Monthly Archives: October 2015

La Pedrera, Barcelona Spain.

Barcelona is still, in my opinion, the most accessible of all European cities. I have been told that it was made so for the 1992 Paralympics, and it has never lost that easy-rolling characteristic.
For me, as a T-12 para, it’s a breeze.

One of the big attractions in Barcelona is the influence, and several examples of, the architecture of Antoni Gaudi; whose buildings, constructed according to his Catalan Modernism still look amazing today. Gaudi’s architecture looks and feels both modern and timeless, as if we have yet to catch up with his style.

One of his more famous buildings is “La Pedrera” (or “Stone Quarry” in English), and in 2009, Helen and i had a chance to check it out. I wasn’t too sure about how well it would work, as some of these places constructed before 1970 (at least) can be a challenge to access. I was pleasantly surprised.

I found La Pederera to be a very enjoyable visit, barring these factors…
 
The access into the building is initially quite “angled”; down an alarmingly steep ramp. There were, however, several staff to help me had I lost control of my chair.
 
I was urged to go to the roof (“Puede usted va a la terraza!” ). It sounded great! Every one of the staff looked so very pleased to inform me that i could access the roof that i couldn’t resist. Hey, why not? They had a lift.
 
No. The accessible area on the roof was about 6 foot by six foot, and i had a bit of claustrophobia up there. The roof of La Pedrera is famous for Gaudi’s chimney pots that look like Moorish soldiers, but for a guy in a chair, there wasn’t much of a thrill.
 
Other than that, the plusses…
 
The staff was incredibly helpful.
 
I think i got a massively reduced rate, and my wife got in free as my “Carer”.
 
Other than the roof, every floor was accessible enough for me to participate in every exhibit that able-bodied people enjoyed,
 
The best bit was the apartment, maintained in the same style as the flats were decorated at the time (the 1910’s to 30’s) that the building was opened for occupation by the public. The owners of the flat were of the middle class,, so the apartment as was is a beautiful example of what home was like for ordinary people in pre-Franco Spain.

Again,  Barcelona has for me, been a breeze in a chair, and La Pedrera is one of many things that make this city worth a trip

(pssssst! If you take the metro “autobus”from the airport, you can get to Plaza Catalunya for 3.00 Euros, rather than 30.00Euros in a cab)


uberASSIST

“With uberASSIST you can expect the reassurance and ease of communication that comes with a vehicle driven by one of our top rated partner-drivers who has completed a disability equality course, developed and delivered by disabled trainers working for Transport for All and Inclusion London. Vehicles can accommodate most folding wheelchairs, walkers and scooters and in the early part of next year, we hope to add fully wheelchair accessible vehicles to the platform.”

(Straywheel butting in here to make it clear that we are not promoting Uber’s “uberASSIST” program. They are making it sound like a good thing for whelchair users, when in fact it is nothing more than a standard car or van with an extra person to “assist” the wheelchair user in their transfer into and out of the vehicle. When they say that they “hope to add fully wheelchair accessible vehicles” (emphasis mine), what they are saying is that at present they haven’t got anything with a ramp, which means that it isn’t possible to stay in your chair. It means a transfer. Accessibility is not about providing someone to help. Accessibility means providing the person with a mobility impairment the means to access the building or vehicle without assistance.)

http://newsroom.uber.com/london/2015/10/assistuk/


NOPE!

We’ve never been there, so i am relying on other people’s photos of it, but apparently this is the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico.

I don’t think I’ll be going there anytime soon. Yeah, it’s ramped, but that doesn’t look ADA compliant to me. Helen and I are pretty courageous in our travels, but there are some places on this earth that I really don’t need to visit. This is one of them.


Paris Access

Helen and I recently took a trip to Paris. Getting there from London is a very pleasant two hour fifteen minute train ride on the Eurostar from St Pancras International, to Gare du Norde. Eurostar personnel are always very friendly and efficient (it helps if you remind them throughout check-in that you’ll need a ramp) and train travel means I don’t have to transfer in and out of my chair and I am able to roll around the carriage and use the loo if I want. I prefer this over plane travel by far.

Access in Paris is very good. Most of the sidewalks/pavements are easy and free of cobbles, or even seams, as they tend to be made of one solid paving of concrete. The metro system is not accessible, but the buses are, and the #38 takes us straight from Gare du Norde to Place St Michel on the Left Bank (our favorite part of the city).

A good portion of the shops are on the ground level, with an easy ramp. Here’s a photo of the entrance to a “Carrefour” (a chain of convenience and supermarkets found throughout France)…

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The curbs are very well ramped at most intersections. here is an example…

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and another one…

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Outdoor seating is a wonderful way to avoid the dilemma of finding a restaurant with step-free access (although most have an accessible entrance if one wants to eat indoors), and there are few of Life’s Great Pleasures that can beat sitting in an outdoor cafe and having a plate of bread and cheese and a bottle of French wine, watching Paris walk by.

There are also several places where access to the banks of the Seine can be had down ramped roads, although they can be a little steep, and there are cobbles at the bottom. I just took it slow, and it went well, and we had a lovely picnic of (you guessed it), bread and cheese and wine in the sun, near Notre Dame. This is what the cobbled bit looks like…
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Looking the other way, you get a view of Notre Dame.

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Cafe with outdoor seating, at night.

le st andrecropped
W
e had a wonderful time. We’ll be back.


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