What the personal budget makes possible!
I love going on trips! Unfortunately, I can't do this very well on my own, which is why I always need an accompanying person. Thanks to my personal budget, I was able to go exploring on my own, independently of my parents. The personal budget enables a person with disabilities to participate independently in social life. If you have never heard of it before, then you should definitely inform yourself about it (at least in Germany)! But what I would like to get at ... with an assistant I dared an excursion into the Black Forest! o(^.^)o
Getting prepared to get around with the wheelchair and public transportation
As already mentioned, I went to the Black Forest today - more precisely to the Sommerbergbahn, to the Wildline suspension bridge and to the treetop path. Sounds like a lot, doesn't it? But believe me, all this can be packed very well into a day trip. And so I was at the station in Stuttgart at half past nine. Unfortunately, as a wheelchair user you can't travel spontaneously, so I had to organize and register my trips the days before.
Through the German Railways website I registered the ride a few days before to the Mobility Centre. But after I couldn't find out anything about the accessibility on the website at my stopover in Pforzheim, I panicked. Because from Pforzheim the journey continued with a regional train and I did not know at all how the service there was. I phoned the regional train, which then directed me to the German train. The day before I had already written an e-mail to the German Railway and asked about the accessibility. They referred me to the regional railways @_@ And now?
Fortunately, the man at the regional railway tried to find out as much information as possible for me. He checked the trips and found that the wheelchair-friendly train came once an hour. What's great is that I can ride for sure, not so great is that I may have to wait up to an hour. But now I was at least prepared for it xD
And off we go to the Black Forest!
On the day of the trip I went to the arranged meeting point at the the central station and was directly picked up by an employee. The gentleman accompanied me to the right track and together we waited until the IRE arrived. IRE stands for Inter Regio Express. This one had a vehicle-bound boarding aid, which could be extended and thus I got into the train without any problems. But then the internal dispute between two employees began. I would never have thought that I would still experience discrimination against dark-skinned people, but now the locomotive driver stood in front of me and bawled out the dark-skinned employee of the train because he activated some buttons to help me. And then he was actually called " Fuck* N*gger". Fortunately my assistant mitigated the situation halfway and we could finally drive off without any further problems. At least the change in Pforzheim went smoothly and with friendly staff who checked my return ride for a wheelchair-friendly train xD
Careful with the stations
Somehow I was lucky and got into conversation with another train passenger who also wanted to go to the treetop path. He told me that it was best to get off at the Bad Wildbad/Uhlandplatz/Sommerbergbahn stop. I would have got out by a hair's breadth at the Bad Wildbad stop and then the distance for walking would have been much longer. Often it is worthwhile to start conversations with people and then ask them. From the station you only have to walk 5 minutes to reach the Sommerbergbahn. You have to take it anyways to get to the treetop path and the suspension bridge. With a severely handicapped pass and an identification card, the severely handicapped person and his or her companion can travel here free of charge!
Guys, the mountain railway is simply awesome *_* So first of all it is accessible in a wheelchair, but since there was a bracket in the middle, I could not really turn around. That means I could only drive forwards, backwards and a little diagonally. But all around was a glass facade, so you could look out. As a wheelchair user you have to get in at the first door, but that's not bad, because you have the best view from there anyways! I turned the wheelchair as far as I could and enjoyed the view. You could see how steep it was going up the mountain - for a brief moment I even had a bit of a jitters. If you're afraid of heights, don't look out here xD It's almost like riding a roller coaster!
And here's a video of the Sommerbergbahn ride ^^
First the tree top walk and then the hanging cable bridge
At the top we had a great overview of the Black Forest, but then we went into a part of the forest. And here an important tip: first go to the treetop path and then to the hanging rope bridge. I thought I would be so smart to look at the sights in the opposite direction to avoid the crowds. So, first suspension bridge and then treetop path...but don't do that! Because this way you have to walk the route twice. I had tricked myself xD Anyway, I was already at the hanging rope bridge. Here only the accompanying person was free, and I had to pay 9€ entrance fee. The employee told us that we could cross the bridge but had to turn back at the end because there was only one turnstile at the other end. But this was not a big problem, as we had to get back across the bridge anyway.
The swinging suspension bridge
You know what was really cool? When I stood on the bridge, I could feel and sense the vibrations! And when the wind had blown, you could feel it even more clearly. That would definitely be nothing for people with vertigo xD It was absolutely no problem to cross the bridge in a wheelchair! Because even if oncoming traffic came, people could always sneak past. Only if two wheelchair users wanted to be on the bridge, then this is only possible if both drive in the same direction. The bridge was too narrow to pass each other. But I didn't meet any other wheelchair user that day, so I had a clear path ^^
The treetop path
After the suspension bridge we went over detours back to the treetop path. Right at the beginning at the cash desk there was a wheelchair accessible toilet and a souvenir shop. Here I had to pay only the entrance fee, because the accompaniment was free of charge. The treetop path was easily accessible in a wheelchair and is 1,250 meters long. For those who want to know more: the maximum gradient is 6%. During the whole way you have a great view of the dense forests and pure nature. When you almost make it to the top, you could use a mat to slide down the slide in the middle of the treetop path. But this was irrelevant for me, because I shouldn't leave my wheelchair standing on top xD Anyway, I notice that my report is getting too long.
A magnificent view over the Black Forest
Once you have reached the top, you have a 40 m view over the Black Forest. In general, you can find very nice photo motives here. If you are in the Black Forest, don't miss the treetop path! As time ran out - I recall: as a wheelchair user you have to stick to your registered times, otherwise you might not get on the train without problems - we couldn't enjoy the landscape any longer and made our way back to the mountain railway. I love to be on the front line and to be able to direct my gaze into the deep incline. The rest of the way back went off without any problems and also the service of the German railway was 1A. The report is now damn long, but I hope I could give you an insight of everything I have to consider as a wheelchair user. Leave me a comment if you prefer long or short reports :D
Things I learned:
1) There is still discrimination against dark-skinned people
2) The Sommerbergbahn can be used free of charge with a severely disabled person's pass.
3) One should first visit the treetop path and then the suspension bridge.
Infos for the Sommerbergbahn: https://www.bad-wildbad.de/sommerbergbahn/
Infos for the suspension bridge: https://wildline.de/
Infos for the treetop path: https://www.baumwipfelpfade.de/schwarzwald/