Wheeling Oslo – The Secrets (The Boat)

Days precious days
Roll in and out like waves
I got boards to bend I got planks to nail
I got charts to make I got seas to sail
I’m gonna build me a boat
With these two hands
It’ll be a fair curve
From a noble plan
Jimmy Buffett
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I promised you some months ago to tell you about the secrets of Oslo. So here it goes. One more secret. This one is mainly for those of you who are wheelchair users or who knows a cool (or just easily persuaded) person in a wheelchair.
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The Captain

Once upon a time there was a crazy guy who had an idea. Sometimes it takes a crazy guy to change things. To have progress. And this crazy guy he had an idea about a boat that was accessible for everyone. Because he liked to be on a boat. He just happened to be in a wheelchair. So he needed some money, some help and some faith.
Crazy some would say (including myself). But this guy managed to realize his dream.
A private yacht that was accessible for all.
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And then ‘Sjøen for Alle’ (The Ocean for Everyone) saw the day of light. It is a yacht called Arnøy that has been rebuilt and modified to cater for wheelchair users. It can fit 30-35 people at the same time. Doesn’t matter if you have an electrical wheelchair or a manual one, you can easily get onboard. And they are docked just behind the Opera House in Oslo, so the location could not be better.
It costs you 100 NOK per year to be part of the private club and then 50 NOK per person to pay for the diesel on every trip you take. You can also bring friends, disabled or not. Usually the whole concept is very flexible and pragmatic.
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The club has a webpage & a Facebook-page:
– Webpage: Sjøen for Alle
– Facebook: Sjøen for Alle
They have a very solid ramp to get on board and you can access both the front and the rear end of the yacht with the wheelchair.
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They also have a stairlift installed to get you to the wheelchair accessible toilet, if you should be in need during the trip. I tried it with a permobil. It was narrow and I had to fold my footrests, but it was doable.
This summer they have had several trips per week, both daytime and in the evenings. Usually one trip takes about 3-4 hours and the boat moves in a relaxed pace along the cost of the Oslofjord. It’s also possible to charter the both for organizations and groups.
Bring your own food and drinks and enjoy!
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Ship O’Hoi!

Wheeling Vienna – The Culture

You’ve got your passion, you’ve got your pride
But don’t you know that only fools are satisfied?
Dream on, but don’t imagine they’ll all come true
When will you realize, Vienna waits for you?
Billy Joel
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We visited Vienna (or Wien as I prefer to call it) in May 2018 because of a conference. The conference took place in the conference center Austria Messe. And since I hate to get up early in the morning, we stayed as close to the conference centre entrance as possible.
It turned out that the hotel was a poor choice. It was called Austria Trend Hotel Messe, but unless you find extremely uncomfortable furniture, an uncosy bar and questionable service trendy, then there is nothing trendy about the hotel.
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Prison cell or hotel? Austria Trend Hotel Messe was everything but trendy…

Some of our colleagues stayed at Motel One nearby, which seemed a much better alternative. We didn’t have breakfast at the hotel, which was ok the days the bakery at the technical university was open, but the other days it was a bit harder to find a coffee in the neighbourhood.
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Searching for coffee at university campus

At nights it was also hard to find a decent restaurant close to the hotel. We ended up in the Italian place l’Osteria several nights in a week. Their Italian food was good, but the service was at times exceptionally bad.
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L’Osteria – good food – bad service

And bad service actually seemed to be a trend in the Austrian capital. Do they hate tourists? Do they hate their jobs? Or do they just take pride in being assholes? I never really understood it, but it was almost fascinating how common this phenomenon was.
But don’t get the wrong impression! Besides these not so charming sides of Vienna, the city has a lot of great things to offer.

