Deanne on a bridge with Kremlin in the background.
My persistence was worth it.
Late last year I went to Russia with my partner. It was difficult to travel around the cities in my wheelchair. Some of the buildings and train stations were not accessible. In Moscow there were no pedestrian road crossings at street level. However we were pleased the buses had wheelchair ramps, which helped us move around. Although it was hard sometimes, we are happy we visited Russia. There were many wonderful things to see and do. It was a colourful and interesting place.
Travelling is a passion of mine. It is like a book whose pages open into another world. Mobility problems make it trickier to travel independently but I believe almost anything can be organised. I'll try almost any path with my scooter to arrive at amazing places. On my travels I have heard inspiring stories. One was from Miwa in Japan. With a group of friends she started a campaign to fight for elevators to be built at railway stations. The group wanted elevators at stations so people who use wheelchairs would be able catch trains independently. Elevators were built after so much passion for independence was shown. It was a fight for a right from which many benefit.
I have just returned from a wonderful holiday in Japan where I caused a stir riding my scooter. People everywhere were caring, respectful and willing to help. But it seemed that no one had seen such a mobility scooter before, including a staff member at the Emerging Science and Innovation Museum. The railway system was very accessible but I was not allowed to ride my scooter to or onto the train. It was not an electric wheelchair and there were rules. Our guide told us that people with mobility difficulties stay at home. A local disability advocate asked me to return to Japan to give a talk on getting out with my scooter. I think I will.
There is nothing more exhilarating than freewheeling down the mountainside on the back of a tandem bike in Bali. Tandem bikes are sometimes not that easy to find. But after many hours of googling I stumbled across Bali Bike Baik Tours. We travelled to the top of Mount Kintamani where our bikes, including a tandem awaited. Our guide led the way through Bali's famous rice terraces, coconut groves and charming little villages where we learned about the lifestyles of Balinese people. The tour ended with a delicious traditional Balinese banquet. I cannot wait to do it all again.
Going on a cruise can be daunting due to its size and the amount of people sharing the experience with you. However, the crew are so helpful, the access is adequate and the food is aplenty. The ship may be taking you to a wonderful destination, like New Zealand, but at the end of the day, the cruise is the holiday. Would I recommend a cruise for people who have a disability? If needed, I think it is important to travel with someone who can offer that extra support for personal care and access.
I did not know what to expect when I travelled to Israel. I wanted to see the country and experience the food. I found Tel Aviv was a vibrant and accessible city. There were accessible walkways, beach wheelchairs and bathing boxes in Tel Aviv’s beaches on the Mediterranean Sea coast. Even part of the old city was surprisingly accessible. I saw dividing walls but learned of friendly relations between Arabs and Jews. I also learned national disability insurance has been in place in Israel for many years. I felt safe and loved my time there.
On holiday in Malta recently, buses were the best way of getting around the small Mediterranean island. There were many scenarios trying to get on a bus with my scooter. These included many not stopping, being too full, ramps breaking and metal ramp rings pulling off. Locals and tourists frequently used the buses. No one seemed concerned by the full buses. By the end of the holiday, we had enough of busing. Back home in Melbourne I take trams regularly but I have never caught a bus. I am interested to know what others think about their bus experiences in Victoria.
The Kokoda Track is a route over the Owen Stanley Ranges in Papua New Guinea. It crosses some of the most rugged territory imaginable. There is a memorial with the words “courage, endurance, mateship and sacrifice.” These words embrace the spirit of the Australian soldiers of World War II. The walk is now a pilgrimage for others. John Saunders is 70 years old and is legally blind. He chose to walk the Kokoda Track with his son.
Port Stephens is a beautiful beach holiday spot in New South Wales. Over the last summer holidays I went there for the third time. I stayed in an apartment and found some good food and coffee. I spent a day in Newcastle and I also enjoyed the beach. Port Stephens also offers some exciting activities such as dolphin watching and buggy riding making it a great place to go. There are many accessible activities to enjoy.
The paths made it difficult to navigate wheelchairs and scooters.
The front wheels of my scooter fell off on the first day of a holiday in Finland. It was on an unexpected cobblestone paths. Luckily, I was outside a carpentry shop and two men helped put the wheels back on. However, the wheels kept falling off. I went to buy my own set of tools to fix the wheels. I could not find a hardware store so I went to a large department store. I was lucky that a shop assistant was able to properly fix the wheels. From then on, I was able to use many other cobblestone paths.