montreux by wheelchair

it’s not that i don’t have anything to say, it’s just that i never seem to be ready to say it when i’m at the keyboard. but here’s something.

i am planning a trip for this coming july with my wife, her sister, and my brother-in-law – all good traveling companions. we are heading, sort of on a whim, to montreux, switzerland, home of the world-famous jazz festival. when i was 8, my family lived in lausanne – right around the corner – for a few months, and i have always wanted to go back. but, since i was only 8, there is little of that city i would remember. so we chose montreux (remember “smoke on the water?” on dec. 4, 1971 at the montreux casino, deep purple was doing some recording in the rolling stones mobile studio, and while frank zappa was performing in the theater, someone fired off a flare gun, and the hotel burned to the ground.)

anywho, we rented a flat, seen only via the internets and google maps street view, after extensive searching for accommodations that would accommodate me in my wheelchair. no stairs, etc., you know the drill. my brother-in-law dan finally found us one, and from all we can see, it looks great – view of the lake, close to the concert venues, etc. i will admit to a little anxiety about some of the practicalities. like grab-bars in the bathroom (of which i am sure there are none), and the wheelchair-ability of the surrounding neighborhood. it has proven very difficult to get any detailed information.

what little i have found is encouraging, though. apparently, the public transport is very good, trains going everywhere and all wheelchair accessible. i’ve heard several reports that the sidewalks are generally in good repair. the jazz festival itself is very handicap-friendly, with special seating areas, and offering me a discounted ticket and my “companion,” (which they will provide if need be) a free ticket, though bars and restaurants seem to be catch-as-catch-can. there are special handicapped public restrooms, available only to those with a special key. all good signs.

there is still a bit of the fear of the unknown, of being so far from home, being disabled, and having very little idea of what to expect. my posse for this trip (we four have traveled to scotland before) are all good sports, and understand my limitations. my friend kathi thinks me very brave, saying that i travel farther and wider than she does. i go back and forth between feeling brave and feeling a little foolish, sometimes a little of both.

but we put money down on the flat, and bought our (VERY!) expensive airplane tickets. so come july, off we’ll go. for better or worse. the jazz festival does not release it’s schedule until the middle of april, so we have no idea who we’ll find performing there. i am putting together my own wish list in my head, though i think i’ll probably be very happy just to be there, regardless.


Author: stephen

stephen harris is a writer, painter and a photographer who lives with his family in maine.

4 thoughts on “montreux by wheelchair”

  1. Good for you! I am sure you will have a great time. Obviously some concessions have to be made to disability, but you shouldn’t have to stop living your life. I am willing to bet that no matter what unforeseen obstacles may pop up during your trip – that you and your traveling companions will be very glad you went and will have great memories.

  2. Sounds like you set a good plan in place to making this trip as stress free as you can. Now all you need to do is not to stress about your plan, very hard to do I know having done it. For me stressing was my down fall, and not staying within my limits. Good luck and have a wonderful time.

  3. Super plan! I predict that some things will be fantastically easy, much easier than you ever imagined, some things will take you totally by surprise, and that you will have a great time. Remember to stay open, flexible, allow lots of time, and assume success.

  4. katja – thanks for reminding me of what i have discovered in my limited travels in the us – that people are generally very nice and willing to offer what assistance and accommodation they can. silly of me to think that i’d find anything different in switzerland. it means a lot, coming from an experienced world traveler like you!

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