Today I am at Manchester Airport awaiting my flight on Lufthansa to Venice via Munich. I have never been to Italy before and until recently would have considered Venice to be a difficult place to visit for a wheelchair user, but research on the internet seemed to suggest otherwise. In the map on the right those areas marked in green as supposed to be fairly easily accessible, those in khaki less accessible, and those in red not accessible. During the next two days I will find out.
Venice has a system of waterbus (Vaporetto) routes that get you around all the islands and they are very wheelchair friendly. The biggest boats, like the one in the photo to the left, run on routes 1 and 2 and display the blue wheelchair symbol. There are smaller boats on other routes which I did not see the symbol on but I managed to use every one that I tried and the crews on them were very helpful.
Novotel Venezia Mestre Castellana
Via Ceccherini 21
The Novotel Venezia Mestre Castellana is a 4**** hotel and part of the Accor Hotels group, it is located about 10 kilometres from Venice Marco Polo airport, and about 2 kilometres from Mestre railway station. A taxi there from Marco Polo airport will cost about €40. The hotel has a bar, a restaurant/breakfast room and an outdoor swimming pool. To get in to Venice ‘proper’ you have to take two buses, the number 31H (32H on the return and 34H in both directions on a Sunday) for one stop and then the number 2, they are wheelchair accessible and cost €1.50 for the whole journey. If you choose to take a taxi instead of the bus it is about €30.
Last week I wrote about my trip to Beirut in Lebanon back in 2003, which you can find here, this week, as promised, I am writing about the day trip I did from there to Damascus in Syria. On the morning I got up very early and took a taxi to the Cola Transport Hub, a major road intersection where you can get buses, taxis or minibuses to destinations in Lebanon and the region. From here I got a bus to Damascus. The bus was just a regular coach and I got myself in the rear entrance and sat in the back row for the whole journey. Travelling through Lebanon we stopped somewhere at a service centre but I didn’t get off the bus, instead the driver brought me a bottle of cold cola.
Way back in 2003 I did a trip to Beirut, in Lebanon, where I spent a week. Because it was so long ago this blog post won’t be as detailed as my usual ones. I went there to scuba dive and did three dives during the week, it was more difficult than my previous dive trips to Egypt, Turkey and Vietnam where it was normal to do two or three dives a day. I flew to Beirut on Turkish Airlines to Istanbul, where I spent a night, and then onwards with Middle East Airlines. I chose to go via Istanbul because after Beirut I was to be spending a further 3 weeks scuba diving in İçmeler and then Fethiye on Turkey’s Aegean coast with the European Diving Centre. On arrival I took a taxi to the Hotel Concorde which is situated on Bliss Street not far from the American University of Beirut.
Today I am off on another of my weekend trips, I am not flying this time so having just finished my Friday dialysis session I am having a sandwich in a hospital café for lunch. I am travelling to Brussels, in Belgium, on the Eurostar train through the Channel Tunnel. All morning people have been warning me of chaos this weekend on Eurostar but the problem is actually with the Eurotunnel which is the vehicle carrying service. From the hospital I crossed over the road to get a bus in to Wrecsam bus station where I got another bus to Chester railway station. I then caught a Virgin West Coast train to London Euston.
Continue reading “A Weekend in Brussels”
On Friday 27 July 2018, after several years of thinking about it, I finally travelled on Eurostar through the Channel Tunnel. I travelled on the 17:31 departure to Amsterdam but only as far as Brussels. I arrived in London Euston station on a Virgin West Coast departure from Chester and as it was a warm sunny day (st)rolled the short distance along the Euston Road to St Pancras. On arrival at St Pancras the signage for wheelchair access could have been a lot better, I had to ask some people for directions. Continue reading “Eurostar”
Hotel Mercure Brussels Centre Midi
Boulevard Jamar 25 29
The Mercure Brussels Centre Midi is a 4**** hotel and part of the Accor Hotels group, it is located about 450 metres from the Brussels Midi/Zuid station for the Eurostar services. There are metro and tram stops nearby but they are not wheelchair friendly. The hotel has a bar that opens Monday to Friday but not at weekends or Bank Holidays. It has a breakfast room but no restaurant though there are places to eat nearby.
Continue reading “Hotel Mercure Brussels Centre Midi”
Today I am back at Liverpool John Lennon Airport. This time I am travelling to Berlin for a weekend visit. The last time I was in Berlin back in 1987 it was still a divided city in a divided country with the Berlin Wall separating the two. I am again travelling with EasyJet and I have a zones AB Berlin Welcome card for the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams, buses and tourist discounts. I am going to be staying at the Novotel Berlin Am Tiergarten for the next two nights.
The flight departed and arrived in Berlin to schedule. The assistance team that came to assist me off the ‘plane was probably the best in 40+ years of travelling, this goes for the team at my departure too. They told me that I could get a free shuttle bus to the railway station or that is was a 600m walk, as it was a pleasant evening I chose to go in my wheelchair and it didn’t take too long. At the station there are a long line of ticket machines, I was having trouble getting my ticket so a German lady tried to assist but to no avail; it didn’t want to accept my debit card for payment and wouldn’t take my €5 note saying it wanted the exact amount and having just arrived I had no coins. Fortunately the lady told me there was a ticket office and my ticket shows I bought it at 21:58, the ticket office closed at 22:00…
Berlin has a good public transport system that is very accessible to wheelchair users. In the west of the city is a system of bus routes that are accessible, though I didn’t use them. Then there are four sorts of rail transport three of which I used last weekend. The Berlin transport authority produces a map that shows which S-Bahn and U-Bahn stations have lifts or ramps, though the ramps such as at Schönefeld airport can be quite steep.
Regional trains are probably the first you will come across if you fly in to Berlin Schönefeld airport. These are usually red coloured trains and are good for travelling longer distances in the area as they stop at fewer stations. They have a carriage that has access for wheelchairs and bicycles. There is a button at the door, both inside and outside, to call for a ramp. At Schönefeld station the access is level so you can board unaided, it is possible to board at any door but you MUST board at the correct carriage or there will be no space for your wheelchair and you will be blocking the vestibule. And more importantly there will be no ramp to get off at your destination. Unlike any other trains I have travelled on you have to go down a ramp, rather than up, to board these trains.