One week in to the trip, and I’m sat in ‘coffee heaven’ in Gdansk on Friday 28th September 2012,with so many emotions writing this.
The effort, time and struggle to get to this point has been draining. The changing plans, dates and mode of transport wasn’t ideal. To have raised enough money towards my additional travel costs was brilliant, but rather last minute. Then the travel, visit to a Berlin hospital for a pressure sore, mosquito bites and bad cold are tiring. Needless to say the #EEDR isn’t all plain sailing…
However the ferry journey, seeing Amsterdam in its tamest sense, meeting disability groups in Leipzig and Gorzow, being interviewed on polish media and multiple other ‘firsts’ in life has been invigorating.
Beyond my personal challenges of access, attitudes, finance and fatigue; I’m here to work!
In seeing a variety of countries and disabled people living there, it has been eye opening. In some ways the challenges are the same (buildings with steps, transport, government policy and societal attitudes). In other ways the more east I’ve gone, the less provision there is and the more basic and fundamental their problems are.
Since I last checked in, I arrived at Kasias house. Her niece is being christened tomorrow so a few other family members were there too. We spent Wednesday enjoying their beautiful garden, visiting the gorgeous lake and played music around a camp fire at night. A real road trippers day! I’d brought my harmonica and blagged it the whole way…
Then yesterday we headed to the media conference for Bogdans disability organisation (much more of this legend soon). They had a political party supporting the petition for accessible buses in Gorzow.
You can see on the video how much attention it received.
I was asked to join the conference and contribute too. This was definitely a first professionally.
Afterwards I interviewed the ex speedway champ about his life and becoming disabled in Poland. This will be posted soon after.
I’m still digesting what he said!
I’m also hot on the case of booking my hotels for the next week. The route and concept is still stable, but the finer details are ever changing.
I’ve got some great interviews lined up, especially when I visit my grandfathers birthplace of Vilnius tomorrow.
The trip is starting to attract media attention in Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic and back home.
I’m meeting Tom from the Polish charity Integraja in Warsaw next week. I also did a phone interview back to the UK yesterday.
Finally, I’m starting to consider the big ‘end use’ for #EEDR. I never doubted the blogs, videos and media attention would be great. I’m now seeing a use of my findings and an appetite from politicians, Brussels (EU parliament) and other organisations to use them. Awesome.
This can and will be shaped better on my return.
In terms of Gdansk. It was great to see Gabi and meet her boyfriend who I’d heard lots about. We arrived late last night, ate fajitas, drank a couple of mojitos (yes I’m in Poland not Mexico) and caught up.
Today I’ve been resting for my cold, then running around like a headless chicken for WiFi and getting plans in order.
I did however manage a brief roll in the town centre. We saw the town hall and then headed to this coffee bar. There’s a few accessibility issues with cafes and the inevitable ‘stare’. Hey ho.
Without bringing the tone down, the most striking part of Gdansk are the girls. I’ve never seen so many beautiful and friendly women in one town! I’ll leave that one there…
So, as my WiFi has stopped the video from uploading; I’m off to sort that.
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Still 10 days to go, 5 countries to visit and more potential for great things to happen.
Please be a part of it with me.