The idea for this tour around Central Europe more or less started when friends told us about the possibilities for spa holidays in Slovakia. Being a full time carer plays havoc on my muscles and I quite liked the idea of a week relaxing those muscles and being pampered. It turned out to be a bit more difficult to organize a spa trip with someone in a wheelchair. But with the help of the friend who sometimes sent mails in Slovak, and with the help of the Slovakian organisation of the disabled we found a place to go to.

Piešťany

It is an old Spa town, with many hotels offering spa facilities. According to the tourist guides even Beethoven came here to take the waters. The main spa centre is on an island in the river near the centre of the town. A lot of buildings here have Art Nouveau influences.

Accommodation

We are staying in the Hotel Maj, which is more on the outside edge of the town. Most of the staff at reception speak a bit of German, but English is more of a problem, although all emails beforehand were in English. The hotel looks a bit like past glory, with a definite hint of Eastern Block. Access to the main hall is good. There are a few parking spots near the hotel reserved for disabled drivers. However, a disabled passenger can’t get out of the car in these spots, so you have to load and unload in front of the front door and park afterwards.

Our room is on the first floor, with a lift to all floors. The room is of adequate size, although I have to move some furniture around to be able to get the wheelchair next to the bed. Fortunately there was furniture to move, because the beds could not be moved, and again no room under the bed if a hoist had been necessary. There is a small balcony, but this is not accessible. The bathroom is definitely small, the grabrails next to the toilet are not very solid. Fortunately there are larger disabled toilets on the ground floor. However, they are in with the normal toilets, so either I as a carer have to walk into the men’s toilets, or I have to take my husband into the women’s toilets.

The spa arrangement includes breakfast and dinner and two treatments a day. It is possible to add more treatments to the plan if you want to pay extra. The first few days we spend in and around the hotel. Nice and restful. We spend a lot of time in the bar as that is the only room that is permanently air conditioned, and temperatures are still quite high. The food is not especially good, but not very bad either. Drinks in the bar are relatively cheap. We start the week with a meeting with the Spa doctor, one of the few people in the hotel who speaks English very well. She seems very capable when we discuss my husband’s health situation and the possibilities they have in providing him with treatments. She composes a very nice treatment plan for him, which is mainly aimed at providing some soothing treatments to his shoulders and the paralyzed arm, and to alleviate the spasms he has in this arm and hand. It also means I don’t have to transfer him constantly in and out of his wheelchair, as they don’t seem to have hoists. As we are both in her consulting room she then proceeds in adapting my treatment plan as well so it is even more fitting to my needs. The only problem that remains is that my first treatment starts every day at 7.30 and I have to get my husband out of bed before that, so it is rising early. As it turns out, that is also nice considering the temperature outside. To give you an idea of the treatments: I start every day with a Pilates class of 20 minutes, and then have massages (traditional or with machines), mud wraps, bubble baths, etc. And of course I have free access to the pool so I go swimming every day. The pool is not accessible, but then my husband finds going into the pool too much of a hassle even if he enjoys being in the water.
Anyway it is a nice way to relax after the city trips in Austria.

Excursions

Of course we can’t stay here for a full week without seeing anything of the area. So we visit the town centre one day. It is busy in town, so all the disabled parking spots are taken and we have to park in a garage in a shopping centre, which is payed parking. There is a lift to the ground floor, but then you have to exit the shopping centre through a revolving door with a carpeted floor which is not easy with a wheelchair. A large part of the city centre is pedestrianised with more or less flat tiles. Plenty of shops and cafés.

We also cross the pedestrian bridge to the Spa island, which is a very green and pleasant area. Afterwards we visit the local museum which is very interesting even if it is small. It shows some of the very interesting archaeological finds from the area, although most of them are in a museum in Bratislava because they are very old.

Twice we go out for a bit of a drive in the area to see what it is like, and it is quite nice, rolling hills, nice views. There are lots of old castles and we drive around two of them: Bojnice and Beckov. And of course we see a lot of the countryside when we travel cross country to our next destination.