The Blog Roll

Mickey and Minnie Mouse

Disneyland Paris in a wheelchair

 

Disneyland, a place almost every child dreams of. I’ve never been to one and so I decided to find out how wheelchair accessible Disneyland Paris is. In this article, I’ll give you some good advice, tips and tricks as well as  detailed information on the attractions for wheelchair users.

 

 

Disneyland Paris – The Basics

Disneyland Paris is an entertainment resort in Marne-La-Vallée near Paris. The famous resort was the second Disney park to open outside the US in April 1992. Another theme park, the Walt Disney Studio Park, opened in 2002. Disneyland Paris is the most visited entertainment resort in Europe.

 

How to get there from Paris CDG Airport

Disneyland is located about 45 km (30 miles) east of Paris. It takes approximately 1 hour to get there by car. Of course you can also get to Disneyland Paris by train. There are enough parking lots for disabled visitors (20 EUR/ day) if you should come by car. We took a flight to Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport and from there we took the TGV (high-speed train) to the Disneyland Train Station Marne La Vallée-Chessy. This train leaves at the CDG Airport train station in Terminal 2 and it takes only 9 minutes to Disneyland. The Disney Magical Shuttle is not wheelchair accessible, but a special transfer service can be arranged upon email request.

 

Disability SignMy TRAVEL TIP for you:

Travelling by train is the fastest, cheapest and also the most wheelchair accessible way to Disneyland Paris. Purchase your train ticket at the SNCF ticket counter in Terminal 2 and present your disability ID card. There is a reduced rate for disabled travellers as well as for their companion. The regular ticket price for one adult varies between EUR 16.50 to EUR 25 depending on the train. You can save up to 50 %!

 

Where to stay

Radisson Blu Resort at Disneyland Paris

Radisson Blu Resort at Disneyland Paris

There are many hotels near Disneyland Paris. We booked the Radisson Blu Resort at Disneyland, but unfortunately I cannot quite recommend this hotel. Although our room category was “Accessible Queen” the bathroom was equipped with a bathtub. I went back to the reception and asked for a room with roll-in shower. The receptionist explained that all those rooms were occupied. She told me that the staff didn’t know which of their accessible rooms were equipped with a roll-in shower and that they had no possibility to check that in their system. As a proof she even let me have a look in their electronic booking for myself. Anyway, my boyfriend and I arranged us with our room. The hotel offered a free shuttle service to Disneyland and back. The shuttle bus was equipped with a ramp and the ride took only 10 minutes.

 

Ticket Price and Priority Access

 Ticket Desk for Disabled at Disneyland Paris

The regular one-day ticket price for an adult varies between EUR 47 to EUR 65. You get access to both parks. Disabled visitors can purchase tickets at a special ticket desk on the right side of the ticket counters area. When you are severely disabled and you have a medical confirmation from your doctor or a disability ID card (French or English), your helper will get a free entry ticket. So once again, you can save 50 %!

 

little-miss-turtle-disney-guides-and-cards

Accessibility guides, our entry tickets and the priority cards.

 

 

 

  • Priority Access Card

After buying your tickets you should also go to the Donald Desk (it’s right next to the special ticket desk) or to the Visitor Relations Desk to ask for a Priority Access Card. Disneyland offers a Priority Card to disabled guests in order to get to the attractions via a specially-adapted entrance. Here you also have to show your disability ID card or a medical certificate. Follow this link to get more information: http://www.disneylandparis.co.uk/guest-services/guests-with-mobility-disabilities/

 

 

Attractions

I got the Accessibility Guide for Disneyland Paris and the Walt Disney Studios which describe all the accessible attractions. As my boyfriend would help me to transfer, I had a large choice of possible rides. But there are also some completely wheelchair accessible rides where you can stay in your own wheelchair: Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, The Studio Tram Tour, It’s a small world and Ratatouille! Very cool – I’ve never seen this before! Unfortunately many other attractions were closed due to renovations work.

 

 

My favorite rides were Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Studio Tram Tour, Ratatouille and Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop. We also did the Disney Railroad Express, Phantom Manor, Autopia, Casey Jr. Train and Slinky Dog which require to transfer. Alice’s Labyrinth, Mysteries of Nautilus, Armageddon, Aladdin’s Passage as well as The Dragon Cave are also totally wheelchair accessible. Honestly, the Railroad Express wasn’t worth waiting… Not much to see. In the evening, we watched the stunning Magic Hours Show! Don’t miss it!

