Wheelchair Worries - Monday 26th June 2023

General exploring

It was Monday and we'd be flying back tomorrow evening, we were going to have dinner tonight at Da Gigino so we had a look around town. We went down some of the alleys and side streets. Again it was exactly how I had imagined Italy. It was generally the rear of shops, but the doors would be open, so I could see in. You would hear people chatting in Italian, mopeds were parked up that employees of the various shops had ridden to work. A side street would suddenly open into the outside seating area of a restaurant. We would walk down side streets with restaurants on one side and then an outside restaurant on the opposite side. Whenever you were near an outside restaurant (which seemed to be every few metres) there would be music playing. When there was a shop that wasn't a restaurant it would generally be a gelato shop.

The streets are particularly unforgiving in these side streets. Think of the classic Hovis ad where the lad has got the bread in the basket of the bike and he's riding on a cobbled street.

There's a lift down to the coast so that one and all can get down to it. I think it costs €1.10. I say 'think' because we never had to pay it as I'm in a wheelchair and they always let me go through free.

I didn't think the view from down here was as good as the views from up above, the views are better when u can look down at the boats from above or across at Vesuvius. Although the view down here wasn't too bad I s'pose (I'm currently looking out the window at a wet drive and some wheelie bins).

Now came my loooooooooooooong quest to find a toilet. We rode the lift down to the coast and I announced my need for the loo. It wasn't urgent as I'd learnt now that I had to find a suitable toilet, which in Sorrento ain't easy, so I gave notice long before it was needed.

We saw a sign for toilets, followed the direction into a little courtyard but couldn't see any toilets. After an investigation of all the shop fronts we noticed that one was open. It had a sign above the door saying ATM inside. We went in and saw a small queue of people waiting to go into a room and a bathroom attendant handing out single sheets of toilet paper. I didn't like the look of this, I had the distinct impression it was going to be the nastiest of public toilets. It wasn't! There idea of not having a toilet seat means that men have got a larger target to aim for so the toilet and toilet floor isn't as it would be in an English toilet, if this was England you'd have had to burn your trainers after walking on that floor. Not surprisingly it didn't have any grab rails though so I wasn't able to use it. Dad said no good to the attendant and he signalled to us to follow him and he unlocked a door and revealed a toilet with grab rails either side of the toilet. I couldn't believe my eyes and pushed down on the bar to see if it would hold any weight. It did but the grab rail had a single metal pole that connected the grab rail to the floor, like a walking crutch does. With a crutch though your weight is directly over the foot of the crutch, so the crutch foot can't move. That's not the case when you're holding these rails so these grab rails moved all over the place as soon as I put weight on. I shook my head, said thank you and continued our quest.

We stayed down by the coast and were walking up and down wondering if we could just wander into a hotel reception and ask if we could use the toilet as non customers. This wasn't going to be an easy conversation to have in different languages. We kept this idea as a last resort and kept searching.

We found a bar and Dad went in to see if the toilet was suitable, it looked like a nice bar so we'd stay and have a drink, I didn't want to do a 'piss and run'. The toilet was up a flight of stairs, it did have a bannister but was to narrow to walk side by side. The manager knew where we could try but her English wasn't very good so the owner came over to translate. The manager suggested we try just next door, but the owner pointed some issues with that idea. The owner told us to go back up via the lift again and there's a public toilet there although she can't remember if it's disabled or not.

We went back above and found a public toilets. Now my memory is we found it by following a sign which showed disabled toilets, but this toilet wasn't disabled. I don't think I've mis-remembered this as it was in a massive stall which would suggest it is what they consider a disabled toilet. There were no grab rails and no toilet seat though, it was what I consider not a disabled toilet. This was a big room with a seatless toilet in. I could at least have the wheelchair in front of me so I could hold onto the chair for balance. It didn't do the trick though as I started to tip to my right, I was heading towards the concrete public toilet floor but luckily my leg pressed against the toilet bowl allowing me to put more pressure on the chair to hold myself up.

We had our final meal at Da Gigino, a restaurant Adam and Ruth had stopped on there way back from Mount Vesuvius yesterday.

They raved about the food here, but warned me that disabled access is non existent and the toilet is down some steps again. Although nowhere near the amount at Fauno Bar. This place even had a toilet seat!

I said "not a problem" and enjoyed another amazing pizza. This one had cheese on (I point this out because pizza in Italy doesn't have cheese unless stated), Aubergine and several chunks of freshly cooked sausage sprinkled all over. Not discs of some sort of meat as you would get in England, but chunks of actual sausage. I needed to go to the loo before dessert, so Adam wheeled me as far as he could (people were moving their chairs to let us through) we were packed in like sardines. We get as close to the stairs as we could and then walked to the top of the stairs. Then holding on to the bannister I descended the steps to a toilet I could actually sit on.

Adam joked with a lady I was drunk, a joke that normally destroys in England but he had to assure her he was just joking.

This toilet trip was relatively simple compared to others I'd experienced in Sorrento.

Once again we returned to the table for dessert. Dessert is the best course of any meal. You're just plain wrong if you disagree with me. The first thing I do is look at the desserts, if they're not on a separate dessert menu. I've been known to refuse to go to places based on their dessert menu.


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