How accessible is It Sailhus apartment in the Netherlands?

I wouldn’t go on holiday in my own country too easily, but because of the coronavirus, elsewhere is not a possibility for the time being. Last month I was away for a week in beautiful Friesland in the Netherlands. Actually, Sweden was scheduled for that period, but that was canceled. In recent years I had heard many positive stories about It Sailhus in Friesland, so I had also had to experience it myself. My last domestic holiday was in May 2020 to an adapted B&B in Denekamp, and I loved it. Which is why I’ve picked a new experience to try so we booked an apartment this time.

 “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.”

Corona precautions

It Sailhus is from a Dutch foundation called Sailwise which offers adapted group tours. These trips have a lot to do with sailing and other water sports activities. One of their accommodations, It Sailhus, can be rented for personal holidays.

Like many other accommodations, It Sailhus was closed for a longer period due to the coronavirus. In June, the government gave permission to reopen accommodations under strict conditions. After this permission, we have booked our stay last minute for mid-June. Therefore, after the reopening, we were one of their first guests.

We took many precautions in advance to minimize the risk of infection with the coronavirus during our stay. So we traveled with our own transport to avoid public transport as much as possible. And we also did groceries to be able to cook in the apartments, because restaurants are still way too risky. But despite all these precautions, we had a nice week without too many worries.

It Sailhus

It sailhus is a modern accommodation with four adapted apartments (for 4 or 6 people) and is located directly on the largest lake in Friesland: the Fluessen. The apartments are called Rakken, Luts, Brekken and Morra. We stayed in the Luts which is located on the second floor. The apartments have a large living room with an open kitchen. There are two bedrooms with 2 electric adjustable beds in each room, so in total there are 4 adapted beds per apartment. Each apartment also has two spacious bathrooms, and one of them is equipped with a ceiling hoist.

Many facilities that people with disabilities may need are available. Here is the full list:

  • Kitchen suitable for wheelchairs
  • Adapted kitchen equipment
  • Ceiling hoist in bathroom and bedroom
  • Mobile hoist
  • Shower chair with large wheels
  • Shower stretcher
  • Toilet with grab rails
  • Electric adjustable beds
  • Anti-decubitus mattress

Sailwise has also started to rent out an electric bicycle that can be used to secure a wheelchair so that that wheelchair users can remain in their wheelchair during the bike ride. This makes it possible to make beautiful bike rides through the Frisian nature reserves. You can rent the electric wheelchair bike for €20 per day or €12.50 per half day. For more information, visit their website!

Source images: Sailwise

Activities

We had very few activities planned for this week, because we mainly wanted some relax time. Before this trip, we spent three months indoors due to the coronavirus outbreak.

One of the activities that we did plan was taking a boat trip with the Sailwise pontoon boat. You can rent this pontoon boat from Sailwise and you can use it independently. The boat is accessible to people in a wheelchair, also in an electric wheelchair.

Thanks to a sturdy, long ramp, you can easily enter the boat independently. It is also possible to drive the boat yourself. Even if you have little hand and arm strength like me.

A total of 8 people fit on a boat, three of them in a manual wheelchair or two in an electric wheelchair. You can rent a boat for € 125 a day, for current prices click here. This activity was also very fitting at this time in Corona, since you can easily keep social distances.

Sailwise is clearly a good foundation that focuses on people with a physical disability. This can also be seen in the equipments they make available for their guests. After the corona pandemic, I would like to experience a group trip with Sailwise.

It is also worth it to take some time to discover your own country, trust me 🙂

Guest Blog: A Short Accessible Trip to Madrid

My name is Stephan Spieker (30) and I always try to travel several times a year. Like a city trip to Barcelona or 2 weeks to Côte d´Azur, France. My last trip was to Madrid at the end of February. I think it is important that everyone can travel, even with a disability, so I have written a blog about my time in Madrid.

