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Trip Option for Limited Mobility

Old Mar 29th, 2019, 09:07 AM
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Trip Option for Limited Mobility

Our son will be attending a study abroad program in Spain/London for 6 weeks beginning June 25. We are trying to decide between 2 options for a trip the week before.
1- fly to Rome arriving 6/18, spend 6 nights there and surrounding day trips, then fly Rome to Valencia 6/24 drop son off, then fly next day to Paris for 3 nights before heading home......OR

2-instead of Rome, fly to Madrid to start trip. All else the same.

The thinking here is that I have a chronic pain condition in my right foot. I can walk short distances (quarter mile or so) but anything longer I usually use a knee walker or take a cab/Uber. I understand I will be limited no matter where I go, but was thinking option 2 might be easier by avoiding an extra airport trip.
Also, is Madrid any “easier” to navigate with limited mobility than Rome?

Thank you in advance for any help you guys can give!!

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Old Mar 29th, 2019, 09:17 AM
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Madrid "central" has a lot of cobbles, Rome is not much better but it is better. But both have small walking centres and Rome has a traffic free section near the Colloseum leading up to the Forum, there is not a similar area of Madrid. I think you will need to use taxis in both.
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Old Mar 29th, 2019, 12:16 PM
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Thank you for the reply...

More specifically, how difficult is it to travel by air from one European city to another? We would already have to fly from Rome to Valencia to drop our son off. Not sure if hopping on another flight the next day from Valencia to Paris would be a bit much with my limited mobility as well as other hassles we are not aware of when flying within Europe.

Thanks again!
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Old Mar 29th, 2019, 12:22 PM
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If you have to go to Valencia anyway why not make that your destination (instead of Madrid or Rome). I can't believe it took me 6 trips to Spain to get to this beautiful city.There aren't the big 'sights' and museums that there are in Rome and Madrid but it is an absolutely beautiful city and there is a lot to see and it's very flat, many of the streets are smooth stone pavement and while a lot is pedestrianized, there aren't huge areas where cars can't go so I saw taxis (and buses) all over the place. If you can only walk a quarter mile I would not want to do that many airports (unless you can get a wheel chair in the airport, there is a lot more than a quarter mile of walking involved in any of Rome, Paris or Madrid airports. Simplify and make Valencia one of your destinations.
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Old Mar 29th, 2019, 03:49 PM
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I think your plans are too busy and the places to disparate even for people with full mobility, but I say that as someone who dislikes flying (and airports often have long walks between gates). Certainly short stops in three countries doesn't sound like a good idea. If taking your son to Valencia is a 'must' then I'd plan your holiday within Spain. An enormous amount to see, and a great variation between the different regions.
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Old Mar 29th, 2019, 04:13 PM
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<<More specifically, how difficult is it to travel by air from one European city to another? We would already have to fly from Rome to Valencia to drop our son off. Not sure if hopping on another flight the next day from Valencia to Paris would be a bit much with my limited mobility as well as other hassles we are not aware of when flying within Europe.>>

We live in Europe and do a LOT of flying from one European city to another. It is not easy if you are flying the low-cost airlines that we fly, like EasyJet, though it is cheap. I have been through many airports in Europe with reduced mobility and many times with perfectly fine mobility, and there is a stark difference (though you can call upon the airlines to provide you with (free) mobility assistance, and it's good).

But yes, keep your plans simple. IMO Rome is simpler for reduced mobility than Madrid - plus a lot more interesting, but that's personal opinion.
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Old Mar 29th, 2019, 09:31 PM
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Wherever you decide to go you most definitely should request wheelchair assistance on all your flights, costs nothing extra but will be a huge help. Last June we spent a month in France with quite a bit of train travel and SNCF was extremely good with wheelchairs for my elderly mom. To be considered in case you decide to stay in Spain and travel by train to/from Valencia.

