Does the words wheelchair travel make you think of amusement parks and cruise ships? Cory Lee will open your eyes to the global potential to traveling on manual and power wheels.
Relax at the Beach
Power chair user Cory kicks off his time in tropical Tel Aviv where anyone wants to go in warm weather: the beach. Sand and water might not seem like an optimum destination for a wheelchair user, but Hilton Beach - a public beach located at the Hilton Hotel in Tel Aviv - is focused on access.
A long ramp gets wheelchair users all the way to the ocean. For those who want to get out of their chairs and into the water, there are two beach wheelchairs available on a first come first serve basis.
Fully accessible covered cabanas make it possible for patrons to revel in the sea breeze while staying out of the sun.
Take in a Market
“When imagining an Israeli market, I thought of a crowded area with plenty of food and gift vendors… and that’s exactly what Carmel Market is”
The largest bustling market in Tel Aviv is completely accessible and hosts independent artists selling crafts, art and jewelry along Nahalat Binyamin Street. Cory does caution intrepid shoppers looking for refreshment in the outdoor market to request extra ice as the two cubes in his juice melted in the Israeli sun.
Looking to shop in cool splendor? Cory suggests the Sarona Market as an ideal place to take refuge from the heat. Relax among the 91 stalls and restaurants all fully accessible. Cory took advantage of many gastronomic opportunities. “I tried pomegranate lemonade from a juice bar and some gelato, and they were both delicious," shares Cory. "Plan to be at this market for a couple hours of exploring and eating.”
For shopping with a view, The Port of Tel Aviv is one of the trendiest spots. With over 150,000 square feet of space, and a wooden deck that covers the promenade, the shopping Mecca has a breathtaking sea view. “My favorite thing about this port was just rolling along and taking in the views of the sea.”
Try Spiritual and Cultural Experiences
If your tastes run more towards the spiritual than the shopping, consider attending Kabbalat Shabbat by the Beach during the summer. The “welcoming of the Shabbat” service that starts at 6:30pm, and attendees enjoys live music and an incredible view of the sunset. “Attending this service was one of my favorite things that I did in Israel," says Cory. "It was just moving to see everyone celebrating together.”
The Port of Jaffa offers the opportunity to bask in thousands of years of history. The area with the shops and restaurants is smooth for wheelchair users. Some parts of the historical areas have cobblestone paths.
“If you can endure the bumpy cobblestone for just a little while though, it’s worth it to follow the signs toward the ‘View of Tel Aviv’…you will have the best view of the Tel Aviv skyline and the Mediterranean Sea as a reward.
Tap into the culture and arts scene in Tel Aviv. Nalaga’at Center is meeting place for deaf, blind, deaf-blind and the general public. Cory dined at their signature restaurant Blackout where patrons dine in complete darkness to make their other senses fully awaken. Their waitress, Ruth, who is blind, guided Cory and his party to their table verbally. “I could not even see my hand in front of my face it was so dark," Cory writes. "It was great getting to know our waitress and to top it all off, the food was superb”
After dinner, they attended a performance of ‘Not By Bread Alone’ also in the Nalaga’at Center, performed by deaf, blind, and deaf-blind actors.
“I laughed, I cried, and it moved me in such a way that I am forever changed from it.”
Adventures can be had anywhere, share this with your favorite intrepid traveler!