What’s it like to have assistance to use the toilet?

The world of accessible toilets

Guest Blogger Carl Tilson talks about toilet access and assistance.

carl tilsonCarl can be found on the web on his  Facebook page

This article is available for use by DMD Pathfinders  [http://www.dmdpathfinders.org.uk] – an organisation which promotes choice and control and quality of life for teenagers and adults with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) in the UK.

Carl tells us…

As if being in a wheelchair is not dignified enough not being able to find a suitable accessible toilet or shall we say bathroom when you feel desperate to go is most unpleasant and embarrassing not to say the least. A lot of places are not wheelchair accessible however the places that are and have been made accessible by having a ramp to enter the building don’t tend to consider making toilets accessible.  Do they think that being in a wheelchair means we don’t need to use the toilet? Funny how people consider one…

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Cala Llonga Access Guide

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Written by Mark; part of the Tripility team.

Nestled between Ibiza Town and Santa Eulalia, Cala Llonga is a small and beautiful resort perfect for those wanting to escape the busier parts of Ibiza. Great for families and couples, Cala Llonga is dominated by a large sandy beach enclosed in a pretty bay. Here we will give you an in depth guide to the town in terms of accessibility. Please click on the map for videos of each location – recorded on our wheelchair cam!

Continue reading Cala Llonga Access Guide

Cala Llonga; the verdict…

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Written by Debs; part of the Tripility team.

So, the holiday is over (why does time only whip by when you are on holiday?!) and it was brilliant. I would highly recommend anyone to visit Cala Llonga if they are after a relaxing beach holiday, it is a beautiful place. Anyway, enough of that general holiday review stuff, what you clearly want to know about (don’t deny it), is how accessible is this place? Luckily for you, over the next few weeks, you not only get to read my generalised waffle about the holiday but, here at Tripility, we are going to be bringing you a completely in depth guide to Cala Llonga (and a little bit about Santa Eulalia too), including a cheeky bit of wheelchair cam footage…contain yourselves!

From a wheelchair access point of view, my verdict on our accommodation was not good, however, I must point out that the apartments where we stayed do specifically say that they are not suitable for wheelchair users. As I previously mentioned, this holiday was booked by my Mum, by the time she had been taken in by the beautiful views and the reasonable priced apartments, disabled access had pretty much gone out of the window…However, the whole point of Tripility is to be able to bring you the information on access, regardless of what the brochures say. I, like many other people, am not a permanent wheelchair user, so sometimes what is written in the official blurb, is not applicable to me. Where there’s  a will, there’s a way! Having said that, after reaching the resort at 11am, having only had three hours sleep and arriving in a torrential downpour (which I am happy to report was only momentary), I SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESwas not feeling too positive about how we would find a way around this lack of easy access!

The hotel itself was up a relatively steep hill, even though the hotel was right on the beach, there was around 10 steps (or the steep hill) to access this.  Our apartments were based across a small road from the main hotel, so to access the pool, it was down a ramp, across the road, down around 15 steps or alternatively; through the hotel, down two floors in the lift and then another small walk through to the pool area. It is also worth mentioning that the ramp to the entrance of the apartments was steep; short, but very steep! Depending on who was pushing me, the majority of the times I had to get out of the wheelchair and climb up the ramp. As for going down the ramp in the chair, we attempted this once (stupidly when the ramp was wet) and never again. I nearly ended up at the bottom of the ramp in a heap…not a great start!

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The board walk to the water taxi.

Once down at the pool however, everything was relatively easy. There was an easy ramp from the hotel, an accessible (and very clean) WC and drinks could be bought from the bar near the toilets; meaning we didn’t have to navigate back to the room for the essentials. Another great thing about the area was that there was a boardwalk onto the beach, at the entrance to this was an accessible WC and disabled parking (although there were issues with this…). The boardwalk enabled you to get most of the way to the sea, although not quite there and had a handy sheltered area near the sunbeds. So, you could either transfer to a bed and leave you wheelchair in the shade, or stay in your wheelchair in a reasonably sheltered area. Most of the restaurants had ramps, or alternative step free access into them and the staff were always very helpful and offered to move tables and chairs so the wheelchair could get though and I could transfer to a chair.

