Cyprus – wheelchair friendly or bust
Another travel blog you say? I am thinking how I can make it different here. Well after my months of planning Cali and Vegas last year I was a little lazy. Good ol mum who has instilled the ‘get out and grab life’ attitude I have, booked it all. Originally planned for Egypt we changed to Cyprus with the revolution et al. I hadn’t been to either so was pretty cool with both. It is the annual mum, sister Claire, step dad Dave, Lisa (neighbours from when I was 5 to 18 years old) and crew. Last year was Mexico you may remember with the ash cloud and so forth. Claire bear has a new fella called Justin, so with Dale, Kirsty and Muz the 9 of us were set for Pafos airport on Saturday 16th April.
The booking was with Thomson, who arranged the wheelchair and mobile hoist (borrowed from Srin) to be allowed on board. The drive to airport, the scary lift on and off, plus the actual flight were great – the wheelchair is still in one piece. We found a transfer company http://www.ca-taxi.com/ who took us to the hotel – more of these guys later. 5* star all inclusive hotel enabled me to knock the threatening chest infection on the head with great food, drinks and scenery. The room was accessible apart from the shower not being roll-in, I need to start pressing for that everytime but bed baths are ok for a week.
I sunbathed lots, managed a couple of swims with the help of the gang lifting me (great for my tight joints), chillaxed in a Jacuzzi!!!, listened to my i pod and read the rest of my massive Tony Blair book. We took a trip on the number 30 bus to the main part of Limassol and also another day to the mariner. It was surprisingly fitted with a ramp but the drivers were worse than the worst London drivers for attitude. Also I doubt the ramps had actually been used and a few times we were asked to hop me up without them – errrr no mate, press the bloody button for the ramp, its safer. Cyprus on the whole (as mum mentions in the video http://martynsibley.com/video-the-cyprus-gang sorry for the lighting here) is a bit behind for disabled people. However as is often observed where infrastructure lacks, the people will muddle in and are great. I must say travelling with a group of 8 others is a blessing and I worry how it would be alone. Overall I got about and did everything I wanted to.
During the drive to the hotel and back, we got to know the company’s story. The son, Chris, has a disability which led to their idea of setting up services for disabled people. Man after my own heart. Chris, Andreas and the family offer transfers, equipment hire and run a disability friendly hotel – rather similar to http://martynsibley.com/wheelchair-users-mecca-in-paradise-when-martyn-stumbled-across-mar-y-sol in Tenerife. This made me realise that only disabled people can totally understand the issues faced, therefore are placed to provide the right solutions, but furthermore there has to be a sustainability to allow it to survive, thrive and provide a living for the proprietor. When we arrived at the airport we were met by staff, fast tracked through passport and security before seeing to my needs at the plane. They referred to ‘A and C’ many times and it showed while some parts of Cyprus are behind for disabled people (dropped kerbs), massive changes occurred in their home town of Polis and at the airport. The more visible disability is, the more it changes perceptions and the more things improve. You just need a passionate, savvy and devoted catalyst such as Chris. Please check out their website as there is so much they offer.
For me, its a chill out with Billy in Cambridge today, back to London tomorrow and then work Tuesday. I feel revived, realised I do need to slow down week in week out so to not get nearly ill prior to a holiday, and prioritise my ventures. Probably wont but you only live once hey. No holidays planned now, but have lots of concerts and plans for summery London anyway. Overall I had some thinking space for my disability work, am fatter, chilled out and tanned. Long may the good weather here continue.