So, here’s 15 things we learnt on a Queen Mary 2 trip to NYC, Washington and Boston. Mostly it’s about accessible travel but there’s also a lot more besides in Blue Badge Blog here at www.rustyman777.com
1. The very accessible Queen Mary 2 remains the only way to cross the Atlantic ! Particularly if your fond of your powerchair or manual wheelchair for that matter, and hate the thought of what airport baggage handlers might do to your crucial bit of kit. It’s not budget of course. Far from it. But for a special “Big Hol” a surprisingly roomy accessible deck five ‘Inside Cabin’ can be yours for £1100pp and yes that’s a lot for us mere mortals but heck it includes seven days and nights of very good food, lots of it for 20 hours a day, and a variety of really decent entertainment. All on huge beautifully appointed floating fully wheelchair accessible five star hotel. Sorted.
2. Washington DC is a fabulous city but eating out there is eye wateringly expensive.
3. Visit Washington in late April ish, avoid the hordes or is herds, of American school kids in their matching T shirts and baseball caps on end of term trips, and at the same time enjoy cooler weather, way fewer lines at your fave Smithsonian Museum (there’s only 40 to choose from and they are all brilliant) oh and eat at The Pig restaurant just off Rhode Island Avenue and share meat cooked as it should be friendly locals.
4. Washrooms in the States, or toilets to us Brits, are often aweful. I have no idea how the usually quite demanding customer service fans that live across the pond endure their public Washrooms. My experience wasn’t good. Integration has arrived in the Washroom world. This means the wider-door accessible loo is found within the main loo block alongside the “normal” loos. Result : because there is no official accessible loo designation in these shared places anyone uses the accessible loo. So you are often, and I mean often, left waiting, and waiting. It just doesn’t work, give me a clean separate Radar key accessible loo any day and integration can take a back seat for once. Oh and many of these USA public washrooms are very smelly and messy and sometimes you come across people living in them which is horribly sad.
5. Use Washrooms in Smithsonian museums and posh hotels and restaurants whenever you can. See above !
6. Boston is so cool and laid back it’s spooky. You need a week at least to do it properly and it’s compact, with decent access especially the impressive Metro T where nearly all stations and yes all trains are accessible. Don’t leave Boston without having had Maine Lobster at Tia’s restaurant on Boston Harbour, or do a student guided tour of Harvard or spend a day on Boston Common and in the city centre.
7. Parts of New York City are getting a bit grubby, particularly the south Manhatten Canal Street areas. But do not miss the new 9-11 memorial which is simply stunning, respectful, emotive and inspirational, all at the same time, as indeed it should be. And hey this is still a superb city to spend time in.
8. Central Park remains the jewel in the Big Apple’s crown. What a joy it is to wander it’s paths on a hot sunny day. But outside the park watch for those dire uneven pavements and roads where there are more pot holes than bits of flat road.
9. Do visit and stay in Brooklyn. Eat at Juniors on Flatbush Avenue, enjoy the company of people in a proper neighbourhood and take in the fabulous views of Manhatten from Brooklyn Harbourside.
!0. Do stay at the DoubleTree hotel in Boston, lovely accessible place that it is, with a great wetroom shower ! How sad am I !! Do not treat yourself to a stay at the Sheraton Hotel Brooklyn, it’s not any where near as accessible as it says and it’s hugely over-priced and nothing like the luxury brand you may expect. Do try the Mason and Rook Hotel in Washington and enjoy its leafy avenue location, it’s large accessible bedrooms.
11. Use Amtrak which is surprisingly accessible, the Red Caps are indispensable and the Acela Express to Washington and Boston from NYC is just great.
12. Whilst in the three cities consider the hop on hop off type tours. Not all are accessible but the Old Town Trolley buses in Washington and Boston have half their fleet with sturdy if temperamental wheelchair lifts and a 90 minute tour is a great way to decide which bits of the city you want to take in next.
13. Uber WAV or Uber Access taxis have arrived in many USA cities and that includes the three discussed here. Whatever your views about Uber it remains the case that unlike many cab companies they are now providing rear ramp accessed cabs, booked safely from a mobile phone App with payment made via PayPal and tho it can be a bit hit and miss in terms of getting one quickly i.e. within 15 mins, mostly it works well.
14. The mandatory outside-the-Whitehouse picture isn’t what it used to be. New Security barriers take you further back from the famous railings and frankly it’s a bit meh but you can get to bore your friends with tales of how you plonked yourself right on the spot where CJ Craig and Josh discussed President Bartlett in the West Wing, which is brilliant television and I’m sure far more Presidential than what goes on in the place right now !
15. And finally, eat ice cream from the shack under the Brooklyn Bridge ! We did and found ourselves sitting next to Evertonians, how good is that !