 

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Dinner at Zur grünen Hütte – one of the few places without bad service

Here are my best & worst of Vienna:

BEST:

1. The Art
Everywhere you go there’s art, music, museums, castles and architecture. If you are a lover of culture, it’s hard to not like Vienna.
2. The Music
Where else can you accidentally walk into a free open air concert with a Symphonic Orchestra? Well, in Oslo you can actually. But the experience in Museums Quartier in Vienna was nothing less than amazing. Vienna hat Kultur!
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3. It’s so clean!
I think I have never been in a city that clean. Everywhere you go the streets are clean and tidy and the buildings well kept. There is no tagging and grafitti to be seen. Except for the more intentional artsy kind. And even if horse carriages are everywhere, there is hardly no horseshit to wheel into by accident.
4. The wheelchair access
I was positively surprised how easy the city centre (Inner Stadt) was to wheel. Because of many old buildings, not everything was wheelchair accessible. But the inner city itself was easy to wheel and the subway was mostly pretty easy with the wheelchair. Sometimes you had to wait for the next train, because of a high step or gap. But most trains had very little gap and worked out fine without assistance.
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5. The Castles
I haven’t been to that many castles in my life, so maybe I’m easily impressed. But Schloss Bellevue is worth a visit and you can see most of the castle and the garden with a wheelchair. Next time we try out Schönbrunn…
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6. The coffeee
The Vienna inhabitants take pride in their café & coffee culture. And you don’t have to search to find a decent cup of coffee in this city.
THE WORST
1. The service
The service is more or less bad. I don’t know if it’s just a local arrogance, but I would say most of the cafés and restaurants we visited had some level of bad service. Either it was plain rudeness or having to wait an eternity to get the menu or the bill.
The classic Café Central is possible to enter via a back entrance,
but only to certain parts of the restaurant.
2. The food
I’m not a big fan of wienerschnitzel, sausages, sauerkraut or big fluffy cakes. And that’s kind of the speciality in Vienna. But try a soup or a casserole!
3. The airport
Turns out it’s almost impossible to fly into Vienna with a powerchair (or at least it takes a hell of a lot of planning). My colleague who was giving a talk at the conference had to do it by Skype. Austrian Airlines – this has got to change!
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4. The Prater park
Well, actually we didn’t visit it as some of our colleagues did. But the amusement park Prater is mostly known for it’s bad reputation.
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Just some random life wisdom on our way to the airport…

But all in all – the positives definitely outweighs the negatives. I can definitely picture to go back for a long week-end in Vienna, to visit some more museums, drink some more coffee at the oldfashioned stylish cafés and to listen to some more Wiener waltzes…
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Click the photo to hear some lovely classical Vienna music!

Because Vienna has culture!

Wheeling Oslo – The Secrets (The House)

Our house, it has a crowd
There’s always something happening and it’s usually quite loud
Our mum, she’s so house-proud
Nothing ever slows her down, and a mess is not allowed

Madness

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We had just discovered the world famous bar Himkok. But it turned out that there were more hidden gems in the small and discrete Youngs gate around the corner from Youngstorget in Oslo. One of the hidden gems is called Kulturhuset (Cultural House), and used to be located across the street next to the bar Internasjonalen. At the former location, I had only visited because of some seminars and to use the toilet when I was desperate in the area of Youngstorget. But a while ago Kulturhuset moved into a very old but completely refurbished building.

 

 

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We were checking out the building on a late Saturday afternoon, so it was hardly any people there. This gave us plenty of space and opportunity to move around and see what the building could offer.

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At the entrance level, there is a back alley with a bar. You can take the normal lift up to the mezzanine level, where you find the main bar and a café serving light meals (salads etc) and a concert stage.

At the second floor you’ll find a beer bar, with a remarkable variety of rare and special beers. Expensive of course (hey, you’re still in Norway), but the lady behind the counter had impressive knowledge and gave good advice based on the kind of beer you normally preferred. There’s also a big library bar where you can sit and chill or have a glass of wine while reading, if you prefer that. There are also some event rooms that can be rented for ping pong, concerts, happenings or special occasions.

Same for third floor. In addition to event rooms, you find the game bar, with large shuffle boards and table football. Because of these boards, the large room is kind of narrow, so it might be hard to actually get to the bar counter on a crowded night.

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But happy hipsters are usually not the worst to ask to move, so it might be doable. Who knows? If I remember correctly, there were nice and accessible toilets on both second and third level.

