Archive for » August, 2014 «

Amsterdam – Did you know?

Amsterdam can be a pretty odd place. There are all sorts of little facts and things that locals know about but strangers would never expect. I bet you didn’t know any of these things about Amsterdam.

The name Amsterdam comes from the combination of the river Amstel and the dam that was built on it in order to found the original village there. You might have heard of Amstel as the name of a beer that was named after the river, because that’s where it was brewed.

Amsterdam has the most museums of any city in the world, measured per square metre. There’s a museum around almost every corner, covering all sorts of weird and wonderful topics, from famous painters to (inevitably) the history of marijuana.

If global warming causes the sea levels to rise, Amsterdam will be one of the first world cities to get flooded, because it’s so close to sea level and is almost entirely flat. Better see it while you can!

You can’t visit Amsterdam’s parliament building, because there isn’t one. Although Amsterdam is the largest town in the Netherlands and is the official capital, all of the government functions take place at the Hague.

When it comes to transport, Amsterdam boasts over 600,000 bicycles, almost 250 trams, over 150 canals – and around 1,200 bridges. Hardly anyone drives in the city centre, and it’s almost impossible to find anywhere to park there.

Finally, you almost certainly won’t know that one of the canal boats in Amsterdam, known as the Poezenboot, acts as a home for stray cats. A woman who had been re-housing stray cats had the idea of getting them a houseboat – after all, if people can live in them, why not cats? Forty years later, the volunteers at the shelter look after seventy cats at a time.

Ten Fun Things to do in Amsterdam

One of the most popular things to do in Amsterdam, particularly among couples of all ages, is to take a long canal cruise. Open-top canal boats as well as canal bikes, which you pedal yourself, are available for this purpose. Guided canal boats can be rented for private trips. Sunset and night-time cruises come highly recommended.

Visiting one or more of Amsterdam’s varied museums is also a popular activity. Museum lovers usually purchase a museum card for free and quick entry to a large number of museums. As a city steeped in European history, Amsterdam is home to art, history, and science museums alike. Be sure to stop in at Anne Frank’s House to catch a glimpse of the life of the girl made famous by her wartime diary.

With all of the beautiful sights to take in, such as the range of medieval and modern architecture and gorgeous canals, a walking tour or cycling tour should find a place on your Amsterdam itinerary.

Amsterdam is also famous for its coffee shops. The prevailing atmosphere is relaxed and casual. Despite the name “coffee shop,” beer and even marijuana and other types of hallucinogens can be legally purchased at these establishments. The coffee shops are viewed as places to relax and socialize.

Don’t forget to visit the flower market and take home some of Amsterdam’s signature tulip bulbs or flowering cacti. In the summertime, visitors can purchase a large variety of flowers.

The Jordaan is one of the quieter parts of Amsterdam. It is filled with restored old houses and small canals. Small shops offer art, antiques, and pottery to visitors. There are also many cosy restaurants, cafes, and bars in the area.

Clubgoers will not be left out due to the widespread availability of hot and happening nightclubs. For a live band, check out The Waterhole near Leidseplein. The area has a busy city feel to it with its flashy neon lights and takeaway restaurants. For an energy-filled night of good times and good beer, visit the Irish Pub Slainte. There’s no hip hop or techno music and no marijuana, but the spirits are high and the flamboyant bartenders keep the crowd going.

A visit to any new city wouldn’t be complete without shopping. Tourists can shop till they drop at the numerous souvenir shops, street markets, and plazas. Everything from mini souvenirs to antiques is available at a range of prices.

Visit the windmills of Amsterdam for a terrific photo opportunity. While most of them are closed to the public, Sloten Windmill allows visitors to enter and is set up for easy accessibility for those in a wheelchair. Volunteers are on hand to explain how the windmill works and on occasion a miller is available to demonstrate. Sloten Windmill is also a popular site for nuptial celebrations.

Last on the list of things to do is a trip to the Heineken brewery. When the brewery was still active, visitors were given a guided tour of the brewing process that culminated in free beer and cheese. Today, for a few Euro, visitors have their pick of two top-notch bars and receive three large beers and a gift. The renovated old brewery still has many things to see, including a glass staircase, copper vats, theater, and a music video studio.