The inaccessible parts of the holiday were a little overwhelming when we first arrived, however, we soon got into our stride and found a way around things. Luckily Mark is exceptionally strong (might be a slight exaggeration…) and never once had a problem pushing me up the steep hill to the apartments, which was a relief! We spent our week measuring the steepness of hills (because who doesn’t have an angle-o-meter on their phone?!) and filming the area, so that we can bring you all the information (instead of just my banter) about the Cala Llonga. We will be posting this in the next week, so if you are looking at visiting this beautiful part of the world, this should bring you all the access information that you need!

The water taxi, not the best option if you are unable to walk at all, but manageable if you can.
The water taxi, not the best option if you are unable to walk at all, but manageable if you can.

One thing that I would avoid, is using Ibiza Tours for any transfers you book. Initially they tried to charge us extra just for having a wheelchair with us, then, they forgot to pick us up on our return journey to the airport. Luckily my sister speaks fluent Spanish, so she was able to ring up and sort this, but by the time we got to the airport, we were rushed through security so we could board the plane. Not an ideal end to the holiday. Anyone that has ever boarded a plane using an ambilift will know that the usual protocol is to board people needing assistance first, thus giving them the time to get to their seat without a plane full of passengers; this was not the case at Ibiza airport. Having been rushed through security (and told I didn’t even have time to go to the toilet), we then sat in the ambilift on the tarmac for an hour (not great when you are busting for a wee…!) whilst they took the bags off the plane from the previous flight. We then watched them load all 250 passengers, before we were taken up to the plane, meaning we had to struggle down a busy plane to get to our seats. This was a bit of a letdown at the end of the holiday, especially as the assistance at Leeds airport on the way out had been excellent. So, if you are heading to Ibiza airport and you use assistance, be prepared that things run far from smoothly.

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“He was so keen to help, he ended up breaking the wheelchair ramp at 2am…”

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Guest post by Martyn Sibley, blogger, campaigner and co-founder of Disability Horizons magazine. Martyn has spinal muscular atrophy and uses a motorised wheelchair. He spends much of his time travelling the globe and is currently spending three months in Spain.

I find awkwardness comes in a few different forms. Some people are very wary around disabled people, and often people don’t engage with you at all because they’re afraid they might do or saMartyn next to the seay the wrong thing.

In social settings, however – especially where there’s a bit of alcohol involved – people tend to become over-helpful, and you get a lot of unwanted attention. One (rather drunk) guy was so keen to help me onto the bus at the end of a night that he ended up breaking the wheelchair ramp at 2am. Everyone on the bus had to get off and wait half an hour for the…

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Gluten free in Australia? A match made in heaven!

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Written by Victoria; an honorary member of team tripility!

I am very excited, as this week as we are able to bring you Victoria’s experiences of gluten free eating, whilst on a whistle stop tour of Australia. Enjoy!

Debs

Having booked flights to Australia, it soon dawned on me that I would be traveling half way across the world and had yet to consider whether gluten free options would be available. As any coeliac no doubt has done when preparing for any holiday, I arrived at Sainsbury’s checkout with rice crispie squares, nakd bars, freefrom shortbread and probably enough food to feed a small army. As a result, my food consumed around 50% of my suitcase (and a good proportion of my hand luggage)!  As it turned out, the food would also be travelling half way across the world and back with me. Gluten free in Australia is not a problem.; it seems to be a lifestyle. Gluten free food is available everywhere and it is amazing…

I flew with Emirates and having had previous experience of either an inedible gluten free meal, or no gluten free meal, I was prepared for the worst. However, the meals on board were fantastic. The gluten free bread rolls (produced in Australia) were some of the best I have tasted and the little raspberry muffins were simply divine. When I asked for a snack during the night, I was presented with a gluten free sandwich which was on edible bread! A very surprising start to the holiday as no food products within my hand luggage had been eaten.