They even have a rom called the Laboratory and one called “The secret room”. I wonder what goes one there. Probably something intellectual. Like the periodic table of social issues…

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When I came back from the toilet, André was chatting to another beer nerd, who had left his group at the neighbour table.

– Guy: “What do you think about the wheelchair access here?” 
– Me (thinking pessimisticly): Oh, no, what comes next? Some kind of disability joke, or something?
– Guy: “You see, the construction company I work for, was in charge for the rehabilitation and the universal design of the building. And I was wondering what you thought of it.”
– The two of us (positively surprised): “We think it’s great. Even if the building is very old, you have made it very accessible. You did a great job!

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Politics or ping pong?

Some days ago I actually discovered that the building is one of the three finalists in the Architect Award of Oslo City. So obviously we’re not the only ones who thought the beer loving engineer did a great job.

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The library bar

Kulturhuset might not be the place I will hang out every week-end. I like trying out new places and places where you can get some food. But if you’re looking for a place to grab a beer after work in the city centre, it’s a very good alternative. Especially if your friends or colleagues are picky beer lovers. Or wheelchair users who are in need of a nice accessible toilet.

But shh….don’t tell anyone. It’s a secret!

Wheeling Oslo – The Swim

This summer I went swimming,
This summer I might have drowned
But I held my breath and I kicked my feet
And I moved my arms around, I moved my arms around.
Loudon Wainwright
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The summer 2018 will be hard to forget… (Aker Brygge)

André moved to Norway in March 2017, meaning that winter 2018 was the first he got to experience in Oslo. And little did I know how bad it was going to be. Snow came early and it just never went away! And we got tons and tons of it. A snow record actually. We had not had that much snow in Oslo for 35 years! In the end, the trucks did not know where to put it. The snow storages were all full and the budget for clearing away snow was blown many months ago.
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Winter 2018 will also be hard to forget…

And the worst thing was…the snow never went away. Usually in March we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. But no. The snow stayed and stayed. And even ski loving friends and colleagues of mine, began to complain, telling me they were longing for spring. And even worse…we didn’t have a single plane picket to fly away from the white nightmare and spend a week or two at a sunny & therapeutic place.
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Cargo at Sørenga is the best place to watch the sunset

Not until April did we get rid of the disgusting white cover. Then we enjoyed some short and intense weeks of spring, until summer 2018 exploded in May. We got tropical temperatures and sun, sun, sun. And this is how it continued. May, June and July was more or less one long period of sunshine, heat and swimming. Unforgettable and deserving of a blog post, don’t you think?
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We spent quite some time at Sørenga & Barcode during summer 2018

In the beginning we were just euphoric and enjoying it with every inch of our body. We ignored emails, to do lists and spent as much time as possible outside. Because we thought – this can never last. If you have tropical summer in the beginning of May, it’s bound to give you a backlash at some time.
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Enjoying sun & summer at Cargo – Sørenga

But no, the backlash never came. Except for the few rainy days we had in June, when we had visitors from Switzerland. Talk about bad timing! After a while we just got used to it. And at some point it got so warm that the only sensible place to be, was the beach. I’ll remember the evening swim we had at Malmøya for a very long time. How often can you take a sea bath after seven o clock in the evening in Oslo without freezing? Never…
On a sunny day the sea bath at Sørenga looks more like a pile of ants (first photo with a view from from Ekeberg restaurant)
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After closing the very poorly constructed disabled “sea pool” for disabled, Oslo kommune has created an alternative solution in the “children’s section” at Sørenga Sjøbad.

