DisabledTravelers.com Travel Blog » hotel reviews /1/blog Interesting information, reviews, and pictures in the world of accessible travel... Tue, 30 Oct 2012 01:47:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.3 From the Mailbag: Disabled Access in Daytona Beach, Florida /1/blog/2011/09/30/from-the-mailbag-disabled-access-in-daytona-beach-florida/ /1/blog/2011/09/30/from-the-mailbag-disabled-access-in-daytona-beach-florida/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2011 09:44:57 +0000 /1/blog/?p=1064 Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach
Photo by: Roberto V. (Stock Exchange)

Hello and welcome to all our friends out there on the internet, and new wanderers who might be visiting us from Google!

Today’s Disabled Travelers blog will see us jet off to Florida’s “Fun Coast” for one of the biggest tourist draws outside Disney: Daytona Beach.

As many of you already know, I myself am a life-long resident of Florida, and lately I’ve been eyeing the Daytona area as my next home base.

Well, there’s a lot of fun to be had in the Sunshine State, and I’ve covered a lot of it in previous posts; but Daytona is completely new to me, so let’s see what we can find up there!

To my delight, it’s not hard to find a bunch of different access guides, disabled hotel lists and other resources attached to many of the more general Daytona Beach guides you may see out on the web. One of the better ones is Accessible Daytona Beach, operated and edited by self-proclaimed active paraplegic Steve Deal. The site features long pages and full business listings in areas such as transportation, care service and equipment, beach access, disabled hotels, activities, and – yes – Steve’s favorite restaurants. You can’t go wrong with Steve’s combo of exceptional cuisine and accessible venues!

One of the most beloved attractions in Daytona is, of course, the Daytona International Speedway. The official website provides information on accessibility, disabled parking, and transportation assistance at and around the track. Also check out the Track Tours page. Availability for these “all access” and VIP fan tours is limited since they’re so popular, but once you do, you’re sure to have a great time! Don’t forget that the Daytona area is serviced by its own international airport. You can get a look at the terminal map, facilities, and route map from the official site.

With 23 miles of beaches and a hospitality industry that plays host to 8 million visitors every year, there are dozens and dozens of great hotels to choose from around Daytona. This includes disabled hotels at a variety of price points. For a great general selection, try out the Daytona Beach disabled hotel listings from LetsBookHotel.com. This offers up 42 disabled hotel listings with spectacular features like, in many cases, accessible VIP suites, pools, and much, much more. These are definitely world class accommodations, and there are plenty to choose from to match your specific needs.

Daytona is looking like a truly welcoming place. Who can resist a beachside extravaganza of great activities that also has ample accessible features? That’s all for our first look, but I hope to poke deeper into this intriguing little haven sometime in the next few weeks. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to share your favorite disabled travel finds, tips, or questions with me by leaving a comment below. See you next Friday!


/1/blog/2011/09/30/from-the-mailbag-disabled-access-in-daytona-beach-florida/feed/ 1
Disabled Travelers’ Best Places to Retire: Panama /1/blog/2011/07/01/disabled-travelers-best-places-to-retire-panama/ /1/blog/2011/07/01/disabled-travelers-best-places-to-retire-panama/#comments Fri, 01 Jul 2011 07:01:51 +0000 /1/blog/?p=1009 Panama City

Panama City
Photo by: Erubbey Cantoral (Stock exchange)

Here at Disabled Travelers, we’ve saved some of the best for last as we coast to the end of our Best Places to Retire series. Today we’re looking at Panama, another great place where a thriving expat community enjoys some delightful perks. As always, though, we have to ask the burning question: what can disabled travelers and their travel companions expect from our latest destination? Let’s find out …

Panama’s retirement benefits package is world famous among retirees. If you collect a permanent private or government pension above a certain amount, you qualify for residency and a range of discounts on vital services, transportation, and even some forms of entertainment. On the other hand, there are criticisms that it might not be all it’s cracked up to be. And while there’s good evidence that a disabled traveler might find Panama a neat place to stay for a visit — a collection of modern, accessible hotels awaits in Panama City especially — it seems like it would be a handful on the long term.

