Reisen mit Rollstuhl https://mobilista.eu/?lang=en Das Reiseblog von Adina und Timo Hermann rund um barrierefreies Reisen Sat, 15 Feb 2020 11:11:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 Nouvelle-Aquitaine culinary: between sea and vineyards https://mobilista.eu/3761/nouvelle-aquitaine-culinary-between-sea-and-vineyards/?lang=en https://mobilista.eu/3761/nouvelle-aquitaine-culinary-between-sea-and-vineyards/?lang=en#respond Sat, 15 Feb 2020 11:11:31 +0000 http://mobilista.eu/?p=3761 The post Nouvelle-Aquitaine culinary: between sea and vineyards appeared first on Reisen mit Rollstuhl.

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Französische Fischerhütte auf Stelzen am Atlantik

Sponsored post

This trip was sponsored by France.fr, the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region and Charentes-Tourisme. However, as usual, our opinion remains unaffected by this, the article reflects our own experiences.


The covered wagon bumps through the draining water, the fresh air containing iodine blows around our noses. Shortly afterwards we reach the Île Madame, a small tidal island in the Atlantic Ocean. Rare herbs such as mud grass, sea fennel, smyrnium olusatrum and quellers thrive there in the largely untouched nature. And here we are already inmidst of our culinary road trip through the Charente-Maritime region, which stretches from Bordeaux along the Gironde and the Atlantic coast to the north.

We are on our way on a wheelchair accessible covered wagon, which has an extendable ramp at the rear and thus also allows wheelchair users to travel along the so-called ox trail, which connects the island with the mainland. Fish, seafood, salt and herbs – and of course cognac and b. We travelled here to find out if this is really the culinary secret of the region. And because, by the way, the Charente-Maritime region is one of the regions that is most strongly represented in the French certification system “Handicap et Tourisme“, similar to the German system Reisen für Alle. So, in a few days, we’ll be visiting many wheelchair accessible attractions, restaurants and accommodation – accompagned by the topic “enjoyment”!

Flashback: Shortly after landing it becomes clear that we are in a region where culinary delights and enjoyment play a major role. In the baggage reclaim we find ourselves next to huge wine bottles – it’s obvious: we have arrived at Bordeaux airport! After taking some selfies in front of the gigantic wine bottles we start our road trip through the region Charente-Maritime, which is located at France’s Atlantic coast and offers not only beautiful landscapes but also all kinds of delicacies.

Our route takes us to Cognac, Rochefort, La Rochelle, the Ile de Ré and finally back to Bordeaux.

Cognac

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The Cognac Distille Courvoisier in Jarnac is our first destination. A tour through the wheelchair-accessible exhibition brings us closer to the creation of the legendary brandy, from the soil of the growing region, through the grape, harvest and distillation process, to the barrel. There are also some exciting insights into the ancient history of the traditional distillery, whose founder already supplied Napoleon. During the following tasting we will hold back a little bit, because it’s still in the morning hours and we want to appear somewhat sober for the upcoming lunch. Nevertheless, we learn something about the different notes of cognac that make up the overall aroma: the fruity note, the floral note, the woody and finally the spicy note. They all change during the maturing process, and the longer the cognac was allowed to mature, the rounder the overall result, which explains the enormous price differences: the age categories range from V.S. to V.S.O.P. to the sometimes exorbitantly expensive X.O. editions, which have been stored for up to 40 years and can quickly cost four-figure sums, but can also bring an impressive play of aromas.

A little off the beaten track is the restaurant La Table de l’Yeuse, where we enjoy regional delicacies on the terrace in a wonderful ambience. The old walls have been lovingly restored and can not only offer fine cuisine but also an impressive cognatheque – a matter of honour, of course, in such a city where (almost) everything revolves around the noble brandy. In the entire region, wine plays a major role just like brandy, which also has an impact on the cuisine of the region. With a fantastic view over the gardens of the Yeuse we enjoy our fish and are already excited about the coming days. We then check in at the Hotel Francois Premier, which is ideally located inmidst of the old town of Cognac. Then we set off to discover Cognac, because we are always hungry – not only for food but also for new impressions. Our first destination is the Musée des Arts du Cognac, where the regional history is excitingly presented. Here it becomes clear once again how important viticulture and Cognac distillation is for the region, and we are allowed to deepen our newly acquired knowledge of Cognac once again. Right next door is the Espace Découverte en Pays du Cognac, where we start with a short film about the history of Cognac – in a great ambience with water features, light and sound effects, which allow the viewer to immerse himself more deeply. A collection of paintings and sculptures completes the experience. We now process our impressions on the banks of the Charente in a relaxed beach bar next to the harbour, where we enjoy the autumnal sunset between many young families with relaxed music, and we literally see the old cargo ships passing by…

After a quiet dinner we end the evening in this lively but relaxed small town in the hotel’s own cognac bar.

Rochefort



Our next stage takes us to the sea: in a small village near Rochefort called Port des Barques we meet Cécile from the local tourist office. We plan a carriage ride together (attentive readers might suspect it: it’s going to the Ile Madame!) The covered wagon with the extendable ramp soon bumps off, and we enjoy the view over the small island, which offers an amazing variety and is especially characterized by the fishermen’s huts on stilts, the “cabanes de pêcheurs“. They can be found everywhere on the shore and defy even the biggest storms and floods. The salt marks on the high stilts give an idea of how far the water rises here at times…

Now we want to check if the local cuisine really uses the products we found here. Our way leads us to the port of Rochefort, where we dine in the restaurant “Vivre(s)” of the French star chef Grégory Coutnaceau, and indeed: beside Fleur de Sel we discover fresh queller in the main course, which adds a crisp freshness with a slight salt note to the celery puree. The accessible building with its bright glass front in the harbour allows a wonderful view of the yachts across the street.

