Surprise! I’m in a wheelchair 🙂 Sometimes I like to be a little sarcastic. I originally started this blog to share my European travels, but also to share the ‘rolling escapades’ of traveling in a wheelchair. This post will be dedicated to some recent funny, annoying and interesting experiences I’ve had.
I mentioned in past posts and articles that Europe has amazing public transit. I can easily get anywhere in the city or country side by bus or train. I recently moved to the Western part of Germany, outside Frankfurt, in a small city called Darmstadt. I say small because it is small compared to Berlin. But it still hosts over 150,000. One big thing I’ve noticed here is that drivers of buses/trams/trains are considerably nicer! In Berlin, I’d often deal with frustrated drivers who didn’t want to get out of the vehicle to deploy the ramp. I get it – it’s comfy in that drivers seat. But, this is your job. In Darmstadt this rarely happens. Even yesterday, when the handle on the ramp completely broke, causing the driver to take alternative measures to open the ramp, he was still very pleasant, wishing me a ‘Schönen Morgen noch’ (a beautiful morning still to you). I’m going to assume this sense of kindness comes from being in a smaller town. There aren’t as many rowdy tourists to deal with either. Nonetheless, I like it!
Next is something I could write for days about. The prams! These are huge baby carriages/strollers. Now, I don’t have kids so I can’t tell you how to carry your kid around town. I’m sure a rolling basket seems like a logical idea. Unfortunately, it is often me against the pram. This means waiting for the next bus because there isn’t enough space. This is a very German thing. I have barely noticed it in other European cities. It’s great that people aren’t driving a million cars around and instead are taking the bus, but at least consider how SUV style prams could be a bit space consuming on a bus.
Another thing I’ve noticed this summer is the amount of bikes on the regional train. On these type of trains, bikes and wheelchairs go in the same car. Again, I think it’s awesome that so many people ride bikes, but I wish there could be a better solution to not cause crowding. See the below photo…
This section is about stairs. There are some good and bad remarks. A few weeks ago I went to Heidelberg (I’ll write more in another post). We had the chance to ride on a funicular train that travels up the side of the mountain to see a castle! The best part about this was that the train was very accessible. it was easy to roll on and off and there were elevators at different platforms as needed. Although places like this do a wonderful job making accessible options, it can be a bit humorous as to how this is achieved. For instance, one section required me to take an individual tiny stair lift up about 50+ steps. In addition, this thing was slow. I got a nice, peaceful ride down the stairs while overlooking the Rhine Valley. You can see that is was a bit rediculous…but, it’s better than nothing!
Another interesting experience was when I attempted to go to a roof-top pool in Frankfurt. I assumed that since it was on the top of a parking garage, it was accessible. Well…it was until the flight of stairs to the roof. I was with a friend and my sister visiting and I was determined to have an afternoon in the sun. I sent my sister on a hunt for strong men…in come the bartenders. Apologizing profusely that they don’t have a lift or ramp. This ended up being OK to carry me because I was in my manual chair. But, if I would have been in my power chair…I wouldn’t be going. This is also why I call ahead to nearly every place I go to ensure they have a ramp. This becomes time-consuming and annoying. Especially when they think one step may be OK, but it’s not.
That’s all I have for now, but I hope to be better at providing you with funny/awkward stories! And some happy stories too 🙂