I arrived in Melbourne at 6am and was met by my Auntie, who told me that she had been gluten free shopping and had “loads”. “Loads” was a slight understatement. The supermarkets in Australia which I visited (Coles and Aldi) both had huge gluten free aisles and gluten free freezer sections. The range of cereals was fantastic, a large selection of breads, hot cross buns, cakes and biscuits, my joy at the sheer choice was akin to visiting Disney Land. Furthermore, Coles stocked gluten free gnocchi (which I had never had before), ravioli (also never tasted) and gluten free puff pastry. It was a shame I could not have brought them back with me on the flight…

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Gluten free gnocchi

In Melbourne, most cafes seem to have at least one gluten free cake selection – I have never in my life eaten so much delicious cake. I soon learnt, after reciting the usual “are you sure it will be gluten free?” spiel, that it is a legal requirement that menus are marked gluten free in Australia and food is prepared in a safe environment. I soon discovered the best place to eat (cake and ‘real food’) in Melbourne was the Lanes.  Whilst in the lanes with my cousins, I was introduced to Melbourne Spiders (coke with vanilla ice-cream floating on top) and iced coffees (cold coffee with either vanilla or espresso ice cream floating on top). Heaven! The Lanes in Melbourne are bustling, creative laneways with covert boutiques, famed restaurants, hole in the wall cafes and astonishing bars. It did not disappoint for the choice in gluten free. As I became more adventurous, I crossed the river onto the South Bank, which has many bars, restaurants and Melbourne’s impressive casino. Whilst meeting friends on there, we discovered a little restaurant named ‘Left Bank’ which did amazing gluten free pizza and an gorgeous trio of mini chocolate puddings. After being used to having to skip dessert, or opt for a crème brule, this was a real treat – the first of many! 

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An iced coffee…zero calories I’m sure!

Moving on from Melbourne, my journey took me along the Great Ocean Road, where I discovered what I can only describe as the best pizza in the world. After a long day of driving, feeling very hungry and losing hope that we would ever find food to eat again, my uncle stopped in Lorne where he found PizzaPizza. Obviously the thought of pizza was making me feel dubious, especially as it was made in a small shack, however, the menu stated gluten free and it was the best pizza ever. As we waited outside, many locals were obviously coming to collect their orders and lots of them were gluten free! When my pizza arrived, it was gorgeous and my uncle had to agree that it didn’t taste at all gluten free! Always a good sign! Next stop along the Great Ocean Road took us to Ocean Grove, where we had breakfast at The Dunes Cafe, which overlooks the beach. Once again, the menu had gluten free options and offered gluten free bread with the breakfast, I never usually eat bread as I don’t like the taste, but the bread was both light and fluffy! Yet another gluten free win.

One of many delicious pizza's.
One of many delicious pizza’s.

My adventure then took me to Sydney, where some more gluten free firsts were to occur. I always wondered why my friends loved calamari, but as I had never tried it, I thought they were slightly mad.  Novotel at Darling Harbour proved me wrong. Their calamari was gorgeous – so good I asked the waiter to triple check it was gluten free – they had used a polenta batter. I soon realised that calamari was, as my cousin put it, “gooood”!  This was then followed by gluten free pizza (again) at Olivo in Darling Harbour, which offers views overlooking the harbour and a range of gluten free desserts. While In Sydney, I met a family friend who suggested we go for tapas. I explained that tapas might be a bit tricky for me; how wrong I was. He booked at table at Vue bar, which overlooks Bondi Beach, where I experience the most amazing seafood, all gluten free! Still the food in my suitcase remained untouched.

