This is how my trip went

Paris, June 6th until June 9th
 
When I was in my early twenties, I had the plan to emigrate to Paris. I had not seen much more of the world since then. Looking back on that idea, I'm glad it has never been realized. Paris was and is not very well accessible in some parts. Take Montmartre. How does anyone go up and down the steep streets in a wheelchair?  
 

The sign in this Carrefour supermarket
asks to give priority to pregnant women
and people with a disability 
 

There are much steeper streets in
Montmartre
 

The most famous building in the quarter
is the Sacre Coeur. Before one reaches
it by stairs ... 
 

Okay, it looks impressive and worth
the effort
 
Prague, May 31st until June 3rd
 
My European trip is coming to its end and so am I. I slow down a little bit. Saturday June 1st, it rained the whole day in Prague. And although I'm located close to the city center, this isn't the environment of my first stay in Prague, 2001. At that time, the city enchanted me. It doesn't do so now. Well, maybe I get a little bit too critical after going in and out hotels, in and out trains etc. during a whole month. I can't tell much about the accessibility of Prague. Not everything is good accessible for everybody, but with my own disability I can manage my way. Because of the rain, I don't publish pics this time. Monday evening June 3rd, I fly back to Belgium. Thursday June 6th I go to the last destination of my trip: Paris. So, stay tuned!
 
Warsaw, May 28th until May 31st
 
It had to go wrong one time during this trip. It went wrong in Warsaw. I had chosen the completely wrong hotel. Or hotel ... In fact they were apartments. More than enough space. But, now it comes. How to get there? The entrance has two little steps. I can survive them. The elevator took me to the fourth floor. I thought it would. This so called fourth floor gave me the choice of a stair up to the fifth floor or a stair down to the fourth floor. The elevator thus stops in no man's land. The owner gave me some help Tuesday evening. It was unclear whether he's always there. The lady of the reception desk ended her working week already Wednesday afternoon. Consequence: the normal entrance and exit, those two little steps, would be closed. The alternative entrance and exit can only be reached by even more stairs and a long corridor. Total craziness. Especially in my case. Wednesday afternoon, I counted my blessings and left for another hotel some 400 metres further away. Here's a normal elevator that brings you directly where you have to be. The moral of this story: do more research on the internet and don't think it's okay when you read the hotel has an elevator. Two positive pics out of Warsaw.
 
The streets in the center are broad
 
Adjusted transport for wheelchair users
available
 
Vilnius, May 25th until May 28th
 
I'm very charmed by Vilnius. The streets look okay for the greater part and there's a lot of green with benches one can take a seat and rest. To show this, you will find pics taken in parcs and along the streets instead of busses, trams and so on.
 
 
 
 
Riga, May 22nd until May 25th
 
Unfortunately, I have not been able to find anyone in Riga who would like to be interviewed. So, I went into town to have a sharp look on the accessibility of it. Latvia is not the richest country of the EU. You can see it by the way many roads and buildings look like. Fortunately, I also did see some positive accessibility elements. Four pics of examples of bad and good accessibility.
 
 
 
 
 
Tallinn, May 19th until May 22nd
   
In Tallinn I had an interview with a member of the Estonian Union of People with Mobility Impairments and the Tallinn branche of it. One of the most important subjects they work on is accessibility. The accessibility of Tallinn and other Estonian cities can be found on www.liikumisvabadus.invainfo.ee The accessibility in Tallinn is average. It depends on wich means of transport you choose and where you are. Trolly busses are very common in Tallinn and the cobblestones in the old center are not inviting to walk on. 
 
 

 
Helsinki, May 16th until May 19th
 
My stay in the nordic countries has almost come to an end. In advance, I thought everything here would be perfectly organized for disabled people. It isn't bad, but not perfect either. The hotels in which I stayed already proved that. At least, one can have influence on the choice of them oneself. The pavement and streets are another story. Certainly those in Copenhagen and Helsinki are often in poor condition and/or much to steep. May 19th, I leave for Estonia, the first Baltic country I'm going to visit. Below are some accessibility pics from Helsinki.   
 
I mustn't try this at home with my
poor stability. Superman was dancing 
on a wire on reggae music 
 
In the middle of Helsinki center there's
the Esplanade parc. Accessible to
disabled people as well and there are
things to see 
 
Not all trams in Helsinki are that modern.
The oldies do have at least a wheelchair
friendly entrance in the middle 
 
This is the most modern Helsinki tram
 
Stockholm, May 13th until May 16th
 
It is always fun to visit old inner cities. They tell the history of mane ages. Unfortunately, such inner cities are not very well accessible most of the time. Because of the pavement and the narrow streets. Just like in Antwerp. Stockholm is even worse, I found out. Many narrow passages that are also steep. One has to act like an acrobate, but you can see nice/beautiful things then.
 