Sometimes getting there is half the fun, and that’s definitely the case in this accessible cruise report from Panama. Naturally, there’s more than one accessible cruise that goes to Central and South American destinations, as avid Disabled Travelers readers already know. And there are several great ports to stop at throughout the country, including Colon, which AbilityTrip tells all about. As the second-largest city in Panama, this place boasts some fantastic seaside shopping and access to the world-famous Panama Canal.

A reliable tour operator is never a bad option, and you can enjoy custom accessible tours through Ancon Expeditions of Panama, which comes recommended from the AbilityTrip article above. Although Panama City is poorly designed for accessibility, you can have a great visit through a group tour or with some assistance from traveling companions. Many modern hotels have some adapted facilities for those with limited mobility, but it’s best to follow the trail of those who have been before: the buzz online has it that the Torres de Alba has recently new and renovated areas with an accessible path of travel, and Travelocity offers a selection of disabled hotels throughout the city. Heading to Colon? Check out this disabled hotel directory from TripAdvisor.

Last, don’t forget to take a look at Copa Airlines, the national carrier of Panama. It’s been very busy lately, stepping up the volume of air traffic to get more visitors to enjoy the wonders of its home country. But since Copa works extensively in U.S. destinations including Orlando and Washington, D.C., it’s also tri-lingual and refreshingly direct with accessible travel information. Wheelchairs are available, and your personal wheelchair can be taken aboard or checked. Service animals are also welcome, including dogs and monkeys.

This has been a great trip, but next time Disabled Travelers will be on an all new adventure. My thanks go out to Mexico, France, Italy, Costa Rica, Brazil, and Argentina for providing some great views. What about Portugal and Spain, you might ask? Well, as we return to our “regularly scheduled” posts, we’ll be seeing Portugal soon: it’s our next access guide here at Disabled Travelers, and it’ll arrive this time next week.


/1/blog/2011/07/01/disabled-travelers-best-places-to-retire-panama/feed/ 1
Disabled Travelers’ Best Places to Retire: France and Italy /1/blog/2011/06/10/disabled-travelers-best-places-to-retire-france-and-italy/ /1/blog/2011/06/10/disabled-travelers-best-places-to-retire-france-and-italy/#comments Fri, 10 Jun 2011 07:05:17 +0000 /1/blog/?p=993 The Miralpeix in Occitania, France

The Miralpeix in Occitania, France
Photo by: Lluis Jardi (Stock Exchange)

In today’s Disabled Travelers adventure, we’ll be hitting Languedoc-Roussillon, France, and Le Marche, Italy!

If these locales are new to you, fear not: they were pointed out to us by CNBC’s “Best Places to Retire Outside the U.S.” series, a trail that we’ve been following on the Disabled Travelers blog for the last few weeks.

As DT fans may already know, we’ve passed through both Italy and France on previous trips.

This time, though, we’re zooming in on two of the countries’ “best kept secrets.”

Grab your travel companions and let’s go!

Languedoc-Roussillon, France

For those unfamiliar, this is an area of southeastern France actually bordered by Spain, known for its great number of vineyards and deep connection with the ancient Occitan culture. Rugby is also very popular there, and tourists are quite welcome!

First up is Global Access News, with an extended travelogue on Languedoc-Roussillon. There’s a lot of terrific facts here on disabled hotels and accessible attractions. The portion on Languedoc-Roussillon is extremely helpful, but I would actually look to this as a jumping off point for any France trip. It’s a good general overview that will serve you equally well in Paris, for example.

Looking to book disabled hotels online or find tour operators? You can get into the swing of things with the official Languedoc-Roussillon Tourism Board website. There are also quite a few special offers to be had on the site, which is available entirely in English as well as many other languages.

