|Easy Access Europe
Rick Steves & Ken Plattner
Paperback, 498 pages
Avalon Travel Publishing · US $19.95
Travel information for mobility-impaired visitors to Europe can be hard to come by, and general-interest guidebooks don't have the space, editorial budgets, or expertise to cover accessible travel thoroughly. Fortunately, a new book--Rick Steves' Easy Access Europe--promises to make European travel easier for visitors who tour with wheelchairs, walkers, or canes.
Rick Steves' Easy Access Europe is limited in scope, with coverage of five popular destinations: London, Paris, Bruges, Amsterdam, and the Rhine Valley of Germany. It takes material culled from existing Rick Steves guidebooks and adds details for slow walkers and wheelchair users. For example, the listing for Kew Gardens near London includes the statement:
Access: AE, AI, AT, Level 1--Fully accessible. Imagine peaceful, flat, gorgeous, and green (with only occasional areas of inaccessibility). For the most part, you can roll wherever you please--and there are accessible toilets, too. Loaner wheelchairs are available.
The accessibility codes in the Kew Gardens example refer to an "accessible entryway," "accessible interior," and "accessible toilet," with "Level 1" meaning "fully accessible." The book rates accessibility with four overall levels and 13 specific codes.
Hotel and restaurant listings include both accessibility codes and written comments, as in this excerpt from a listing for the level 1 (fully accessible) Hôtel les Jardins Eiffel in Paris:
Wheelchair users can avoid the single 2" entry step and access the hotel's interior in the garage. The hotel has two wheelchair-accessible rooms (including adapted toilets and bathtubs with grab bars; they will place bench in tub). They host many wheelchair-using guests and are very welcoming.
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