So the challenge in 2018 actually consisted of finding a free spot at the beach. Oslo have many opportunities for swimming both in lakes, outdoor pools, the river and the ocean. But this summer the water was full. It was crowded. Pretty crazy…
Enjoying sunshine & waves at Solvikbukta…
But fortunately we do know about some hidden secrets and accessible beaches. We managed to enjoy 2-3 beach days at Malmøya for instance, before the summer storm came and took the universally designed ramp.
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Sunbathing at eight o’clock in the evening

My best suggestions when you want to find an accessible place for taking a swim in the Oslo area and surrounding is:
  1. Storøyodden beach (at Fornebu 20 minutes outside Oslo) – read more in my blog post from last super summer 2013
  2. Solvikbukta – Malmøya beach (especially adapted for disabled) – but the storm took the ramp only a short while after we were there
  3. Sørenga Sjøbad – partially accessible
  4. Tjuvholmen Sjøbad – only for those with strong upper bodies
  5. Nydalen badeplass – Akerselva river
  6. Frognerbadet (outdoor pool)
  7. Tøyenbadet (outdoor pool)
  8. Hvervenbukta – accessible but I never tried swimming there
  9. Hvalstrand – Asker (30 minutes outside Oslo)
  10. Sognsvann – fresh water lake
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Don’t feel like swimming? What about dancing instead…?

There are also some good websites with advice on where to find accessible places to swim or take sunbaths in Oslo:

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Nydalen badeplass in Akerselva river is accessible via a ramp
And here’s some more photos to illustrate the crazy summer of 2018:
This summer I swam in the ocean,
And I swam in a swimming pool,
Salt my wounds, chlorine my eyes,
I’m a self-destructive fool, a self-destructive fool.
Storøyodden beach – read more about wheelchair access here
This summer I swam in a public place
And a reservoir, to boot,
At the latter I was informal,
At the former I wore my suit, I wore my swimming suit.
At Tjuvholmen you can have a glass of wine, do people watching, visit art galleries & museums, chill at the beach (not accessible) or take a swim at the sea bath (doable for some). Or do some sightseeing with your unicorn floating device if that’s your thing…

This summer I did the backstroke
And you know that’s not all
I did the breast stroke and the butterfly
And the old Australian crawl, the old Australian crawl.

This summer I did swan dives
And jackknifes for you all
And once when you weren’t looking
I did a cannonball, I did a cannonball.
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And if you’re desperate, you can always find a fountain…

Wheeling DC – Burning Men & Wet Women

I set fire to the rain,
And I threw us into the flames
Well, it felt something died
‘Cause I knew that, that was the last time
The last time
Adele
It was exactly six years ago since we were there. In July 2012. The same two friends & colleagues, the same city, the same street and the same weather. We had been to the same conference, hosted by the same organization – the American OI Foundation.
The two friends were Inger-Margrethe and I, the city Washington DC, the street Pennsylvania Avenue and the weather was…let’s say brutal.
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The first time, we were not prepared neither mentally or equipment wise. So just a few hours before our flight was going back to Oslo via Heathrow, the weather gods decided to poor a big bucket of rain on us, on our way back to the hotel in Washington DC.
In 2012 we stayed in the Liaison hotel, which was at that time affordable. And with the tropical temperature, it was a great experience with its rooftop pool and the duck pancakes from Oprah’s former chef.
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This time around (2018) the Liaison had grown completely out of our price range, so we stayed in the AKA White House instead. And I suspect that the AKA White House is also normally out of our price range. But we got a very good deal at Hotels.com for the 24 hours we were spending there. Especially since we were upgraded to a gigantic suite without extra charge. Sometimes it can pay off to have a wheelchair and bambi eyes. Even if they are only exposed in an email.
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When your hotel room has a guest toilet, you know you have made a good deal…