Le Marche, Italy

Le Marche is a region of central Italy, famous for its rivers and picturesque coasts. There are a lot of strong resources online for the area, including TripAdvisor’s selection of wheelchair accessible vacation rentals. Check out Marche Voyager for a comprehensive overview of accommodations, art, gastronomy, and much more. Start with The Essential Marche to know when to go and where to start. Le Belle Marche describes itself as a travel and tourism guide to the region, and can help more directly with accommodations and events.

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of dedicated accessible travel resources for the area. You can piece together a few things from the sites above, but also consider Accessible Journeys’ Accessible Travel Packages for Italy. Also valuable: My earlier posts on accessible travel in Rome and Venice to Florence include a lot of more general travel info that could help out with Le Marche.

Our ongoing series still includes stops in Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Portugal, and Spain, so we hope you’ll be tuning in to Disabled Travelers again this time next week — and every Friday — for more on the latest in disabled access and wheelchair accessible travel. We sure appreciate your visit; have a wonderful week!


/1/blog/2011/06/10/disabled-travelers-best-places-to-retire-france-and-italy/feed/ 0
Disabled Travelers Spring Break Edition 2011 /1/blog/2011/04/01/disabled-travelers-spring-break-edition-2011/ /1/blog/2011/04/01/disabled-travelers-spring-break-edition-2011/#comments Fri, 01 Apr 2011 07:01:10 +0000 /1/blog/?p=957 Spring day on the Dutch coast

Spring day on the Dutch coast
Photo by: wahlerb (Stock Exchange)

Welcome one and all to Disabled Travelers, where today we’ll be looking at accessible Spring Break destinations and getaways for wheelchair users and their travel companions.

There’s been an explosion of affordable, accessible rental homes for your vacation needs since Disabled Travelers first came around, and if you’re looking for a week off — like those lucky college students are enjoying right about now — you’ve come to the right place.

Let’s get rolling, folks!

From Value Vacation Rentals, check out this new, two-bed, two-bath accessible condo at Surfside Resort in beautiful Destin, Florida. From the site’s search function, you can find a number of other great options in Florida and along the Gulf and Pacific coasts. Don’t forget our comprehensive Sunshine State access guide series. You can learn about Orlando, Miami, and even Disney World. If those aren’t your top picks, also check out our soon-to-be expanded Hawaii coverage.

The Dayton Daily News has a few suggestions hot off the presses, including a number of accessible natural and residential options in Ohio. If you’re looking to go a little further afield, Cozumel, Mexico is an inviting and popular vacation destination with a reputation for safety. See the State Department page on Mexico for special travel information and advisories — and remember that Cozumel is an island, and weather can be intense during the hurricane season! Still, it’s a great pick to see the best beaches Mexico has to offer.

Speaking of beaches, if these are in your future, you’ll want to check out one of last year’s Summer Special posts, where we discussed beach and all-terrain wheelchairs. Though these can be pricy, there are more options out there than you might think, and they really work! Wherever you may be headed, Accessible Accommodations is a good place to check out for verified listings of barrier-free and adapted vacation properties. For accessible hotels, hotels.com remains the top contender.

Since we’re doing Spring Break in today’s visit, I’d just like to mention that if you or someone you know is a wheelchair user attending university in the United States, you may qualify for scholarships. Competitive, merit-based grants are a great way to cut down on long-term debt from pursuing an education, so spread the word if it can help anyone you know. Last but not least for now, remember that travel for Spring Break can be intense, so review the two-part Air Travel 101 for Wheelchair Users at AbilityVoice.

Thanks for stopping by for the Spring Break edition. Stay warm, stay dry, and stay safe this season; and don’t forget to pay a visit this time next week for more news and views from the wide world of disabled travel. We’ll see you then!


/1/blog/2011/04/01/disabled-travelers-spring-break-edition-2011/feed/ 0
Handicapped Travel Resources for “Any” Trip: New and Review /1/blog/2010/08/19/handicapped-travel-resources-for-any-trip-new-and-review/ /1/blog/2010/08/19/handicapped-travel-resources-for-any-trip-new-and-review/#comments Thu, 19 Aug 2010 08:16:44 +0000 /1/blog/?p=857 The Radcliffe Camera in Oxford, one of my favorite destinations

The Radcliffe Camera in Oxford, one of my favorite destinations
Photo by: Alan Rainbow (Stock Exchange)

Thanks again for visiting Disabled Travelers!