One street further on we visit the Corderie Royale, the royal ropemakers. Here in Rochefort once gigantic ropes and cables were produced for shipping by twisting long single strands together. We are allowed to produce our own rope on a small historical machine and afterwards we marvel at the artistic works made of ropes and sailor’s knots in the museum shop, which are produced here in the manual tradition. The large ropes of modern shipping have long since come from China – and are usually no longer made of hemp fibres, but of polyester.

After this exciting visit we continue to explore the small town. Vis-à-vis from the Corderie Royale, also in the Arsenal de Mer, is the frigate Hermione from the 18th century, on which La Fayette once sailed with other insurgents and revolutionaries. It is being restored in a gigantic project and presented to the public. The entrance fees will again benefit the restoration budget.

We discover the other parts of the old town and finally check into our hotel. The wheelchair-accessible room of the “Hotel de France” is an apartment at the backyard in a quiet location, and we will be surprised what a lovingly rich breakfast the owner of the boutique hotel conjures up for his guests.

But first of all something else is more important, because Adina has discovered a chocolaterie near the hotel on her way – and there is of course no stopping there! Salt caramel is definitely one of the local specialities. Not surprisingly, because as early as the 18th century sugar was imported from the Antilles via the port of nearby La Rochelle, while wine and cognac were exported. In fact, to this day around 98 percent of the cognac produced is exported, mainly to the USA. In France itself there is very little demand for it.

La Rochelle



Full of expectation we set off for La Rochelle. There we have a whole series of exciting appointments and start with a tour of the La Rochelle Aquarium, which presents the marine biodiversity split by continents on numerous levels. The gigantic aquariums and the gorgeous fish and jellyfish cast a spell on us and let us dive into a huge underwater world. We could have easily spent the whole day here, but we still have a lot of plans! First of all, we continue our culinary search in the in-house restaurant, the Brasserie Là-Haut, and fortify ourselves with fish, poultry and seafood while enjoying the breathtaking view over the marina. But we don’t want to fill our bellies too full, because the wind is freshening up – and in front of us lies another highlight: On the edge of the world’s largest sailing fair, the Grand Pavois, which is currently taking place in La Rochelle, we want to set sail with a sailing boat. After we get our guest of honour-tickets we enter the fairground.

We meet Olivia from the local committee for disabled sports, who accompanies us to the boat and introduces us to our skippers. Details are quickly clarified, as we have already had sailing experience through Adina’s father, once a sailor and now a passionate sailor. Actually, we had planned to go out to sea, but the wind thwarts our plans, because punctually to our appointment it freshens up to wind force 6. The skipper decides that we only go to the old harbour under prow and back. And so even Adina can take over the helm and steers confidently through the approximately 20 metre wide harbour gate… Our skipper tells us a little story when we see the tower “Tour de la Lanterne“, which we pass on port side: the tower was recently restored and will be unveiled again in 2015. A surprise came to light that the chief architect Villeneuve had thought up during the restoration: two renewed gargoyles on the north-east and south-west sides of the tower bear the likeness of the two caricaturists Cabu and Wolinski, who were murdered in the assassination of the “Charlie Hebdo” editorial office!

Afterwards, there is a little highlight on the program, because Adina’s little sister is on a trip to France with her boyfriend, and we have arranged to meet here to explore La Rochelle together and end the day. We even discover a Ferris wheel with a wheelchair accessible cabin, and we marvel at the view at sunset over the harbour. The four of us continue to stroll through the harbour mile and finally decide on a restaurant where we can make ourselves comfortable. We start the evening with fresh fish, veal steaks, duck breast and sumptuous desserts or a cheese platter with a bottle of local wine and finish our dinner with a glass of Pineau. Full and satisfied, we continue to wander through the lively alleys, music sounds from many bars and clubs, while the fresh Atlantic wind carries the typical salty-fishy scent of the coast through the harbour area. In front of the bars, there are single groups of people, most of the times with cigarettes and a wine glass in the hand, and we enjoy the exuberant atmosphere of this quarter.

At the end we check into the “Hotel de la Monnaie“, a comfortable design hotel with barrier-free rooms in the immediate vicinity of the port. After this day, sleep is not long in coming, and the next morning we have to move on directly after breakfast, although we really would have liked to spend some more time in this charming port city.

Ile de Ré



The weather is rather uncomfortable, but we set off to explore another island – the Ile de Ré. We were told that at the very top of the most north-western tip of the island we might reveal some secrets of the region’s flavours. We park at the edge of the nature reserve, visit the small museum that describes the local flora and fauna and then walk a little into the nature reserve. First, we notice some plants there that we already met in the Ile Madame: Smyrnium olusatrum with its peppery and lemony taste lines the way, sporadically, we see sea fennel and quellers in the meadows. Further towards the sea we discover long white elevations in the fields: we have arrived at the salt marshes. This is where Fleur de Sel is mined – the sea water is dammed up in troughs and evaporates, leaving behind the crystallised salt, which is pushed together, purified and sold. This typical salty crunch, which is used as a topping on dishes, we have encountered here several times before. On fish, meat or even vegetables, even in chocolate or caramel – there are countless applications for it. Satisfied, we continue on our way towards St. Martin, but when we discover an oysters vending machine at the roadside, we have to make a stop! Here we find oysters in boxes of different sizes – by the dozen, by the double dozen and also larger units. Next to it there is a vending machine with fish soup, and of course oyster knives! This now confronts us with a luxury problem: we have already reserved a table in a restaurant and are on our way there right now – namely at an oyster fisherman’s place right on the coast. Therefore, the vending machine only earns the price of an oyster knife as a souvenir to us and we continue our journey. Rain and wind cannot stop us while we sit down at the sea under umbrellas and eat seafood and oysters. And slowly we realize where the freshness comes from that we have encountered in all dishes so far: it is the taste of the sea, the iodine, the salt. It is found in the water, the soil, in the food, and it is everywhere in the air.

