Obsession Isn’t Always a Perfume

There are so many serious and/or meaningful issues I tell myself I should be writing about, but all I have on my mind is my trip next month. As a 60th birthday gift to myself, I’m heading to Germany to visit my best friend, whose Army officer husband is stationed in Heidelberg. While I’m there, we plan to hop over to Prague for a couple of days or so.


For the first time, I will be taking a mobility scooter with me. The last time I was there, I managed to make it from one end of the “shopping street” to the other. Since then, however, my knees have had two years to continue deteriorating, so that isn’t going to work any more.

It’s not just the shopping, it’s getting from a parking spot to a restaurant that is two blocks away, through a store to get needed items, or to accompany my friend through the commissary or post exchange. (I can’t buy anything, but I can say, “That’s a good brand of soup.”)

Besides, I want to go to market. I love market. Usually set up on the town square on certain days of the week, the place is full of foods—including freshly baked breads (I love the breads in Europe!), flowers, odds and ends, strolling musicians, and all kinds of neat stuff. I still remember with fondness a market day in December, with rosy-cheeked people all bundled up as fat snowflakes drifted down on us all.

However, never having taken a scooter to Europe, I’m wondering how accessible things will be. Other countries aren’t always as accommodating as the United States. Besides, the ancient buildings in the old parts of town—mostly inaccessible except by foot—are beautiful as is.

I’ve not paid attention to accessibility in the past, since it’s never been an issue before. Are there steps up to the store where I usually buy Birkenstocks? Were the steps to the train platforms in Hanau or Heidelberg? Both? Was there an elevator? An escalator? Can I hang onto a 100-pound scooter up and down an escalator? (Nope. Not even gonna try.)

Will there be somebody to help get the scooter up the steps onto the train (and back down) if my friend says she will meet me at the bahnhof (train station, I think) in Heidelberg rather than at the flughafen (airport) in Frankfurt? (Since my plane arrives at 7 AM, I wouldn’t blame her!)

Then there’s the luggage. Whether my friend meets me at the flughafen or not, I have to get me, my scooter, and my luggage from customs to the meeting area. So what do I take? I usually take my rolling carry-on on the plane and check a large bag. In customs, you get a luggage cart to put the bags on and wheel them out on that. If you’re walking, that is. I can’t do a scooter and a luggage cart. Will my backpack be large enough for food, medical supplies, and an emergency change of clothes and a nightshirt (in case my luggage goes to Denver like it did the last time I flew to Germany)? How many people will I send to the krankenhaus (hospital) if I drive the scooter with one hand while rolling a large suitcase along with the other?

Normally, I’m not one to obsess this way. However, the scooter has given me so much freedom in mobility here, I’m loathe to give it up in Europe. There is a cathedral in Mainz, Germany, with stained glass windows by Marc Chagall that I want to see. I want to bum around the Jewish Quarter in Prague.

I suppose I’ll have to do as I usually do—rush headlong into the world and take things as they are. There’s nothing you can do about some of the obstacles put in your path anyway, except to try and find a way around them. And if you can’t, at least you tried.

Now, is it too early to start packing?

Learn more about the health and medical experts who who provide you with the cutting-edge resources, tools, news, and more on Diabetes Self-Management.
About Our Experts >>

  • JHG999

    Would it be possible to rent a scooter in Germany?
    Ask your airline or travel agent if the airport has a Travelers Aide type service to get you through customs and to the train.

    Have a good trip.


  • Jan Chait

    Jerry, that’s a great idea about asking for help at the Frankfurt airport. I generally just plow through on my own without thinking about asking for help. Also, the airline might appreciate it if I tell ’em I’m shlepping a scooter with me. Maybe they will upgrade me to business class for free. <g>

    As for renting a scooter in Germany, however, I’d prefer to take my own. Without it, I have to get somebody to take me through airports. I dislike sitting at gates, twiddling my thumbs: I’d rather be exploring the airports. Airports have stores!


  • CalgaryDiabetic

    Dear Jan. Wow what a wonderful trip including the Jewish quarter in Prague. I have never been except as a 12 y old in 1962 a beautiful city that has really old stuff. We have been doing bus tours (Spain and France)that need a lot of walking. But plan to go to Prague on our own. (I speak the language somewhat not as well as French but better than Spanish).

    It is extremely brave to bring a 100 lb scooter. Necessary when the knees go. I have been trying to save mine by bicycling nearly every day AND doing stretching exercises of the leg muscles.

    Make sure that your battery recharger for the scooter can handle the voltage in Germany and Bohemia. The USA is 120 volts so is Canada and is no problem because the plugs are the same. The French are 240 volts and I don’t know about your destinations but they are likely to be 220 to 240 volts. Also the plugs are likely to be something weird by our standards. Camera rechargers can handle the 120 to 240 range of voltage maybe the scooter one is also designed this way but make sure.

    About trains I wonder because we barely got our bodies and small stuff on the TGV from Poitiers to Paris. The tour bus took the big suitcases. Getting 40 people on and off in 3 minutes with suitcases may have not been physically possible.

  • Jan Chait

    Hi Calgary

    I’ve seen people in wheelchairs on trains in Europe, so a scooter shouldn’t be too much more difficult. I stay on an Army post in Germany – basically, you’re in America – so no problems with plugs/voltage there. And my friends travel extensively, so I’m sure they have converters.

    I am very anxious to see the Jewish Quarter in Prague. We have a Torah scroll on loan at out synagogue from Pardubice, which is also in the Czech Republic. It was confiscated by the Nazis and was to be displayed in a “Museum of an Extinct Race.” It still has the tag on it. And the museum was to be located … in the Jewish Quarter in Prague. So there’s a reason I want to go besides sight-seeing.

    Sorry for going off-topic. That’s a part of my whole, which is more than diabetes.