We started planning for our family's European trip in December 2013. Rick's PBS programs and our ensuing use of his nation or metropolitan tour guides supported us on each step of our journey. However, I only heard the word "disabled" or "wheelchair" once and that was like a prayerful wish that all would go well. In vain I explored the London, Paris, Munich from the Watch,Read Listen section of this web address, Italy books and ebooks for hints but to no avail. However, Rick's optimism kept us going. To be clear of my problems, I have ALS and walking is a struggle but not impossible. This was the first time we used a wheelchair. As a result, we were learning along the way. We flew into London and returned to the US via Milan; the rest of the trip was with the various trains. I worried for several days before each new train ride. I was concerned regarding curbs, entrances to rail stations, directions to loading platforms, rest rooms, eateries. Fortunately, my wife and two boys could help me but that didn't ease my worries.
In general, my concerns will either misplaced or or not sustained. Each problem was already dealt with by our European hosts. All of the rail stations were easily accessible for the wheelchair. Even in Venice where the exit out of the Santa Lucia station to the street had steps, Rick's information showed me that there was an level exit on the left hand side of the station, not well marked but still there. We had no trouble getting out of the station. In all of the rail stations there were clean well staffed rest rooms with a dedicated room for handicapped...and it was free. When entering a passenger car that was above the level of the boarding platform the rail line supplied a lift that carried me and the wheelchair up to the passenger car or lowered me to the platform. Each station had a representative of the rail line guide us through the crowd and out to the cab stand. Lastly, restaurants whether it be in the station or out in a city were always helpful and never once did I feel out of place.
Finally, I want to support Rick's walking tours as found in the Travel Forum. We used the walking tours for London, parts of Paris, and Munich. For days like London's Bank Holiday or museum holidays the walking tour filled the bill and the supplementary maps and slides made it a learning experience.
As a former Seattlite let me give Rick a vote of approval. The information and guidance made what could have been a disaster a wonderful journey for the family.
Pat Beaton, New Jersey USA