After a side trip to St. Martin de Ré, a picturesque little place with white houses and green shutters and a visit to the museum there – which actually makes us stay longer and gives us an idea of the exciting and varied history of the island – we go to our apartment. The apparthotel “Les Vignes de la Chapelle” is a little isolated in Sainte Marie de Ré and offers a dreamlike quietness. In the inner courtyard we stroll past the SPA area and the swimming pool with pool lift to our apartment and decide to end the day in the SPA. Tomorrow our last day will dawn and we will start with a long drive to Bordeaux – to which we will soon dedicate a special article. But this much can be revealed: we are now certain that we have decoded the culinary DNA of the region. Salt, iodine, wind, herbs and wine, coupled with typically French high standards of nutrition are essential ingredients of the cuisine and make the region so incredibly delicious!

Our accommodation, restaurants and excursion destinations were almost completely certified by Tourisme & Handicap. This means that we have not encountered any real hurdles, and although our trip is not over yet, we are impressed by the wide range of accommodation, restaurants and activities available in this region.

To be continued! Don’t miss a new article anymore and follow us on Facebook or subscribe to our newsletter!

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Toronto and Niagara Pool – the whirlpool of cultures and the river https://mobilista.eu/3464/toronto-and-niagara-pool-the-whirlpool-of-cultures-and-the-river/?lang=en https://mobilista.eu/3464/toronto-and-niagara-pool-the-whirlpool-of-cultures-and-the-river/?lang=en#respond Fri, 07 Feb 2020 17:02:46 +0000 https://mobilista.eu/3464/toronto-and-niagara-pool-the-whirlpool-of-cultures-and-the-river/ The post Toronto and Niagara Pool – the whirlpool of cultures and the river appeared first on Reisen mit Rollstuhl.

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On approach, I slowly open my eyes. Looking outside, I immediately get a thought: Did we catch a plane to New York…? Maybe I should have spent some time in researches on Toronto before, otherwise the gigantic scale of the Golden Horseshoe, from which countless skyscrapers rise, wouldn’t be this surprising. With the unboarding our adventure starts. The Mega City immediately leads us into its vortex.

Toronto, one of the largest cities in North America

Statistically speaking, Toronto is not that big. 2.6 million inhabitants, Wikipedia told me in advance. Well, as a Berliner, that does not impress me – at least that’s what I thought. However, Toronto is not surrounded by Brandenburg, but by a huge melting pot of cities that have long since grown together completely with Toronto. This results in about 12 million inhabitants in the immediate vicinity. So we thoughtfully drive down the 16 lanes of the “Highway of Heroes” in our mega SUV. At some point in the evening (in September, with 20 degrees predicted!) we reach our hotel, the Novotel North York, at around 30 degrees Celsius. In the meantime we have already found out that North York is anything but central. But we don’t care, we check in, have a snack and fall into bed.

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“The faster you are here, the cheaper it gets”

The next morning I quickly want to get Adina’s jacket from the car. Because our SUV was too big for the underground car park, it stood on the street. My bad: we overlooked these tiny signs indicating a parking prohibition during rush hour. The police didn’t so. Our car is gone. Some phone calls later I have an address and a very bad gut feeling. The lady refused to tell me on phone how expensive this would become. But: we would pay extra for each hour. An hour and a half later we have our car back – and spent about 500 dollars. Ouch. We decide to search for a little bit distraction, look around and find that we are very close to Black Creek Pioneer’s Village, a village faithfully recreated in the style of the first settlers and even filled with life by actors.

Little House in reality

Many of the actors in the Black Creek Pioneer’s Village have profund historic knowledge, we found out. Chatting with them makes us suddenly feel like we’re in the eighties series Little House, when a group of historically dressed children ran from a house to school – almost as if Laura Ingalls with her plaited braids had forgotten the start of class again! Excitingly, by the way, everything was wheelchair accessible, so that Adina could indulge her great passion and visit the print shop! In a sewing shop Piet was given a carrot as a present, which an actress was sewing for sale – of course he was as proud as Punch! Inspired by this excursion we repressed our morning nightmare a little and set off to explore the immediate surroundings of the hotel and arrange for dinner. A little Canadian beer (at horrendous prices, because Canada has very high taxes on all alcohol) comforted us completely over the bumpy start, and we reconciled with Canada.



Casa Loma: The castle that is not

Casa Loma rises impressively on Davenport Hill. We are told that everything was wheelchair accessible. In fact, the oldest elevator in Canada can be found in here – and it has been where it is today right from the start. Casa Loma was built by a rich British industrialist in the style of European castles – from 1911 to 1914. While our historic buildings are mostly at least 300 to 500 years and more old, those here have just 100 years and already belong to the old stock. The castle is magnificently built, even an own orangery with tropical temperatures for exotic plants was arranged by the lord of the castle. But all in all it feels a bit like Disneyland when you wander around in the knowledge that all this is just a replica – even if it is well done. So we decide to switch to the real culture of Toronto and move on to the melting pot.



Pure cultural mix: Kensington Market

Never before have we experienced such an impressive mix of cultures: close to Toronto’s Old Town is Kensington Market, a quarter full of different cultures with shops, restaurants, cafés and, above all, lots of life. Caribbean vibes meet African Creole cuisine, Europe meets Asia, and right in the middle of it all is us. In the Jamaican food market we find Caribbean spices, in the reggae store next door Adina discovers a great dress hanging right in front of a photo that shows Bob Marley in just that store. A little further down is Graffity Alley, an alley that has been opened for graffiti artists. There are even wedding shootings taking place here, and in view of the pictures I quickly realize why. We will get lost even more often to Kensington Market – if only to get a beak at Caplansky’s Delicatessen (which unfortunately can only be visited at the airport now)! Here you can find fantastic sandwiches with smoked meat and many other delicacies.



