! Anyway, yesterday was the day that I finally exited the country and what better place to begin than trusty Bristol airport…

For those who regularly follow my travels, you will have come to the conclusion that I rather dislike said airport as it is clear that the sight of Superbunny (electric wheelchair) sends them into panic mode. As per protocol, we cleared security in plenty of time (it may have been a good idea to check both wheelchairs for spanners beforehand?) and took our customary seat in the ‘Passenger Assistance’ area until our names were called. Now, the flight was scheduled to depart at 13:45pm, 13:40pm approached and we were still stuck in the ‘area’. Luckily, one of the PAs was already on the plane so we had privileged knowledge of what the unfolding situation was like. Essentially, at Bristol airport, if your plane is far away from the terminal, you are required to travel across the airfield in an accessible van for which there is currently a shortage of ‘airfield’ drivers to drive said vehicles. As 14:00pm approached, our fellow passengers were beginning to get rather agitated about the situation despite the captain explaining that the situation was beyond their control. Eventually, we arrived on the concrete apron around 14:15pm to discover the dispatcher (or the equivalent in airports) simply chilling in the sun whilst the captain came down to lend a hand for whatever is needed (the thought of a young captain coming to our savior very much pleased a PA!). After all of this palaver, the flight seemed to go rather fast with complementary food and drink to compensate followed by a debrief from the captain.

Now, the original plan was to arrive and catch the Lisbon Metro to a 5 minute walk of the hotel. This was deviation from when I discovered that we would actually be arriving into T2 where an additional shuttle bus would be required to access the Metro located outside of T1 thus it was easier to catch a taxi. Fortunately, the driver of the van used to remove us from the plane decided to drop us at T1 as we only had hand luggage (presumably…very strange if not!) making the Metro the cheapest option.

I would say around 50% of the Metro system in Lisbon possess lifts which is great compared to 33% of the London Underground. However, the only caveat is that the train isn’t quite flush with the platform making for a small step. There is an option to request a ramp from staff (if you know a little Portuguese) or simply perform a wheelie! All in all, it’s a great way to explore the city…

We are staying in the Evolution Lisboa hotel for the duration, the Portuguese version of accessibility is very similar to the UK. Apart from the mod cons of all the rooms (automatic blinds, Bluetooth connectivity, USB chargers etc). One of the benefits of the accessible rooms is a very spacious wet room with two shower chairs to pick from…

The plan for tomorrow is to catch the Metro down to the waterfront and then meander our way through the city centre stopping by the Santa Justa lift and sampling the famous Portuguese Custard Tarts!

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