Brisbane was the final destination on a whistle stop tour of Australia, where the gluten free food continued to be a hit. Due to the Easter weekend, quite a lot of the restaurants were busy, however, I was lucky to get a table at CharCharChar where my gluten free options were explained to me by the waiter and I experienced an incredibly tasty meal. My friend also had the gluten free option and couldn’t believe it could taste so good. The following night, we dined in Brisbane city at Milano, which also offered an extensive gluten free menu including both pizza and pasta options. I settled for a risotto, requiring a break from pizza! In Brisbane, I stayed at the Pullman hotel which was a gluten free heaven. Breakfast was clearly labelled where the gluten free items where. There was both gluten free bread and cereal options available. Even the sausages at breakfast were gluten free. Being able to have a choice at breakfast, instead of asking every two minutes if an item is gluten free, was definitely a luxury I haven’t experienced in the UK.

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CharCharChar did not let me down!

Although gluten free in Australia is much better than in the UK (it is more widely available, there is plenty of choice and every cafe and restaurant understands the needs of a coeliac when it comes to cross contamination), there were some disappointments. The majority of Australian chocolate is not gluten free due to them using glucose syrup made from wheat, although gluten free chocolate is available. Additionally, cold rock ice creams (where you can design your own ice cream flavour) are not gluten free either, needless to say, the majority of other ice cream shops are gluten free and clearly labelled.

If you are coeliac, or prefer to follow a gluten free diet, then Australia definitely has it covered. Now I just need the UK to catch up…

Victoria

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Back to saving for a return trip!

 

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Whoa, we’re going to Ibiza!

Written by Debs, part of the tripility team.

Firstly, let me apologise for putting that song in your head…lets face it, if you are going on holiday to Ibiza, that song is a must.

We recently booked our 2014 holiday and I for one can’t bloomin wait! In a weeks time, I will be jetting off (sadly not on Venga airways) with my parents, sister, brother-in-law and my boyfriend, we have never before been on holiday together; this could be interesting!

It was a bit of a rushed process booking this holiday, my sister had suggested we all go away together as her husband, Junior and my boyfriend (and fellow tripility creator), Mark, are both celebrating BIG birthdays this year. This idea had been thought about for weeks without us actually doing anything about it, until it came to a few weeks before the proposed holiday and we still had nothing booked. In the end, it was down to my lovely Mum to find us something that we could, a) all afford, b)  fly on the dates we wanted and c) travel from two different airports to land in Ibiza at roughly the same time. No mean feat. Eventually, we settled on Cala Llonga, staying in three self catering studio apartments next to the beach (full info at the bottom). In order to get us all flying at the same time, my sister and brother-in-law are doing a ludicrous journey up north so we can all fly together from Leeds-Bradford airport (trust me, there is method in our madness…primarily money saving!). So, that was us sorted, or so we thought. As it took so long to find a holiday that suited all six of us, my Mum went ahead and booked it, without much thought of access, in her own words “we will manage”.  As you may have read before, I do have a degree of mobility, but stairs and walking long distances are my real nemesis, so I could find myself only able to stare longingly at the beautiful beach below, whilst everyone else trots off down the legions of stairs, rubber dinghy in tow. Watch this space!

The only disappointing thing we have come across in our booking process, was trying to book our transfers. We went though Travel Republic and we were quoted £120 for all six of us both to and from the airport. However, when the wheelchair was mentioned, we were told that we would have to pay extra just for having a wheelchair in the luggage compartment of the bus. Now, I’m not sure if you have ever come across this before (let us know if you have), but I have never been charged extra to place a collapsible, lightweight, manual wheelchair into a coach before. To me, this sounds a tad discriminatory. When we questioned this further, we were put through to a very helpful Travel Republic employee who told us that certain bus companies charge you for travelling with a wheelchair, as if I have any other choice. We explained that we would only have 3 suitcases between the 6 of us, therefore leaving ample room for said wheelchair, but apparently this makes no difference. However, as I mentioned, she was very helpful and went away and sorted this for us, as she also agreed that this ridiculous rule was just that, ridiculous. We are now all sorted with our transfers, at no extra cost for taking a wheelchair. Phew.