 

 

Summary

Both parks are perfectly wheelchair accessible. The staff was friendly and very willing to help. Wheelchair accessible bathrooms are everywhere. I had a great time at Disneyland Paris and the Walt Disney Studios and can definitely recommend it to wheelchair users!

 

  • free entrance for one valid assistant
  • Priority Access to attractions
  • wheelchair accessible attractions like It’s a small world, Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast etc.
  • friendly and helpful staff
  • easy to get there by train (TGV)
  • enough accessible restrooms

 

 

 

 

Limb-girdle Muscular Dystrophy Awareness

My Spotlight Interview for the LGMD Awareness Day

 

Limb-girdle Muscular Dystrophy Awareness Day on September 30th 2016

 

Have you ever heard about Limb-girdle Muscular Dystrophy? I guess not? Or maybe yes, if you know someone, who knows someone, who’s child is possibly affected by another type of Muscular Dystrophy, such as Duchenne… Indeed, there’s still not enough awareness about neuromuscular diseases in today’s society. And there’s even less knowledge when it comes to Limb-girdle Muscular Dystrophy in particular. So let’s change that!

 

About two months ago I discovered on Facebook that the Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy Awareness Day organization was looking for volunteers who would like to share their LGMD-story in an interview.

 

Speaking about my story and sharing my experiences in the Spotlight Interview could help others to understand what it means to live with Limb-girdle Muscular Dystrophy. Maybe I can encourage other LGMD affected people around the world to not give up on life.

 

The Global Limb-girdle Muscular Dystrophy Awareness Day is on September 30th.

 

Together we are STRONGER!

 

Here is the Link to the interview : http://lgmd-info.org/2016/09/melanie-2/

 

Say HELLO to my new friend

I received a present! A big and unexpected one! It’s red, it has 4 wheels and it’s fast.
No – it’s not another wheelchair! It’s a Mobility Scooter!

 

Stories like the following one are a rare but powerful example that good people still do exist. I went to Mc Donald’s last week for lunch. While I was looking at the menu, a lady came next to me and asked if I would like to get an electric Scooter! For free!!! She explained that she worked for a disabled man who would like to give his old Scooter away to someone who could really need it. We exchanged numbers and the next day we went to the man’s home.

 

Mister J is also affected by Muscular Dystrophy. J seemed to be the kind of person who prefers not to talk about his condition but he appreciated it that his assistant had found a young woman like me to give the Red Devil to. As a symbolic gesture I offered him some nice Swiss Pralinés and there it was – finally a little smile showed up on the man’s face. He said he loved chocolates which made me feel even happier!

 

The Scooter is in a perfect condition. I only needed to buy new batteries to make it work again. It runs 15 km/hour, which is much faster than my electric wheelchair :-)!

 

I’ve already done a first tour around Cap d’Antibes. Such a great feeling to feel the wind in my hair and to not worry about how long the batteries would last (as my wheelchair batteries are not very powerful). Freedom, here I come!

 

I’m so grateful for this perfect present of the Universe! THANK YOU so much, J and N, for your kindness and your big hearts!

 

Enough for now… My Red Devil is waiting for me!

 

Airport Trouble

Some weeks ago I took a flight leaving from Nice/France to visit my friend Nina in Cologne/Germany. The flight was leaving at 12:45 pm. As always when I take the plane, I was picked up by Francy, a close friend, two hours before departure. Usually there’s plenty of time left when we arrive at the airport. But not this day…!

 

We wanted to park at a special parking in the parking lots for handicapped. Next to these lots there’s a telephone booth from which you can call the service assistance for passengers with reduced mobility. But actually this day there was a stand of Mercedes AMG installed on the parking lots for disabled and the whole area was blocked by barriers. Luxurious, powerful, prestigious cars everywhere! Francy decided to not obey by opening the barriers. We passed through and saw that the telephone booth was completely out of service. An Airport employee came straight to us and we were rudely asked to immediately leave. He didn’t even take time to listen to our explanations and obviously didn’t care at all. The man turned and walked away while I was asking where else we could park.

