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Archive for the ‘Italy’ Category

Can you boast as many means of transport in one day as we have?

Walk – from the hotel in Venice to the water bus station,

Water bus – from Venice Madonna dell’ Orto to Venice’s Marco Polo airport,

Walk – from the quayside to the airport departures,

Aeroplane – from Venice to Heathrow,

Automobile – from Heathrow terminal 5 to Uxbridge station,

Underground on Metropolitan line – Uxbridge to Wembley Park,

Underground on Jubilee line – Wembley Park to Waterloo,

Walk – from Waterloo underground to Waterloo East station,

Train – from Waterloo East to New Beckenham,

Dinner with the family,

Train – from New Beckenham to Waterloo East,

Walk – Waterloo East to Waterloo,

Underground on Northern line – Waterloo to High Barnet,

Walk – High Barnet station to Barnet,

CRASH into bed!!!

I would love to work out how far we have been in one day….

 

 

 

 

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It might have taken a while, but my wheelchair arrived safe AND in one piece at the plane.  What a relief – thank you so much BA.

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As we board our British Airways flight to Heathrow, I say a quick prayer for my wheelchairs safe arrival; it is a little ritual we go through every time we fly. This is the first time flying with BA and past experience with a number of other airlines does not instil me with confidence; especially when we look out the window and see how they handle the other baggage and pushchairs that get loaded from the door of the plane.
If they handle my chair the way they drive cars and boats you’ll know why I am concerned.

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Venice in the fog…..

We have experienced every type of weather in the few days we have been in Venice. Day 1 was gloriously sunny; day 2 was rainy and cold and today we awoke to dry weather but fog blanketing the city – a real mixed bag.
We chose to go to the airport for our return flight on the Alilaguna water bus which left a short walk from our hotel. It was to be our last look back at the city from the water boats we loved so much, but alas all we could see was a few meters ahead of us and NO city sights at all. Even the boats were navigated by radar which in itself was an interesting experience.
So we say our farewells to Venice; thank you for many fond memories.

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You can plan all you like and it all unravels when you have your main form of transport go on strike. Yesterday was such a day; we planned to visit Murano in the morning and then return to Venice and Rialto market and surrounds later in the day but without the water transport we were scuppered.
To make matters even worse it was cold and very wet following days of glorious sunshine. A little rain shouldn’t be a big issue but when you have to have a sleeping bag to cover your legs, crutches to negotiate bridges, a wheelchair in between bridges, umbrellas and cameras it becomes more of a chore as the day wears on.
As much as I loved our first day out, I disliked this one in equal, but opposite measure and by 2pm I called it a day and we made our way back to the hotel.
Hubby was incredible and on our return he had socks, shoes, blankets, jackets, gloves and umbrellas all drying out in our bathroom next to the radiator. We both only have one pair of shoes with us and it is no fun putting your feet into wet and cold shoes.
After a lovely takeaway dinner we relaxed over some drinks and games.

All in all a lovely end to an otherwise difficult day; but contrast is what makes us appreciate the good from the bad.

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Okay, this really rankles with me – buy a McDonald’s coffee in a country where coffee is perfection?? This really is going above and beyond, but a challenge is a challenge, so here it is…..

We did have a good laugh though when we got the smallest coffee in the dinkiest cup.  I wouldn’t drink it and went and had a proper coffee from a proper Italian instead.  Now how many has that been today?  I hope I can get to sleep tonight; oh well, it will be worth it!

McDonald's challenge - Venice

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The children challenged us to get a picture of a McDonald’s coffee in every city or county we visit.  Sometimes we are more studious than other times and this largely depends on how lousy the coffee is in said country.  In Zurich we did not have as much time so it wasn’t too much of a chore to fulfil the challenge because the McDonald’s was not far from the train station on our walk around the city.  On the plus side this was one of the few more upmarket Maccies coffee shops and it was not a bad beverage as well; we have been known to buy them, take the picture and promptly dispose of the contents of the cup in the nearest dustbin.

So here is proof positive; and another challenge complete!

McDonald's Zurich

 

 

 

McDonald's Zurich

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For anyone that has been to Venice without any advice or information about accessibility will know how frustrating it can be when you encounter bridges and other obstacles that make your experience annoying, frustrating or downright impossible.  After having spent a few days here myself I have found a few pieces of information that may assist disabled visitors.  Try this website where you can download maps and routes with no or few barriers – City of Venice.  Also, veniceforvisitors.com.

Also, please see my previous posts for some do’s and don’ts that may help you out but most important of all is to do your research beforehand.  Remember that you can plan all you like but surprises still happen – like the 24 hour water bus strike that really did cause problems for us and our plans to get from one area to another.

Ciao.

Rialto Bridge

Rialto Bridge

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After our first visit to Venice in September 2007, our second visit at the end of January 2013 was in marked contrast in both weather and crowds.  Our first visit coincided with the Regatta Historica and the second the week before Carnival (thank goodness)!