“Despite my limitations, I try to get the most out of life.” – Stephan Spieker

After arriving at Schiphol, Amsterdam we had found out that our original flight was canceled due to technical issues. Fortunately, the staff of KLM helped us find a suitable solution to take the next available flight to Madrid. They also managed to move the booked assistance to the next flight.

The assistance will help you to get on the plane, and ensure that your wheelchair comes into the hold. When we arrived in Madrid, I got assistance again only then it was more difficult to explain how they could lift me best. But with some Spanish translations of the pilot, we managed to communicate just fine. Fortunately, everything has remained intact.

Our wheelchair accessible taxi was ready at the entrance of the airport. He took us to our hotel, called RIU Plaza España.

This luxurious and new hotel has pretty spacious and clean rooms and is even equipped with a roll-in shower. Thanks to Accessible Spain Travel, I was able to hire a portable hoist and book airport transfer.

The first morning in Madrid started off on the beautiful roof terrace of the hotel. Then we wandered through the idyllic streets of Madrid. We discovered the Mercado de San Miguel food-market which turned out to be pretty accessible too. Surprisingly enough there were plenty of accessible public toilets spread all over the city. We ended the day with a nice meal in the Maria Opera restaurant.

For the next day we booked a tour with the Madrid City Hopper to discover the historical and modern part of the city. All of these busses are equipped with an electrical ramp for wheelchair users. A big advantage of a bus tour is that you can see a big part of the city in such a short time, without draining your wheelchair battery. It is also a great way to discover a city when it’s cold or raining outside. We also saw the famous Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, but we couldn’t enter because there was an game between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. At the end of the day we went to a tapas restaurant called Tappa Tappa.

I would really advise you to visit Madrid at least once in your life. The streets and public spaces are very accessible and so was the hotel. In my recent years I have already made several trips in and outside Europe. If everything goes well, Valencia will be my next destination. I will write another blog for Roll On Adventures by that time. You can follow me on the gram for more about my life!

This post was written by a guest. Do you also love to write about your (accessible) adventures? And do you want to share them with the world? You can send me a message on the Contact page for more information.

I’m looking forward to seeing all of your adventures!

The Best Accessible Resort And Activities In Tenerife

Many people kept asking me what the best (accessible) Canary Islands is to visit, but I did not know back then. But now I am sure it is Tenerife, the largest island of the Canary Islands. Tenerife is located about 400 km from the coast of Morocco, so you can imagine what the weather is like. Want to know more about this amazing Island? Keep reading..!

“A positive attitude can really make dreams come true – it did for me.” – David Bailey

Where to stay?

The accessible Mar Y Sol resort is located in Los Christianos, the southwest of Tenerife. It is completely wheelchair accessible and fully equipped for people with disabilities. There are two swimming pools, both have a pool hoist. The water temperature of one pool is kept at 32 degrees Celsius. The other pool has a water temperature of 24 degrees Celsius.

LeRo, located next to the resort, is a service company for people with a disability. They can provide care by a professional nurse during your stay, but you can also rent medical equipment or adapted buses. It is also possible to book accessible excursions and tours including adapted transportation.

The resort has 127 accessible rooms. Here is a short description of each type:

  • Standard one-bedroom apartment: suitable for four people, equipped with twin beds and a living room containing sofa beds. The bathroom with a roll-in shower or bath. Small kitchenette, and a balcony.
  • Premium one-bedroom apartment: equipped with the same as the standard apartments, but more spacious and larger balconies.
  • Comfort room: this room has a twin or double bed with sofa beds. The bathroom is fully equipped with a roll-in shower with grab rails.

My experience is based on the premium apartment type. It was easy enough for me to move around in the apartment with my powerchair. The hired electric adjustable bed was ready to use by my arrival in the hotel. The bathroom was spacious enough and equipped with an amazing (free of charge) shower chair. With my self-brought passive hoist, the Molift 150 smart, it was easy enough to maneuver in the apartment. 

  • Free space under the bed, hoist fits under the bed
  • Bathroom spacious enough, roll in douche and accessible sink
  • Enough power points to charge your equipment
  • Medical equipment for rental
  • Room doors are heavy to open

What to do?