 

The thing is that my friend can’t lift me due to some back injuries. I felt sad and angry about this guy’s arrogant behavior and about the fact, that luxury cars are obviously more important than offering accessible parking spaces. I asked my friend to drive elsewhere.

 

We decided to go to the security guys, whose job it is to open and close a gate directly in front of the terminal’s departure area. It is possible for people with reduced mobility to park there for 30 minutes as I know from my own experience. I showed my disabled parking permit but this time the guards wouldn’t let us in. For what ever reason. As I started to speak to one of the guards he did neither look at me nor was he listening to what I said. My friend was very angry. Suddenly I felt so tired by these people’s ignorance and their “I don’t care”-attitude… The feeling of not being respected grew in my heart. Personally I am not used to be treated that way. Most of the time I am treated attentively with kindness.
Anyway… Time was ticking, so my only concern was to get my flight. Too much time had already been waisted with our attempt to park. We stopped at another car park. Luckily a friendly passerby was willing to lift me out of the car into my wheelchair! His gesture of kindness made me immediately feel better. Thank you, dear stranger! Francy took me to the counter, I got my flight ticket and a service assistant was called to help me through the security check.

 

Finally flying to Cologne

Finally flying to Cologne

I was boarded only 5 minutes before the flight was leaving. The Eurowings Crew was very welcoming and they even upgraded me. Once when all doors were in flight, I finally took a deep breath and made myself comfortable. The airplane took off and all the stress of the past one and a half hour was left behind. I was so looking forward to meeting my German friend who I only knew through Facebook and Skype!
A new adventure was up to come!
Up in the air

Up in the air

How I got married…

 

HandiFashion 2015 – My experience

What is HandiFashion?

In October 2015 I had the great pleasure to take part in the fashion show HandiFashion by Mougins in France. HandiFashion”, which was created in April 2012 by French journalist Corine Tonarelli, is a national fashion concept showing fashion for all. It took place in Paris twice and also in Aix-en-Provence and Aubagne. Beauty and fashion are not restricted to able-bodied as can be seen in these days fashion shows/adds with models like Winnie Harlow, Jillian Mercado or Madeline Stuart. The Handifashion models (with and without disabilities) were chosen at a casting in June 2015. And I should be one of them.

 

How it all began

On a sunny and warm day last spring I was hanging around at the beach of Juan Les Pins together with my sweetheart. After a while I noticed some people staring at me for a long time but this didn’t bother me any further. But only a couple of minutes later they came over to see me. And WHAT an astonishing surprise: Sonia, who was part of the organization team, really asked if I could imagine to take part in a fashion show, called Handifashion by Mougins, as a model! “Hhmmm, ME, a model in a fashion show with many people !!?? Am I ready for this??!!” were my first thoughts. But I also noticed some arising excitement in my belly – in a positive way. And then I simply replied “Okay! Let’s give it a try! I’ll go to the casting!”. Sonia took a picture of me and gave me all the info about the casting in the following June. At that time I didn’t really believe that I would pass the casting anyway…!

 

The Casting

Casting for Handifashion

Casting for Handifashion

The day of the casting came and I was very nervous to walk – or let’s better say to “roll” – in front of the jury. Luckily my boyfriend decided to give it a try, too as we were told that it could be fun to see us together as a real couple. And so the two of us had the chance to do the casting, which made it easier! The jury, including Sonia, asked us to present ourselves and we had to answer some questions (like if we had some experience in modeling or acting and how we see fashion in general). The funny thing is that I don’t care for fashion trends or brands. I simply wear what I like – I’m not very girly or stylish and this I told the jury. They then turned up the volume and each of us had to walk up and down the catwalk. I liked the song and did what I would do if I were a model. My boyfriend and I then walked one more time hand in hand. Afterwards I absolutely had no clue about how I presented myself and if my attempt of “wheeling” up and down the catwalk was good or not. Pictures of us were taken and we were recorded on video. The jury told us that we would get news in about 3 weeks time.