But enough about hotels. This blog post was supposed to be about burning men and wet women. Or art & the weather if you find the original topic a bit cheesy.
Back to 2012 and Pennsylvania Avenue. The sky opened and the rain poured down on us. First we got wet and then we got soaked. We tried to get a taxi. But nobody would stop. Especially with the wheelchair in sight. So we just had to walk & wheel back to the Liaison. Wet, wet, wet. Before we could rush to the airport, we had to visit the accessible toilet at the hotel, remove all our soaking wet clothes and put on dry ones. Just minutes before our taxi came to pick us up and drive us to the airport.
This time around it was July 2018. Not as intensely hot & humid as in 2012, but pretty close. Because of the weather forecast we had bought an umbrella (which I forgot at the first café we visited) and rain capes. But the weather looked good. No use for the rain capes. Before we were outside the Trump Towers…
Then the sky opened again and the rain started to poor down accompanied by intense lighting and thunder. First we sought refuge under a sun screen and then in an Italian restaurant. But it did not seem to stop. And we soon had to go back to the hotel and our pre ordered shuttle to the airport. But before that we were planning to stop by the Renwick art gallery to check out the exibit Burning Man. Might as well hit the road…
So out we went out again. In the rain. And the flooding streets of DC. And when we passed the White House, a security guard came and told us agressively to get out of the way. The area was flooding and it was not safe to move outside anymore. Security warning! A few minutes later we more or less dived into the basement entrance of the Renwick and a voice came over the loud speakers:
– “Security warning: Because of heavy rain and flooding, it is not safe to move outside. Please stay inside the building for the next 3-4 hours.”
Oh there goes our trip to the airport, we thought. While trying to remove our raingear, which had caved in during the most heavy downfall. Once again I was wet inside out including the pillow of my wheelchair. I was seriously hoping that the art would get my mind off my wet underwear.

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And it succeeded! Burning Man was one of the most fascinating art exhibits I’ve ever been to. You don’t know what Burning Man is? Google it! It just takes too many words to describe. And since I’m too lazy to climb mountains or write a lot of text – I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.
And the rain stopped less than one hour later. We managed to get back to the hotel and even managed to get some food on our way. Same procedure as last time. The problem was that my pillow was more soaked than I thought. So even if I put on dry clothes at the hotel, my bottom was wet again when we got to the airport.

Fortunately Dulles International Airport (dull as it might be) have lower dryers (or whatever they are called) at the airport bathrooms. So there I was. Drying my behind and my pillow on a drying machine at the airport. Because the thought of sitting 8 hours on a night flight on a wet pillow didn’t seem particularly tempting nor healthy.

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Mission accomplished. Pillow and bottom dried up.
Plane delayed, but only a little bit.

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We were on our way back from Washinton DC again.
After the weatherwise deja vu of a lifetime.
Come rain or come shine.
We’ll be back.
Some sunny/rainy day.
Sometimes you have to look carefully to see the whole picture…
(Peepholes from the exhibition Burning Man)
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Wheel the World – The Mountain

Listen baby, ain’t no mountain high
Ain’t no valley low, ain’t no river wide enough baby
If you need me call me no matter where you are
No matter how far don’t worry baby
Just call my name I’ll be there in a hurry
You don’t have to worry
Marvin Gaye
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Photo: André Wittwer