Our adapted van, from the Orobus company, picked us up at the airport and brought us to the hotel. But it is also possible to use public transportation with your (power) wheelchair to get to your destination.

The boulevard of Los Christianos is within walking distance from the hotel we stayed in. So on our first day, we didn’t do much, except for visiting the boulevard. The route to this boulevard was pretty accessible, apart from the steep hills of the mountains. But isn’t that why you’ll visit Tenerife in the first place? 

Santa Cruz de Tenerife

The best and cheapest way to get to the capital city of Tenerife is definitely by public transportation. It will take approximately one hour to arrive in Santa Cruz from the bus station in Los Christianos.

In Santa Cruz different options are possible to discover the city, but we chose to walk around. For example, you can take the Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Train which will take you to the most popular sightseeings in the city. This city train is equipped with a lift/ramp which makes it easily accessible.

In Santa Cruz we visited some public parks, like Plaza de España the largest square in the city and also the largest on any Canary Island. Visiting Parque García Sanabria is also very interesting. It is a large garden with fountains and architectural aspects and was opened in 1926. The park is on the list of cultural sights the Canary Islands.

La Gomera

La Gomera is one of the Canary Islands and is located next to Tenerife. On this island, you will find unspoiled nature and beautiful views. An interesting fact: the inhabitants speak a special language of their own, which is not spoken anywhere else in the world.

We took the ferryboat from Tenerife to La Gomera in approximately 45 minutes. There were not many accessible things to do on the island. We found an accessible taxi and toured around the island for 4 hours. The driver took us to the Garajonay National Park, which was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1986.

You can contact Autobuses Mesa for booking an accessible taxi. There are not many other options to discover La Gomera if you are in a wheelchair or on walking aids.

Volcano El Teide

Visiting the El Teide volcano is one of the excursions that should be on your to-do list for Tenerife. It is considered one of the most beautiful places in Spain. We booked it as an adapted Island tour with the Orobus company. Unfortunately, one of the most popular attractions, the cable car is not accessible for people with reduced mobility.

But accessible or not, the views were very beautiful like you were in a Star Wars movie. There is an accessible path (Roque de Caramujo Path) that takes you to enjoy the silence of nature. Make sure to take your time on this excursion, and don’t forget to bring warm clothes.

Loro Parque

Loro Parque is a zoo in Puerto De La Cruz. Most people know it as the #1 zoo in the world. It’s famous for its extensive collection of parrots, Loro means parrot. There are various shows throughout the day, like the Orcas (killer whales) and sea lions.

The zoo is wheelchair accessible, but not very wheelchair friendly. There were many steep slopes and some stairs. If you are in a manual wheelchair, it could be very hard to get around.

The aquarium was so impressive, so make sure you visit it. Actually, most of the park was impressive. It is definitely worth a visit!

Other activities

Besides all the above, there are many other activities you can do. My highlight of this trip was definitely the helicopter flight in Costa Adeje. It was one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve ever done in my life, but I did it! I wouldn’t recommend you to do it if you need to be lifted, like me. You can book the flight at Helidream helicopters in Tenerife. See the video for my full experience.

If you like to discover on foot (or on wheels) you can walk to Playa de las Amèricas from Los Cristianos. It’ll take you around one full hour to get there, but the road is amazingly beautiful (and accessible).

On Sunday there is a local market in Los Cristianos. People sell handmade items and local stuff. I also let African women braid my hair, which was pretty awesome. The market is crowded, so you have to take that into account for yourself.

A relaxing day at the accessible beach? Go for it! At Playa de Las Vistas they have floating wheelchairs available for free use. There are 2 wheelchair accessible bathrooms and lifeguard supervision.

Extra information

  • You can pay with euros, because Spain is part of the European Union. Most places also accept credit card, but I’d recommend to always carry some cash with you.
  • Hiring medical equipment is possible at different locations, such as LeRo.
  • The public (bus) transportation was amazingly accessible, but only for 1 wheelchair maximum.
  • The overall accessibility was suprisingly good, even most restaurants were accessible.

