Montreal: Motel, tours, Molson Centre tour, Montreal Tower, Olympic Stadium tour and ballgames
Boston: Hotel, the Freedom Trail, wheelchair taxis, Home Run Derby, All-Star Game
For additional information on Boston accessibility, see "BOSTON/COOPERSTOWN 1998"
By James Glasbergen
Our trip to Montreal and Boston was originally intended to just be a short weekend trip to Montreal. That was until I had a sudden brainwave and realized that the Major League Baseball All- Star game was in Boston only a few days later. I wrote in requesting wheelchair tickets for the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game thinking I didn't have a chance in the world of getting them, but to my shock I was in luck! So, it was off to Montreal for a day and a half before going back to Boston for a couple more days.
In Montreal we stayed at a motel about 5 km north of Olympic Stadium. It was a nice hotel with a pretty good wheelchair accessible room. Unfortunately it did not have a roll-in shower. I actually phoned numerous hotels in Montreal and I could not find a single hotel that had a room with a roll-in shower. I hate to say it, but nobody beats the United States when it comes to accessibility. I also looked all over to find a tour company in Montreal that had an accessible bus in their fleet so we could take a city tour, but none of the companies had one single bus with a lift. Thus, we were on our own when it came to touring Montreal.
Since we only had one full day to see Montreal, we decided to start out by taking a guided tour of the Molson Centre, home of the Montreal Canadiens. They had a completely accessible tour that included visits to the press box, the press conference room, the television room (Hockey Night in Canada), a luxury suite, the Canadiens dressing room, and the main floor (the ice was not in). It was a very worthwhile tour at a decent price. From there we decided to go to the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch. However, we discovered it was not accessible at all which really surprised me, so we were forced to go elsewhere.
Following lunch, we drove over to Olympic Stadium where you can tour several of the attractions at Olympic Park. We bought tickets to go up the Montreal Tower, which is the huge tower hovering over Olympic Stadium. It was completely accessible and provided a good view of the city. We then decided to take a tour of Olympic Stadium. To say Olympic Stadium is big and cavernous would be an understatement. In fact, my friend actually got lost on the guided tour. We had just finished the portion of the tour that took us out into the bleachers behind the left field wall. All of a sudden I realized he had vanished. Apparently when he turned around and realized we had gone back inside the hallway, he immediately came back and could not find us anywhere. He started walking through all sorts of hallways and doorways and had no idea where we were. Like I said, the stadium is cavernous. We finally managed to find him about 20 minutes later.
We also watched 2 baseball games at Olympic Stadium between Toronto and Montreal. The wheelchair seating was okay, but nothing special. The seats were located along first and third base quite a ways up. That was it for our trip to Montreal. I would love to have stayed longer and checked out Old Montreal and other places, but there wasn't time.
We made the 5 hour drive from Montreal to Boston and checked in at our hotel. Unfortunately we had several problems with our wheelchair accessible room. I was promised a room with a roll-in shower, 2 beds, and enough space under the bed for a hoyer lift to roll under. Well, we tried a few of their accessible rooms before finding one with a roll-in shower, and none of the rooms had any space under the bed at all. They managed to find 4 milk crates and I was forced to sleep on a roll away bed that sat on the crates. We filled in a comment card at the end of our stay voicing our displeasure, and to my surprise I received a letter from the manager a few weeks later apologizing and asking me to write a letter outlining the details of our stay. So, I wrote a page long letter detailing what had happened and making a few suggestions on how they could improve it, but I never heard back from him.
(NOTE: One year after this trip, I returned to Boston for another 3 nights following my New York City trip. I decided to stay at the same hotel, hoping that they might have changed a couple things based on my letter. The main problem for me is the issue of space under the bed. Their beds were completely stuck to the floor. When I made the reservation I asked them again if there was space under the bed and I was assured that there indeed was, so I assumed that they had gotten different beds as per my suggestion. Unfortunately, I arrived to find the exact same problem as the year before, which meant I again had to sleep on a roll away bed on 4 milk crates. I complained to the manager and told him about my experience the year before, and he was nice enough to give us the first night free and $50 off of each of the remaining 2 nights. I will definitely never stay there again though.).
On our first day in Boston we decided to finish seeing the half of the Freedom Trail that we didn't have time for the year before. This time we started at the other end. We took a wheelchair taxi from our hotel to the Bunker Hill Monument. There was a ramp going up the hill to the monument and the gift shop. Unfortunately, the monument itself was not accessible. You had to climb steps to get up to the lookout area at the top. There was no elevator. We then headed over to the USS Constitution. We debated whether or not we wanted to see if we could get on it, but the gangplank did not look accessible at all and we didn't feel like inquiring, so we decided to just keep going. We continued on past the Old North Church and several inaccessible burial grounds. Then we got to the Paul Revere house which surprisingly was accessible. They pulled out a portable ramp and had me enter through the front door. Only the main floor was accessible though as there was no elevator for the upstairs. From there we just continued on past some of the sights we had seen the year before.
The rest of our trip was dedicated to baseball. That night we went to the Home Run Derby at Fenway Park. We had fairly good wheelchair seats. They were in the last row of the lower deck between first base and home plate. It was an unforgettable night as Mark McGwire hit 13 towering home runs in one round, although Ken Griffey walked away the winner.
The next day we went to the All-Star Fanfest at the Hynes Convention Center. Unfortunately we were over an hour late thanks to the Boston taxis. We called especially early to get a wheelchair accessible taxi but we could not find a company that had one on the road. Finally, we got a hold of a company who promised a wheelchair taxi within 15 minutes. However, after waiting and waiting and reassurances from the dispatcher that someone was coming, we called one more time and were told that they in fact did not have a wheelchair cab on the road. This was after we had already waited for over an hour for a taxi that they promised. We told the concierge at our hotel and he was incensed. He vowed to find out what was going on and hold someone responsible since their hotel gives those companies a lot of business. That was fine but we were sick of waiting, so we immediately left and walked the mile and a half to the convention center. Fanfest was great. There was a lot of memorabilia and interactive exhibits, as well as autograph signings by some Hall of Famers. It's too bad we were an hour late because we just missed out on meeting Brooks Robinson and a few other players.
Later that night we went to the All-Star Game at Fenway.
We had great seats13 rows from the field just past first base. The game
was great, although it was hard to concentrate on it with all of the celebrities
around us. We were constantly keeping our eyes open for them. Steve Yzerman
and Brendan Shanahan of the Detroit Red Wings sat 2 rows in front of us and
even talked to us briefly after the game. Dennis Franz of NYPD Blue sat
2 rows behind us, and Chris Slade of the New England Patriots was a few rows
behind him. Reggie Jackson also walked directly behind me at one point, although
he was surrounded by security guards. As we were walking out after the game,
we noticed Shawn Green standing in front of the clubhouse door, so we went over
and managed to get a picture with him. Our seats for the game were $150 each,
but they were worth every penny. In fact, we heard scalpers were asking up to
$6000 a seat for tickets in our section. It's too bad I like baseball so muchI
could have come home a lot richer! I am sure glad I didn't sell them though,
it was a night I won't soon forget.
For additional information on Boston accessibility, see "BOSTON/COOPERSTOWN 1998"
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