Touring the city and its surrounding areas, visiting casstles and museums, joining meet-ups and helping Pawel to fix his broken bed…
Most of the time – especially during my first visit – we were accompanied by Pawel’s flat-mate and some of his friends. Some of the highlights during my stay were a guided tour through Luxembourg city, the tram museum where you could even board and check the enterior of various old trams and, for some relaxation in between, we visited a thermobath in Mondorf.
During my 2nd visit, Pawel and I were partially on our own; this concluded the way from the airport into the city and vice versa.
First, we looked up possible routes and the nearest public transport stop on Google Maps. Then – once arrived at the stop close to our desired location – we either asked for directions or relied on turn-by-turn navigation and GPS to find it ourselves.
One day being completely on our own, we actually tried to plan a trip to Metz (in France) in beforehand. Therefore, we created an event on Couchsurfing, hoping to find some fellow couchsurfers who might travel with us. It didn’t work out so we eventually decided to cancel the trip and check Couchsurfing Hangouts to perhaps meet people and find stuff to do in Luxembourg city.
We found a group of people who were hanging out in a park and, later on, wanted to gather at a bar in the evening. No one was yet close by to pick us up, so we checked Maps to find a convenient route to get there ourselves. Finding the way from the nearest bus stop was a bit tricky…
As far as I can recall, we used a combination of Google Maps, BlindSquare and my FeelSpace Navibelt. Whereas we used Google Maps for turn-by-turn navigation, we used BlindSquare to keep track of the distance to our destination. I used the compass function of the Navibelt to make sure that we wouldn’t get off track. Nevertheless, although we indeed got very close to the bar, the path we chose to follow turned out to be a dead end and we had to go all the way back to where we came from. The difficult part was making sure that we wouldn’t make the same mistake once again and find another way but guess what, we made it! 😀
The meet-up was way bigger than expected; I think we were about at least 12 people! At the end of the day, one of them accompanied us to the train station and one of the couchsurfers invited all of us for breakfast at her place the next morning. Pawel and I declined the invitation because we wanted to make sure that we make it to the airport in time.
„So, what was so special about finding the way on your own this time?“
Granted, it wasn’t the first time that I have been traveling with blind and visually impaired friends, trying to get around on our own. However, it is a slightly more different thing when both of us are completely blind and none of us are familiar with the surroundings. Partially sighted people can, depending on their eye-sight, still look up possible routes on the map and get the hang of the surroundings visually. Honestly, I cannot tell from my perspective how easy or difficult it really is for partially sighted people to find their way; I think it varies from person to person. Anyway, I used to rather trust fully- or partially sighted people (even if they have to check Maps for directions themselves) than fully blind people who are also not more familiar with the nearby surroundings. In our case, however, we haven’t had any sighted company. Normally I would have ordered a taxi, but the taxi prices in Luxembourg are expensive as hell! So, we basically teamed up, taking advantage of our smartphones and the Navibelt to make it to our desired spot as close as possible. It worked fine, it probably just took a little longer, including detours.
In any case, this experience eventually made me feel confident enough to – later on during my internship – explore Hamburg by myself.
Okay, and what about the broken down bed mentioned in the beginning? Well, parts of the slatted frame were lose and broke down and I helped Pawel putting the slats back into place. Nothing serious really, but we still make jokes and laugh about it from time to time…