You know, over the past many months we’ve covered a lot of territory, and some of our favorite sites – the ones that are most useful for handicapped travelers around the world – haven’t gotten as much attention as they used to.

In this post, we’ll visit some old favorites and also some new entries in the world of accessible travel, and take a little refresher course on what they offer and where to find them.

Quite a few new pages have popped up, too!

Let’s look …

Start off with 14 hot disabled travel tips from Independent Traveler, which also offers a great links page that covers a lot of topics including accessible cruises. Then try Global Access News for a local, ground-level perspective on international travel destinations; new travelogues from wheelchair users are posted every month! Current articles cover Prague, Amsterdam, and points of interest in England, and accessible hotels are highlighted, too. Speaking of hotels, please use Hotels.com and encourage them to continue expanding their disability-friendly search features!

Gimp on the Go is good for a collection of interesting travelogues; though the site itself hasn’t been updated in many moons, the archives are still worth visiting. Apparelyzed, a spinal cord injury support and community website, is also great for reading about others’ valuable international travel experiences. Disabled World also boasts a huge number of articles on many, many topics relevant to disabled travel, including accessible cruises, tour operators, and way more stuff than I could even list! Makoa.org also has a stellar general directory of handicapped travel links; prepare to be astonished!

Speaking of tour operators, Accessible Journeys has always been at the top of our scorecard. Providing customized, disability-friendly itineraries worldwide for over 25 years, it’s now visiting destinations including New Zealand, South Africa, Buenos Aires, Israel, and Chile. World on Wheelz is another well-established firm that seems to be everywhere at once: Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and the U.S. West, among many other places. It’s the only handicapped travel organization I know of to visit Ecuador and the Amazon! For another option that’s adventurous and challenging, Endeavor Safaris is a big name in African excursions for the wheeled crowd.

And what about wheelchairs? A lot of “all-terrain” wheelchairs have sprung up on the market, which we like to highlight from time to time for those who want to get off the beaten path. Renegade Wheelchairs is one of the pioneers in this biz; and many folks find the Renegade ideal for outdoor sports like hunting and fishing. Everyone enjoys a day at the beach, and you might want something more specialized for such a trip, so check out De Bug Beach Wheelchairs and Natural Access. For getting in the pool or spa, Aqua Creek products might be your best bet, and the Tiralo handles beautifully in the ocean!

So, here you see the best of the best, the creme de la creme, the Triple Crown winners of handicapped travel in a whole slew of categories. Also remember that we’ve covered dozens of destinations around North America, Europe, Asia, Oceania, and even a few trips down south now and again, so anything that’s not covered here is probably in there somewhere! It’s been a pleasure to serve you – thanks again for reading, and adventure on!


/1/blog/2010/08/19/handicapped-travel-resources-for-any-trip-new-and-review/feed/ 3
Disabled Travelers Australia Series: Darwin /1/blog/2010/08/05/disabled-travelers-australia-series-darwin/ /1/blog/2010/08/05/disabled-travelers-australia-series-darwin/#comments Thu, 05 Aug 2010 11:01:14 +0000 /1/blog/?p=840 A stormy sunset in Australia’s Northern Territory

A stormy sunset in Australia’s Northern Territory
Photo by: Juho Tastula (Stock Exchange)

Welcome back to Disabled Travelers! As we wind down our stupendous and compendious series of access guides for Australia, we come to Darwin, capital of the Northern Territory. Though it’s the least populous capital on the island, it’s the heart and soul of the Northern Territory and well-known as a jumping off point for Asian destinations. Darwin Harbor and surroundings have grown from pioneer days and include historic shipwrecks and terrific fishing. But how’s the wheelchair access? Let’s see …

