The Locked-In Traveler
(Kati’s Wheelchair Traveling Journals)
Nowadays, most developed countries have handicap taxi. Nevertheless, only in some (highly) touristic cities, you find them around the corner. In some cities like London, most cabs are wheelchair accessible. In others, you would have to order such a vehicle, and it might take a while before they arrive. There are places where you even must order an invalid taxi in advance.
Another thing to consider is that the rates may vary depending on the type of vehicle they use as handicap accessible transportation. That is why we always search for hotels that are in an area where most things can be reached on foot. Even though those hotels are also more expensive, it does make your stay a little bit less stressful.
In 2013, we were in Barcelona. We were staying in an apartment close to the famous Sagrada Família. It was not precisely the city center but still at a walkable distance. In the mornings we would walk around, and at the end of the day, we would call the disabled taxi company to send us a cab to take us back to the hotel.
The plan for our last day in Barcelona (a Sunday) was to visit Park Güell which sits on a hill. We would have a nice lunch and then call a cab to take us there. Henning made the call only to find out that the company was closed on Sundays. Therefore, we had to walk up the hill to the park. It was a hot summer day and pushing a wheelchair up a hill after a few sangrias took its toll on Henning. He was totally out of breath when we reached the park.
Another proof that you can never be too well informed or also well prepared when traveling with a wheelchair. We always go through a trip before leaving; where we are staying, where to go and what we want to see. In addition, of course, how we are going to get there.
I have had many adventures/misadventures with taxies and means of transportations through the years. From downright scary, unto utterly hilarious.
In Florida back in 1997, we had the nerve-wracking experience on our day of departure. The taxi we ordered was running and it was over an hour drive to the airport. My mother and my friend; Irina were stressing about missing the flight (I was ok with it😊.)
A fashion designer who was leaving for Los Angeles who noticed our despair offered us a ride to the airport in the limousine that was waiting on him.
You could see the people looking at the limousine when we arrived at the airport. Some just stood there in expectation to see some celebrity. All though no personality, they did get to see the maneuvers my mom had to do to get me out of the limousine and into the wheelchair. I could only hope that they were not disappointed.
The airport staff came to help with our luggage. With a bright smile, he asked; “are you flying first class.?” Blushingly Irina answered; “sun tours please.” He frowned a little. I guess that he realized that there was not going to be a big tip.
(Kati & Henning van der Hoeven)