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The Beginning

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Around the World in a Power Wheelchair (and other assorted equipment) – 21/06/17 to 27/o9/17

Brutus said Caesar was ambitious …

But not as ambitious as two well-seasoned travellers even after one of them is now a C5:C6 incomplete quadriplegic!

100 days, staying in four places in three countries, no problem; two cruises, why not; multiple flights, piece of cake!

I am writing this blog to document all the obstacles we needed to overcome both in the planning and during the actual trip.  I did the initial planning while Arthur spent sleepless nights worrying about the nitty gritty and doing the actual bookings.

Booking accommodation

Just because a website says wheelchair accessible doesn’t mean you can get into the shower or manoeuvre a hoist under a bed, or even get around easily.

We have now secured what look like good places in Nice and La Ciotat, France, Deddington, near Oxford, Montreal and Vancouver.

In Nice we have booked a room at the Ibis Styles for one night after we fly in and for two nights before we fly to London.

At La Ciotat we have a modern 4BR house through Airbnb that we will share for 4 weeks with our daughter and her family.

In Deddington we have a 1BR apartment which was modified for the owner’s father who had Parkinson’s.

Montreal will be in another 1BR apartment downtown, and for the first week in Vancouver we are staying in a hotel because BC hasn’t sorted out problems with registering places with Airbnb yet.

The two cruises are:-

Norwegian Fjords on Norwegian Jade for 10 daysGlacier Bay & Inside Passage on the Zaandam (Holland America)

Phew!

WAV Rental

 The next challenge was to find rental vehicles in each place.

Once you go looking for anything to do with disability the price sky rockets. Also, we wanted a vehicle, if possible, where I could wheel into the space beside the driver. We needed a vehicle for France, England and two places in Canada (Montreal and Vancouver). And every place offered different types of vehicle.

France – this turned out to be the most expensive, mainly because our preferred vehicle was only available in Lille, the other end of the country and had to be delivered in Nice, at an exorbitant cost – not sure why. And while we were vacillating, we missed out on our first choice until our third week there. We will have a Peugeot Expert for the first 10 days, then a Citroen Berlingo, which has a space next to the driver.

England and Canada were much cheaper, although our vehicle for England is one where I will be sitting behind the driver. It is a Peugeot Expert, the same vehicle we will have in France for the first 3 weeks. The vehicles in Canada are much the same size.

To be continued …

Saturday 4 March 2017

Just an update regarding my sharing issues. I think I may have finally got it sorted – I hope!

Epilogue

I hope you have all enjoyed my blog. It was my intention to write about challenges and solutions to accessibility problems, as well as documenting my journey, so I hope this was successful.

Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions you might have about anything specific.

DAY 97/99

25/27 September

Arthur was so anxious that we would be packed and ready to leave by checkout at 11am that he set the alarm for 7am. Even with a leisurely packing we were ready by 10.30 so relaxed over a coffee before going a couple of blocks to Le Crocodile for lunch with Irene and Peter Calder and Adrian Wightman.

The food and company were excellent. After lunch we went to the Calder’s apartment until we were due to leave for the airport for our 11.45pm flight.

None of us were particularly hungry but managed to snack on a selection of cheeses, olives, crackers and biscotti along with a red wine from their cellar.

We arrived by taxi at the airport about 8.30pm and enjoyed a seamless check in, the best so far, then relaxed in the new Air Canada lounge until about 10.45pm when we were taken to our seats. The only slight glitch was the seat configuration which is at an angle to the aisle so made transferring awkward. Also, the bed is not completely flat so it wasn’t quite as comfortable as on the Lufthansa flight. And the food was a bit ordinary although I enjoyed my veggie lasagne.

They also didn’t let us plug in my Cepap machine which meant I didn’t have the full night’s sleep I had on Lufthansa.

We were on the ground in Sydney by 8.20am and through to the exit by 9.30am where Kristina was there to meet us. Nothing was damaged.

On the way home we stopped at Rhondda and Arthur Maltby’s for coffee and cake, then home by 1.30pm.

We were both flagging by 6pm, so after a light dinner I was in bed by 8pm. I did try to watch TV but kept on nodding off.

 

 

 

 

DAY 96

24 September

Up at 6am in order to be ready in good time for disembarking. This time, everything went smoothly and we were soon in a cab and back to the Century Plaza and room 607. It was too early to check in, so after an Illy coffee at the café, we went to the Art Gallery to see the Monet exhibition, on loan from the Musée Marmottan in Paris. We had lunch at the Gallery Café on the terrace in the sunshine.

