Before embarking on my trip to Europe (read all about my traveling ups and downs here), I wondered: “How accessible would the old world be?”
How accepting, accommodating and understanding? How altered for accessibility would it be? For example, would there be ramps to the ruins in Rome?
As I traveled for four weeks from Paris to Switzerland and then through Italy, I took notice. I also took plenty of photo’s (2026 of them to be exact!)
I was surprised not to see another disabled person in Paris. No wheelchair users, no wobbly limbs, and no intellectually disabled folk. Not even a broken arm or leg in sight.
I did notice that on a map on a train station wall, a few had the universal symbol of access next to the name of the station. But that was the only sign that anyone disabled might exist there.
However, I did go to a few tourist attractions and while paying to enter I informed them I had a disability. And as they say in French, ‘Voilà’, a discount or free entry was given. (If I could rub my hands together I would!)
Catching the train to and from Lucerne I notice the universal symbol of access on one or two carriages, as well as this hoist to assist people on and off trains. (The alternative was to climb on.)
Lucerne, a Swiss town surrounded by alps, was surprisingly flat. I saw people who looked like locals (they were too familiar with the town to be visitors) traversing the town using wheelchairs and crutches.
There was a wonderful old bridge with steps, right through the middle of the township. But, it also had a stair lift to get up and down, which wasn’t intrusive. In fact, I walked past it several times before noticing it.
And again, when going on a lovely lake cruise, I got a full discount and both mum and her husband got half price tickets.
What a lovely mixed bag. So many old and ancient buildings, ruins and other places to see, but generally the physical access was obvious and reasonable.
In conclusion I was pleasantly surprised at just how accessible Europe is (well the parts I saw anyway).
I’d be interested to hear any of your stories and experiences of access in Europe.