“Be Prepared” is a motto used by boy scouts the world over but it takes on a particular relevance for disabled travelers.
I visited Berlin, Germany recently and in the midst of the excitement I failed to prepare properly. I didn’t properly research the places that were on my list but I had read a report which placed Berlin high on the accessibility scale.
By and large I was lucky and only one attraction was truly inaccessible; the TV Tower. (Click Here for Details) The Tower is 368m tall, including the antenna, whilst the viewing platform is 203 metres up and is accessed by two elevators. Wheelchairs, buggies etc are not allowed up but neither are people with any mobility impairment whatsoever. The reason given is that in the event of an elevator malfunction or a fire the people on the platform would have to descend the 960 steps without assistance as the stair case is only wide enough for one person. It makes sense in terms of safety but I hadn’t foreseen this problem as two weeks previously I had visited the British Airways i360 (Click Here for Details) in Brighton, England and had no such difficulty but that was a mere 103m off the ground and the viewing platform was the elevator. I didn’t check the respective websites for accessibility information.
We went on cruise on the River Spree (Click Here for Details) and although there were five steps down into the boat we managed, as going down steps is far easier for me than going up. The boat did have a reasonably accessible toilet. We were lucky with the cruise embarkation point we had selected as some of the departure and landing points are not so accessible as we found out when we choose to leave the boat at a different landing point; there were the same five steps back up from the boat but the there were a further 20 steps back to the footpath. By the time we realised the difficulty of the situation we had no option but to continue the tortuous ascent. My three experienced travel companions, Jean, Rose and Bruce, handled the situation perfectly and the crew were also nearby. I didn’t check the website for accessibility information.
We decided to eat in The Block House Restaurant (Click Here for Details), which is part of a nationwide chain, and is very accessible with beautiful food but had no accessible toilet. I failed to check the facilities before we ordered; luckily I didn’t the loo.
The TV Tower was built in the 1960s long before universal design and accessibility became fashionable but to my way of thinking The Block House can have no valid excuse for the lack facilities.
A full report of our short break will follow later.
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.