 

And what else should I say: 3 weeks later my phone rang and Sonia asked “Do you guys have anything planned for the 10th of October yet???”. I didn’t get it at first – but THEN – we were chosen! The perfect surprise was that we were also chosen to be the wedding couple at the end of the fashion show! Oh my god! Me as bride and my chéri as groom! This can’t be true! I felt frightened and happy and overwhelmed at the same time. My boyfriend was much more serene though.

 

The Preperations

We met the other beautifully different and beautifully valid models only once for repetitions. All of them were nice and we had a good time together at the repetition training. I’ve met some people with very inspiring personalities which I do admire! After the repetitions I was really looking forward to the D-day. We met for the fittings twice. My boyfriend and I felt happy with our outfits and the big day came closer and closer.

 

 

Due to heavy rain and flooding the fashion show, originally planned for October 10th, had to be postponed to October 31st. This event of delay only increased my excitement…

 

And there it was – October 31st! At 10:30 am we met the whole crew at Eco Parc Mougins and straight away got to work on our choreography. The catwalk scenery was just amazing. I didn’t expect the Handifashion show to be as professional! As we got to know that there would be more than 400 people watching I slightly felt like escaping… !! But there was no time to think about this fact for too long as we had to change into our outfits twice for training. The whole group had lunch together which was followed by the final repetition. We then had our hair done and got professional make-up (yep, the men too). All the girls and boys looked so handsome! When the make-up artist finished my beauty look it was almost 8 pm! Not much time left neither for changing nor for getting ready mentally. With my hair and make-up I felt pretty, which helped me to gain confidence. My dressing assistants were adorable and they made me relax. I already heard the opening words of our amazing host Matthieu Nina and of special guest Noémie Lenoir (international model and actress). My heartbeat began to race, my hands got wet and I felt sick… “Breath, Melanie, breath!” I told myself. Just minutes before the opening of Handifashion by Mougins 2015 I really did feel as if I would faint! I only wanted the show to start… I was the fourth or fifth model to walk onto the stage. All the other models also couldn’t wait for the show to begin and we all wished us good luck and much fun! The DJ played the first song and the models Margot and James opened the show.

 

 

Then everything happened really fast. Our song began to play and I rolled out on the catwalk in my first outfit. And there I was! Luckily I didn’t really see the audience as the light spots shone right into my face. I didn’t even realize the flash lights of all the photographers. My first run was over as fast as it began. I hurried back to the fitting room and got changed. My second outfit showed pretty much skin which made me feel like if I was playing a role – personally I would never even consider wearing a dress like this one…! But the job had to be done and about 20 minutes later I turned back into the spotlight with the beats of Michael Jackson’s “Love never felt so good”. The second time I fully enjoyed the moment. The stress and stage fright were all gone.

 

 

The third time on the catwalk should be the highlight for the audience. The lights went out and my boyfriend, dressed as fiancé, showed up on the catwalk with the first beats of Disclosure’s „You & Me“. He tried to find his bride with the help of a spotlight that circulated around. The audience was curiously observing his show. At the same time I impatiently waited behind the scenes for my appearance. Seconds turned into minutes… But then Camille softly touched my shoulder to tell me that it’s time for me to go. I took a deep breath and rolled out on the catwalk in my beautiful wedding dress (by Charm’Fou Mariage), the bridal veil hiding my face. The audience cheered which made me shiver for a moment. My handsome husband caught sight of me and we slowly moved towards each other. He put back the veil and took my hand. The atmosphere felt like in a movie. We deeply looked into each others eyes and finally kissed! This was THE moment, when the audience could no longer sit still, they all started clapping and shouting. My boyfriend and I, groom and bride, walked together hand in hand down the catwalk accompanied by standing ovations. I could no longer hide my big smile. With happy faces we posed for the photographers and I even did a wheelchair turn around myself. Oups, my bridal veil fell back down which wasn’t planned that way! But anyway, I just continued smiling. I felt so relieved and happy at the end of the fashion show! When the final song started to play all the models walked one more time together and it felt like a big party. The audience clapped as there was no end for the models and the organization team. Sonia, Camille, Corine and all the people who contributed to Handifashion by Mougins did an amazing job! They worked hard for months to create this show in their free time without being paid. Everyone gave his and her best to set a mark with Handifashion 2015. After short speeches of the organization-trio the microphone was finally passed on to the mayor of Mougins, M Richard Galy, and to Mister France 2015, Aurélien Giorgino. They announced that the entry fees were donated to AYAME Charity, a charity organization supporting disabled children, especially with Down syndrome. Once more the audience cheered and applauded loudly.

