Training Italy, Switzerland, Austria

Dec 16th, 2011, 02:40 AM
  #1  
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Training Italy, Switzerland, Austria

I'm new at this forum. Have been reading on this site for a short time and learning so much.
I really wish to travel Italy (Rome and north) and on to Switzerland and Austria in May or September 2012.
Would love to travel about by train but wonder if I can. I was always adventurous.
But now I have some problems with arthritis and wonder if train travel is possible for me. My condition does slow my walking and limit my lifting.
Will I need to handle luggage up and down stairs at railway stations and accommodations?
I saw a service on the internet whereby it seemed possible to forward luggage on (I've forgotten the site but I will find it again). This could mean that my small carry/wheel-on luggage could travel with me whilst the rest moved on. Would this be an option for me?
I would prefer to travel about by train etc rather than a group bus tour situation.
Also would 4 wheel luggage be suitable/manageable on sloping surfaces? What do you do - stand in front of it?!

Thanks for any advice you can offer. My plans are on hold for the present.
2012moving is offline  
Dec 16th, 2011, 02:54 AM
  #2  
 
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Trenitalia offers a service whereby they will forward your luggage for you:

http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/inde...003f16f90aRCRD

I'm afraid I don't know whether such a service is available in Switzerland and Austria.

Inside Italian train station, you will very often be faced with the need to climb stairs to access the platforms or change trains. Some of the big cities have escalators and elevators (and sometimes they are not working). Smaller towns may only have stairs.

In addition, to get on and off an Italian train you need to be able to negotiate several steep steps up or down, between the train car and the platform.

If you need a hotel with an elevator, you can find that out before you book. In small towns, sometimes the buildings are so old that there are no elevators. But you can ask for a ground floor room or assistance with your luggage.

Overall, Italy is a difficult place for people who have mobility limitations. That includes the fact that it has very old streets with uneven surfaces, and that Italy is a very hilly country, and its interiors have many steps (churches, hotels, etc). Realize that you will not be able to move around easily, and plan accordingly.
zeppole is offline  
Dec 16th, 2011, 04:32 AM
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Congrats on your trip.

www.ricksteves.com great info and small group tours.

With mobility issues a nice tour would best for you www.affordabletours.com Globus great for me
in the past also smartours.com bbb.org A rated.

If you pack light and travel first class you could travel by train but it would be lots more of a hassle. onebag.com
seat61.com good training info for you.

Good luck!
qwovadis is offline  
Dec 16th, 2011, 06:42 AM
  #4  
 
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Nice effort qwovadis! Thanks
Blwetorch is offline  
Dec 16th, 2011, 07:23 AM
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Yes European trains have lots of accommodations for folks in need of assistance in stations - and yes going first class is imperative IMO for your needs - much larger seats and often several empty seats to put your luggage on.

If traveling enough check out the 3-country Eurail Select pass valid in Italy, Austria and Switzerland.- a first class pass that lets you in Switzerland and Austria just hop on any train anytime with few exceptions. In Italy you must make seat reservations using a pass but this can be done at time of purchase thru the agent you buy your pass from or as you go along - hotel concierge often does this for folks.

Anyway great sites for lots on European trains and special needs available - www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.seat61.com
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 16th, 2011, 12:05 PM
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there are rarely porters at European train stations but they can often be called - always ask the information desk about that or the conductor on a train coming into a station. There are always it seems luggage carts that are easy enough to push. Carrry some small euro coins to disengage them - you usually get the money back when you re-engage the cart at some collection point.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 16th, 2011, 07:26 PM
  #7  
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Thanks to all for your advice on my potential to train about. I was somewhat aware of some of the challenges because of trip to Vienna, into the city by train and then by car to a small village in 2007.

Just one more question - these "several steep steps" from platform to carriage, would they include a handrail? Unlikely I would think but I have not given up yet.

I suspect that if I joined a bus tour I may find it difficult to keep up with others on the tour which would reduce my enjoyment and everyone elses. I'm still very tempted to give this solo training a go.
I am now thinking that with proper regard to my limitations, decent planning (my problem is I love flexibility!) what's the worst that could happen to me? If I get stuck (I'm planning 4-6 weeks) I simply make the most of where I am. If I have booked things ahead I will lose some money but it's hardly likely to equal the cost of a bus tour.
At this rate my next post will be re my planned itinerary and I look forward to your feedback on that.
Thanks to all.
2012moving is offline  
Dec 16th, 2011, 08:41 PM
  #8  
 
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"This could mean that my small carry/wheel-on luggage could travel with me whilst the rest moved on"

You don't really need 'the rest'. IMO a better option is to pack light and not have large luggage to forward.