All You Need To Know About Accessible Berlin

Discovering the historical city of Berlin is on almost every traveler its bucket list, right? Well, it was definitely on mine. But discovering the accessible side of Berlin is something more difficult. That’s why I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about the accessibility of Berlin, right now!

In September my PCA, best friend and I decided to take a 4-day trip to Berlin. We discussed a bit about the best way to travel to Berlin, but we chose to go by my car. Why? Because plane travel is too stressful and train travel would be difficult with my medical equipment. So car travel it is!

“Many small people, who in many small places do many small things, can alter the face of the world.” – East Side Gallery, Berlin, 1990

Where to stay?

After some research on the internet, we found the B&B Hotel in Charlottenburg. They claimed to be wheelchair accessible and offered a family room for 4 persons, perfect. Many hotels claim to be accessible, but I don’t always trust their thoughts on accessibility. After checking in, we could see the rooms and judge their accessibility by ourselves. The accessible rooms are on the 7th(!) floor, the highest floor. Well, the view was beautiful, but it was not handy because of fire safety. Clean, spacious and comfortable are the best words to describe the room. Even the accessibility was good enough. Some things could’ve been better, but it’s a budget hotel for short stays.

  • Free space under the bed, hoist fits under the bed
  • Bathroom spacious enough, roll in douche and accessible sink
  • Enough power points to charge your equipment
  • Carpet floor, not very convenient for wheelchairs and hoists
  • Heavy doors to open, if you have reduced strength it can be too heavy
  • Room doors work with codes, not always convenient

What to do?

We had a hard time finding the accessible hotspots of Berlin, but the hotel staff could give us some useful tips. It was quite a shock to find out how many things are not accessible in such a big city. But we found our way and did amazing things in only 2 full days. We didn’t have concrete plans to visit things, but Checkpoint Charlie and the Berliner Mauer were a must.

West side

On the first full day, Sunday, we visited the West side of Berlin. It was a rainy day, so we decided (last minute) to do a boat tour. We found out that the Hopp On, Hopp Off company offers accessible tours. We parked the car across the Hauptbahnhof and got on the boat. Approximately once an hour you can Hopp on an accessible boat. The accessibility was good enough to make a comfortable trip along several characteristic historic buildings.

DDR Museum

After this tour, we just walked around until we’d find something interesting to do. And so we found the DDR (GDR) museum, one of Berlin’s most popular museums about the living conditions in time of the DDR. The museum is made up of 27 themes, all of which are about the DDR. They all show a different part of daily life and take you on a journey through work, education, and vacation, but also more serious matters such as party ideology, the army and the Stasi. You will learn everything in just one visit! Now let me tell you about the accessibility of the museum and around. The entrance is down at the canals, but don’t be afraid. There is a hidden entrance with an elevator, but you have to call the museum for help. My PCA entered for free because those serving the severely disabled enter free of charge. And my friend and I could enter for a reduced price. They have an accessible wheelchair toilet, so I can definitely tell you the museum is accessible and worth visiting.

Berliner Dom

One other interesting place we visited was the Berliner Dom, one of the most important cathedrals in Berlin. The cathedral is accessible. There is an intercom system that allows you to notify the duty porter. He will assist you in exploring Berlin Cathedral. If you are in the area, you should really visit the cathedral. Here are five interesting facts about the Berliner Dome;

  1. Architects estimate that the interior nowadays is worth around 180 million euros.
  2. The 270 steps lead you to one of the nicest viewpoints in the city at the top of the cathedral. (Note: there is no elevator to this viewpoint)
  3. The history of the Berliner Dom dates back to the year 1465.
  4. The dome is located about 115 meters above the street level.