 

 

Meeting Noémie Lenoir after the show

Meeting Noémie Lenoir after the show

After the fashion show we had the pleasure to meet Noémie Lenoir. Noémie is such a beautiful woman, I’ve seen her in ads and films before and couldn’t believe that she was standing next to us. She was really nice and together with my groom we took some pictures. Noémie even gave me a kiss on the cheek. She said that I did a great job. Wow! I was so shy that I couldn’t say more than “Thank you!“. With the help of my dressing girls I changed back into my own clothes and so did the rest of us.

Afterwards a private cocktail party was held for the special guests, the models, their families and friends, the organizers and all the designers and brands. Much more photos were taken and interviews given. Of course we celebrated with our family and a couple of friends with a glass of champagne. We told no one that we would be the wedding couple, so everyone was surprised… Many people came to see my boyfriend and me and asked if we were married or on couple for real or if we were actors! There were even some people who had tears in their eyes when we kissed. I was overwhelmed by all the compliments I got that evening. Camille though hoped that my boyfriend would really ask me to marry him, but for us it was clear from the beginning that this wouldn’t happen. But it still was the perfect wedding!

 

I feel grateful and thankful that I had the wonderful possibility to be a part of HandiFashion by Mougins 2015! I would do it again anytime. This event helped me to leave my comfort zone once more. Seriously, I am not used to that much attention. So after the show and still now I feel proud of myself. I showed up in my power wheelchair and had the night of my life forgetting about my disease and everything that comes along with it.

 

Long life to HandiFashion! The next edition will take place in Saint Rémy de Provence in October 2016…! Thank you to everyone who made this event possible!

 

Photo credit: Mathieu Buzzanca

Thank you for (not) travelling with Deutsche Bahn

 

Yesterday I wanted to make my first reservation ever with Deutsche Bahn (the German railway). But I had to find out that still in 2016 it is more than complicated to travel by train when using a wheelchair.

 

Of course I’d read all the information on how to travel with reduced mobility on the website of Deutsche Bahn to be perfectly prepared. You have to call their mobility service when you need help to get in and off the train and/or if you have to change trains on your journey. And this service also books the wheelchair seats for you. I assumed that nowadays, in 2016, travelling would be much easier than it was 20 years ago… I was wrong.

 

My very bad idea was to first buy my tickets (like every other passenger) and then call their service hotline to ask for the mobility service.

 

Lady on the phone: „What!? You’ve already bought your tickets? That wasn’t a good idea as you should always call us first to make sure that there are still some wheelchair seats available!“ I asked myself why that wasn’t written on their homepage.

 

The woman was quite nice on the phone and she told me that the wheelchair seats for my chosen trains were unfortunately booked. She patiently checked all other possible trains and connections on that day for more than 45 minutes. But nothing – what a frustrating experience! The worst was that I’d bought these tickets for me and my friend as we had planned to travel together. The service assistant advised me to cancel them as we couldn’t take these trains without free seats.

 

Can you imagine that Deutsche Bahn offers only 2 wheelchair seats per train?!

 

After explaining that this would have been my first trip with Deutsche Bahn and that I had absolutely no idea of calling the mobility service before buying the tickets, she luckily transferred the call to her colleague who cancelled the tickets for free. Normally, you have to pay a fee of 17,50 Euros for each ticket cancelled. This favor was very kind!

 

But still I have to say that 2 wheelchair seats per train are simply not enough. Every human being, disabled or able-bodied, should have the possibility to take the train easily and spontaneously! In France taking the train is much easier than in Germany. I can go directly to the train station and take the next train whenever I want to. Without making any reservation before. The same thing in Japan (to be continued) and so many other countries. I have to say that I’m a little bit shocked as Germany is a well-developped country serving as role model for so many European neighbours. But accessibility of travelling by train is clearly a big point to improve!

 

PS: I guess I’ll risk my next attempt in 10 years ;-).
Meeting Andrea Krallinger

A day that changed my life

 

Today I’ll tell you about a very special photo project and how this project helped me to gain self-confidence by fully accepting me and my disabled body.