As a wheelchair user I hope this post gives a little assistance to other adventurous visitors to the islands.

Don’t:

.. expect to find many modified bridges without steps.

.. make fast plans – everything can change.  We asked before going into any of the attractions – some were not worth paying entrance to because accessibility was poor or non existent and lifts were out of order.

.. buy tickets for both yourself and your companion on the water buses because you pay but they are free.

.. buy a 24, 48 or 72 hour pass for the water buses.  It is cheaper at €1.30 a single to buy 8 or ten tickets each day.

.. Venice is not very big so if you can get someone to walk your intended route beforehand then do – they then know where you can and can’t go.

.. don’t assume the closest bus stop is the easiest – it may have more bridges to cross so an alternate route may be longer but easier.

.. think you are mad when you find yourself faced with a canal you were not expecting.  You are either lost (again) or you’ve just discovered the hard way that not all canals and streets are listed on the map!

Do:

.. visit Venice during the quieter months.  Visitors are fewer otherwise you will spend a lot of time staring at other peoples behinds!

.. be very flexible and expect things to change.

.. find out where the toilets are beforehand, mark them on a map and ask attendants at the toilets to unlock the gates to the disabled toilets.  The ones we used were wonderfully clean.

.. travel around on the water buses (Vaparetto), hopping off and on and exploring in small areas rather than trying to get from one area to another on foot because you WILL be hampered by bridges and steps.

.. print off a water bus route planner and use it to view Venice from the water.  The experience is worthwhile and provides endless photo opportunities.

.. in cooler weather take a blanket for your legs; it gets cold when you aren’t marching around – especially on the water buses.

.. avoid the dog mess – not all dog owners are considerate and you don’t want to be travelling around with that on your wheels all day!

.. keep an open mind and prepare to change your plans; that way you won’t stress and spoil your holiday when things don’t work out quite the way you intended after spending weeks planning by pouring over books, holiday brochures and internet sites.

And most of all ENJOY it!

Ciao

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After a lovely continental breakfast at the hotel we headed out to find the Venice tourist office in San Marco because we have been assured by the station information office they have all the literature we need on getting around Venice in a wheelchair.

Good advice from the concierge gets us to the San Marcuola vaparetto stop with only 2 bridges to cross on foot; not bad for Venice in a wheelchair.  One good bit of advice the tourist information office at the station did give us was that I pay €1.30 and my lovely companion goes free; a bargain considering the distance to our destination.  We arrive at San Marco to some minor tidal flooding and being unable to find a way up onto the raised decks set out for just such conditions, traverse around it instead to find the information office which is of course up two steps.  They then inform hubby whilst I wait outside that the accessible Venice maps are now redundant and have been withdrawn because none of the lifts over the few bridges they were installed on are operational anymore AND there is no accessible map and they cannot even tell us which of the bridges have modified steps for wheelchairs and buggies – a very useful information office!

Okay, so our trip to gather information was as useful as a chocolate teapot but we are at least close to the water buses ticket office and head off to buy ten  single tickets which is much cheaper than the suggested 24 or 48 hour pass for €24 or €45.  A lovely lady serves us the tickets and the unwelcome news that today all services are reduced on the Grande Canal from 10.30 until 3.30pm because of festivities leading up to Carnival AND that tomorrow the water bus drivers are all on strike so there is no point in buying any more tickets for then.  Seriously! is it just me or does anyone else think that trouble follows me everywhere?

Not to be deterred, we set off on a lovely walk all along the Canale Di San Marco which as luck would have it, still has the ramps installed on several bridges following the Venice Marathon in October; no rush removing them then!  A lovely walk takes us to new ground and many more photo opportunities before we once again take the water bus around the northern part of the islands to Tre Archi which is where all the boats are stopping today.

Exhausted from hours of walking and traversing canals, we head off to buy some dinner before heading back to the hotel and a much deserved rest.

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Outside our little hotel is the Rio della Sensa canal.  One picture late at night and the other early in the morning before boats start to disturb the surface.

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You can just make out our hotel (by the flags); the Hotel Ai Mori D’Oriente which is a lovely Moorish themed hotel after the area we are staying in.

 

 

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… woodpile envy. Seriously, they have these amazingly neat and well stacked woodpiles wherever you go through the countryside. They would make really good garden partitions as well – something we are thinking about for home – it combines form and function which appeals to my controlling personality (no comments from the family peanut gallery!)

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Because even in the Italian Alps they grow vines for their own winemaking! Every tiny bit of garden clinging to the side of the mountains has a little vineyard – hubby is envious.

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We left Zurich on a beautiful, crisp, clear morning heading towards Milan. The area around Zurichsee is stunning all shrouded in snow.
We are travelling through many tunnels which pop out into incredibly beautiful scenery of lakes and mountains which inspire one to ski, climb and generally get outdoors – but I am tempted only for a moment because the minute it gets cold I want to head indoors for the fire and coffee. I am definitely more of a thinker than a doer so my ideal would be a large fire in a conservatory overlooking the lake in the mountains.

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