Three days ago Facebook was so kind to remind me that it was one year since I went on the mountain trip of my life. I come from Norway, so I have seen and driven through mountains my entire life. But this was the first time I was actually going to the top of a big one. And I had to go to Switzerland to succeed with my mountain expedition. Because I’m not one of those people who you will see crawling on a pile of rocks on my knees to prove that “Yes, I can!”.
Kudos to those who do, but I prefer to do it the lazy way…
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Switzerland is great for that purpose, because they have been so friendly to build cable cars to ascend several of their highest mountains. And not only that – they have been so kind as to make these establishments accessible for wheelchair users as well.
So on August 2nd 2017, we were going to the top of Schilthorn – a summit in the Bernese Alps of Switzerland. It overlooks the valley of Lauterbrunnen in the Bernese Oberland, and is the highest mountain in the range lying north of the Sefinenfurgge Pass.
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And André’s Swiss friends were kind enough to drive us to Mürren, where the first cable car station is situated. After André moved to Norway, we have no car to get around while in Switzerland. And I doubt that it’s possible to get close to Schilthorn by public transport. It seemed to be mostly private cars and tourist buses as far as I could see. But I did not really check.
At the parking place in Mürren one the first things you see are impressive walls of rock, stunning waterfalls, the first cable car and paragliders.
Look out!
The station at Mürren has an elevator to get up to the level where you enter the cable car, but between the ticket office and the 2nd level there is a long stretch of stairs. So either you buy tickets first and go out and around the building again. Or you can have your friends buy tickets for you, as we did. Right outside the station there were accessible parking.
In Mürren you find the first station of many. Because when you are ascending a mountain as high as 2970 meters, you cannot do it in one stretch. There are actually five stations to take you up to the summit called Piz Gloria, where there is a revolving restaurant and a James Bond museum…nothing less. But the logistics works pretty well (Swiss style) even if there are a lot of confused tourists around.
Schilthorn was one of the mountains where they shot the famous cable car scenes in one of the earlier James Bond movies. And because of that they decided to build a Bond museum at the summit. Nothing wrong with a little help on the advertising, is it?
The entrance to all the four cable cars is level free. There might be a small gap – but it should be possible both with manual chairs (as we had) or electrical wheelchairs.
So it’s smooth sailing. The biggest challenge you might face at Schilthorn are Asian tourists in a hurry. Because there was no mercy when waiting for the elevators to take us up to the restaurant. The Asians wanted to go first. And they squeezed together – in good old fashioned Tokyo subway style. We were not in a hurry, and had no need to be squeezed in the elevator sandwich. So we waited…
The first thing we did, when we reached the top was to have a meal in the revolving restaurant. There is however one high (moving) step to get down to the tables with the best view – so be aware of this if you bring an electrical wheelchair or poor balance.
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While you eat a better (but touristic) meal, you can enjoy a 360 panorama view of a very impressive mountain chain. It takes around one hour for the restaurant to go all the way around. And even if it’s a strange feeling – it does not go so fast that you get dizzy. Unless you drink too much wine of course…
After that you can go outside to the viewing plattform. Where you also have a more or less 360 degree viewing possibility to the same area.
Some of the plattform is painted in pink, to give you as good photo reflection light as possible when taking your selfies with the mountain background. We got some help from a fellow tourist, because we didn’t have the essential accessory…the selfie stick.
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Looking good, heh?
After taking our time to watch the magnificent view and taking the elementary selfies,  we also checked out the Bond museum. Fun! But to be honest – it’s the view I will remember and not the museum…
I cannot really remember if there were accessible toilets – but I’m pretty sure there were.
And then it was time to descend. We had the ‘premium seats’ this time. I had butterflies in my stomach because I’m a little bit afraid of hights. But it’s hard to beat that view!
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And when we were safely on the ground again, all the participants agreed that it had been a very nice day for a trip to the mountain top.
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Or as we say in Norwegian:
“Alle var enige om at det hadde vært en fin tur!” 

Wheeling New York – The Hotel

You gonna love me, like nobody’s loved me
Come rain or come shine
Happy together, unhappy together
Wouldn’t it be fine

Days may be cloudy or sunny
We’re in or we are out of the money, yeah
I’m with you always
I’m with you rain or shine

Ray Charles

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We did get to enjoy at least one NYC sunset at the rooftop terrace

– ‘Wouldn’t it be great with a spring break in New York?’
– ‘Yes, that’s a great idea! Because then I can buy another guitar.’
– ‘Hmm, are you really sure that it’s smart to buy an electric guitar as a souvenir?’
– ‘Hey…I cannot go to New York without buying a guitar…’

So we searched the web for a decent hotel (and guitar shops) and booked a direct flight with the Norwegian Dreamliner. Departure was only two days after we had arrived home from Vienna. But two days is enough to relax and do laundry, isn’t it?

Little did we know that it was going to be a tropical sunny May month in Oslo.
And some very very rainy May days in New York.
We were kind of mentally prepared before we arrived though. The weather forecast from Yr had been warning us for a while already, on what kind of weather we were in for. So gore tex rain gear was packed.
But sometimes not even gore tex is enough. On May 20th 2018 the whole New York City was more or less flooded and just getting a bottle of coke from the grocery shop on the corner included a risk of drowning.
Fortunately we had a very nice hotel to seek refuge in during the worst rainy days. The first time I visited New York was in July 2015. Then we stayed in Night Hotel Times Square, which was an ok hotel, but very noisy because of construction work. And with its location very close to the Times Square, it was central indeed. But it was kind of stressful having to pass the busy square several times a day.