One of the biggest attractions in Darwin is the harbor area, so let’s start with accessible hotels around Darwin Harbor. You can also get plenty of listings for wheelchair-friendly accommodations from PleaseTakeMeTo, Australian Bed and Breakfast, and of course, Stayz. One very well-located and reputable option is the Darwin Central Hotel, which has a selection of accessible rooms. There’s also Escape Travel for even more hits. If you’re headed between Darwin and Adelaide, or planning to pop by famous Alice Springs, you’ll want to hear about The Ghan, one of Rail Australia’s most historic trains. Of course, Darwin International Airport is another handy option.

For getting by and getting around, check out Travelling Darwin, an article by the late public speaker Matt Laffan. Matt was not a wheelchair user, but had a serious height impairment from medical issues, and his observations are very incisive. As in Adelaide, you’ll probably be interested in accessibility at the Darwin Festival, which happens to be coming up later this month. It’s a huge event for the Northern Territory and has a whole range of offerings to be enjoyed by the deaf, those with visual difficulties, and of course, anyone who needs mobility impaired access. The fun doesn’t stop for seventeen days!

Around Darwin is one of the most useful sites on the ‘net focused on Darwin, and includes a huge amount of general tourist information, as well as a lot that’s useful for handicapped travelers. Some valuable highlights: a few accessible swimming spots, accommodations in the Darwin outback, and some local hotels and motels. The rest of the site has plenty of restaurants, tour operators, cruises, and a whole bunch of other neat stuff that’s sure to make your trip up north memorable.

You can also check out Lonely Planet’s Introducing Darwin. For a comprehensive guide to the area, do not miss Your Guide to Everything Darwin, which delivers on the name with a database filled with just about all you could want: hotels to flights to attractions and everything in between. It also aggregates the latest Darwin news!

That’s it for dusty but delightful Darwin, and we’re finally driving toward the end of the Australia Series here on Disabled Travelers. See you next time, and adventure on!


/1/blog/2010/08/05/disabled-travelers-australia-series-darwin/feed/ 0
Disabled Travelers Australia Series: Perth /1/blog/2010/07/28/disabled-travelers-australia-series-perth/ /1/blog/2010/07/28/disabled-travelers-australia-series-perth/#comments Wed, 28 Jul 2010 07:01:59 +0000 /1/blog/?p=833 A view of central Perth from the Bell Tower

A view of central Perth from the Bell Tower
Photo by: Vaughan James (Stock Exchange)

We’re on an Australia marathon here at Disabled Travelers, and we’re coming ‘round the bend to the sun-soaked city of Perth, capital of Western Australia and fourth-largest city on the island, known for its brilliant beaches and lively nightlife, made even more lively by the steady stream of able-bodied and handicapped travelers who visit on a regular basis. Perth is a beautiful city, and a big part of our access guide countdown to hit all the major metro zones in the wacky and wonderful Land of Oz.

So far, local airports and airlines have been a little hit-or-miss with accessibility, and that’s a shame. Perth Airport is pretty terse about accessibility within the terminals, but you can get a wheelchair by calling ahead to the airline you’re flying with. Better news is provided by official outlets: the City of Perth website affirms its commitment to universal access in a glowing and detailed listing of accessibility features, including transit, parking, streets, and buildings. Ramps, tactile indicators and audible street signs are common throughout the city. For a more whimsical take on the city’s attractions and offerings, try Perth Tourist Centre Online.

Need a little help getting around? Swan Taxis’ Easy Access Perth fleet is totally wheelchair accessible. Captain Cook Cruises has some accessibility on cruises, but can only accommodate manual wheelchairs, and any assistance needed must be provided by members of the wheelchair user’s group.

The best all-inclusive access guides for Perth and Western Australia generally are provided by You’re Welcome Western Australia, a handicapped organization that advocates for universal access. Using their sophisticated search features, you can search for specific accessibility features like parking, restrooms, accommodations, beaches, and more in virtually every city and town in the region. Info is provided by volunteers or business owners, and seems pretty sound. There are 24 accessible hotels listed at the time of this writing, with very detailed run-downs of just what adaptations are available.