East side

Checkpoint Charlie

The next day, Monday, we went to the East side of Berlin. We started with visiting the famous Checkpoint Charlie, a former border crossing station. Checkpoint Charlie was exactly at the border for crossing between the American and the Russian sector. After the fall of the Wall in 1989, Checkpoint Charlie was abolished. It is one of the largest tourist attractions in Berlin. The museum next door that deals with Checkpoint Charlie is not accessible.

East Side Gallery

And of course, we visited the East Side Gallery, which is known as the Berliner Mauer or Berlin Wall. Everyone knows the Berlin Wall from films, history books or stories. The DDR built this wall around West Berlin so that the inhabitants could no longer flee from the east to the west or vice versa. At the East Side Gallery, you can walk around both sides of the wall. It was very impressive and I loved the graffiti paintings. Every painting has its own (sad) story behind it.

Here are some facts about the Wall, because I love facts and lists;

  1. The Berlin Wall stood on August 13 in 1961 and fell on November 9 in 1989.
  2. The French, British and American sectors were in West Berlin, the Russian sector was in East Berlin (DDR).
  3. The longest remaining piece of the Berlin Wall is the East Side Gallery, with 1,316 meters remaining.
  4. The total length of the wall was 160 kilometers long.
Panoramapunkt

Berlin has many viewpoints in and around the city, so of course we had to visit one of them. But finding an accessible viewpoint was not as easy as it should have been. With blood, sweat and tears (ok, maybe not really) we found out that the Panoramapunkt on the Potsdamer Platz is fully accessible. With the fastest elevator in Europe you can go to the top floor in only 20 seconds (101 meters). There is a café overlooking the west side of Berlin and outside you can enjoy the view around the south, east and north of Berlin. Make sure you go to the Potsdamer Platz, and not to the Fernsehturm on the Alexanderplatz.

Satisfied and well, we went back to the hotel. We packed our suitcases, because we were leaving on Tuesday again. After lunch, we started our trip back home, which lasted nearly 8 hours. I think I lost my heart somewhere in Berlin, because I can’t wait to go back. At first the accessibility was disappointing to me, but thinking back to the things we did, it was quite good.

General things to know

Besides where to stay and what to do, there are some general things you should know.

Facts You Never Knew About Accessible Paragliden

A week to the beautiful Auvergne in France sounds good, right? This was my first holiday in France, but certainly not my last. When I think of France, I think of fresh croissants and delicious baguettes. But I found out there is more than just that. And I was very excited to find out how accessible the country is. On Saturday morning, 7th of September, we left Utrecht to start our journey to the Auvergne, a journey of about 900 kilometers. The trip lasted about 12 hours including the stops.

"Once you have travelled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey."

Where to stay?

We stayed at Gites La Différence, a fully accessible house with a private swimming pool for a maximum of 8 people including up to 2 people who are wheelchair-bound. The house is quite spacious and has almost all the necessary, medical adaptions you can think of. There are four high low beds in the house, there are two accessible bathrooms and three electric patient lifts/hoists. In one of the bathrooms there is an electric folding shower stretcher. The private heated swimming pool is also accessible, with a full access ramp and railings on both sides.

Besides the fact that the house is accessible, it is also in the beautiful location with breathtaking views. The house is located in a village called ‘La Brousse’ and is part of the community of Augerolles. It is located in the region called ‘The Auvergne’. The Auvergne is also known as the lungs of France, and here are many landscapes to see such as: volcanoes, forests, mountains and valleys. The Auvergne gets its name from the Gallic people of Arverni, Veraingetorix was their King during the Roman invasion. The people who live in this area are called Auvergnats and Auvergnates.

Activities

We have done various activities, but I won’t mention all of these activities. In the area around La Brousse is a lot of nature, so a beautiful nature walk is definitely one of the things you can do. The forests are not easily accessible, but the roads are good to do in a wheelchair. Unless you like some adventure, then I would definitely go into the forests and see what you will find, for example a fallen tree.

Besides doing activities it is also very nice to stay around the house. To get a holiday feeling, it is not necessary to leave the house, because you have a beautiful view from the veranda. Also it seems to be possible to go fishing near the house, but we did not try this.