Even for 4-6 weeks you should be able to manage w/ just a 21 inch wheelie bag (or 24 inch max). I travel regularly from 1 to 8 weeks and never use larger than a 21inch rollaboard. It does mean you need to do laundry every 6 or 7 days, but that isn't really a hardship.
janisj is online now  
Dec 16th, 2011, 09:24 PM
  #9  
 
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Hi 2012moving,

Yes, Switzerland also offers the option to send your suitcases separately; here's the link:

http://www.sbb.ch/en/station-service...s/baggage.html

You can choose from regular service (two days at 12 chf) or fast baggage service (same day at 20 chf).

Have fun!

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Dec 16th, 2011, 11:10 PM
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At large stations, there are elevators to the platform somewhere on the platform. They are not necessarily at convenient places, and you can end up walking a lot in order to use the elevator. But they can be out of order, then what? You either have to handle the luggage on your own or rely on the kindness of other passengers.

Also, do your hotels have elevators? Many budget places don't and even if they do they too can be out of order. At very small places, the front desk person is all there is and if that person is busy, you either carry up your luggage several flights of stairs on your own or leave the luggage at front until such time the front person is free or can call a help.

All these say to travel only with carry-ons even if you can solve getting in and out of trains other ways. That is what I do even for a month long trips.

If you need a 4 wheel luggage, you are probably carrying too much unless it is something small like this: http://www.amazon.com/Atlantic-Compa...ef=pd_sbs_a_18
greg is offline  
Dec 17th, 2011, 12:59 AM
  #11  
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Thanks swandav - re switzerland - yes - I remember now -that is where I first saw the option of luggage forwarding back in November
Thanks Greg. I have much research to do. I do mean a small carry on. It may be one that wheels and converts to a backpack. Needs wide wheel base and wheels that cope with cobblestones.
I have discovered that Italy, Switzerland and Austria all do offer a luggage forward on service. My "luggage forward" could be the 21" - or certainly not much larger. This means that I would travel on trains with essential, lightweight daily/or two needs only. My essentials are more complicated because I would be foolish to separate from pain relieving aids in case I need them. This does mean that the pack light principle, which I agree with, will be more difficult for me. Don't fancy the risk of carrying even a 21" up and down stairs. This packing will be easier than packing for stepson's wedding in Austria travelling from Australia in 2007.
Through this forum's advice I am continuing to look into all the websites recommended - such as seat61 etc

My overriding question remains: these "several steep steps" from platform to carriage", would they include a handrail?
The answer to this would really determine my planning.

Beginning to wonder how mobility challenged Italians get about. Perhaps their family help.
Thanks all
2012moving is offline  
Dec 17th, 2011, 01:38 AM
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Hi again,

I think you'll be surprised how eagerly strangers will step in to help people who obviously need some help -- at least in Switzerland. At the very least, they will step back and give you the room and space you need to manage the difficult stairs; at best, they will reach out and give you a hand up/down the stairs, and then hand your case to you. I've overpacked a few times and have benefitted from wordless kind strangers on a few occasions.

If you would like more definite help, you can just take advantage of the mobility help that's part of SBB service. All you need to do is call or email them ahead of time; give them your station and time of trains, and there will be someone to assist. You don't need to be in a wheelchair to use this service. Here's the link:

http://www.sbb.ch/en/station-service...-impaired.html

I hope you have a wonderful trip!

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Dec 17th, 2011, 01:39 AM
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Oh, and yes, there is always a handrail on the door of the train. You just lean forward and grab it and pull yourself up.

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Dec 17th, 2011, 01:40 AM
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Yes, the steps on and off the train cars do have handrails.

I once bought a backpack that had wheels but soon discovered that the bottom of the pack quickly got dirty, and then I was reluctant to wear it on my back because the dirt rubbed off on my clothes.

If you use the forwarding luggage service, you can arrange all your things so that the heaviest stuff mainly goes into the luggage and you learn to carry only your essentials in the backpack, plus carrying a crossbody purse for your super-valuables.

