Gadget

This content is not yet available over encrypted connections.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

BLOG STATUS REPORT: Where's The Cocktail Hour?


You might have noticed that The Cocktail Hour has been on a bit of a hiatus.  This is because of two reasons:  a) Letty and I have been trying to get into better shape this summer and get our weight back where it belongs, especially me, so we've been cutting back on cocktails and drinking mostly wine instead - which doesn't make for  good Cocktail Hour recipe videos -  and b) I've been trying to get as many stadiums posted as possible for The Fields of Dreams series while it is still baseball season.


Don't worry, though.  We'll be making more Cocktail Hour videos (which usually are posted on Sundays, the day of rest) and you can click on the link in the first paragraph to see the reports we've already done - you can bet you haven't seen them all.  Next weekend we'll be having a special Labor Day themed Cocktail Hour.  We've also been experimenting with new cocktails with lower calorie counts and will be sharing those recipes with you in the future.


Thanks for your support and we hope you continue to visit our little corner of the web.


-Darryl

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

TRANSIT REPORT: Munich, Germany


The main transit agency in Munich is the Munchen Verkehrsgesellschaft (MVG), which translates to Munich Transport Company. They run a three-tiered system of trains and a bus system. This all connects to the German Duetsche Bahn (D-Bahn), the nation’s train company. Most of the trains run below ground in the city, coming above ground for the suburbs. The only trains running above ground in the city are the trams.

As far as wheelchair accessibility is concerned, Munich is the most barrier-free European city we have ever visited. No need to feel apprehensive about bringing your chair here.

BUSES

Buses in Munich are mostly a secondary form of transportation. Used for the portions of the city that doesn’t have quick access to one of the train systems. As a visitor, you would have little, if any, need of the buses here. The only bus we rode was the bus to Dachau from the train station there. All of the city’s buses are accessible in the usual European way…the back door has a ramp that is deployed only when the door in closed. Once the ramp is deployed, the driver will open the door. There is a wheelchair spot in the middle of the bus with a padded vertical board .You are to back your chair up against this board. Usually, there are no tie-downs so make sure your brakes are in working order.

The U-Bahn and S-Bahn (click on link for a PDF system map)

The U-Bahn is the city’s subway. Think “Urban” for the U, not necessarily underground. Think “Suburban” for the S in S-Bahn. The two systems work in pretty much seamless order, a visitor would be hard pressed to see any difference in them except that the S-Bahn goes to destinations out of the city and the U-Bahn does not. Stations are identified by the signs with the white letter U on a square blue background for the U-Bahn, or the white letter S on a round green background for the S-Bahn.

As you can see from this barrier-free system map, almost all of the system is wheelchair accessible. You’ll look long and hard to find the very few stations that are not. A few stations, like the Haupbahnhof (the main train station), are huge and it might take a little effort to find a lift or ramp. Look for the different colored floor tiles that mark the accessible route.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia
MaxM under CC-BY-SA license

Trams

Trams take the place of buses in most parts of the inner city. Click on the following link for a tram system map. Most trams are wheelchair accessible via a ramp deployed from the front door. Wheelchairs can sit in a space behind the driver’s cab. Some older trams are still running throughout the city which are not accessible. Don’t worry, when this happens the next tram will be accessible and they run on short intervals (like 5 minutes). Because it’s the train itself that’s accessible, all tram stops can be used by wheelchairs.

All bus stops, tram stops, U-bahn platforms, and S-bahn platforms have electronic signs letting you know when the next train or bus will arrive.

FARES

The basic fare is €2.30. There is also a €1.20 fare for short trips. The biggest deal in Europe is the partner fare. This allows up to 5 adults to travel on a single one-day pass (alternatively, 2 children count as one adult on this pass) for only €9.40 for the inner district zone. A Munchen XXL partner day pass…which covers one more zone out of the inner district…is €12.40. You’ll need the latter fare if you plan to visit Dachau, which is just outside of the inner district zone.

