We are in a wonderful room in a really, really, old hotel, built in 1871. Considering that Canada became a country only four years earlier, it's a sturdy old thing. More than that, it's beautiful. Really, really beautiful. After check in, I went for a complimentary cup of tea in the bar while the porter helped Joe get everything to the room. The bar looks over what's affectionately called 'The English Riveria' ... the trees are lit up and the view is lovely. I sat having a cup of tea in a room where, for 130 years, people have relaxed after a day of work or of leisure.
Joe came and joined me, ordering a cold beer, and we unwound from the day and the drive. The day had gone well, the drive had us watching the day darken over some spectacular views of rolling countryside. Soon we were ready to head to the room. I had some work emails to respond to, Joe had some unpacking to do. Riding along in my chair down a very narrow hallway, though to be frank it could pass as a country lane hosting two way traffic, I struggled not to bang into the walls on either side. They must have been a lot smaller a century and a bit ago.
We turned into the room and I discovered a wonderfully large room with all sorts of space for the wheelchair, I was able to actually wheel in and wheel up to the desk from which I am now writing this blog. More, the bathroom has the first walk in shower that I've had on this trip, there are bars everywhere. It's completely accessible for me.
Here's what I find interesting. This is a building that was built in a different time that had differing attitudes towards disability and accessibility. Attitudes were built into concrete. But, even this old, beautiful, historic building has been changed. A long ramp leads up from the street to the lobby and the rooms are more accessible than many that I've stayed in, in modern hotels.
I keep hearing about how I have to understand that 'these old buildings just weren't meant to be used by those in wheelchairs.' No, that's true. But that doesn't mean that they can't be, shouldn't be. I'm willing to bet that those who believe that these old buildings are destroyed by the advent of ramps and adapted bathrooms would be hard pressed to even notice the changes. The building looks as if people with disabilities have always been welcome.
Trouble is, when a place like the Grand Hotel does it right, it makes it harder for people to deny that it can be done at all.
My expectations have been raised.
My consciousness has been expanded.
My imagination has been broadened.
This is, in essence, one of the reasons why I travel.