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I’ve been wanting to write more articles for a while. With some health challenges earlier in the year, and building the world’s biggest disability marketing agency, it’s been tricky finding time. However I’m currently in Poland and found some time to share how the trip went. With a plan to write about other topics after this accessible travel post.

My partner is from Poland and we’ve visited her parents here many times before the pandemic. Since everything kicked off in March 2020, like for many of us, my worldly adventures have been somewhat curtailed. I went to Norfolk a couple of times, and Barcelona in October last year. But Poland was to be the biggest trip in a long time.

We had some snags in the build up with our fluffy friend, Sunny the golden retriever. Bringing him in the car for two days of driving was a big challenge in 2018. So we decided to give him a doggy hotel staycation in the UK. Unfortunately there was a mix up over his vaccines and things looked a bit dicey in the run up to our departure. Luckily we were able to get a blood test showing he had the right antibodies without the jab (as it was too late to get it before we left).

With Sunny sorted, there was the usual packing to do. Beyond the normal bits people take for a 3 week trip, I needed my hoist, shower chair, slip sheet and various other disability related things. The car was packed to the rafters! The reason we drive is because if we flew I wouldn’t have an accessible vehicle to get around in Poland. We researched this a lot years ago to no avail, but I’m thinking to have another look again for next time.

On Sunday 5th June with my PA Aga and my better half Kasia, we headed to the tunnel in Folkestone. Staying in the car, partly as I couldn’t get out if I wanted to with everything packed behind me, we went under the channel to France. Then after a few more hours of driving we arrived at our mid way stop in Dortmund Germany. After a Just Eat delivery because the hotel restaurant was closed, and a great sleep, we did the second 7 hours of driving all the way to Kasia’s parents.

We were obviously jaded on arrival. Fourteen hours of driving, plus stops, over two days is a lot. But to be greeted by smiling faces, delicious food and cognac shots perked us up!

Since arriving I went to Poznan city to swap over my PAs. Chloe flying in from England and Aga getting the train to see her family in northern Poland. They will swap back a few days before our drive home on the 26th June. But not thinking about that yet 😂 Otherwise I’ve enjoyed catching up with my in laws. They’re really so much fun. We’ve been in the garden, to the nearby forest and by the beautiful lakes. Plus we had Kasia’s nieces communion on the weekend.

Over the years the in laws have helped make their place more accessible. I used to either be carried upstairs by Kasia’s dad for a bath or shower in the garden under an awning. Whilst using a homemade wooden ramp to get in the downstairs part of the house. Now there’s an amazing ramp to a terrace and in to the house. Plus a downstairs loo and shower has been built.

I’ve still been checking in with work and ran the company wide meeting yesterday. Big up remote working! But I’ve also been trying to switch off a bit from work and rejuvenate. My body keeps reminding me of the toll I’ve put on it in recent times. So with some sun, new experiences and needed rest, I’m planning to return home with a renewed energy. But until then, there’s more food and cognac to consume!

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For the past 3 years Kasia and I have attended Mindvalley University. A personal development conference held in different beautiful tourism hot spots each summer for 1 month.

After Barcelona and Tallinn, 2019 was to be in Pula, Croatia.

Having never been to Croatia we were excited but also aware of the challenges a new place brings. The flight is always challenging on the day, but to arrange is a known entity by now. However the transport, accommodation, care and general access would need researching.

Luckily some of the Mindvalley tribe members were from Pula and knew of some disability contacts.

Katarina and Paula helped us find an adapted vehicle for the airport transfers. None of the private hire taxis were accessible there. We were able to get the public bus to and from the Mindvalley hub and our accommodation. As the last bus was at 9.30pm Igor kindly drove us in the adapted vehicle to the final party and home late.

Our Pula friends also connected us with a care agency. Kasia did most of my care, but having a PA come in every morning to get me up was gold dust. Leaving Kasia to swim with her family, before we all had breakfast together.

We found our accommodation together with Kasia’s family, who joined us from Poland. After a long search for accessibility, affordability and good location; we found Bi Village!

After contacting them for availability, they expressed an interest in promoting their accessibility through my visit. So in full disclosure, we were offered a free stay for our 2 weeks in Croatia. In return for my time and accessible tourism knowledge.

Bi Village is positioned 8km north of Pula. Hence the daily bus commute. It was full of campers and guests in apartments. Plus so many other holiday amenities.

Our temporary home was fully wheelchair accessible. It had 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. The adapted bathroom had a wet room shower and no awkward lips. There was also a kitchen, lounge and terrace for the lovely warm evenings.

Kasia’s mum, dad, brother, sister in law, niece and nephew enjoyed great moments with us. We had delicious meals and yummy ice creams. The kids loved the water park, tree climbing and many other child friendly activities.

The resort backed straight on to the beach. There was a wheelchair accessible ramp to the sea with an amphibian chair for swimming. The beach was more rocky than sandy, but that didn’t effect us negatively. I did burn my chest on the last day though. Ouch!

On the weekend away from the university commitments we had a bike ride to nearby Fazana, and a boat trip to the nearby islands.

The bikes were cheap to hire and I used my chair. The promenade was all accessible. It was nice looking around Fazana, and exploring the coast.

For the boat day I couldn’t take my chair. It’s too big and heavy. So I went on my shower chair with my Easy Travel Seat. It wasn’t so comfortable on my bum without my custom cushion, and being lifted on the boat and pushed around wasn’t ideal. However the views and experience was worth while.

Pula itself was surprisingly accessible. It’s an old Roman city with a beautiful collaseum. However the pavements had dropped kerbs and few cobbles. Result!

I’ll probably write an article about Mindvalley University another time, and there’s lots more to share about the Istria region. But for now, if you have any particular questions I’ve not addressed please let me know 🙂

You can also enjoy my daily video posts from Istria on my public Facebook page, my YouTube channel and my podcast channel. The dates were 7th to 21st July.

Martyn Sibley

– World Changer @ martynsibley.com.
– Author @ ‘Everything is Possible’ (on Amazon).
– Inclusion Captain @ disabilityhorizons.com.
– Presenter and Speaker @ visablepeople.com.
– Adviser @ Governments/Businesses/Charities.

Also @ Twitter | Facebook | Linked In | Google+

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“I only see my wheelchair when I see my shadow. Don’t chase your shadow, chase your dreams”

The attached homepage picture was taken on Tenerife’s ‘Playa Las Vistas’ on a recent trip. This island really inspires me so much.

Checkout the video for my general thoughts and for some information about the Mar y Sol hotel (http://disabilityhorizons.com/2012/11/accessible-holidays-in-tenerife/) and www.lero.net.