For past beachfront destinations (like my own home state, Florida) we’ve discussed beach accessibility in depth, and seen a lot of intriguing new wheelchair designs to help everyone get out on the sand. Information for Perth is a tiny bit more scant, but there’s a good report from the news site Local Government Focus. In summer 2008, a bold new pilot project aimed at increasing accessibility at popular beaches was launched. Focused largely on North Cottesloe Beach, with the North Cottesloe Beach Surf Living Saving Club at the forefront, aimed to establish special beach chairs and other features.

Naturally, I can’t get out of Perth without a wave to the accessible restaurant database at eatability. AOL Travel has the hookup on accessible hotels in the city, and so does PleaseTakeMeTo. The giant observation wheel known as the “Wheel of Perth” is accessible and loans wheelchairs. For more accessible attractions, see the article from WheelieGood, which provides total access guides for Western Australia. Places to stay, parks, beaches, and all kinds of other sights are a click away!

Would you believe there are still more cities, more attractions, and more vital info to share on Australia? It’s time for me to take a little breather, but we’ll be seeing each other again real soon – in Darwin, in Adelaide, or maybe in your own backyard! Thanks for visiting, and adventure on!


/1/blog/2010/07/28/disabled-travelers-australia-series-perth/feed/ 0
Disabled Travelers Australia Series: Melbourne /1/blog/2010/07/26/disabled-travelers-australia-series-melbourne/ /1/blog/2010/07/26/disabled-travelers-australia-series-melbourne/#comments Mon, 26 Jul 2010 08:55:13 +0000 /1/blog/?p=830 City lights of Melbourne

City lights of Melbourne Photo by: Timo Balk (Stock Exchange)

Are you ready for even more of the Disabled Access Australia series?

Today, we’re hitting the bush trail once again to visit Melbourne, the second most populous city, on the bay of Port Phillip.

A major cultural hub, home to the Australian film industry, television, and avant garde art, it’s an eminently livable place and a great base for your visit to the Land Down under.

But how does it rate for accessibility? Well, we’re about to find out!

Melbourne Airport has one of the most detailed disability access pages of any Australian airport we’ve looked at so far, definitely a good sign. Wheelchair accessible features include free wheelchairs available on request from all airlines, disabled parking, wheelchair accessible restroom facilities throughout the terminals, and assisted pick up and drop off of disabled travelers at the front of the airport. More information on accessible airlines and local airports is available from the Visit Victoria website. Transitions Abroad has strong content on various accessible public transit options.

Also from Visit Victoria, you can get information on over a dozen accessible hotels, motels, and rental properties, including Wheelies Rest, Countrywide Cottages, and Corella Rise Bed and Breakfast. Likewise, Backpack Melbourne is another public site with a useful mobility impaired access page giving you quick facts on accommodation, public transport, tickets, accessible transit lounges, toilets, taxis, emergency services, and more. If you’ve ever gotten a wheelchair banged up by inappropriate “care” from a taxi driver or sky porter who isn’t knowledgeable about handicapped travelers, you know how useful (and how rare!) some of this information is!

Per usual in Australia, Stayz is a major source for accessible hotels, and eatability knows everything there is to know about accessible restaurants and other venues in Melbourne and surrounding towns. These are definitely two sites to keep bookmarked if you’re going to spend a while in Australia, especially if you plan to move from place to place! (I’ll miss them when we’re done!) There’s also PleaseTakeMeTo, and don’t forget Hotels.com now has basic accessibility options in their search! For accessible vehicle rental, visit WheelAway. They’ll meet you at the airport with your new ride!

TravAbility is a brand spanking new website (you can tell by the .travel domain!) for a tour operator focused on inclusive, accessible tours that encompass Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Thailand, Africa, India, and destinations around North America. Customized Australia tours are available all over the continent, and can take in most of the cities and accessible attractions we’ve visited in our guide. The site also maintains a growing collection of news links related to accessible travel, updated regularly.

