Handicap Travel

I’d like to start off by saying, yay! We made it to Cologne! So far the weather hasn’t been able to decide what to do. We’ve had heat, cold and rain. This was my first time ever traveling as someone in a wheelchair, so I’d like to talk about those experiences. We arrived in Dublin airport bright and early for our flight.  If you live in Dublin I highly recommend airporttaxi.ie. Its just a normal taxi but flat rates depending on where you’re at. It was €30 from Blackrock which is a total steal. Dropping off the luggage was fantastic. There was a line set aside for the handicapped so we sped right through. There were however two ladies who decided that my line was for them. Basically they cut in line and that pisses me off.

After that it was on to security which was a breeze. I got a quick pat down which was much less a violation of my body than the American pat down. Then it was time to board the plane. Because the plane wasn’t actually pulled up to a building I had to experience the box. Basically its a giant elevator on wheels. And for some afraid of heights it is hell. This was of course my first time in one and to say the guy fucked it up would be a huge undrstatement. First he lifted us too high and the plane door wouldn’t open. So he tried to lower us. Nothing worked. He tried for ages with no luck. Jonathan repeatedly suggested closing the door to see if that worked. Finally he did it. And got too low. So once again the door opened and he couldn’t get anything to work. Eventually I just had to do it. There was a huge gap between the platform and the plane. Two air hostesses pulled while Jonathan pushed and I was aboard. Somehow the guy never connected the dots. And the next woman who needed the box got a new box because the idiot thought mine was broken. The flight was hard. Anxiety and pain are the names of the game. Dusseldorf airport was great. They wouldn’t allow Jonathan to push me, some sort of regulations.

We later ran into the lady from the plane in Cologne. She’s here taking her kids to Gamescom. We helped each other navigate the confusing train system and even got to chat a bit about pain and things. I do hope I run into her again. Oh, and one final thing. If someone is in a wheelchair and your job is to help them get off the train, don’t let them get off at a station that has no elevator. Yep, this happened to me. And now food has arrived so I escape!

 

Blaugust for me will continue from Cologne for the rest of the week.

American Invasion

America is invading Ireland.

Within a distance of less than 2km (1.2 miles) there are 13 Starbucks! Thirteen! In one case they are quite literally across the street from each other. I’m not talking about one of them being a Starbucks inside of another store. Both of these are proper, sit down places to get coffee. The employees from one could look out the windows of theirs straight into the windows of the other and wave at the people working the counters at the other one. Basically if each of the Starbucks were lined up on a straight road you would get to one every 470ish feet. In other words imagine if you walked down a street and every third (American sized) building was a Starbucks. That is basically what we’re talking about here. As you can see in the map below which points out the locations of each Starbucks within this small section of the center of Dublin they aren’t all in a row. And in fact they tend to clump together.

Starbucks in Dublin

This is something very common in America. How often do you see a McDonald’s without another fast food place on an opposite corner or right next door? There is an entire science dedicated to finding the ideal locations for certain businesses. And while it is a very fascinating subject I object when you end up having several of the same exact brands in such a small area. We do not need thirteen Starbucks within a 20 minute walking distance. We do not need two McDonald’s on O’Connell Street. That being said, I will only go into one of the two McDonald’s. But that is because of the quality of people that go into them and the overall feel of them. One feels much cleaner and safer than the other. There are also two Burger Kings on O’Connell Street but if I’m perfectly honest I have no idea how they both survive as no one ever seems to eat in either of them.

Does Dublin need more cafes/coffee shops? Sure! It has always been a struggle to find somewhere to sit for a few minutes while you wait for a friend. But that need could just as easily be served with local homegrown businesses who bake their own brownies and offer strange and exotic teas from all over the world. Would I be upset about two cafes across the street from each other who serve the exact same things and have the exact same styles but were both independently owned and operated? Not at all! Because this is the type of place that fosters community. The owner/barista will get to know you if you go in regularly, and in turn you will want to go in regularly because they will know your order the moment you walk through the door. You can’t get that with Starbucks. You can’t get that with corporate life in general. You become just another dollar sign as you become a slave to what must be very addictive coffee.

“But the local Mom and Pop cafes can’t make this fancy coffee I like that comes hand ground from a three legged dog in Peru.” No, they can’t. Because they don’t get the income necessary to support that kind of thing. Maybe if that was the only drink they offered they might be able to. But variety is key to a business’ success so limiting themselves like that would be suicide. Basically all I’m saying is support local businesses and Starbucks, GTFO.