 

First of all I have to admit, that I’ve had a very bad image of myself. I have never seen myself neither as a “real” woman nor I thought of me being beautiful. My body was my weird-looking capsule, rolling around in a wheelchair. Often I even felt ashamed for my strange movements caused by my limb-girdle muscular dystrophy and for being in a wheelchair. I preferred to hide myself whenever possible to not attract more attention than usual. I had no self-confidence at all and didn’t feel good in my skin. There were times when I silently cried in my bed, asking myself why I was chosen to have this mean LGMD disease. But one day in 2012 would change everything …!

 

While I was reading a magazine of the German MD Association, my eyes stopped at a text saying “Participants for special photographic project wanted”. I don’t know why, but my inner voice told me to apply immediately. That’s how I got to know the German photographer Andrea Krallinger and her beautiful project “Ganz schön krank” (free trans. “pretty ill”). Andrea, having an invisible disability herself, took pictures of people with all kinds of disorders, focussing on their beauty – not on their faults. The photos of Andrea’s models were art printed are still being exhibited all over Germany and even abroad. Each art print is accompanied by a personal introduction, written by the model, describing briefly her/his life with a disability.

 

So, together with my brother I met Andrea in August 2012 on a wonderfully warm summer day. But actually, only one day before the appointment I wanted to cancel it! I was scared and I thought that I was not good enough for Andrea’s project. I felt very uncomfortable, I didn’t even have a clue how to dress. I was simply afraid to not fulfill  Andrea’s expectations… Luckily my brother insisted on going! And so we did! On our way to the meeting I was so nervous that I couldn’t eat a thing. We met Andrea in a train station. We had a great time together and got along very well – there was no need to be that nervous. Together, we discovered a nice little park where the shooting took place. Thanks to Andrea’s guidance and her reassuring words I overcame my shyness and suddenly I felt good in front of her camera. This was my first shooting-experience. Some days later, when Andrea sent me a link to my pictures, I couldn’t believe that this young, beautiful woman was me. For the very first time I saw my bright smile and my sparkling eyes. And for the very first time I saw my hidden beauty revealed.

 

 

Thanks to Andrea’s project, I received lots of mails by interesting people telling me that I had a very positive appearance and a beautiful smile. Thanks to her I made many new friends. Thanks to Andrea I met my love Xavier only two months after the shooting. Thanks to her I had the chance to do a photo shooting for wheelchair manufacturer Sunrise Medical.

Thanks to Andrea and her “Ganz schön krank” project I learned to truly accept myself as I am! There was and is no reason to hide my smile any longer. Today, in 2016, I am a confident and joyful woman on wheels. Thank you so much for everything you did, Andrea!

– LittleMissTurtle in the German TZ news
– LittleMissTurtle is “Ganz schön krank”
Little Miss Turtle Toothbrush

I only want to buy a toothbrush

Strange encounters

 

When you are in a wheelchair, people tend to tell you their whole life including all their diseases and worries. I mean situations like this one: About a year I ago my brother and I were strolling through Hamburg when suddenly a strange woman came out of nowhere. She stopped next to me asking loudly why I was sitting in a wheelchair. She didn’t give me a chance to answer her question as she continued holding a monologue about her friend suffering from multiple sclerosis and about all her own health issues. Just like that – out of nowhere. Kind of strange, isn’t it!? The idea of asking a stranger anything about her or his health would never even cross my mind.

 

Up to now I’ve never found an explanation for the WHY? Is it my wheelchair that invites people to explain their “suffering” or their troubles in life? Or is it my friendly smile? Is it to make me feel better? Or to make them feel better? Is it to show, that valid-looking people also have problems with health, relationships or what ever? Is it because people expect me to understand? Or simply because they need to pour their hearts out? Please let me know if you have any ideas! Most of the time I listen patiently to people’s stories but sometimes I simply don’t want to hear their private stuff. I’m not yet a therapist – I’m only a young woman sitting in a wheelchair.