It was a pleasant day, sunny and mild, so we took our time getting back to the hotel by wandering along Robson Street. We were pleased that there were not as many Starbucks as there used to be.

Tomorrow is the last day of our trip but, we don’t fly out until 11.45pm .

DAY 95

23 September

This is the last full day at sea as we travel through the inside passage towards Vancouver where we will arrive tomorrow.

The weather improves as the day progresses and there is even some blue sky by the afternoon.

The ships clocks were set forward one hour overnight so we are not up and out until after 10.30am.

We had an early lunch in the Lido buffet as the dining room was closed for an invitation only brunch for people who are repeat voyagers.

We have been a little disappointed in the buffet lunch in the Lido. Not as extensive as on the Norwegian Jade, although the lobster bake on Thursday was good.

After lunch we had a premium wine tasting with the Hungarian sommelier. Again, an education for us with a Washington riesling (the Eroica that I had last night), a Montrachet, an Okanagan chardonnay from Mission Hill, a cabernet/shiraz from Bordeaux and a Castello Banfi Brunello which I really loved.

The big excitement today is the sale time in the shops! We can give that a miss.

DAY 94

22 September

After dodging through some inside passages among many islands we docked in Ketchikan, our last stop, at 10am. It was living up to its reputation – rainy – when we arrived but improved as the day progressed to merely low cloud.

After an early lunch Arthur went into the town. I’m afraid I wimped out, I didn’t think it was worth getting cold and wet. I was a bit sorry later when Arthur came back and told me what he’d seen and I saw the photos.

The oldest and biggest claim to fame was a red light district along the creek where various madams plied their trade to the lonely miners and fishermen.

The law was that if more than two women lived in a house it was declared a house of ill repute with the full sanctions of the law. One house had twenty women which amply illustrates that with adequate rewards it is possible to accommodate the law enforcers. The closely spaced, all timber houses are supported on high timber columns above the tidal creek and unlike most other similar towns has not been burnt out several times. Maybe the fire station close by helps or the firemen look after them! The nearby fire station is one of the biggest buildings in town and houses a museum with a classic early fire engine. The dock and marina also have old timber buildings with some vintage boat gear and crude accommodation for fishing crews and the like.

The town business centre is dominated by diamond shops, tanzanite shops, souvenir and other ‘junk’ shops selling canned and smoked salmon with a number of places serving up various dishes of Alaskan and Dungeness crab, salmon, halibut and fish and chips.

Totem poles still feature along this coast although they are smaller than the BC ones probably because the trees are not as big this far north.

This is a small town that somehow copes with the sudden influx of 10,000 to 20,000 short term visitors on most days for half the year. From now on they go back to another lifestyle until next year! Do they miss the cruise ships?

Day 93

21 September

Glacier Bay National Park.

After picking up some rangers at some ungodly hour in the morning, we proceeded northwards up Glacier Bay (Fiord). On waking, the sky was overcast with the clouds increasing in height as we approached the glaciers with some glimpses of the peaks! The Zodiacs are out – we were told this a while ago – because there are too many ice floes. Again, perhaps a result of American’s fear of litigation. In any case there were no chunks of ice bigger than a suitcase.

After getting to the promenade deck we were treated to views of the Lamplugh and John Hopkins glaciers.

The front decks were not accessible to wheelchairs due to thresholds and stairs so Liz had to be content with excellent viewing from the relative comfort of the Crow’s Nest lounge. Arthur was able to access the front decks for spectacular viewing up close of the Margerie glacier and see it calving several times. There were about a dozen otters playing in the water and on the ice floes that were asking to be photographed. Of course Arthur takes too many photos!

Every now and then we get a glimpse of the top of the adjacent Grand Pacific glacier as well. This larger glacier is largely covered in moraine and is not as spectacular. Reluctantly we left these glaciers behind to return southwards out of the fiord. The weather rapidly deteriorated but our luck with the weather had remained in the critical times. This cruise is the last of the season and we can see why.

On leaving the park, we dropped off the rangers in much less salubrious weather.

 

DAY 92

20 September

A perfect day in Skagway but a major disappointment for me. We found out on Monday that I wouldn’t be able to leave the ship because they would be tendering, as a recent landslide had blocked the town end of the pier and it wasn’t safe to go around it. So Arthur is doing the White Pass rail trip without me.

When we docked early this am it was apparent that other ships had priority at the other accessible piers. Oh well, them’s the breaks!

I am just so grateful that we had such a magic day in Juneau yesterday.

Arthur left on the tender at 12.30 and returned about 4.30 while I spent the afternoon in the Crow’s Nest lounge, enjoying the sun, writing my blog and reading.

He had an amazing train trip and took too many photos!