Suddenly disabled: Need help with an unlucky break!!

Well, as luck would have it the wife broke her foot the other day - one week before we leave for our 3 week trip to London, Paris and Italy. She's in a cast and on crutches, which is going to severely limit if not totally eliminate some of the things we wanted to do. We're now in a bit of a scramble to find things that are more "handicap friendly". So my questions are this: 1) Can anyone suggest activities/sites/etc. that don't require walking and/or standing for long periods of time? A tour, a class, or event where we can sit, perhaps? I know that's kind of vague, but even we're not sure what we're looking for. 2) Does anyone know which, if any, of the major sites (i.e. British Museum, Tate, etc.) provide wheelchairs or other handicap services that might make it easier for my wife to get around? Any kind of help or suggestion would be very greatly appreciated! P.S. We're now calling this trip "Europe on Three Legs a Day", or "There and Back again: A Hobbled's Tale". We can't decide which. :-)

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
3313 posts

Ah, Max, I'm so sorry. As someone who recently spent a long weekend in Cambridge and another in London, after tearing the meniscus in my left knee, I urge you to be careful not to overdo. I did and that was a mistake. ; ( I have some UK suggestions. I have found this website, which you should explore. Access for All. It looks like they will mostly give suggestions on how to find out info. Check out the tourists sites like VisitLondon. They have lots of info on places that are accessible. You should also browse this section of the Graffiti Wall. It sounds like you've got the right attitude! Pam

Posted by Ron
southwest, Missouri, U.S.A.
1359 posts

Hello Max. I think, a person who has a broken foot can cancel an airline travel reservation, and reschedule the flight at a later time. The airline would not require the person to pay a fee for changing the tickets. The airline would require receiving a note from a physician saying she has a broken foot, and the physician recommends that she not travel to an other country. And the airline might not require a fee for changing your tickets.

Posted by Maggie
Boscombe, Dorset, UK
960 posts

Max, I'm so sorry this has happened.
This link may help you: http://www.visitlondon.com/traveller-information/essential-information/accessible-london Maybe have a look at the individual websites of places like The British Museum to see exactly what they offer in the way of help. Make sure your hotel is accessible. The Tube- some stations have lifts or escalators, but some are just stairs, so you'll need to check that if you're planning on using public transport. I'll find the website for transport for you. It's www.tfl.gov.uk The Red Cross used to provide wheelchair rentals. On a practical note- painkillers such as Paracetamol and Ibuprofen are available over the counter, as is Paracetamol with codeine, and they're not expensive if you go with the generic brands. My best wishes to you wife. You two seem to have great attitude about what's happened, but I have to say I'd be tempted to cancel and come another time, if possible. there's really no easy way to get around London with a broken foot.

Posted by Deb
Sioux Falls, SD
98 posts

This happended to a friend of mine. His wife did Rome on crutches. The Bourghese (spell?) was good. There was an elevator and she could sit in rooms and look at the art while he roamed more. There are various cooking classes in Italy; some comments may be in archives about them. I've never been to London, but I've heard the pubs are a great hangout. In Paris and Italy, we spent wonderful afternoons over a leisurely lunch at an outdoor cafe people watching. If in Venice, you can get on the water taxis and take them around the island. We did that; great views. The smaller galleries in Paris might be nice; the l'orangerie for example. More opportunities to just sit in a room and take in the art. How about an Italian opera in Italy or an organ concert at a French cathedral?

Posted by Sharon
Santa Rosa, CA, USA
892 posts

That is really too bad! Let me just tell you my experience: the year before I was to have a knee replacement and I couldn't walk much at all, we took a portable wheelchair with us - it was lightweight but with bigger wheels so it was easy to go over cobbled streets. It wasn't ideal, but at least we were able to go. We were in Sweden and Copenhagen that year. The next year we traveled after my knee replacement, and I still wasn't to the point where I could walk really well. We were in Paris that year. I purchased a cane with a fold down seat and in the museums or in lines I was able to sit. It helped a lot. We ended up in Paris taking the bus as our transportation and avoided all the stairs. Some museums had special handicapped entrances. The reason we took our own wheelchair is because I had not come up with a place to rent one - perhaps there is, but I never found it. I had been told that London is not very wheelchair friendly but never had to check that out.

Posted by Rebecca
Nashville, TN, USA
645 posts

So sorry about your wife's accident. You may find it easier to get around London by taxi; I'd do that. I suggest visiting the British Museum, where a person can be entertained for an entire day (or two or three). The British Museum has wheelchairs to loan visitors, on a first come first serve basis. http://www.britishmuseum.org/visiting/access.aspx On this page, see "Borrow a wheelchair"; it says, "Wheelchairs are available at both entrances to borrow for your visit." You should reserve in advance by calling +44 (0)20 7323 8299. There is a cafe in the museum, so you need not leave for lunch. Grab a sandwich and keep on wheeling her around the museum afterwards for the afternoon. Taxi back to the hotel. Easy.

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
2899 posts

In London, I'd suggest that you use the bus rather than the tube. Very few of the tube stations are accessible while the buses can accommodate wheelchairs. For events where you can sit, theatre is a great option. However, many theatres have steps, so if this is an issue, ask for accessible seating. Timeout.com has listings of events.

Posted by Max
USA
27 posts

Thank you all for your help and suggestions. It all suddenly seems very daunting and a bit depressing. We've been planing this trip for so long and now everything is changed. I was wondering why no one suggested the London Eye? Do they not have seats in the carriges? I've been to the website, but it's not clear by the pictures (but it looks like they do rent out wheelchairs). Or is it just not something worth doing?

Posted by Bonnie
Acworth, Georgia, USA
31 posts

We did the London Eye tour several years ago and loved it. There is a bench in each of the "capsules" in the middle of the car. We did the combination London Eye/boat trip which we enjoyed. Your wife could sit on the boat and see all of the sights with ease.

Posted by John
Pantego, NC, USA
704 posts

I do not know your financial situation, but purchasing an electric scooter might be in hand. They run around 600 to 800 dollars. You can take them on international flights for free. You might need to let them know 48 hrs ahead that you are using one. On short flights, you must let them know in advance. Transport on the plane is still free. I have one and have used it for the past 6 years all over Ireland, UK, France, and Spain. Mine is called a Shoprider Scootie Jr.. Shoprider has a newer model out but it does the same thing.

Posted by Olivia
Monroe, NC
9 posts

Look into Shopmobility; this "scheme" is nationwide. I don't know about availability in London, but their website has a map showing locations all over Great Britain. Shopmobility rents power scooters at very reasonable costs. I have limited mobility and found this option made even walking tours in York and Bath possible for me. Cathedrals will have wheelchairs, but they are usually manual type; York Minster let me in on my scooter. Museums may have wheelchairs or scooters; Culloden has scooters. Websites of attractions and museums will have information about how accessible they are and what is available.