Of course, a city this serious about accessibility has plenty of wheelchair-friendly attractions to choose from. Major cultural venues generally have ample adapted seating available and also make room for caregivers. The official tourism site maintains a list of accessible gardens and parks. The Melbourne Cricket Ground has handicapped parking and accessible seating, and it’s the same with Etihad Stadium and the Melbourne Cricket Club, Looking for fun that’s a little less rough? The Melbourne Recital Center goes a long way to help out patrons with mobility, hearing, or sight impairments; the “arthouse” Cinema Nova is also devoted to a fully accessible experience. Melbourne just might be the most welcoming city for handicapped travelers that we’ve seen in Australia!

Next, it’s off to Perth. After that, I have a bevy of other goodies for you to enjoy before we move this party to New Zealand, and from there start to cover the whole region. Be sure to write in if there’s anything I’ve missed, or anything you want to see – this blog is for you! And I hope to see YOU for our next post … ‘til then, adventure on!


/1/blog/2010/07/26/disabled-travelers-australia-series-melbourne/feed/ 0
Disabled Travelers Australia Series: Brisbane /1/blog/2010/07/16/disabled-travelers-australia-series-brisbane/ /1/blog/2010/07/16/disabled-travelers-australia-series-brisbane/#comments Fri, 16 Jul 2010 09:30:49 +0000 /1/blog/?p=817 City skyline of Brisbane

City skyline of Brisbane
Photo by: Graham Ironside (Stock Exchange)

Howdy, mates!

Today’s installment of our Australia access guides brings us to beautiful Brisbane, capital of Queensland.

Located on the east coast, and bisected by the Brisbane River, it is the third-most populated city anywhere in Australia.

Being coastal, its climate is less arid and more hospitable for handicapped travelers visiting Oz from afar. The Central Business District is largely walkable, and the city is known for its burgeoning live music scene, which incorporates new and classic flavors.

Off we go …

TransLink is the public transportation service for the Queensland area, including Brisbane. Services available include trains, buses, and ferries, on par with any global city. New bus lines have recently gone into service with greater accessibility features, and future implementation is expected to focus on providing a barrier-free experience. Wheelchair taxis are also available and may be even more convenient in the Central Business District, which is also where many hotels are found. The local Yellow Can Company has provided tips for catching a taxi near major attractions. Though the buses have a strong reputation, no word on the quality of trains in the area.

As for ferries, no trip through Brisbane is complete without riding one, and all CityCat ferries are highly accessible. The local handicapped organization DisabilityLifestyles has detailed information on all public transport, though the rest of the site is not oriented to the needs of visitors. However, there are some tips about accessible towns and suburbs off the beaten path that you might choose to visit if basing your trip in the big city is not your cup of tea.

Lately, we just cannot get away from Eatability, a fantastic website that seems to index just about every eatery in Australian towns and give us the lowdown on accessible restaurants in an easy-to-digest format. Of course, they are ahead of the curve in Brisbane, rating a whole slew of area restaurants. Top accessible picks include The Fix Restaurant and Bistro Allure, with many more to choose from. Seafood, Indian, Italian, and French cuisine, among others, are well represented throughout the area. Naturally, you will need a place to sleep between delicious meals, so visit Stayz, PleaseTakeMeTo, and AOL Travel for over three dozen accessible hotels and vacation rental properties.

Queen Street is the historic “main street” of Brisbane, and the top shopping venue anywhere around is the Queen Street Mall. A veritable explosion of stores for every taste, “QSM” also has disabled access features including wheelchair ramp and elevator access and a Braille trail running the complete course of the mall on both sides. Looking to soak in a little culture? Brisbane Information lists the top museums and galleries, including the Maritime Museum and World War II buffs’ favorite, the MacArthur Museum, with basic disabled access facts and where to find out more. (Do not forget the historic Castlemaine Perkins Brewery, equivalent to Dublin’s renowned Guinness Brewery in importance!)