Food Court, Handcraft Stores: Distillery District

The Distillery District is also one of the hippest areas of Toronto, especially in the evenings. Here, within the scenery of numerous former distilleries, many bars, restaurants and manufactories as well as art galleries have settled down nowadays. The neighborhood is extremely lively and young, and we quickly find out: this is the hotspot of Toronto’s hip life. The amazing heat (as a reminder: 30 degrees Celsius in September – and Timo had just one pair of shorts and three T-shirts in his luggage, because ten degrees less was predicted) drives us into a beer garden, where we sip ice-cold iced tea for a little cooling down. Even here, in a historic district, attention has been paid to accessibility – even many of the small art galleries are accessible, and we almost lost ourselves in this district if out schedule had not been so tight…

St. Lawrence Market – Tornto’s market hall

We LOVE market halls! No wonder as we also are totally into fresh and local food. So it was clear we would visit St. Lawrence Market which is situated pretty close to the distillery district. The entrance already gives us some remembrance of Barcelona’s market hall, one of our all-time favorites. We find a colourful mix of street food, vegetables, fruit, meat, sausage, cheese and above all fish, the colours and smells overwhelm our senses. If you come here you need some spare time – and don’t come there when you’re hungry as it will be hard to decide what you are going to try!



CN-Tower, Ripleys Aquarium, Rogers Centre

Close to the water you will find one of Toronto’s most famous attractions: The CN-Tower, which is over 500 meters high, from whose platform visitors can enjoy a breathtaking view over the city and the Golden Horseshoe at Lake Ontario. A little further down there is a platform for the Edgewalk, where you can walk around the tower from the outside, secured with rope. Nearby are Ripley’s Aquarium, the largest aquarium in Canada, and the Rogers Centre, where numerous (sports) events take place.

Amsterdam Brewhouse

A waterfront brewery with restaurant. Already at the entrance hungry visitors are welcomed by a huge smoker, in which – secured by a lock – finest beef is exposed to the hot smoke for hours and thus becomes butter tender and aromatic. The result is a Smoked Beef Brisket with Coleslaw and corn bread, which people rave about for weeks. Don’t forget to book a table if you want to come there for dinner as the quality has become legendary.



By the water: beaches, Lake Ontario and Toronto Island

Toronto is located on Lake Ontario – the smallest of the Great Lakes, but nevertheless of impressive size: with an area of over 19,000 square kilometres, it is over thirty times the size of Lake Constance. The number of beaches on its doorstep is correspondingly large. There are pretty wide sandy beaches for sunbathing and swimming. Right in front of the City-Aiport Toronto, which is mainly used for business flights within Canada, is Toronto Island. Lift on the island is a little quieter and more contemplative, and especially at dusk there is a breathtaking view of the fascinating skyline of Toronto. It is not for nothing that the city is increasingly becoming a film location – because filming permits are easier to obtain here than in New York, but depending on the location, they look pretty similar. It takes about 20 minutes by ferry from the mainland to the island, and the hustle and bustle gets lost after you disembark!



Our first excursion: The Georgian Bay in the north

We are aware that we mainly stay in a metropole. But Canada especially stands for nature, wilderness, water and adventure. So we set off north to find out about it. However, this is not so easy, because Georgian Bay, a two-hour drive north of Toronto, is the most popular weekend domicile for business people. Unfortunately, everything around Lake Huron that is close to the road is private property. We found a tiny beach, which at least was not fenced in, and gave up after some time of searching. At the dock of Penetanguishene we comforted ourselves with Poutine, the Canadian snack par excellence (for non-specialists: Poutine consists of fries topped with bacon sauce and cheese). Afterwards we bought some nice souvenirs and made our way home at dusk. So we learned only a little bit – way too less! – about the countryside.



Second excursion: Niagara Falls

The USA are often said to turn every natural spectacle into their own Disneyland. Anyone who visits Niagara finds out that Canada is in no way inferior to them. When you hear Niagara Falls, you think of a wildly romantic waterfall in the forest – at least if you are a little naïve. Truth can be cruel. Arrived in Niagara Falls we park at Skylon Tower, a pretty run-down lookout tower. First we use the elevator to get to the basement, and there a bizarre-looking picture awaits us: an amusement arcade with innumerable playground equipment from the eighties, in the basement with bright lighting. 200 meters further on the Niagara Falls are roaring, of which one does not suspect anything here… we start our way, and directly along the falls the road leads on the Canadian side. The smaller falls that are based on the US side are much less impressive, which is why I discard my thoughts of marching over the Rainbow Bridge to the USA on foot. That is possible here without ETA, but you have to put up with all the immigration talk, and we already had enough of that in Canada. No more. We didn*t want to waste any time. It is hot, still hot, and we enjoy the cooling by the spray, which is everywhere in the air. We stroll to the edge of the big waterfalls and once again marvel at nature: the water flows calmly, clearly and unagitated towards the edge, sloshes gently over the edge once and in the fall develops into a thunderous spectacle. Ten centimetres from the edge, it is impossible to imagine what force this calm water would develop within the next seconds.
We set off on a tour to Niagara Falls with the Hornblower boats. Equipped with water protection for the camera and the obligatory plastic ponchos, which are included here in the entrance fee, we go on board. Spoiler alert: the ponchos are pretty useless. We get soaking wet in the cauldron of the falls, but considering the burning sun it’s not that bad, it’s rather pleasant… This spectacle made a lasting impression on us, we ignore the Disneyland character that was built up around here, and make our way again to a small village nearby, which is so different…



Niagara on the Lake

It is a thirty-minutes ride to Niagara on the Lake – at Lake Ontario. Once the port was very important, but after losing their port licence the little town nearly became forgotten. Today it is a lively little place that has awakened from its Sleeping Beauty slumber but still kept the charm of the Wilhelminian era, with historic buildings, one of the typical Canadian Christmas shops for the whole year, and culinary highlights. The town centre is a must-see!



