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Barcelona, Spain

Traveling to Europe as a wheelchair user or slow walker can be a daunting experience. Barcelona, however, has made impressive strides to become an accessible city and people with special needs have the opportunity to see most of the major sites.

Before the 1992 Olympics, Barcelona underwent a massive clean-up and renovation operation of its beaches. As a result, Barcelona’s beaches are well-maintained, wheelchair accessible and a popular tourist destination. All the beaches are wheelchair accessible, many of which have ramps and wooden boardwalks reaching down to the shore. The beaches also have disabled parking areas, accessible toilets and adapted changing and showering areas. If people with disabilities want to go into the water, a bathing assistance service is offered at Nova Icaria, Sant Sebastia and Nova Mar Bella. Volunteers assist bathers with entering the water in beach wheelchairs. Volunteers will also stay with bathers to make sure everything is safe.

Barcelona is a city famous for its museums. Two of the most famous museums are the Museo Picasso (Picasso Museum) and Fundacio Joan Miro (Miro Foundation). More than 3,500 works make up the permanent collection of the Picasso Museum. Although the collection does not have any of Picasso’s most famous works, the museum provides an unrivaled collection to understanding his early years in Barcelona. The museum is fully wheelchair accessible. The Juan Miro Foundation pays homage to the great Catalan artist, Joan Miro. The collection includes over 14,000 pieces including paintings, sculptures, ceramics, tapestries and early sketches. The entire building is wheelchair accessible and the Foundation also provides guided tours for persons with vision impairments, theatre for children with sign language translation on request and other services.

One of the “must see” attractions of Barcelona is the Magic Fountain of Montjuic. For approximately 15 minutes, visitors view a spectacular display of light, color, music and water. The best time to see the display is at sundown when the Palau National is illuminated and provides a beautiful background. The show gets crowded so visitors are advised to arrive early. Las Ramblas is one of the most popular destinations in Barcelona. The pedestrian mall in the center of Barcelona is lined with restaurants, shops, flower stands, kiosks and entertainers. As it is a top tourist destinations, prices are somewhat inflated, but it’s an ideal place to spend some time and to people-watch. At both of these destinations, visitors are highly warned to watch out for getting pick-pocketed.

Interesting Fact: The original paella was not considered a seafood dish but had chicken, rabbit and pork (and sometimes snails).