As some of the others say most European cities have cobblestones in their historic centers and these could be hard on you and your legs. The ATAC electric buses are scheduled to be back this spring in Rome’s centro storico and could be a good option for you, they also have a designated handicap seat.





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Old Mar 29th, 2019, 10:04 PM
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I recall Rome airport as being a long way between checkin and the departure gate, which was made more stressful by the fact that checkin took FOREVER and we had to rush for our flight. I have no idea whether that's commonplace at Rome airport but I do remember being surprised by how far it was to walk. You should be able to use google to see what the maximum likely distance would be.

The Paris metro is brilliant but there can be quite a lot of walking from the train platform to the station exit. Buses might be a better option (and you see more).
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Old Mar 30th, 2019, 05:52 AM
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Have you considered pairing Barcelona with Valencia? There is a lot to see there and taxis are cheap between places. There are a couple of sights on hills, but you could use a taxi.
It seems you do not have flights yet.
Consider arriving in Paris. Stay three or four days.
Take the train or fly to Barcelona (or Valencia).
Train to Valencia from Barcelona or from Barcelona to Valencia.
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Old Mar 30th, 2019, 07:34 AM
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Thank you all for the replies.

Right now we’re leaning towards flying into Rome, staying the 6 nights before flying to Valencia to drop son off, THEN instead of Paris taking train to Madrid for 3 nights then departing home from there. Somehow seems less taxing on my mobility issues (could be completely wrong about that though).

Two questions now:
1)I have a knee walker that I use for distance here in the states. Is it practical to bring that along for this trip instead of having to use wheelchairs?

2) is choosing Madrid over Barcelona the right choice for 3 nights?

Thanks again!
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Old Mar 30th, 2019, 08:47 AM
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Wheelchairs and cobblestones don’t go very well together, hard to push and hard on the person being pushed. Maybe the walker would be better? Others will certainly comment.

As I mentioned earlier use the ATAC electric buses in the historical center of Rome. You can also ask for a wheelchair at some museums, including the Vatican, but someone from your group will have to push you.

Most stations on the Paris Metro don’t have elevators and you may also have to walk quite a bit at times, especially when changing lines. But you can take your wheelchair/walker on the metro.

I don’t particularly see much of a difference between Barcelona and Madrid, though one is closer to Valencia than the other.

Please do ask for wheelchair assistance both on your flights as well as SNCF/Renfe. This needs to requested in advance, someone will be pick you up kerbside and help you board, same at the end of the journey. This will save a lot of unnecessary walking for you and you can conserve your energy for other things.

BTW, book your train tickets in three months in advance for the best rates. (seat61.com)

Last edited by geetika; Mar 30th, 2019 at 08:50 AM.
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Old Mar 30th, 2019, 01:22 PM
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I think your revised plan sounds good. I don't know about the knee walker (not sure what they are) but, unlike many people, I didn't instantly warm to Barcelona. I haven't been to Madrid for many years but I'm going back to Spain later this year and choosing Madrid over Barcelona. A choice between the two is purely subjective but I think they are very different.
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Old Mar 30th, 2019, 04:07 PM
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howman37, I understand your dilemma and concerns because I, too, have mobility issues caused by arthritis, and the pain has gotten worse during the last month. In fact, I have moved up my hip replacement surgery to an earlier date. We had a 2-part, month long trip planned for this April and May, and I have cancelled and rescheduled the second part, which was 2 weeks of sightseeing in Croatia. I am going to France to see my daughter and grandchildren and attend a family event. But I can spend a lot of time relaxing in my daughter's house and terrace. This won't be a sightseeing trip so easier than going to Croatia. So this is what I am doing to get to France: I am bringing my cane and walker. I don't know what a knee walker is. And I have made arrangements in advance to be met at the airports with a wheelchair. My doctor has also prescribed some pain medication. Does pain medication help in your situation?