 
 
Announcement of a 'ghost walk'
 
Copenhagen, May 10th until May 13th
 
To me, accessibility also has to do with being in the centre of a town where it's easy to visit places one needs to visit more or less frequently depending on the situation: a supermarket for food, a launderette to wash clothes, a cafe to meet friends, a restaurant to have diner outside etc. Unfortunately, I was not close to all these kind of necessities in Berlin and am again not in Copenhagen. The Central Stations in these cities are located almost in the middle of nowhere. Having no intention to cross the whole city looking for a place where they serve proper food, I stick to quick diners in the Central Station buildings. Fortunately, they do serve some vegetarian variants there as well.
 
Some pics of the Arken museum for modern art in Copenhagen. Not nearby either, but I had transport to and from it (the text on the second pic is of Andy Warhol).
 
 
 
 
Berlin, May 7th until May 10th
 
I feel always at home in Germany. Everything is very thoroughly arranged there. When booking my hotelroom, I had asked for a room with a shower. I can't neither get in nor get out of a bath tube. Having arrived in my hotel I was told I had gotten the complete accessible room for wheelchair users. The whole room was flat. I like it when people think with me that way. Nevertheless, the person I interviewed in Berlin told me it's not all gold in Germany. Legislation for disabled people goes too slow. The interview will be online later. Below, two pics of my extremely accessible room.
 
 
 
 
Flanders, May 5th and 6th
 
This time no pics of train stations or hotelrooms. I slept in my own bed in Antwerp those days. From there I travelled to Beerse (May 5th) and Lokeren (May 6th). To Beerse completely by bus since I can travel for free with De Lijn because of my disability. Very nice of course, but good accessible public transport would surely help in this. I've complained more than enough about the Antwerp trams. I don't have difficulties with the busses of De Lijn. However, it's annoying that the busses I needed in both Beerse and Lokeren only ride once an hour. Such a low frequency doesn't make public transport more accessible either ...  
 
To and from the station of Lokeren I took the train. At least, I intended to. Someone had committed suicide nearby the train station of Belsele early in the afternoon. Because of this, there was no train traffic between Lokeren and Sint-Niklaas. We had to get to the latter by bus. It was a pity the bus driver didn't get permission to start his ride soon. We had to wait for more than half an hour (why?).
 
At Sint-Niklaas station, the trains were waiting for us at platform 4 and 5. First, everyone had to get into the train at platform 5. After some time, we all had to get out and change it for the one at platform 4. Everybody seated there, it was communicated that the people who wished to get off the train at the stations before Antwerp had to take the train at platform 5 all the same. I couldn't help but laugh hard, though such a bad communication is really sad.
 
One often says that a bad rehearsel makes a perfect concert. Let's hope this becomes true from May 7th. The adventure really starts now!
 
Utrecht May 1st
  

To get in Utrecht, I took the slow train to Roosendaal at Antwerp station. Slow is not fast, but it is cheap. Time is not always money.

 


Such a slow train is not only slow. It isn't the most comfortable/accessible train of the NMBS (Belgian Railways) either. 

 


 

Fortunately, I already a look at the Thalys to Paris in which I will travel in June.  

 


The access by stairs to the first platform at station Roosendaal is very bad at the moment!

 

 
 
 

After travelling I was lucky to have booked a luxury 'executive suite' in Apoollo Hotel City Centre Utrecht. Sounds expensive, but it wasn't really for one night.

 



Through the large television screen I watched the new disgrace of FC Barcelona.  

 


 Is there nothing to criticize with regard to the hotel? Oh yes there is. The elevator was rather narrow and to get into the hotel from outside isn't easy. It looks okay this way, but behind the glass entrance doors there's a stair. No ramp present, thus not suitable for wheelchair users.

 


I stayed the night in Utrecht, because I had an interview at Soestdijk station in the morning with Jan van Vlierden, aka as Jan the Cartoonist, on May 2nd.  

 


 

After having finished the interview I went to 'hotel mother' in Rotterdam for one day, staying the night included. The reconstruction of Rotterdam Central Station still has not been finished completely.