The fare to ride the S-Bahn from the airport into town is €9.60 or €18.80 for a partner pass. If there are two or more of you, use the partner pass because it’s cheaper than the normal fare and it is also good on the rest of the transit network for the remainder of the day.

Always remember to validate your ticket before entering the U-Bahn or S-Bahn (tram and bus tickets are already validated when you buy them). There are validation machines at each station. For wheelchair users, the machine is usually right next to the lift or ramp to the platform. A day pass only needs to be validated the first time you use it.

D-Bahn

The Duetsche Bahn is Germany’s national railway system. Like the rest of Western Europe, trains visit just about every town. The main station in Munich is called the Hauptbahnhof but the trains also stop at other stations in the city. You’ll want to take advantage of the D-Bahn for day trips out of the city such as Salzburg, Austria and maybe even Neuschwanstein Castle which can be accessed via bus from the F├╝ssen Station.

German trains usually have an accessible car but you need to let the station employees know you’ll need assistance so they can arrange a lift from the platform to the train.

Fares are variable and several discounts can be employed. Usually, it will be less than renting a car and more convenient too.

Munich is a great city and Bavaria is an exciting region to explore. It is also one of Europe’s most progressive cities as far as barrier-free access goes. Have fun!

-Darryl
Copyright 2010 – Darryl Musick

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

TRAVEL GEAR: Summer 2010

Here are some items we find very useful while traveling.  Some will be more useful for disabled travelers, other items are good for everybody.  Links go to Amazon pages to help support Tim and the site.  Thank you for your support...

Doing laundry is one of those chores we hate to do while traveling but having to shell out for detergent, fabric softener, and dryer sheets is just one more hassle and expense we don't need.  These sheets are great for alleviating that.  One sheet in the wash serves as detergent and fabric softener.  Leave it in for the dryer and it becomes a dryer sheet.  They are also very easy to pack.  We take 2 or 3 in a Ziploc bag and use along the way.



OK, I'm ready to name the Kodak Zi8 the best pocket sized HD video camera on the market.  We've now lived with this camera and the Flip Ultra HD for close to a year now.  The Flip is a great camera but makes very large files and the format, MP4, does not play well with Windows.  The Flip editing software is not user friendly either.  The Kodak makes HD files about a third smaller than the Flip.  It also has a jack for an external mic.  You an buy extra memory cards and add capacity to your camera...the Flip is limited to the 2 gigs that are already installed.  The files work seamlessly in the Window Live Movie Maker editing software. It's also slimmer.   I love this camera for its size, quality of video, ease of use and editing, and capacity.  You can see the results on our most recent videos such as our trip to Morro Bay.


When you travel to a destination that does not have great accessibility, a power chair can be a liability.  Transport chairs don't cut it for user comfort on long trips.  This manual has been a Godsend to us.  Rugged construction, large pushable wheels, and a very comfortable, folding cushion make this a great travel chair at a great price of under $350.  Another neat feature is that the armrests are designed to fit a dining table.
Great for your GPS or cell phone but we use it to hold the video camera to get those driver point-of-view shots you see in our videos.

-Darryl

Friday, August 13, 2010

ROUTE 66 on The World on Wheels

The View from Route 66
Mt. Baldy with Azusa Canyon and the San Gabriel River in Front
March 9, 2010

We're Route 66 locals...we live just off of the road...so it's natural that there'd be some reports on the road here at The World on Wheels.  Check below for a couple of new videos along with links to all our Route 66 content.


Summer road trip season is in full swing and what better road to trip on than Route 66.  Below are our reports from our section of the Mother Road and above is a new video of a quick little cruise around the Glendora/Azusa section of the road.  It's a companion piece to the video below, which is a demonstration of how we get around while on vacation when we have no accessible vehicle or public transit available.


Route 66 Trip report -
    
Part 1

    
Part 2


Route 66 Roadhouses

Route 66 Travel Tunes - Route 66

Route 66 Landmarks

Route 66 Links