Wednesday, 1 May 2013

They See Me Rollin'.

Is this a sponsored post? I suppose not. I suppose it counts as a 'themed' post, which, due to my scattered brain and homecoming combined, I am writing nearly two weeks after my parent's visit in Berlin. In order for this post - the theme of which is accessibility - to make a more substantial amount of sense, a wee bit of context is needed. When at home, I am a young carer for my Dad who has Multiple Sclerosis - a condition affecting the Central Nervous System mainly, and which translates into simple terms as our house being marginally accessible and Dad using an electric 'Travel Scoot' as we continue galavanting the world as a family.

Together, we have travelled to New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Switzerland (just to name a few) and while we have encountered problems with accessibility, but largely have been impressed with the efficiency and availability of ramps and help on hand.  

The current scooter he uses is the lightweight 'Travel Scoot' which is been perfect (if you ignore the reverse gear, or rather, lack thereof). It fits perfectly inside even my tiny blue VW Polo, and can easily be lifted by one person. The battery life is substantial and really is perfect for  travelling. The link to the website can be found here.
Berlin is famous for its public transport, and having lived there for 3 weeks, I can testify that the S and U Bahns really are fantastic but it's only through the eyes of a family in need of accessibility, do you start to question the lifts, ramps, and aid that could make or break a short weekend trip. 

Well. I am happy to report that I am very happy with Berlin's access. While my parents experienced trouble with one or two broken lifts at Zoologischer Garten and a lack of lift at Eberswalder Strasse, I think that on the whole they were impressed. Lifts are present at most stations, and to make your choice easier hotels can provide maps that explicitly list where the lifts are situated and at which station. Coming from London, finding more than 5 lifts on the map was a shock. The BVG (the Berlin equivalent of TFL) also have an interactive map online that claims to show the most recent lifts and ramps, and their location. This can be found here.

FYI: Brandenburg Tor is a tricky station to navigate so make sure you take the right lift to the right platform. We ended up on a platform that was not the one we wanted - cue lots of map folding and unfolding. And arguing. Ah family holidays.
As a family, we also used the Tram and bus - both of which were also accessible. The drivers are all transport we've encountered have been more than happy to help. My main tip for accesibility in Berlin is be patient, and stand at the front of the train. Due to the speed and manually driven trains, the driver has a responsibility to halt the train and aid with a ramp. And I am eager to say, that most did so with a smile and a 'good day'.

The Travel Scoot has already been put through its paces in the Mountains of Switzerland last year when my parents travelled to the Lauterbrunnen Valley to celebrate my leave for America, and we, once again, got our money's worth in Berlin. For Sure. 

My parent's visit was a wonderful way to see Berlin through their eyes, but also through the eyes of accessibility. And I have to say, that I was very impressed, and can recommend it thoroughly (with the right amount of research for accessible hotels of course - we can recommend the SANA in Charlottenberg) for families who have similar needs.

Okay, just the one cheesy family shot.

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