Conclusion

We enjoyed Canada so much. Everything here is bigger, louder and – cleaner then in Berlin. Even people with low-paid jobs make the best from their situation and enjoy what they are doing, and are incredibly polite. Our special thanks go to the bus driver, who took us in the bus to our next stop after his workday, which we would hardly have reached thanks to the non-wheelchair-friendly tram, which was still running on this route at that time. He definitely refused a tip, but he asked us to send a message to his employers from the TTC – via the praise form (!) on the company’s website. Thank you so much – maybe we will return some day!

Yet more Canada posts

This post is part of the blog parade of Travelsanne.de. Her post features a lot more posts about regions throughout Canada – have a look at it: Canada special at Travelsanne.de

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Topic Canada

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Spreewelten: Splashing around and spending the night with penguins https://mobilista.eu/3412/spreewelten-splashing-around-and-spending-the-night-with-penguins/?lang=en https://mobilista.eu/3412/spreewelten-splashing-around-and-spending-the-night-with-penguins/?lang=en#respond Thu, 05 Dec 2019 15:40:33 +0000 https://mobilista.eu/3412/spreewelten-splashing-around-and-spending-the-night-with-penguins/ The post Spreewelten: Splashing around and spending the night with penguins appeared first on Reisen mit Rollstuhl.

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Spreewelten hotel

Legal hint concerning advertisements

This trip was supported by Spreewelten GmbH. As usual, our opinion remains uninfluenced by this, the article reflects our own experiences.


The “Spreewelten” are situated at the edge of the Spreewald in Lübbenau, only a stone’s throw away from Berlin. They advertise with the slogan “bathing with penguins” – and nowadays you can also stay overnight in the newly built hotel on the old adjoining estate. Did anybody say “penguins”? Of course we needed to see this! So we have Piet as our mascot, who now also belongs to our logo. And finally, the whole thing should also be wheelchair accessible. So we made our way to the nearby Spreewald and dived into the Spreewelten!

Hotel Spreewelten: Very close to the penguins

On Saturday afternoon we park in front of the hotel and check in. The entrance area looks cosy and rustic with regional details, there is even a library, a children’s playroom and a bar with fireplace. The receptionist will explain the area and the few little special features that wheelchair users have to pay attention to. Our apartment is located at the end of the corridor in the attic, which is connected to the manor house via a short roofed external corridor. The reception and the hotel bar are located in the manor house. We open the door and – surprise: The apartment is surprisingly spacious, bright and friendly designed and modern furnished. The box spring bed promises adequate sleeping comfort, the TV swings between the bed and sofa, and there is a small fully equipped kitchen on the side. Even the terrace is almost accessible without thresholds, and the bathroom not only has generous dimensions, but especially the roll-in shower in the Spreewald design is a real eye-catcher.

Talking to the hotel management, we learned that accessibility was taken into consideration right from the start – the newly built hotel complex opened at the beginning of 2019, and the concept seems logical and well thought-out to us. There is even alow mirror in the bathroom – in contrast to many other hotels. All areas of the hotel are accessible for wheelchair users, even a low area at the counter of the reception has been considered. The Spreewald motif runs through the entire design of the hotel, and fortunately our bathroom in the wheelchair-accessible room makes no exception – when showering we really feel like we are in the depths of the Spreewald. But before further explorations we quickly dress up, because the penguins are waiting for us next door, and we make our way to the neighbouring Spreewelten bath. Of course we dress in proper style in a bathrobe over the “bathrobe corridor“, which starts on the second floor and leads directly to the bath!

MerkenMerken



Spreewelten bath

At the end of the “bathrobe walk” we take the elevator downwards and exit directly in the entrance area of the bath. In the changing area there is a separate, locked cabin for wheelchair userswith some lockers, next to it a cabin with toilet and shower for wheelchair users and an exit straight to the bath.

swimming pool wheelchair is available for rent, but we want to look around first: we arrive in the hall next to the attendant, and we get a first view of the large indoor swimming pool landscape with a wave pool with a flat entrance, next to a whirlpool bath (the Weltentor) and the passage to the outside. To our left we discover two slides and a separate pool called Spreewald 360 degrees: a brine pool with plenty of warmth and massage jets within a panoramic view of the Spreewald. A door next to this basin leads to the outside at ground level – but be careful: it cannot be opened from the outside! Needless to say we stepped into this trap barefoot and only dressed with a bathrobe while 5 degrees Celsius in the outside, because we wanted to visit the penguins in their outside enclosure. Fortunately, a door close by leads back into the warmth via stairs, so at least pedestrians can hurry back into the bathroom and open the saving door…

The penguins can be observed in several places: on the one hand in the outdoor area, which is accessible at ground level, but at least in winter only invites you to stay for a short time. From the outdoor pool they can be watched swimming through the largest Plexiglas pane in Europe, and from the indoor area they can be admired in the dry playground. Unfortunately, this can only be reached via stairs, so that we missed one of the best known views from the Spreewelten. Perhaps solutions can still be found here…

Since we arrived on a cold Saturday afternoon on the first Advent weekend, the bath is as expected abundantly populated. Hundreds of children and parents romp around here, and because we as hotel guests still have access to the bathroom later in the evening, we decide to continue our exploration tour first and visit the huge sauna area. This is accessible via a separate door in the bistro area for wheelchair users.

We gonna visit the bath again after dinner – and we will experience a real miracle, because on our return we jump in a completely empty bath with no more than 20 people – an absolute insider tip for hotel guests!



