I wrote in Monday’s blog about the flights to and from Lisbon for the Benfica v Newcastle match last week. Today, the focus is on my experience in Lisbon as a wheelchair user.
Thomas Cook Sport had arranged for me and my friends to be taken by a special minibus with a lift at the rear to enable me to access the vehicle in my wheelchair. The service was provided by Accessible Portugal and our driver, Pedro, was most helpful and very friendly throughout the time he assisted me. As well as taking us to the Sana Lisboa Hotel, where we were staying, from the airport on Wednesday when we arrived, he also picked us up in the City Centre on Thursday afternoon to take us to the Estadio da Luz stadium and from there back to the airport after the match.
Accessible Portugal provide support services for people with special needs visiting Portugal, so based on this excellent experience, I’d certainly recommend anyone with a disability of with mobility needs to contact them if you are visiting that country.
The Sana Lisboa Hotel was very good. There was level access from the street into the large hotel lobby. There were several large lifts that took us up to the twin “disabled room” I shared with one of my friends on the 1st Floor. It wasn’t the largest room I’ve ever been in nor was the bathroom, but both were large enough for me to manoeuvre around in my manual wheelchair. The bathroom had a bath with shower over, which again was fine for me, but could be problematic for some people.
I was advised before I went to Lisbon that cobbled pavements were a potential issue. Most of the pavements were indeed cobbled with small unevenly shaped, but flat topped cobble stones. They were grouted with concrete making the surface fairly flat and I found pushing on them fairly easy.
During our stay, we took one of several Grey Line City Tours on open topped buses. While the upper deck wasn’t accessible, the two buses we travelled on had ramped access and a space for a wheelchair user. Pleasingly, which is something not always the case travelling on buses, it was possible to be positioned forward facing as there was a seat belt which prevented the wheelchair and me slipping forward wen the bus stopped.
We visited a few bars and cafes while in Lisbon and looked at several others. While some had steps at the entrance, many had level access, although sadly finding any that had accessible toilets in Rossio Square, which was the popular gathering place for Newcastle supporters during the day on the Thursday of the match, proved problematic. Full marks, though to Starbucks, who came up trumps and I paid a couple of visits there during the day.
Benfica‘s stadium, Estadio da Luz, was also very wheelchair accessible with level access directly from the car park to rear of the lower level, where there was good covered view of the pitch and very large wheelchair accessible toilets.
Overall, Lisbon was suitably accessible for me as a manual wheelchair user, but I’d like to see them provide more accessible toilets.