 

The other day I was in a big drug store with the intention to buy an electric toothbrush. A simple plan. While I was standing in front of the shelf, studying the different models, a pleasant salesman joined me. I briefly told him what I was looking for and asked for his advice. He told me that he would buy model XY and started to ask about my disability right away. He was kind of a funny, nerdy guy and within 5 minutes I knew about his relationship, his divorce, his taste of women (luckily I didn’t fit) and – of course – about all his health issues. I nodded and nodded and after 20 minutes I finally managed to escape with no toothbrush. I’ll get in on Amazon!

 

What kind of weird experiences with strangers did you have? Let me know by contacting me or by leaving a comment below.

 

 

A short trip to Berlin – Misfit Models

 

Two weeks ago I took the plane to Berlin. I had an appointment at Misfit Models, a model agency in Berlin-Pankow. This agency, founded and run by Del Keens, is looking for people with character and style who do not fit the current ideal of beauty. I’ve discovered their website not too long ago and decided to apply as a wheelchair model. I already did some work in front of the camera and loved it. But more about that in another blog post.

 

So, I booked a flight with easyJet to Berlin-Schöneberg airport, mentioning my foldable wheelchair and my “special needs” in the booking process. At the airport the mobility service accompanied us through the security check. Sometimes being disabled comes along with great advantages – at the airport you’re always treated like a VIP and never have to wait in endless crowds… Me and my boyfriend were the first to board. At the gate two helpers from the mobility service took me to the airplane, sat me on a small transfer chair and folded away my own wheelchair. They took me to my row and installed me on the passenger seat. Once landed in Berlin-Schönefeld we were the last passengers to leave the aircraft. Again the mobility service helped to get me out of the plane and put me back into my own wheelchair. We then were taken to a van and driven to the arrival zone.

 

First things first: We had to stop at a takeaway and eat a Berliner Currywurst which is unique in its taste! That was so good! We took the public transport, which is very wheelchair accessible, to get to our hotel. The Wyndham Garden Berlin Mitte is a nice 4-star-hotel with a very good breakfast buffet, but it isn’t 100 % wheelchair-friendly.

 

The next morning I had my appointment at Misfit Models. There are some steps at the entrance but as soon as the staff saw me they came out and installed a funny-looking wheelchair-ramp. After some paper work I finally met Del and he took some pictures for their website. A camera man from the German BILD News was filming the shooting and afterwards the BILD team asked me some questions. Half an hour later we were already on our way back to the airport to take our flight back home. What a cool short trip!

See me in the news on German Bild.de: “Dieses Casting ist keine Freakshow”

And here you get to my card: Misfit Model Melanie

Air France Airbus A320 Paris CDG

Nice surprise at Paris CDG Airport

I lately took a flight to Paris CDG Airport together with my boyfriend. After landing, a nice disability service assistant helped me to leave the airplane. He lifted me back into my wheelchair and accompanied us all the way to the arrival zone. At the exit, he asked us what we would do next. I replied that we would go to our hotel and that no more help was needed as we came here often and knew how to get to our destination.

 

The service assistant wasn’t satisfied with my answer and kept on asking where we would spend the night. His insisting way of interviewing us was very uncommon – I really didn’t know how to deal with it! It made me feel slightly uncomfortable. My boyfriend replied that we would sleep in a hotel at Roissy, not far from the airport. The service assistant then wanted to know the exact name of the hotel. “Okay …”, I thought, “Why is this guy so curious? What might he be up to?”. But friendly as I am, I told him where we would stay, with a slight note of impatience in my voice.

 

Finally he informed us, that there was a free shuttle service especially for disabled travelers and that he would call this service right now to take us directly to our hotel. “Why didn’t he tell us right away about it?”, I asked myself with a sensation of relief. The assistant explained that he had been doing the assistance job for more than 20 years and he only wanted to make sure that we would reach our hotel without any trouble. He continued that he took his job very seriously which I confirmed noddingly.

 

As a frequent wheelchair traveller, I regularly fly to Paris CDG. However, no one had ever mentioned this shuttle service before. So in order to make this very involved assistant happy, I decided to give it a try for the next morning. The service shuttle picked us up at our hotel at 07:30 am. It felt like being some kind of VIP as we were the only 2 passengers. We were back at the CDG airport within 10 minutes. What an unexpected surprise! I’ll surely take advantage of this great shuttle service again!