Why Germany Is An Option For Disabled Tourists
Since my recent trips to Germany, I've had a few messages not only asking what it's like driving abroad as a disabled driver but also about how accessible Germany really is compared to its European counterparts. The truth is I love Germany despite being a wheelchair user, in fact, I probably feel happier in Germany than I do back home and not just because of the Autobahns!
Both Aachen and Cologne for me were really easy to get around, the parking restrictions as someone with a Blue Badge worked massively in my favour, and if you're a Blue Badge holder then you're also exempt from the LEZ rules, but make sure you display your badge at all times whilst in the LEZ. I wasn't stopped in either city but I've heard of others who have been. Cologne was definitely the easiest of the two cities to get around in the wheelchair since near enough every shop in the city centre had step-free access. My biggest tip for Cologne is to park in the underground car park near the Cathedral, as the lift brings you next to the entrance of the Cathedral if you wish to visit.
Outside of the cities, the Autobahn really is my favourite place to be, and you'll see from the vlog that I really was in my element. Driving in Germany for me is more relaxing than in the UK, and even in most of the service stations no one batted an eyelid to me getting out of the driver's side, something that in France happens all too often! Trains in Germany are also accessible, with the longer distance trains having wheelchair access in first class just like what we're used to having in the UK.
Moving a little bit away from Germany though, if you're driving to Europe and like me, you put your chair on the front seat when you drive on your own, don't go alone. The exit checks at Calais require you to open your boot, and thankfully Alex was able to do this for me much to the confusion of the police and customs people until they saw my wheelchair in the boot, but I don't think France see many adapted cars on the road, or if they do then they don't expect a car like a Mercedes-Benz to be adapted!
My advice to any disabled person who wants to go to Germany is this, do it! It's such a lovely country with an amazing amount of culture, history, and so many things to do. I also found most Germans to be really helpful people even though I don't speak German - Yet! Most of the attractions in the cities are accessible as well, and I'll review some of them in future blog posts!