My experience from Norwegian Holiday on Wheels shows that we still have a long way to go when it comes to facilitation.
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I never thought that even the smallest sidewalk would be a problem, or that the beautiful cobblestone of Bergen would make it nearly impossible to get there. That was before I got sick six years ago. The body disappeared and the wheelchair became a reality.
I realized that life must be lived while I still could. Creating memories suddenly became the most important thing, memories that my loved ones could look at.
While it’s not a problem to get into a car for a vacation, the challenges do line up when you’re sitting in a heavy electric wheelchair. Everything must be planned down to the smallest detail. Are we really good in Norway at easing? The answer is no!
We who have a disability group have been forgotten. Most cabins at campgrounds do not have doors wide enough for wheelchair access. Why don’t I have the opportunity to choose affordable accommodation on a par with a functionally decent person?
Why does my family have to pay for expensive provisions because I am in a wheelchair?
Most hotels seem to have no requirements when it comes to disabled rooms. All that was needed was some support knobs in the bathroom. It doesn’t matter if there are slippery tiles on the bathroom floor or if the room is too small to get past the door.
Hotel rooms are often so small that I can’t turn around without destroying something. Or as in Gardermoen when I had to go back in and out of the room to get a place. It went on for one night and I think my husband approves of it, the one who has to move me out of the wheelchair, but to do that, he had to re-equip the room.
In most hotels, disabled rooms are more expensive than superior rooms. So we learned the hard way to choose premium rooms, because we need installation space. I can only imagine what it would be like to have to take the lift with me on a trip, we’d probably have to book an extra room just for her.
When it comes to elevators in hotels and cafes, I hardly know where to begin. One wonders if they put a wheelchair inside and built around it. Some lifts are so small that we actually have to remove parts of the wheelchair to make room. I can count on one of the times the lifts were big enough for me to turn. It’s not easy to back out of a narrow elevator door when you can’t turn your head to see what’s behind you.
In addition, some elevator doors close so quickly that if you are not alert enough, the wheelchair user will be left in the elevator or the wheelchair will be compressed. Havgill was no exception, the first time I was left sitting while my husband had to go up one floor to save me.
The purpose of staying at Hafjell was Lilleputthammer. Both young and old are looking forward to exploring the area. Besides some train tracks that had to be crossed, it was very easy to navigate with your own device. The only thing I missed was a broken toilet. I’m used to it.
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I’ve heard others complain that there are too few picnic spots around Norway, but it’s even worse if you’re in a wheelchair. Every time we go on a longer stage drive, I have to plan. I’d rather drink a little while driving than go for a thrill. Because we never know when a gas station will show up or if toilets will be available to me, so I chose to stay until we arrived. Fortunately, I don’t have a partisan bladder, so this part is going well.
From Hafjell, the trip continued to Bygland, where we wanted to experience Gamaveka, an extreme sports week organized by the Bygland Air Sports Club. I met a wonderful guy who is a member of the club. The first time I met him was during Ekstremsportveko in Voss. He built a wheelchair for paragliding. Since my life motto is “I must live as long as I can”, I wanted to give it a try. I had a wonderful trip. For the first time since my illness, I felt alive again.
When we were invited to Bygland to travel again, we didn’t hesitate. There are activities for large and small wheelchair users in focus. The area is well organized. All amenities have been thought of. The best thing is the feeling of equality. The wheelchair is not an obstacle. I finished the holiday with a helicopter trip, hang gliding, and a boat trip, which are rare experiences. We were also brilliantly pleased with the hotel, a large lovely room that covered all our needs.
This summer has given us many new and unforgettable moments. The moments my loved ones will take with them when one day I am no longer here.
However, it left me with a little sigh of relief, I wish we had come a little further. I understand very well why many people choose to vacation at home rather than go on a trip, because sometimes the challenges are too great.
First time in a wheelchair
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