Accessible Walks with Wheelchairs in BarrierFree Germany

After The Famous Five comes….. The Famous Four, recruited by TOG to carry out a special – and very important – investigation.

Destination: Germany. Mission: to put to the test the German BarrierFree provision for wheelchair users. Just how barrier free is it?

Access The Outdoor Guide (AccessTOG) works with Debbie North to make the inaccessible accessible for people with disabilities, their families and their friends.

Our starting point is Newcastle where we board the DFDS Seaways ferry for the 15 hour overnight sailing to Amsterdam.

With a 2,000-mile road trip ahead of us on the other side we opt to use a Land Rover Discovery, the perfect vehicle for four people, luggage, Canon camera equipment from Park Cameras, wheelchair and ramps. Kitted out with our TOG branded gear from Stadium Sports we were ready!

Oh, and don’t forget our Keepcups! (At the end of the journey we estimated that we had 54 cups of take-way coffee. And we did it without having to throw away a single paper cup).

My wheelchair for the adventure is the Whill PEV (personal electronic vehicle), a very compact machine which easily folds to fit in the boot. We found that Outwell have some great accessories for long car journeys too, one of our favourites was the portable mini fridge, that stopped our sandwiches going soggy!

We pre-book a wheelchair accessible cabin so when we board we are guided to a parking space close to lifts, where there are plenty of space and ramps, making it a straightforward job to get the wheelchair off the vehicle. We will give you the full low down on DFDS later.

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Wurzburg is an easy place to get to. It’s vibrant with lots of people bustling about and fine shops of every sort housed in lovely old buildings.

The market square is the perfect place to book a table for dinner so you can eat and people watch at the same time. All around are beautiful buildings with Baroque facades adding to the absolute charm of this central location.

If you have the time then it is well worth a visit to the cathedral and its neighbour The Neumunster Church.

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On the morning after the night before we visit the winery at Weingut am Stein, Ludwig Knoll for a very pleasant interlude of wine-tasting and a walk through the vineyards. All of which sets us up nicely for a traditional Franconian Dinner in the Burgerspital. Washed down – of course – with some fine local wines.

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We are on the road again. This time to Bad Wiessee 230 miles away. We stay in the accessible Ferienwohnungen Concordia where an added extra is our very own host, the lovely Hildegard.

This area of Germany is everything that I imagined Bavaria to be….mountains, lakes and glorious views where ever you cast your gaze. And it is so easy to get around. Wrapped up with our TOG Buffs and warm attire we could have stayed up there for hours!

During our two days there we take a cable car ride into the mountains and enjoy relaxing strolls along the lakes. This place belongs on a picture postcard. A very memorable two days.

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If it’s Thursday it must be Koblenz, 360 miles away, where the extremely entertaining Johannes is our amiable city guide.

We ride the cable car across The Rhine up to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress offering stunning views across the historic city and the confluence of The Moselle and The Rhine.
Everything on this BarrierFree city tour is so accessible and my Whill is easy to manoeuvre over the cobble paths beside the fortress.

Of course all this sight-seeing gives you a fierce appetite. But where to eat? The Weindorf Restaurant, situated next to the Rhine, has a great atmosphere. It serves typical German cuisine. I opt for a German pizza – flammmkuchen – which is excellent.

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Whistlestop is the word on this tour. So next we find ourselves 173 miles away in Aachen. It’s a bustling student city. Our evening tour begins at the Elisenbrunner, where the warm sulphuric smelling water bubbles up.

Aachener Dom – the cathedral – is the most important landmark of this medieval city and is stunning. Between the cathedral and the market square is the puppet fountain, a really unusual – indeed quirky – water feature. It consists of several bronze puppets with articulated body parts that can be moved and re-positioned by passers-by.

We enjoy a lovely late evening meal at a restaurant in the market square. Though it is a cold evening, we are able to sit outdoors, keeping warm thanks to blankets and the patio heaters.

Our stay in Aachen is brief. We bed down at the Innside Hotel and pack our Overboard Bags early the next morning to set off on the long drive back to England via Belgium and France – 217 miles in all – to catch the ferry from Calais to Dover.

A long drive but at least the sea crossing is short – just one and a half hours. Almost home? Well not really. Just a little matter of a 360-mile drive back to Cumbria.

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Deb’s Verdict:
“This is my first experience of BarrierFree Germany and I must say I feel very positive about it. German Tourism has worked hard to develop and deliver accessible tourism. The whole experience has given me the confidence to go back and explore more of this beautiful country.”

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