Impressions of a vacation at the foot of the Olympus Mountains

From September 10 to 24, 2022 I was in Greece, more precisely, in the north (Macedonia). Of course, I did not travel alone, but with my husband and my caregiver from Bulgaria, who lives with us.

General information on the subject of “Travel with reduced mobility beforehand

1. traveling is one of my greatest passions and that of my husband. We always took at least two vacations a year – even with small children – and were usually away from home for four to five weeks.

2 Instead of putting money aside, we preferred to pack our suitcases (and our children) and then off we went to the south, usually to the Mediterranean.

3. as a rule, tour operators who make a suitable offer make their services quite expensive. For our trips now we need twice as much money.

4. since two years arrival and departure and quarters must be absolutely barrier-free. Since one year I have care degree 4. In order to make sure before the booking whether the conditions are correct, it requires several telephone calls, even if one leaves much to a special travel agency (e.g. Runa journeys, sweet journeys). Without a nursing bed (borrowed and set up or already available in the hotel), toilet with booster seat and handles on both sides, level shower, shower wheelchair, threshold-free access to the room balcony, outdoor facilities, pool and dining room, nothing works for me.

When “normal” hotels offer barrier-free rooms, prospective customers should have photos shown to them. My experiences with this offer are sobering, because accessibility is obviously a very broad term and its definition is a matter of opinion (of people without physical limitations).

Not only the room must be adapted to my special needs, but also outdoor facilities, lounges, pool, transfer to excursion destinations and much more.

6 Finally, I would like to point out experiences with two German airports (Cologne / Bonn and Düsseldorf): The toilets are either locked or dirty or the special is limited exclusively to the door sign – toilet elevation, side handles, accessible soap dispensers missing. 

The service – i.e. pick-up from the departure lounge to the seat in the aircraft cabin (only window seats are allowed for passengers with limited mobility) – is swift, reliable and friendly. It’s the same on our return – pickup from the plane to arrival at baggage claim. But on our return from Thessaloniki, I had to wait almost an hour for assistance after landing in Düsseldorf – reason: not enough staff. Düsseldorf Airport has exactly two (!) employees for this service.

By the way, people who need this mobility service and have also booked it free of charge are the first to board and the last to leave the plane.

Bottom line: take toiletries with you and make arrangements regarding your bladder emptying for longer flights and waiting times. Using the restroom on the plane is only feasible for mobile passengers.

7. Be prepared that your wheelchair may not survive the flight without damage. So far, I’ve been lucky and still been able to use it even if it was damaged. If you complain immediately after arrival and describe the damage in writing on an appropriate form of the airline, you will be reimbursed for the repair costs without complaint. But that takes up to half a year.

Since the beginning of 2020, this was my fourth vacation that was entirely tailored to me, especially to my advancing immobility, but it was the first vacation destination where I would like to vacation again. The other three destinations – Curacao, Crete, Mallorca – are either no longer possible for the stage of my illness or they are insufficiently barrier-free from the outset.

In order not to report anything that is already known, I recommend you two web addresses – the first from the hotel and the second from the beach. 

I have always remained faithful for several years to the vacation destinations to which I am eager to return. Villa Sevasti is one of them – not only because I have experienced it almost 100% barrier-free. 

  • The staff all have their hearts in the right place. No matter who you had to deal with – they are friendly, attentive, empathetic, reliable and exude a good working atmosphere. 
  • The interior of the entire house is a feast for the eyes. Each room is designed differently and the dining room and lounge are furnished like a large living room. In a pleasant way, the prejudice is contradicted as if people like us had to settle for the charm and aesthetics of hospital rooms and canteens for the sake of necessity.

Our bathroom

Roof terrace

House walkway

Room balcony
  • Each room has a balcony of about 20sqm; plus a huge roof terrace with seating areas and a garden area with fruit trees and vines to help yourself to your heart’s content. September is harvest time. Grapes and figs are picked daily by my husband. If there is no one around, you can always ask a member of the household to help you. (If you want to bring something for those who stayed at home, buy fig and apricot jam – prepared by Eleni, a service worker, in the hotel kitchen. You can taste them at the daily breakfast).
  • Foti Chalkidis, planner, owner, operator of the hotel has worked for more than two decades in Germany – more precisely in Cologne in Michaelshoven – as a sports physician and sports therapist. I have him to thank for a particularly happy experience: he gave me swimming lessons. At the beginning of the first lesson I was already able to stay afloat on my back for a few minutes without any aids. With my swimming aid, I just lay motionless on the water – like a soup turtle that you put on its shell so that it doesn’t escape its slaughter. It’s just a great feeling to be able to do something again that the disease had taken away from you.

On the right: Kostas

Side tip: With the catapult seat, the recliner is almost as comfortable as a nursing bed.

Karin’s hobby: Five rescued donkeys – here are two of them
  • The hotel has a private beach, to which a hotel shuttle goes by appointment. This beach is more of a park-like area, whose meadow reaches almost to the water. Karin Bohland, Foti’s partner, runs vacation homes there, some of which are barrier-free. To the beach, there is a snack stand, several shady shelters, deck chairs (even higher ones for ours) and seating areas. This is all kept quite simple, but completely sufficient and appropriate. The days there were pure relaxation.

Matthias takes us to the beach

Since dogs are allowed in Villa Sevasti, they are also entitled to the shuttle.
Foti is also with us as a guide.
  • The two drivers Kostas and Matthias not only shuttle between the beach and the hotel, but also arrange the transfer from the airport to the hotel and vice versa and the excursion trips with two hotel-owned buses. The two, like most of the hotel staff and Foti, had been in Germany for a long time and therefore speak perfect German. Excursions are arranged individually. I refrain from reporting here about our excursions, because they are described on the two web pages.If you need further hints and recommendations, you can contact me: I do not give my cell phone number, because telephoning is tedious and my speaking is difficult to understand.

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