Because I have had arthritis pain for several years, and have traveled, I know what it's like to travel with pain. So I agree with everyone who suggests keeping your trip simple. You don't want to be navigating through lots of large airports, and CDG and Madrid are big airports with lots of walking. It's been a long time since I was in Rome, so I don't remember that airport, but I assume it's large. Definitely request to be met with a wheelchair. So I think deleting Paris is a good idea, and I think navigating the train station in Valencia, which I assume is small but I've never been there, is better than navigating another large airport. Madrid's Atocha train station seemed big to me, but there are escalators you can take.

Whether Madrid or Barcelona: I've been to Madrid (2017) and Barcelona (2010), and I think the area with tourist sites in Madrid might be smaller than Barcelona. Barcelona seemed bigger to me, & with more sites to visit. I don't remember cobblestones. Do you plan on visiting the big 3 art museums in Madrid? if so, you could stay near the Prado, and it would be a short walk to the Prado, Reina Sofia & Thyssen. Reina Sofia might be a longer walk; you could take a taxi. Take a taxi to the Royal Palace; that's what we did. During our trips in 2017 and 2018, we used taxis a lot.

With all this said, I tend to agree with Isabel. Stick with Rome and Valencia since you have to go to Valencia anyways.

Let us know what you decide, and good luck! I understand your pain.
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Old Mar 30th, 2019, 08:38 PM
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The knee walker I use is like a scooter (35 lbs)where I place my knee on a padded “seat”’and scoot along using my other (good) leg. It has worked well in the airports here in the states as I use it to get to the gate and then check it onto the plane where they put it in the cargo hold until we arrive at our destination. Not sure how rough they would be with it though on an international flight or the budget airlines in Europe.

I take Lyrica which helps with the pain but still cannot walk much over quarter mile or so. I can use the knee walker for the airports but not sure if it’s worth it for the time in Rome, Valencia, and Madrid. Maybe just use wheelchairs in airports and forego bringing scooter at all?
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Old Mar 31st, 2019, 03:01 AM
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The walking distances in Madrid's Barajas as LONG. Expect to walk almost a mile between gate and immigration and then add some more to get to a connecting flight (need to go through the security line again). It is essential to request assistance and leave enough time (at least 2 hours) between connections, better save your knee for sightseeing than soldiering through long airport halls.

Ryanair and Vueling both fly directly from Rome to Valencia (book separately from your transatlantic flights to keep price reasonable) so you would not have to through those interminably long halls in Barajas. Then the AVE train between Valencia and Madrid would be the way to go. Much less walking involved than airport.

Is it essential to escort son to Valencia? Don't get me wrong, I love Valencia so much that I'm actually writing this from Valencia. But if you are only coming for the dropoff… could you send him off on his own at the train station in Madrid after navigating together through the more difficult portion of transportation? The AVE is direct to Valencia and he could then take a taxi to where he is going. That way you could entirely avoid an additional destination.

Having said that, Valencia is beautiful, lively, flat, easy to navigate and taxis are cheap. We want to live here. The Valencia Cathedral/Plaza de la Reina/Plaza de la Virgen can be accessed by taxi. You could then take a coffee break to rest before proceeding to the Lonja de la Seda and the Central Market; a 10-min walk. The City of Arts and Sciences is almost as impressive from the street than up close unless you are into architectural photography or want to walk around in the (magnificent) riverbed park.

What do you want to see in Madrid? I think you would do well to get a wheelchair for the Prado if you plan to visit; it is huge. Also, pre-book the entrance, the lines can be long. The Thyssen is smaller/compact as well as more comprehensive than the Prado. Small museums (Lazaro Galdiano, Sorolla, Palacio Cerralbo) might work better if you are not that much into paintings/classic art and they could be accessed directly from the street with a taxi.

Madrid has is a very efficient metro but the walk from entrance to platforms can be long. Also, escalators and elevators are not always working so stairs might be involved. You might encounter the same situation in Rome's as well (and the stops are not that great). Again, taxis are cheap and plentiful, use this to your advantage (they also give you a few minutes of rest time).
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