How do mobility-challenged Italians "get about"? They don't. They rely on relatives a great deal, and generally have a relationship with a local taxi driver when they must keep appointments. Most small food stores do home delivery. Buses are a little bit easier than trains for access. There are some train stations that offer what is called "blu" assistance for mobility impaired travelers, but it is only available in some stations and you don't sound like you will need that degree of assistance.

http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/inde...003f16f90aRCRD
zeppole is offline  
Dec 17th, 2011, 02:55 AM
  #15  
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Thanks swandav2000. I have my eye on that handrail already! Yes, had already looked at SSB mobility service and that in Italy and Austria. Just need to be aware where/where not available and how to access etc. May not be needed but could influence my planning. If I have reasonably flexible schedule should be able to access if needed. My planning with luggage handling is designed to reduce the risk.

Thanks zeppole. Good point about dirty/wet bottom of pack. I have used a two wheeler in Australia with a plastic cover to cater for that. Am tending towards 4 wheeler so I can push rather than pull and because of its mobility. Back carrying is a contingency option for getting on and off transport. It frees two hands. I have a new knee, older back and older feet and older left shoulder to work around. Wish I had been able to do this earlier in life. Too busy working and muchcamping and hiking around Australia earlier in life (including 6 month trip). No regrets. And best not to die wondering if I could do this now.

You have given me a complete picture of the challenges. It is now probably going to take me ages to plan all this. May departure may become September! My sincere thanks to you all for your help in "keeping the dream alive".

Thanks again.
Watch out for my plans!
2012moving is offline  
Dec 17th, 2011, 01:02 PM
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I hope you check this again. Go to Slowtrav.com. there is a report there (can't remember how to find it) on Italy for the disabled.

I, too have knee replacements. I find the high steps up into trains difficult, but if you are active and keep your quadriceps strong, you should be able to do it. I also have arthritis in my hands, so lifting heavy things can hurt them. Often other people will help even if it's just to get you out of the way so others can get on. I know what you mean about needing to carry your pain relievers, etc. with you. (And ice packs, too!)
charnees is offline  
Dec 17th, 2011, 03:01 PM
  #17  
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Thanks charnees. Love the "nees"!. I did check back and found your message. So nice to hear from someone with similar problems. Yes arthritis all over plus a back which can spasm, and heel spurs. Left knee not yet replaced. Legacy of lax ligaments ie double jointed. All you flexible people should look after your joints while you are young! I had a fantastic time but am paying for it now in my fifties. Still so much luckier than many other people.
I know what you mean about "geting out of the way". Thing is I am still embarrased about it since I was such an active person.
I am at heart a slow traveller. Is why I lived and worked in London for 10 months in the seventies.
Thought I should try to travel before/if things become more difficult. I am viewing this current travel plan as what I call a "reconnaissance flight". If training works for me in Europe shall do more of it, then I will know where I wish to really slow travel. Complete with TENS machine, ice packs, heat packs & stickons, walking stick seat, meds etc! You get the picture. Training is good for me because I can get up and walk the back.
Thanks again. Shall investigate that website.
2012moving is offline  
Dec 19th, 2011, 11:43 AM
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If you use the forwarding luggage service, you can arrange all your things so that the heaviest stuff mainly goes into the luggage and you learn to carry only your essentials in the backpack, plus carrying a crossbody purse for your super-valuables.>

more details on this service? cost - is it thru Trenitalia - I thought that checked luggage on trains in Italy had ended, due to terrorist concerns - zeppole knows his/her stuff so I am not questioning that just wonder if he/she anyone could shed some more light on this service - costs - time frame needed, etc. - do they take right to hotels - if not would be a pain in the rear for someone like OP to have to trek it out of the station, etc.

thanks for any insights.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 19th, 2011, 12:49 PM
  #19  
 
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Charness (and 2012 moving)

I have never used the Trenitalia luggage forwarding service or any of its mobility assistance services from Trenitalia. I have only noticed them in passing.

As part of planning of trip, i highly recommend calling the service itself DIRECTLY and asking for an English-speaker to explain exactly how these services work. International calls are not really all that expensive in the overall context of having your trip be enjoyable and avoiding snafus with your luggage.
zeppole is offline  
Dec 19th, 2011, 12:49 PM
  #20  
 
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PS, Palenq:

Did you look at the link I provided regarding the luggage service?
zeppole is offline  

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