Spreewelten – the sauna area

Behind the door we are greeted by cosy warmth and pleasant peace after the turbulent hustle and bustle in the bathing area. A large resting area welcomes us and behind there are many different saunas – the 45 degrees Celsius warm biosauna, an infrared cabin on 50 degrees and a steam bath, up to the 95 degrees hot professional sauna, where we amateurs would have reached their cooking point after only a few minutes. In addition various wellness treatments can be booked. The tranquillity here is extremely pleasant, and fortunately all cabins are wheelchair accessible. But there is another special feature of the Spreewelten that is really attracting us: the outdoor sauna village!

For us as wimps, the outside temperatures on this December weekend are hard to bear, even with a bathrobe, while we walk around the outdoor area together with obviously experienced and completely undressed sauna people. About ten different huts house different saunas with themes such as living roomsalt sauna or even – complying the Spreewald theme, which runs completely through the Spreewald worlds – a cucumber sauna. In a small hut we stumble upon the “world’s smallest Christmas market“, which sells mulled wine and small Advent gifts on an extremely small area (mulled wine in the sauna also seems to be something for the hard-boiled sauna-goers…). In the adjoining barn we warm up at the tiled stove in the barn and make some plans for the rest of the day after taking about an hour to get an overview. We plunge into our wellness program and enjoy the day – and are delighted about the many possibilities for wheelchair users. In between we exchange Adina’s wheelchair against the showering chair of the bath in order to test it. However, Adina’s enthusiasm for the uncomfortable shower wheelchair is limited, so she soon changes back.

One particular detail we haven’t tested yet – the gastronomic offer of the Spreewelten. And there are plenty of them here: in the sauna, in the bathroom, and last but not least the hotel’s own restaurant. They all promise regional food in high quality.

Note on the following gallery: For understandable reasons, photography is prohibited in the sauna area. We therefore limit ourselves exceptionally to some symbolic press photos of the Spreewelten GmbH.



Gastronomic offer of the Spreewelten

For dinner and for breakfast the hotel’s own restaurant offers a rich buffet: a wide range of regional dishes, but also continental standards can be found appealing and fresh on the buffet. Here, too, the Spreewald comes into its own: the famous Spreewald cucumbers as well as products from regional producers such as mustard can be found everywhere. Both for dinner and breakfast we eat our way through and then leave the restaurant satisfied and satisfied.

Small snacks are available in the bistro in the swimming area as well as in the sauna area – Adina fought in vain against a huge plate with various Spreewald cucumbers and fresh bread with lard, while Timo just beat a salmon variation. “Small snacks”? The portions are almost breathtaking, especially for a bistro within a wellness area!

Most of the evening we spent within the almost empty bath, but we finally let it fade away at the hotel bar in the manor house. Holding a drink, we let ourselves warm up by the fireplace and lose ourselves looking into the flickering flames before we finally fall into bed and dream of penguins…

Conclusion

The research wasn’t easy. Especially with regard on the swimming area and the sauna, it is not possible to find out what wheelchair users can do there (and what not) – so we were all the more pleased about the wide range of possibilities we enjoyed in the Spreewelten even as a wheelchair user. The information about that is still a bit sparse. It’s clearly visible that the hotel was built and thought out from the beginning with wheelchair users in mind. In the bath as well as in the hotel we find some little problems and of course we encounter some hurdles. For example, the elevator at the end of the bathrobe corridor was actually broken at the end of the day – probably for the first time in history since its installation. Demo effect, of course, but to be true we had been rather amused because there is another way back to the hotel, namely the short walk across the courtyard. So we lost a little bit of comfort, but at least we could continue to use everything without major restrictions despite the broken elevator.

All in all, we had a short break after a quick drive from Berlin, and returned very rested. We appreciated a lot the helpfulness of the staff, which we experienced everywhere: whether in the hotel, in the bath or in the gastronomy, there was always someone at our side as soon as we had any difficulties. There is a small list of suggestions for improvement, but we can fully recommend the Spreewelten for wheelchair users!*

* We have visited the Spreewelten at the invitation of the operating company Spreewelten GmbH, see transparency information at the beginning of this article. However, our objectivity is not affected by this, and we have provided our partner with a list of small optimization suggestions.


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Flying as a wheelchair user https://mobilista.eu/3410/flying-as-a-wheelchair-user/?lang=en https://mobilista.eu/3410/flying-as-a-wheelchair-user/?lang=en#respond Wed, 04 Dec 2019 17:47:17 +0000 https://mobilista.eu/3410/flying-as-a-wheelchair-user/ Mobility. The leading promise of all passenger transport companies. Mobility is a meaningful service for all transport companies such as railway companies or airlines. But if you need mobility aids such as wheelchairs or have other restrictions like reduced mobility, hearing or visual impairments, mobility quickly becomes less obvious. Some time ago we had written […]

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5742228592_2cd212fbcb_b-1Mobility. The leading promise of all passenger transport companies. Mobility is a meaningful service for all transport companies such as railway companies or airlines. But if you need mobility aids such as wheelchairs or have other restrictions like reduced mobility, hearing or visual impairments, mobility quickly becomes less obvious. Some time ago we had written a report about our experiences on travelling in a wheelchair by train and gave some practical tips, in this article we would like to discuss the special features of travelling by airplane as a wheelchair user.

Legal basics around flight passengers with disabilities

For wheelchair users flight travel are a little bit more complicated. This is due in particular to the fact that there is no uniform legislation or regulation and that the airlines also have a great deal of room for interpretation. Within EU countries, document 1107/2006 entitled ‘Guidelines to improve and facilitate the application of Regulation’ is currently in force, which suggests to airlines certain procedures for dealing with disabled people (PRM), pregnant women, children and the elderly. Only a few passages from this are clearly defined, which is now also complained about by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

However, what is clearly and clearly defined and what air passengers can rely on at any time:
Airlines are not allowed to turn away disabled people!
This results from the following article (see text of the regulation links):

Article 3
Obligation to transport
An air carrier, its vicarious agent or a travel company may not refuse, on grounds of the passenger’s disability or reduced mobility, to:
(a) accept a booking for a flight from or to an airport covered by this Regulation;
(b) to take on board a disabled person or a person with reduced mobility at such an airport, provided that the person concerned has a valid ticket and a valid booking.