Lac d’Aubusson is just a 5 min drive. It’s a large recreational lake with a beach, where you can swim, hire canoes and paddle boats.  There is a playground for children. Disabled people can easily access the lake and facilities, with designated parking spaces close by, graveled flat paths and even specially designed picnic benches for wheelchair users.  After all these activities, you can grab a snack or have a glass to drink overlooking the lake. Every day of the week in the surrounding villages and towns there are the Auvergne morning markets. You can buy many local products such as: honey, cheese, sausages, woven baskets etc.

Vichy

On Tuesday we went to the town of Vichy. Vichy is a spa town in central France and is famed as the home of the Vichy government during World War II. Vichy located in the middle of France in the region Allier of the Auvergne. With a population of 26,500 residents, it is not very touristic, but you can find enough things to do and see in the town itself and the surrounding area. Vichy’s spa waters are one of the major attractions, and you can find them at fountains throughout the town or at one of the spa hotels. The Vichy Spa Hotel ‘Les Celestins’ offers hydrotherapy treatments using local thermal water, osteopathy, physiotherapy and skin-care sessions.

After exploring Vichy we had dinner at an Indian, Pakistani restaurant called Le Ghandi in Vichy. We found this spot on TripAdvisor and it was marked as wheelchair-accessible. The restaurant was wheelchair accessible, but the toilets were upstairs. The food was great and so was the service.

Accessibility

Before visiting France, I had no idea what to expect concerning the accessibility. But I knew that the law requires that any building with public or community space needs to be accessible for people with disabilities. We also have the same law in the Netherlands.

“Getting around in French cities may be difficult at times. Many sidewalks are narrow and uneven, and cobblestone streets make access difficult, but the major tourist areas have better facilities. Although the Paris Metro is a very efficient method for traveling throughout central Paris, most stations are not readily accessible for people with disabilities. Very few stations have elevators and most have stairways and long corridors for changing trains or exiting to the street. However, many Parisian buses and tramways are equipped with lowering platforms for travelers with limited-mobility, or who are sight- or hearing-disabled. Taxis are also a good mode of transportation.” –  Source

Paragliding

The highlight of the week was parapente, also known as paragliding. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever did in my entire life. Part of the excitement was that we did not know exactly when or even if the paragliding event would take place. This is dependent of the weather and more specific of the thermic. The initial planning was on Tuesday, but it finally took place on Thursday.

But what is parapente and how does it work? Parapente is also known as paragliding or screen flying, and it descends from parachuting. Unlike parachuting, parapente is about staying in the air for as long as possible. Often you fly over beautiful mountains and valleys. Parapente is simplest and natural form of flying, the wings float slowly and silently through the air. The screen consists only of textiles and lines, which makes the screen lightweight. Parapente originated from the dream of Icarus to get the ultimate sense of freedom.

The company that offers people with a disability to be able to do this amazing activity, is called Aeroparapente. The Aeroparapente instructors have mobilized around the ‘Heaven for All’ association with the objective of allowing people with reduced mobility to access paragliding flights at the top of the Puy de Dôme.

Before arriving at the Puy de Dôme, you’ll have to take the train to get up on the volcano. The train is wheelchair-accessible and takes off around every 20 minutes during the summer. On top of the volcano your instructor (moniteur) will be waiting for you, if needed with a special wheelchair.  At the top of the Puy de Dôme, there are 7 places where you can take off, all around the volcano. The flight area of ​​the moment is the one facing the wind. Once found, the monitor will equip himself and you for the experience. He will then check all security and hooking points. And then it’s time to ‘sail’ away and enjoy your ride. Gliding around the volcano and slowly descending towards the valley was a memorable experience.

So, this is a little impression of the chair and how it worked. Believe me, it was more comfortable than it looks like. The chair does not have any head support, so we had to make one with duct tape and a neck brace. Everything is possible, as long as you believe in yourself.