This time around I wanted to try something different. I had fallen for the good old fashioned rooftop photo from Hotels.com again. When I saw the photo of the view from the rooftop terrace at Hotel 50 Bowery NYC, I just knew we had to stay there.

Situated in the middle of Chinatown, the rather tall building is surrounded by low buildings on all four sides. This offers an amazing 360 degree view to the entire Manhattan from the rooftop bar The Crown and its two separate rooftop terraces. And unlike many other rooftop terraces I found at my first trip to NYC, these two were huge and wheelchair accessible with see through walls.
And what was the first thing we heard when we closed the door to our hotel room? Norwegian of course. When you have found a nice hotel somewhere, you can be sure that some other Norwegians have found it before you.
They are everywhere…

Actually we ended up celebrating Norway’s constitution day at our hotel as well. Our original plan was to take part in a May 17th Parade on Broadway. But it turned out that the parade was postponed until the week-end. And the rest of the May 17th extravaganza was going to take place on the Thursday afternoon in Brooklyn. So when we accidentally discovered on Facebook that one of the biggest May 17th events was going to take place in our hotel, the choice was very easy. The event even had free admission! And thanks to the friendly staff at the reception, we made sure that we got on the guestlist.

And that is how we ended up celebrating May 17th 2018 on top of New York, together with Norwegian students, their friends, a Norwegian marching band and American guys just looking for free drinks during Happy Hour.
Cheers & hoooray!
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Besides the fantastic rooftop terrace, Hotel 50 Bowery NYC was a very good choice in general. These were my favourite things about the hotel:
  • The service was probably some of the best I have experienced – the whole staff really did their best to make you feel welcome
  • The hotel room was nice and the beds were comfortable
  • The bathroom was wheelchair accessible with a wheel-in shower and I could actually reach the shower head (although complicated to figure out as usual).
  • The mix of modern and old fashioned Asian decor was cool
  • The Crown bar had good drinks and DJs – but if you like peace and quiet the place is not for you. As one of the older guys said before he left – “This is a place for millenials; not for me…”
  • The sound levels in the hotel room were acceptable. Even if the hotel was situated in a busy intersection, we could still sleep even if we could vaguely hear sirens and car honking 24/7
  • The carpets were easy to wheel, something which is hard to find in the US

The hotel restaurant Rice & Gold offered tasty and spicy Asian fusion dining, which was ok. But I must admit that I was a bit tired of Asian fusion food after having to eat there three nights in a week because of the awful weather. And the service in the restaurant did not match the one at the hotel.

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Another issue, which might stop us from using this fantastic hotel again, was the location. Because the sidewalks of Chinatown turned out to be in a much poorer state than those of upper Manhattan. Several places curbcuts were missing completely and a few times we had to ask people for help to cross the street.

During our stay all the subway stations in Chinatown and Soho had lifts out of service, so we had to rely on wheeling ourselves or getting a taxi.

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And I can confirm it:
Getting a taxi as a wheelchair user in New York is hell! 
Being two wheelchair users together doesn’t exactly make it any easier. And with the rain we had more than 50 per cent of our stay, both wheeling and finding a taxi was substantially more difficult. We tried the socalled Accessible Dispatch several times, but concluded that this was more or less a joke. At least without the app, which we could not download in the European app store.
Even if you got a confirmation by email that a taxi was on its way from the dispatch, you never really knew when or IF it would show up. If it wasn’t for a Belgian woman who threw herself into the street and stopped the whole crazy NYC traffic, we would probably be stuck on that corner in Greenwich Village still…
I will be ever so grateful that she more or less risked her life to get us home on a night where my bodily batteries were pretty flat after wheeling the entire High Line and half of Lower Manhattan. Merci beaucoup Madame!
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Wheeling the High Line

So the area was a challenge indeed. Perhaps a scooter would have been the solution because the worst curbcuts could usually be avoided. Or taking the bus.

But in a perfect world – I’d like to move the Hotel 50 Bowery NYC to another place in Manhattan. The problem is that then you would not have the fantastic view.

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Oh sigh.
I guess you cannot have it all…