“Upon a summer wind there’s a certain melody.
Takes me back to the place that I know.
Down on the beach.”
Usually I think it’s a good thing to work in July. It’s quiet at the office. You can leave early on the sunny days and work longer (and get extra hours for winter holidays to warm places) on rainy days. And to be honest, it had been a lot of those rainy foggy days lately. And cold. And my frigde had broken down. And I was in general tired of wheeling around in my own flat. In Oslo.
Therefore I was easy to convince when my friend invited me to join them on a summer festival and some days at the beach in the South of Norway. And when my friend posted this message on my Facebook wall (“you chose the right week-end to go”), I must say I was looking forward to some days of beach wheeling in the South.
As you could read in my previous blog post I drove one day ahead of my friends and checked out what Kristiansand had to offer. And from a wheelchair user’s perspective, I would say that it is a great place for a summer holidays. Several new hotels with very good wheelchair access (Comfort Hotel Kristiansand and Scandic Bystranda), pretty flat and charming city centre with nice curb cuts (much better than in Oslo). And it also seemed as there were some nice accessible places to choose from regarding shops, cafes and bars as well. If I remember correctly the city received some kind of access award many years ago, before ADA-laws and other cities had heard about the word universal design…
But the best thing in my opinion is the fantastic beach Bystranda. The beach is situated in the South-Eastern part of Kvadraturen (part of the city centre) outside the new Scandic Bystranda Hotel and Aquarama.
The beach is a blue flag beach with fine white sand, benches, playgrounds, boccia, ping pong tables and more; with even wheelchair friendly paths around the area. There’s even an accessible fishing spot!
The beach has two different ramps for wheelchair users. One on the beach and one on the “pier” in addition to stairs if you prefer that. There is also clean disabled friendly toilet nearby. However – they have grim herion light and it cost 10NOK to get in…
Unfortunately the temperature was not beach approved that day (not everyone agreed with me on that), so I didn’t get to test the facilities. I am afraid the beach will be crowded on perfect days, since it is pretty small. But it was definitely a nice discovery.
And the best thing is: If the weather outside is cold or windy – you can go inside to the newly built Aquarama and jump in the pool instead. Or not to mention – pools. There is truly something for everyone’s taste inside the new water activity centre: A big 50x25m pool for athletes with a diving tower (which is actually wheelchair accessible with a lift!). Smaller pools with different temperatures (31-38c), children’s pool, jacuzzi, rehabilitation pools and a small heated outdoor pool. There is also a fantastic spa which is also reasonably well accessible (I got a tour with my power chair and it seemed as if I could go most places) – including relax pools, saunas and treatment rooms. The whole Aquarama facility is new and therefore universally designed. They had 4 shower chairs you could wheel yourself, and others that needed assistance. Several of the changing rooms were reserved for wheelchair users and families.
If you become tired of beach time and swimming pools you can always be cultural and take a short stroll along the marina to Christiansholm fortress from 1672. As old fortresses usually do, it has some pretty nasty cobblestones to cross to get inside, but as you pass it there are narrow paths on the side with smaller stones.
There is a nice view over Bystranda from the fortress and some neat old artillery. I don’t know if it is possible to go inside with a wheelchair, but it looked as if it might be possible. From the community’s webpages I can read that they are thinking of building a lift to make 2nd floor accessible for wheelchair users in 2014-2015.
Unfortunately I had to leave this fantastic area. The good thing was – I was not leaving the beach. I was just driving to another one named after my friend’s family. The beach Njervesanden is situated nearby Spangereid in Lindesnes kommune, 1 hour and 10 minutes South of Kristiansand.
Lindesnes has the Southernmost point in Norway and I was going to visit my friends there for a few sunny days. 🙂