THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA
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Wed, 12th January, 2011 - Posted by
Text: Gene Emmer
(from his travel blog www.lithuania-travel.net)
Unfortunately, Vilnius Lithuania does not rank high on any list of wheelchair accessible cities. We rarely see any wheelchair users in the city. When we do, they are invariably manual wheelchairs. We have yet to see a power wheelchair or a mobility scooter in Vilnius.
Several problems plague Vilnius in terms of accessibility. While it is not difficult to find accessible accommodation in Vilnius, it is difficult to get around. Like many European old towns, the streets are cobblestone. Old town shops usually have steps, and rarely have ramps or lifts. Restaurant toilets will sometimes be a flight up or down, with no alternative access. There is little in the way of disabled parking. The good news is that the Vilnius old town is pedestrian friendly. So, with some patience and a bit of assistance, a manual wheelchair user will manage in most places.
In the newer part of the city, such as shops and restaurants located on Gedimino Prospektas, things are a bit better. For example, the shopping mall located on Gedimino 9 is wheelchair accessible. Some of the newer mega shopping centres, such as Akropolis, Ozas, Panorama will offer few problems for wheelchair users. However, the vast majority of the buildings in Vilnius were built without elevators or ramps and there has been little in the way of retrofitting to accommodate people with disabilities.
Services for wheelchair users are also limited. It will be difficult to locate wheelchair accessible vehicle rental or wheelchair rental in Vilnius. While the Vilnius Airport will present few problems to a wheelchair user, access to the train station will be quite difficult. There is ramp access at the train station to one of the doors at the train station. However, getting onto the trains is challenging as there are no ramps to the train platforms and getting onto the train usually requires a very steep climb up steps built into the train cars.
While Vilnius is a beautiful city and certainly one to be enjoyed by everyone, a trip to Vilnius, Lithuania will present challenges to many wheelchair users. With adequate planning, many of the challenges can be overcome. But wheelchair accessibility of Vilnius, Lithuania leaves much to be desired.
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