Travel & Holidays

Disabled holidays: accessibility in Germany

Disability Horizons Co-founder Martyn Sibley has just got back from a trip in Germany, where he experienced an accessible spa, stunning scenery and lamas!

It’s been a few weeks since arriving home from our trip in Poland – you can find out more about accessibility there by reading my last travel post from Poland. After a couple more days with Kasia’s family in Poland, we headed westwards for our next cool project. This time with the German tourist board.

Within an hour we were near Berlin. The first thing that strikes you in Germany is how efficient the roads are. On the autobahn (motorway) there’s less restrictions on speed. That does sound scary, but actually works very well. With a good soundtrack and roadtrip snacks, we ticked off the next couple of hours very quickly.

As we turned off of the main roads and arrived in the region of Lower Saxony, we were struck by the beautiful nature. There was a lot of green scenery and water flowing amongst it. After around 4 or 5 hours of driving, we arrived in Bad Bevensen, our home for the next couple of days.

Guesthouse Bad BevensenOur hotel was called ‘Guesthouse Bad Bevensen‘ in English. We were greeted by Susanne from the hotel’s marketing team and arranged to have a tour once we’d settled in. The car park was full of accessible parking spaces and we had 1 of 100 accessible rooms. Always a good start to an accessible travel experience right?

The rooms had electric beds, which are very useful for people with my type of disability, Spinal Muscular Atrophy. It’s nice to sit up in bed and watch TV, or be able to just move a bit in the night. Also, the bathroom had the very vital roll-in shower. We’d brought my hoist and shower chair in the car, but they also had all of this equipment in house too.

fds_gbb_rezeption_356So after a freshen up we headed for the hotel tour. Set on 4 levels, there was plenty to see. The first thing that struck me was the 2 lifts, to help ease the rush hour traffic at dinner time. We were on the top floor and therefore enjoyed the balcony view of the nearby forests. From there we also noticed the fully plenished library next to it – great for a chilled afternoon.

The rest of our floor and the third floor were bedrooms. On the second floor there was a variety of fitness and wellbeing amenities. The guests are able to participate in various daily classes, including aerobics, and an accessible form of yoga. The thing that grabbed Kasia and I was the steam room and sauna, as these were accessible. So, later on I hoisted into my shower chair and we headed down for a delightful steam with relaxing sounds and nice smells.

On the ground floor there was the reception and a huge dining area. We enjoyed breakfasts and dinners during our stay there. My favourite was the Italian-themed evening. We also hung out in the bar area, which is situated both indoors and outdoors. Always good to sink a few beverages when on holiday 🙂

During our whistle-stop visit to Lower Saxony, we had an amazing activity arranged. It was truly original. We spent a time with a group of Llamas. Yes that’s right, Llamas.

DSC_4036We met the rather edgy looking Llamas at the hotel, alongside the owners of the company, of course. Very quickly we learnt that these exotic, but nervy, looking animals don’t kick and only spit at each other when left alone. Phew! In fact, they were probably more concerned than we were.

Feeling less worried, we walked around the forest nearby with them. We were also told about how the Llama therapy can help disabled people with things like muscle spasms. A very interesting attribute.

After a while we stopped for cookies and red wine – a great combination. This turned out to be a really nice picnic during a very memorable excursion. The scenery was spectacular.

Naturally, you wouldn’t just go to Lower Saxony and Bad Bevensen for Llama time. However, as one activity to try, I can definitely recommend it. I’d also encourage you to stay for 4 nights or more and make the most of the many places on offer in this part of Germany.

If you want to learn more about BarrierFree Germany, a campaign being run to promote accessibility in Germany, there is a dedicated website with information. You can also follow more of the campaign on Twitter with the hashtag #BarrierFreeGermany. If I’ve whet your appetite about Lower Saxony specifically, then take a look at this information on accessibility in Lower Saxony.

On the way home we had a fantastic experience with DFDS ferries. Thank you to them for a great accessible sail home. Now I’m remembering this great trip and thinking about where to go next time…

By Martyn Sibley

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One Comment

  1. As someone with SMA who likes to travel, I was wondering, who do you get to come along and provide cares while you travel? I’ve had to rely on family, but as the years go on they are moving into their own lives, and aren’t able to travel with me. Likewise, the difficulty of bringing a lift with prevents me from going on a number of trips. Any tips or suggestions are greatly appreciated.

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