Article 4 lays down a few exceptional cases, namely the case where the transport of a passenger would endanger safety on board or the second case where the passenger cannot board simply because of his body fullness because he does not fit through the doors. In all other cases, the airline may not refuse the passenger boarding! The same applies to the companion: all airlines require an accompanying person for persons with disabilities in mobility (PRM, i.e. disabled persons with severe walking disabilities, wheelchair, blind people, etc., who cannot move alone on board without help). Unfortunately, in practice, things go different: time and again, people report that they were left alone because of their disability, even though they had a valid ticket. This is absolutely inadmissible and has just been explicitly reprimanded by the EU!

The second reason for this problem is that the EU’s paper is too inaccurate. It leaves considerable room for interpretation, which is also widely exploited by many countries and airlines. This is another reason why IATA is pushing for uniform legislation with clear guidelines.

Flying as an disabled passenger in practice

We already had a look on the legal aspects. In practice, disabled people are highly recommended to contact the airline at least one week before the scheduled or booked departure and inform them that they need special assistance. Also at the airport, depending on the airport and management, a little preparation can sometimes be helpful – even the handling of the wheelchair varies depending on the airport. While in most international airports and also in Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel we were always able to approach the cabin by wheelchair and the wheelchair was then moved into the hold by a loading employee, in Berlin-SXF we once had to put the wheelchair in exchange for an airport-owned wheelchair at check-in. In addition, aircraft that have registered boarding or unboarding of people with disabilities are usually boarded over the swivel bridge on the ground floor and are not parked on an outside position that is only accessible by shuttle busses (at least theoretically – practice looks completely different…). So in your own interest you should make yourself noticeable beforehand and, if possible, additional hand luggage (medical device should NEVER be checked in as baggage if possible, as both insurance law and organisational problems in the event of damage can occur!) be registered in advance.

Personally, we have not had any negative experiences with any airline, whether TUIfly, Air Berlin, Condor or EasyJet by today. Because of this, we cannot make a recommendation here.

Discounts for severely disabled persons and companions on flights

Those who are spoiled by the compensation of disadvantages in public transport and the railways will be disappointed at this point: as a rule, there are hardly any discounts for people with disabilities on airlines. Only seat reservation is free of charge on most airlines. And most importantly, the wheelchair does not count as luggage! The transport of the wheelchair on the aircraft may not be charged or counted against the contractual amount of baggage allowance.
Only AirBerlin (R.I.P.) had to be emphasized positively: Accompanying persons of passengers with a severely disabled card and a registered sign “B” (or comparable) only had to pay the taxes and fees as well as the service charge at airberlin on domestic flights. Most propably that’s not the true reason why they went on their upper’s…
As far as I know, AirBerlin was the only airline in Germany that transported passengers free of charge on domestic flights and thus partially implements the corresponding recommendation of the European Commission.

Practical tips for flying with a wheelchair or walking disability

Due to the huge differences in handling of PRM depending on the airline, airport and the like, it is difficult to pronounce general practical tips. However, it is particularly important for international flights that it was clearly communicated a passenger’s special needs in advance. There are so-called Special Service Request codes, or SSR codes for short. There are international standards, so that clear registrations can be made using them – despite language hurdles. We therefore generally register air travel with the appropriate SSR codes in order to avoid unnecessary effort at the airport by the service personnel as well as surprised stuff.

What experiences did you make? I look forward to input!

SSR codes for people with disabilities

  • BDGP – Blind or visually impaired passenger with guide dog – no further assistance required.
  • BDGR – Blind or visually impaired passenger with guide dog – accompaniment required from the terminal to the aircraft and vice versa.
  • BLND – Blind passenger.
  • BLDP – Blind or visually impaired passenger without guide dog or companion – no further assistance required.
  • BLDR – Blind or visually impaired passenger without guide dog or companion – accompaniment required from the terminal to the aircraft and vice versa.
  • BLSC – Blind or visually impaired passenger with companion – no further assistance required.
  • DMAA – Passenger with intellectual limitations who understands and can implement safety instructions – no personal assistance, but escorts from the terminal to the plane and back needed.
  • DEAF – Deaf passenger.
  • ESAN – Passenger travels with dog for mental support.
  • MAAS – Passenger needs assistance with baggage claim and connecting flights, also in conjunction with BLIND and DEAF.
  • MEDA – Medical device using oxygen.
  • PPOC – Passenger with approved portable oxygen concentrator.
  • SVAN – Passenger with service dog.
  • WCOB – passenger with wheelchair on board – needs assistance on board.
  • WCHR – Wheelchair to ramp – Passenger can overcome steps and move independently in the cabin, but needs assistance up to the aircraft.
  • WCHS – Wheelchair above steps – Passenger cannot overcome steps, but can move independently in the cabin.
  • WCHC – Wheelchair on board – Passenger requires onboard wheelchair and must be transferred to the seat.
  • WCMP – Manual wheelchair without battery.
  • WCBD – Wheelchair with dry cell battery.
  • WCBW – Wheelchair with wet cell battery.

Related links

Photo: Shreyans Bhansali / flickr.com under cc-by-nc-sa-2.0

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Don’t miss these must-see spots in Prague https://mobilista.eu/3280/dont-miss-these-must-see-spots-in-prague/?lang=en https://mobilista.eu/3280/dont-miss-these-must-see-spots-in-prague/?lang=en#respond Thu, 28 Nov 2019 12:32:10 +0000 https://mobilista.eu/3280/dont-miss-these-must-see-spots-in-prague/ The post Don’t miss these must-see spots in Prague appeared first on Reisen mit Rollstuhl.

