Cobbles in Prague
Most of the pavements in Prague have small, mosaic style cobbles which don’t cause too many problems for a wheelchair user. At the start I even said ‘I don’t know what everyone was talking about!’ Then I encountered the road down from Prague Castle. It was a steep hill and mostly the only cobbles were the larger type – which are a real pain! I found my hands were getting sore from holding a wheelie the whole way down and I had to stop quite a lot because it was so uncomfortable. So my advice for wheelchair users, who want to explore Prague, is gloves!
Many people have suggested using a FreeWheel or Batec style attachment in this situation. I think a Batec or Smart Drive would have been great. Although less good for the more adventurous activities like descending multiple flights of stairs (see the video to find out more!)
A nifty trick to stop your feet falling off your footplate
I get frustrated at my feet falling off my footplate all the time, which usually happens when I am doing wheelies or popping off curbs. I am impatient and want to keep going, rather than having to stop, and put my feet back. So, we found a solution! I got the brilliant Ryan Gratrix of GRX Life to send me a strap and some cable ties with some instructions about how I could fix the strap to the footplate. I don’t strap my feet down all the time, only when I’m not likely to be transferring very much or am going around town. When I’m not using the strap, I just strap it up under my feet and don’t notice it at all. But it was a real godsend on the cobbles.
Access to buildings
Quite a few shops and restaurants in the centre had a large step or two to enter. I suppose because it’s such an old city. Thankfully the weather was so warm so it didn’t matter that it wasn’t easy to get inside as we just sat outside. I am often relieved at this when I arrive somewhere as sitting outside is often less hassle.
One issue I did encounter was finding accessible loos. Many places had a bathroom but often it wasn’t very large. Sometimes I just used a regular loo and had Charlie guard the door for me if I couldn’t shut it. But obviously, this isn’t possible for everyone, so it’s worth bearing in mind it’ll take you a little longer to find a suitable bathroom. But there are some around.
The transport, as can be seen from the video, was great! Most of the subway stations are accessible (but not all) and the tram was easy enough. As with any travelling in a foreign city, it wasn’t the easiest to navigate, but Google Maps was an absolute godsend. Particularly with its feature for wheelchair accessible travel – it made it pretty easy to get around. Because Charlie and I didn’t have a big agenda and are both quite relaxed it wasn’t too stressful when we got a bit lost on the Saturday night. We had just finished off at the sex machine museum (more on this later!) and it was getting late and we still needed to eat dinner and get changed before going out. The fact that we were relaxed meant we just remained spontaneous and ended up eating before we went back to the hotel to get ready. We used Uber to get to and from the hotel in the evening which was great and, as usual, really convenient.
The people we met were really lovely and helpful. As mentioned above we decided to visit the Sex Machines Museum which was near the Old Town Square which we were exploring. It was quite something and gave us a lot of laughs! The museum wasn’t brilliantly accessible – there was a step in and then another couple of steps to get to the actual museum but the staff there didn’t bat an eyelid about giving me a hand up the couple of steps. Once we were in there, there was a small old lift that we could use to access the different floors. We needed help to use the lift but the staff were very willing.
In the evening after we’d had dinner and got ready we went out to see what the nightlife was all about. Initially we went to check out Karlovy Lazne which is actually a club I had been to previously (pre-disability). It’s huge, with five floors, which made me think it would be big and accessible. It turned out that that area was stag-do central, which was really off-putting, so we got out of there sharpish! We spent a bit of time wandering around and then found a cabbie who pointed us in the direction of some cooler and more relaxed bars. We eventually found James Dean bar – which had had good reviews on Trip Advisor and suited us perfectly. It was nice, spacious enough with table service and had a disabled loo, which was a pleasant surprise, particularly because we were drinking!
Over the course of the evening we met some really nice people and there was a moment where I had to get down a flight of stairs (and then up them again later) and a group of young guys were more than happy to help. We had a brilliant night – best I’ve had in ages!
All in all we had a brilliant time. It wasn’t too challenging getting around in a wheelchair, and we felt we had seen all we really needed to, given that we didn’t have too long. Our hotel (Corinthia Hotel) was absolutely brilliant and accommodated me very well (e.g. providing me with different, more suitable shower chair) and the breakfast was absolutely delicious! It went down very well indeed on the Sunday morning!
One other recommendation was the amazing sushi we had on Sunday night at Yami Sushi Bistro. It was really something!
A great trip!