Category Archives: Locations
And yeah, it takes courage.
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)…
and another one…
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…
Looking the other way, you get a view of Notre Dame.
Cafe with outdoor seating, at night.
We had a wonderful time. We’ll be back.
Helen and I were in Denver a couple of years ago, and since I’m rather fond of old train stations, we went down to see Union Station. It was being renovated; surrounded by scaffolding and rubble, so we couldn’t go in.
Well they’ve finished it, according to this article, but also according to this article, “The station’s Great Hall features a public area with seating and shuffleboard tables, but the area is elevated and unreachable by people who can’t climb stairs, according to the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition.”
And, “The Coalition says RTD has offered to set up a temporary ramp when someone needs it. The group’s attorney, Andrew Montoya, says that’s not enough.
That’s absolutely not the same experience, basically to have to go around, see that there is no ramp, and then make your way around, trying to find someone who maybe can get a ramp out for you,” Montoya said.
I know exactly what Mr Montoya is talking about. Equal access doesn’t mean that an able bodied person gets to walk up a flight of stairs while their disabled counterpart has to go find someone and ask them, “Excuse me sir/madam, could you please put up the ramp?”
How is this even possible? I could understand if the station were in its original condition, but they just renovated it and the ADA has been in force since 1990. How hard is it to install a permanent ramp?
Thank you to the Facebook group, “Representing Disability in an Ableist World” for this information.
We had heard that these islands are coming up as a great destination as not too touristy yet and only about six hours flight from the UK. Mindelo has a rich history and a great music scene. Seemed very appealing.
Doesn’t sound great for a wheelchair user however.
This is the message back from one of the specialist tour operators:
Tel: 0845 338 8708