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Legal hint concerning advertisements

This is a privately produced article for which neither cash nor non-cash contributions have been made by third parties. As always all mentioned entries are based on personal recommendations.


“In the meantime, we have been together twice in Prague and both times we have experienced ups and downs in the Golden City: the first time hot summer days and nice people compensated us for a catastrophic wheelchair breakdown, on our second visit we comforted ourselves over a small accident with the delicious Bohemian cuisine and the discovery of the Vltava island.
Here we tell you which spots we like best and what you should have experienced in Prague.

Overtourism in Prague

Honestly finding really secret spots in Prague has become more and more difficult. The city is beautiful, but word has got around about it, and even during our last trip at the beginning of November the city was packed. A difficult starting position to get to know the country and its people according to our self-requirement, but whoever moves away from the usual guide spots on paths that are less frequented may discover one or the other. We are going to show you highlights from the travel guide as well as our own little discoveries.

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Wenceslas Square

No, I’m sure Wenceslas Square isn’t a secret tip. But it’s definitely worth seeing, and there’s hardly a tour through Prague without it anyway. The next spots are all in the immediate vicinity of Wenceslas Square.

Luzerna-Passage

The golden Luzerna Passage on the side of Wenceslas Square is definitely a must. Just to admire the curious statue of a Wenceslas horse under a dome of the passage. Probably nobody will believe that you were in Prague if you return without photos of this parody by David Cerny adressing the cult of Wenceslas riding a dead horse .

Franciscan garden

A small oasis lies hidden behind high walls directly next to the passage across the road: the Franciscan garden of the adjacent monastery is quiet and tranquil and lets the hustle and bustle of the city pause for a moment. Wheelchair access is via a passage from Wenzelsplatz.



Old Town Ring

Here, too, the Old Town Ring can hardly be bypassed. And you shouldn’t, because it is definitely worth seeing, also the hourly carillon on the hour is a real experience. All around, numerous stalls try to relieve tourists by a few euros – whereby the Prague ham is in fact a delicious snack between meals. Since the fall of the Wall, a new phenomenon has emerged there: deliciously fragrant stalls lurking at every corner where you can buy Trdelník – sweet, loose tree stalks that are said to be traditionally Czech, but which no one knew before the fall of the Wall. The trace of its origin is lost somewhere between Slovakia and Romania, but in any case far outside the iron curtain. Anyway, they’re delicious! Don’t miss to stroll along the small alleys to the side of the Old Town Ring – here you will find one or two sights.

Charles Bridge

One can barely miss it: through the narrow Karlsgasse one is usually pushed by tourist streams inexorably downwards in the direction of Moldau. At the end, a view of the Charles Bridge opens up, which is usually packed to the brim. A photo of the bridge without people is absolutely impossible. But the good thing about Charles Bridge is that it leads to the other side of the Vltava to Lesser Town, where the turbulence slowly calms down.

Libraries

Prague has two world-famous libraries. We haven’t found wheelchair access yet – but we stumbled upon another gem: the Klementinum!

Klementinum

Due to our lack of Czech language skills, we passed by the gatekeeper in the Clementinum without further ado. An impressive archway welcomes us, and from the side we can enter one of the Shrines: the reading room! What a spectacular view – really breathtaking!



Lesser town

It’s a little quieter here. Close to the Vltava River there are numerous small restaurants with hearty Bohemian cuisine, and a little off the beaten track we find the John Lennon Wall, which shows a little graffiti art and is worth a visit for Beatles fans.

Tram 22

We could have mentioned it right at the beginning, but there has to be some tension: Tram 22 is a perfect means of transport for sightseeing in Prague – it departs from almost every place worth seeing. The best thing about it, however, is that you can save yourself the immensely steep walk up to the monastery and the castle (and you should definitely do this with a wheelchair!).

Monastery and brewery

The monastery high above the city is definitely worth a visit. Especially when the weather is nice, the view over the roofs of the golden city can be admired from the café, and the monastery itself is absolutely worth seeing. As a wheelchair user, under no circumstances you should follow the signposted footpath to the castle, as this way is extremely adventurous and sweaty. Only suitable for adventurous people who wanted to improve their body shape… better back to the tram and downhill again!

Castle

Especially during sunset we really loved the castle. The view of the city and the Vltava River is spectacular, and the impressive castle grounds, which are surprisingly well accessible for wheelchairs, should not be missed. Beside the Golden Lane is situated with its small houses, but for wheelchair users it is pretty challenging. Franz Kafka once lived here – if after an extended day through Prague someone is still interested…



Dancing House

A truly fascinating architectural monument is the dancing house of architect and designer Frank O. Gehry on the banks of the Vltava River near the Jirasek Bridge, which Adina admires since her studies. And indeed, despite its radical design, the house nestles perfectly into its surroundings!

Kampa Island on the Vltava

Only one bridge further on is the Legii Bridge, in the middle of which an elevator leads down to the Vltava Island. Here, too, one finds peace and strength to refuel – a small park with joggers and children, and the noise of the city echoes amazingly quietly.

Miscellaneous: Hotel and gastronomy

We stayed at the Ambiance Hotel, which has a clean and tidy wheelchair room. We are pretty confused why this hotel with its spartan equipment got four-stars rated, but everything was clean and well-kept. The breakfast buffet was not a sensation, but for the price it was all right.

Close to the hotel you will find the LEGENDIA bar with delicious Bohemian cuisine and cocktails at fair prices.

If you love Art Nouveau coffee houses, don’t miss to visit Café Kavárna Obecní dům at the Republic Square. Its beautiful interior is nourished by the ambience: the delicious cakes are presented and served in a serving trolley on the table!

Got hungry? Just look out for the Svatého Václava restaurant at Wenceslas Square, which attracts attention with its knight’s armour at the entrance. Her you will find hearty Bohemian cuisine partly served in the kettle or on a spit!

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