I am pretty excited to be able to get myself on this holiday and not just for obvious reasons, but  also so we can bring you all some great reviews about Cala Llonga; expect useful photos and videos galore, what more could you want?!

 

Flights: Leeds-Bradford to Ibiza Airport with Jet2  booked through Jet2.com 

Transfers: Coach transfer booked through Travel Republic

Accommodation: El Pinar Apartments, Cala Llonga, also booked through Travel Republic

 

Main Picture:

Ibiza Rocks Tour Bus

Navigating Paris Museums in a Wheelchair

schwingeninswitzerland

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My dad came to visit.  He traveled all the way to Europe and was bound and determined to see things.  Unfortunately, dad’s knee is bone on bone.  He can walk, but needs knee surgery soon and can’t spend much time on his feet or move too quickly.  The only way to get him around museums was renting a folding wheelchair (chaise roulette).  Museums often have ones you can borrow for free.    It was lightweight and made it possible for him to see a lot.  The highlight of being in a wheelchair was a front row seat to the Mona Lisa at Paris’Louvre Museum.

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Unfortunately, the Louvre museum was once a palace and is not as handicapped friendly as we’d hoped.  Wheelchair ramps were sorely lacking.  It was pretty obvious that it is hard to retrofit museums with elevators/lifts at convenient spots.  The Musée d’Orsay (a bit…

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Javea- an ideal spot for an accessible beach holiday

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Written by Mark. Part of the tripility team.

Javea is a popular tourist spot in the Costa Blanca, we visited last year on our holidays and we were impressed by its accessibility but also as a holiday destination. Here we will give you the low down with what we found.

This review is being done from the point of view of a companion, I was pushing Debs who was using manual wheelchair.

Xàbia/Jávea

Xàbia/Jávea is located in the Costa Blanca in the Alicante region of Spain. Javea is made up of the old town, the picturesque port and the sandy El Arenal beach. It is approximately 40 miles away from Benidorm which means transport links are pretty good. It is in easy reach from Valencia or Alicante airports. To travel to Javea from the airport car hire is recommended, although travelling by coach and bus is also a possibility. Javea is mostly serviced by apartments and villas rather than hotels, the largest hotel being Hotel Parador situated at the northern end of the promenade at El Arenal beach.

El Arenal

El Arinal prominade
El Arenal prominade

We stayed in the El Arenal area at the Golden Beach apartments which were 5 minutes walk away from the beach. The El Arenal area was well suited to wheelchair users due to the wide and flat promenade which gives great access to bars and restaurants. Playa El Arenal is a long sandy beach with wheelchair access via a boardwalk. In the summer months wheelchair accessible toilets are available on the beach.  

Accessible beach boardwalk and disabled toilets on the beach
Accessible beach boardwalk and disabled toilets on the beach

El Arenal was well serviced with a great variety of bars and restaurants which we used throughout the holidays; the majority of these had ramps into the facilities and the hosts were always helpful. Access to seating was quite straight forward but we had the flexibility of Debs being able to walk small distances if necessary, there was seating directly off the promenade so powered wheelchairs should manage. It was noted on a few occasions how many wheelchair users there were so it wasn’t only us who had heard good things about the place! There were plenty of bars and restaurants at night to keep us entertained and there was always a lively and friendly atmosphere, even visitors not looking for good access would find this a good holiday destination. Those requiring a gluten free diet may struggle, Hotel Parador offers gluten free food on the menu but we didn’t see other restaurants displaying this information. Often restaurants can be quite helpful in this respect so it is always a good idea to take a gluten free travel card to inform them of your requirements.

The easy access in this location makes Javea a great location for anyone looking for a hassle free holiday without worrying too much about access to the facilities.  Walking away from the the beach we found that in most parts footpaths were in good order although some of the dropped kerbs could be improved.

