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 1060 BRUSSELS BELGIUM
Tel: (+32)2/5281890 Fax: (+32)2/5281891
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.
Novotel Berlin Am Tiergarten Strasse des 17 Juni 106-108 10623 BERLIN GERMANY
Tel: (+49)30/600350 Fax: (+49)30/60035666
The Novotel Berlin Am Tiergarten is a 4**** hotel and part of the Accor Hotels group, it is fairly centrally located about 1km from the Zoological Gardens stop on the S-Bahn and directly across the road from the Tiergarten stop. Both of these stations have direct connections to Berlin Schönefeld Airport located about 20km southeast of the city. Continue reading “Novotel Berlin Am Tiergarten”
It has been many, many years since I have been on the city walls of Chester but I recently read an article about disabled access in the city that mentioned a number of wheelchair accessible points on to the walls. I was previously only aware of three access points but the map to the left shows that there are now 11 accessible points to the walls so I am here today to see how far around you can get in a wheelchair. A larger version of the map can be found by clicking here. You may find it useful to print out a copy of that to take with you, I did.
I started my circuit of the walls at the cathedral bell tower because it is near to where I got off the bus that brought me to Chester, and I know exactly where to find it. This is a gentle slope that takes you up to the walls level. From here you can turn to your left and begin your tour. Continue reading “Chester City Walls”
Friday 27th April 2018 and I am having a late lunch at Burger King in Liverpool John Lennon Airport. I am on my way to Barcelona for the weekend. It is the first time since I was diagnosed with renal failure in 2012 that I have travelled overseas on my own. It is also the first time I’ve ever been to Spain. Travelling is something I did for years but what is worrying me today is if my flight home on Sunday night gets delayed a long time and I am not back at Wrexham Hospital by 7:30am Monday morning for my dialysis. I decide the best plan is to just enjoy my holiday and deal with that if it happens.
I am flying with EasyJet, the flight went well though the Friday evening passengers were a bit rowdy! On arrival at Barcelona’s El Prat airport it takes quite some time for the wheelchair assistance team to come and get me off the ‘plane so the pilot came to have a chat with me.
When visiting Barcelona you need to decide which travel ticket option best suits your needs for getting around the city. There are several options to choose from but lets just look at the T-10 and the Hola BCN!
The Hola BCN! ticket is available for either 2, 3, 4, or 5 days and can be used by only one person. These are full 24 hour days so if you buy a 2 day ticket and you make your first journey at 10:00pm in the evening, say after arriving on your flight to the airport, your ticket will not expire at midnight on the next day but at 9:59pm two days later. This ticket is valid on all Metro lines, buses, trams, local RENFE trains and the funicular railways in the Zone 1. It is also valid for your journey from and to the airport. This ticket costs about €7 a day depending on how many days you choose.
The Metro, or underground, in Barcelona is an excellent and inexpensive way to get around the city. You can also use it to get from the airport to central Barcelona too. TMB that run most of the metro lines, except for three short ones, state that 90% of stations are wheelchair accessible so far with work planned ongoing to others. A larger more usable version of the accessible Metro map above can be found by clicking on this link (updated to February 2019.)
I would suggest printing out a copy of the map to carry with you when travelling, I did and found it invaluable for planning my routes, especially when working out how to get to places if the obvious route included a change of lines that are inaccessible.