Last but not least, nature lovers shouldn’t miss Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Considered one of the best zoos anywhere in the world, the Sanctuary offers a unique “Keeper-For-A-Day” program and prides itself on visitors’ ability to get up close and personal with the animals. (The FAQ even specifies that “Yes, you really do get to hug a koala.”) Owls, eagles, indigenous snakes, kangaroos, wallabies, and freshwater crocodiles are also eager for your visit. The Sanctuary is a fully wheelchair accessible attraction, and wheelchairs are available for rental at the entrance.

Wait, there’s more! We are not quite done with Australia; there are a few hot spots left to hit, and a lot of great handicapped travel resources that may not fit anywhere else ‘til the end. Just where will we be next? Well, that is a matter for next time, and I hope you will tune in! Until then, adventure on!

/1/blog/2010/07/16/disabled-travelers-australia-series-brisbane/feed/ 1
Disabled Travelers Australia Series: Sydney /1/blog/2010/07/14/disabled-travelers-australia-series-sydney/ /1/blog/2010/07/14/disabled-travelers-australia-series-sydney/#comments Wed, 14 Jul 2010 07:10:13 +0000 /1/blog/?p=812 Sydney Harbor Bridge

Sydney Harbor Bridge
Photo by: Claire Cresswell (Stock Exchange)

Good day, everybody!

Disabled Travelers’ Australia access guides are shaping up nicely, as we’ve hacked through the Outback and visited the capital, Canberra.

Now we have what’s arguably the most famous city in Australia in our sights: Sydney!

Home of the world-famous Sydney Opera House, now the most recently constructed UNESCO World Heritage Sites on Earth, situated in the city that’s easily the biggest tourist draw on the whole island. Without further ado, let’s explore!

It seems only fair to begin with the Opera House, which has its own comprehensive accessibility page. Virtually everything in the Opera House is accessible to some extent (usually a great extent!) and maps and detailed information about getting there, getting around, and enjoying what’s on offer is available from the main site.

Sydney’s Accessibility Test is an enlightening endeavor by The Sydney Morning Herald and former wheelchair tennis champion David Hall, who teamed up with the paper to lead an adventurous tour through the city’s transportation system, attractions, and restaurants. The result is a five-minute video that gives a good, street-level view of the accessibility situation in Sydney. Getting around is made easier for handicapped travelers by Zero200, the centralized service for wheelchair taxi booking in Sydney. You’ll also want to know about the local accessible buses, and learn all about accessible cruises from Matilda Cruises. (Psst: public ferries are accessible too!)

Wheelchair Accessible Sydney is an established tour operator that provides customized sightseeing and shopping tours through the city. Some of their most beloved itineraries include views of Sydney’s Harbor, the towns and attractions of the nearby Blue Mountains, and the Hunter Valley Wine Tour. Australia has many fine and historic vineyards, but accessibility conditions are checkered, so this may be the best way to enjoy this part of the complete local experience! Also check out the Wheelchair Accessible Tours listed over at Australia in Style.

If you’re going to Sydney, you’ll be spending a lot of time in the Central Business District, which is the at the heart of a major accessibility initiative. Accessible transportation, parking, and other handicapped travel resources are available through the City of Sydney website linked above. Local train stations that are wheelchair friendly are listed as part of The Rocks Wheelchair Accessible Self-Guided Tour, a private site. For wheelchair accessible attractions, check out My Fun, the centralized database of info for Sydney’s best parks, resorts, and points of interest. The search function gets you at-a-glance results on which sites meet your needs. For example, a quick search reveals that famous Sydney Tower Skywalk is now accessible.

Next time on Disabled Travelers, we’ll take another big bite out of Australia with a journey to Brisbane, the third-most populous city! We’re not going to be done until we’ve been everywhere and done everything in Oz … so just think of July as “Down Under” month, and adventure on!


/1/blog/2010/07/14/disabled-travelers-australia-series-sydney/feed/ 0