We headed on to the beach on a couple of occasions to sun ourselves (the vampires from Twilight have nothing on our white pasty skin), there was always plenty of space and the boardwalk made it easier to get to the parasols when required. The accessible toilets were generally in good order and pretty clean. The sea was shallow and steadily increased in depth so bathing was never difficult.

Debs enjoying Arinal beach
Debs enjoying Arenal beach

Port

We visited the port on a couple of nights which had a more relaxed atmosphere, it did get slightly more crowded on the promenade here as it was narrower. There was a good choice of bars and restaurants here too, we only stayed for drinks but access was again very easy and we had plenty of room for maneuver with the wheelchair.  Powered wheelchair users may have more difficulty here, so if you have been here please give us your feedback.

Old Town

Javea also has an Old Town, now I have to say, we didn’t actually visit the Old Town mainly down to the fear of cobbles and narrow and most likely crowded streets. This may not actually be the case so please tell us about your experiences via the community pages or with a review when the site is up and running.

Apartment

Golden Beach apartments garden and pool
Golden Beach apartments garden and pool

We stayed at the Golden Beach apartments, this was a relatively modern block set approximately 5 minutes walk from the beach. We organised the trip via holidaylettings.co.uk and collected the keys from a lettings agent close to Arenal beach. Underground parking was provided and there was a lift up to the apartment, lighting wasn’t especially good in the car park and those with poor sight may struggle to see. The lift up to the apartment was also quite small and would not allow a wheelchair turn to be completed in it, there was a mirror to aid with reversing out.

Underground car park
Underground car park

Inside the apartment were two bedrooms, one with an on-suite bathroom and a second with a shared bathroom.  There was a living/dining area and a separate kitchen, outside to the rear was a patio area and to the front a set of five steps led from the kitchen into a small garden which joined onto the communal pool area.  The apartment we stayed in did not have ramped access to the garden and pool but apartments to the opposite side did. The apartment was not adapted for wheelchairs so it was mainly suited for those who can walk small distances without use of a chair. One note of caution was the pedestrian entrance to the complex, there was a steep slope from the gated entrance that required some effort being pushed up, other people may struggle unless there is a companion to help.

Steep slope from the gated entrance into the complex
Steep slope from the gated entrance into the complex
Five steps from the kitchen to the garden and pool
Steps from the kitchen

We’d love to hear your experiences from here or any other holiday destination so please get involved with the community or write a review of the destination and accommodation you stayed in when the site is up and running!

Thanks,

Mark

Tripility team

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Electric bikes-a chance at more freedom? Part two.

Our blog is now on our main site, here is an excerpt from this post. Please go to tripility to read the rest!

Written by Debs; part of the tripility team.

So, you will all be pleased to know; I survived the bike! Hoorah! That’s the first thing to report, secondly; I think I may be an electric bike convert.

It.is.amazing!

The Big Bear arrived safely last week and was perched in the garage awaiting the big outing at the weekend. My family were staying and we decided to have a jaunt out on our bikes in celebration of the fact that I can now join in…sort of. The day before everyone arrived, Mark and I decided to head out to give me a little bit of practice. We drove to a forest in our local area where it would be quiet, in order to give me space to fall flat on my face (gracefully of course). The Big Bear (the name of the bike) is VERY heavy and VERY big so fitting it in the car was not easy; I decided my skills would be best used in a more advisory role for this part of our trip! So, one slightly scratched car later, Mark had managed to maneuver the bike and we were off. My bike works using both pedal assist and a throttle, I decided to use the throttle so I could focus on balancing on the bike for my first trip. It was ace…and terrifying but  for the first time in many years, I was cycling again! In all I cycled 2.4 miles, I felt pretty proud of my little self, no Tour de France quite yet, but hey, it is a start (although I’m not sure how well an electric bike would go down in a race…). Please go to tripility to read the rest of this post!

Debs on the Big Bear by Woosh
Proving that I did actually try the bike out…

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Tripility is a user driven travel resource, giving disabled people, those with dietary requirements or families of children the informed choice for their trip.

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