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Travel to Spain/tour thru ancien catalonia

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QUESTION: We are a well-travelled retired couple in our seventies, now mobility limited, who would like to tour northern Spain and southern France in mid-April-June period 2016.  1- Can we find a rental van comparable to the Toyota Sienna accessible ramp van we now drive.  2- Can we secure trnsportation from the airport to our hotel in Barcelona. 3-We would like help in selecting and reserving rooms in (small) hotels particularly in Spain which we don't know well.

ANSWER: Hi Edward from a very hot and sunny Barcelona.

Taking your query regarding a transfer from El Prat Internation Airport, Barcelona to a City Centre hotel first - the answer is that this is a straightforward process however as there are no accessible taxis at either airport terminal you will have to pre-book an accessible vehicle online beforehand, expect to pay between 60 euros to 80 euros, these prices generally include a 'meet & greet' service in arrivals.

Selecting hotels with accessible rooms if needed with roll-in shower is a tricky business as many hotels that state 'accessible' may be anything but accessible for many wheelchair or mobility scooter users. In order to ensure you receive accommodation that suits your needs it is strongly recommended that you contact a Spanish based accessible travel specialist as they will have 'local' knowledge, failing that it is essential that if searching for a hotel(s) online yourself that you obtain a hotels own telephone number and not the general 'booking' number and then call the hotel directly. Key questions to ask the hotel reception before making any reservation - are there any steps at the entrance to the hotel; if access to a room is by lift what is the width of entry (minimum 80cm) and depth; does the room have a roll-in shower (specify 'ducha plano' for hotels in Spain) with seat (many hotels surprisingly offer roll-in showers but have no shower chair which has to be rented locally) and if a hoist is required is there clearance under the bed for the hoist base? Finally confirm that any rooms offered are non-smoking if you have allergies. In selecting hotels it is essential to know that a room 'guarantee' is not necessarily offered by which I mean you reserve a room online and this means you have a room with no guarantee it will be accessible even if requested, this in the main is due to hotels allocating rooms booked online 24 hours before a guests arrival, so once again two options to absolutely ensure you get the room you want, contact a hotel directly and ask for a written guarantee or better still make your reservation with an accessible travel specialist.

Self-drive accessible transport is more or less impossible to find in Spain if the accessibility is for ramped or hydraulic lift access for scooters or wheelchairs. Vehicles with adapted hand controls are available from Avis with pre-booking and collection from the airport.

France; here you will definately experience problems if looking for accommodation with rollin showers and good overall access. Apart from Paris options elsewhere are pretty thin on the ground apart from a few villas that have been converted into B&B type accommodation. My recommendation for France is to check the National Tourism Board information online as there is a National scheme to categorise tourist accommodation for access.

Regards
Alan

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Is it posible to hire accessible van and driver?guide for a tour throuh 1} Barcelona and environs? 2]Catalonia? 3) now French areas of old catalonia and Carcassone? Can you recommend travel agencies experience?d in assisting handicapped senior citizens

Answer
Hi Edward

Following on from my previous answers to your questions and in respect to the follow on question regarding "Can you recommend travel agencies experience?d in assisting handicapped senior citizens" Disabled Accessible Travel in Barcelona is the oldest established operator of accessible travel services in Catalunya, BCN Acces Tours also specialise in accessible services in the region (please note the spelling of 'acces' is correct with only one 's' for this company). Contacts respectively for the aforementioned operators are dat@disabledaccessibletravel.com and bcnaccestour@gmail.com
"Is it posible to hire accessible van and driver?" The answer is yes it is possible although with Spanish speaking drivers only however some that my own company work with speak very basic levels of English albeit not enough to act as driver guides. Both of the aforementioned companies can assist with these kinds of services.
In respect to the final area of travel you request to France this is also possible with accessible transport and driver, in my considerable experience this will cost as a daily rate in the region of €1000 to €1200 + sales tax for options in regard to this kind of travel I advise you contact the same specialists as mentioned above.
Best wishes from Barcelona
Alan

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Alan Broadbent

Expertise

Disabled people who are wheelchair users, be it manual or powered, face a challange when deciding to travel no matter if in their own country or abroad. Typical questions to be answered include, "can I get from the airport to my hotel in an adapted accessible vehicle"; "I can transfer from my manual wheelchair but only into a standard saloon, can I do this for a transfer from the airport"; "I need a hotel room that has an accessible roll-in shower, how can I reserve one as websites don't offer this option"; "I need a wheelchair pusher, are they available in Barcelona etc"; "I want to hire a self drive vehicle to tour Spain that is wheelchair adapted, how do I do this"; "is Barcelona wheelchair friendly"; "is Madrid wheelchair friendly"; "is Valencia wheelchair friendly"; "I need to hire a power chair, is this possible in Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, Malaga"; "I want to hire a wheelchair for the duration of my cruise which starts in Barcelona, can I do this?" These are a small sample of typical questions asked by wheelchair users and to which I have the answers for Spain. Questions related to medical care are beyond the scope of my experience.

Experience

I am the Managing Director of Accessible Services. My company offers three branded services two of which are relevant to this 'AllExperts' site, Disabled Accessible Travel (http://www.disabledaccessibletravel.com) offering accessible services to the disabled in 51 countries, and Wheelchair Accessible Barcelona (http://www.wheelchair-accessible-barcelona.es) offering specialised services to the disabled within the Metropolitan boundaries of Barcelona and further afield. In addition to my key area of work I speak at international conferences the last of which was the World Travel Market where in 2010 I was a keynote speaker for the Travel Agent seminar on Accessible Travel for the Disabled. I am a Founder member of the Global Network for Entrepreneurs with Disabilities acting as advisor on Travel & Tourism for new business start-ups by disabled people. I act also as a consultant on accessible issues such as access to tourist sites, hotels, and other issues pertinent to access. I am a registered disabled (rated 40% disability by the Government of Catalunya)person in Spain.

Organizations
SATH GNED

Publications
I maintain an informative blog offering guidance and information on issues pertaining to accessible travel for the disabled http://blog.disabledaccessibletravel.com Research papers have been included in a number of International Conferences (as such they are not 'published' works)and blogs related to Accessible Travel.

Education/Credentials
My educational background is mixed and reflects careers in a diverse range of professions, all at managerial and business ownership level. I hold degrees in Education, Business Management, and Music; a post graduate Diploma in Conducting; and a Masters in Accounting. I also hold a variety of travel industry related Certificates and Diplomas.

Past/Present Clients
Under the brand of Disabled Accessible Travel we manage the services for a number of leading American travel agencies; for many of the Canadian Expedia Cruise Ship Centres and for a variety of UK based agencies and private companies. Amongst the many world wide companies and institutions that have consulted with me is the Vatican Musuem, Rome.

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