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.