How to Book Cheap Flights to Europe

Run away from all the chains that follow you and bind you to responsibilities and burdens. Make way for a wonderful and heart melting trip to Europe. Places like Amsterdam, Berlin, Madrid, Rome, London, Paris, Prague, Stockholm and Vienna, are amongst few places that come to one’s mind thinking of Europe. Who has the caliber to resist all these overwhelming and beautiful cities! Walk out of your comfort zone only to enter another paradisiacal world- Europe.

Keep all worries regarding air fares and flights at bay as many travel sites are working really hard to make your trip as economical as you would have ever imagined. You are lucky enough to make use of the technology at hand and get set to enter the vicinity of these beautiful cities. These travel sites will arrange for you various flying options and air fare packages. With a flight to Europe from almost all major cities all around the world, traveling becomes a cake walk.

With some of the best packages and the most economical deals on your palate, it becomes much easier for you to pick the one that suits you. It offers you an option to see all discounts and offers given for the travelers by various airlines in a single go which makes you better equipped to decide. Click your way to that dream trip as your computer does all the necessary work for you. By following some easy steps as indicated on such sites, you can navigate to the desired options. It not only books for you the air tickets, but also manages hotel accommodations, currency changes, sight seeing and transportation and many such things which will make your trip a long and relaxing venture.

If it is only the fear of wasting your hard earned money and time that is compelling you to delay this much awaited trip, you have struck jackpot which should not be left. All these cities offer the vibrant colors of their culture. Where Amsterdam offers a peaceful retreat, Berlin attracts you for its lifestyle; where Paris lulls you for its fashion, London calls you for that perfect royal treatment that it offers you; Prague flaunts its customs, and Rome is all set to mesmerize you with its beauty. It takes much more than worrying about money to delay all such beautiful feelings that nature has to offer you.

Indulge yourself in the most stunning possessions that world has to offer, and give that perfect holiday as a gift to your loved ones. If business is what calls you there, don’t worry! East travel options are available for you too. Choose the option that suits your requirements and be sure that the travel managers will make your trip nothing less than the best.

Travel smart and get the comprehensive information about all the cities in advance. Plan your travel according to the season you love the most and give a chance to the websites to guide you through the travel high tides unscathed. Travel safe, fly high!

Magic Vacations In Budget Hotels Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a city very tolerant, Dutch people have open mind. Amsterdam is a European capital different from the other, discover it, alone or with your friends but dont lose the opportunity. Remember to book a Budget Hotels Amsterdam before you arrive to the town.

The best season to visit the Netherlands is in summer; during the spring, Amsterdam receives many visitors too. If you prefer to visit the city in winter, take your precautions because the temperature low up to 0C.

Perhaps you are a soccer fan. Holland has famous soccer clubs such as Ajax, PSV Eindhoven, Feyenord, AZ Alkmaar, Sparta Rotterdam, SBV Excelsior, etc. Ajax is the club of the capital. It was the only soccer team that won the Champion League (1971-1973). Johan Cruif was the most popular player of Ajax and Holland.

Dutch is the native language and the currency is the Euro, dont forget these important tips. If you dont speak Dutch, doesnt matter, lots of people speak English, German and French. A map will be very useful, if you want to discover the entire city. Ask for one in Budget Hotels Amsterdam.

Food in Amsterdam is not so good, Dutch people and visitors prefer to eat foreign food, especially Chinese and Thailand food. After eat, you can go to shopping and buy some souvenirs to your relatives or friends. Take your precautions and dont spend all your money in the Red Light District.

Canals are part of the Holland culture. It is a perfect place to visit in couple. Rent a boat and explore canals.

European Vacation on a Budget

Organizing a European getaway? I am relatively absolute you have a destination in mind today. But if you haven’t selected one yet, ask yourself what you really want to see, what you like to attain on this travel. A vacation is a form of leisure and a chance for self-discovery. So take the most out of it as well as leave no room for disappointment. And one method to achieve that is to plan meticulously before the time. Get your date, coordinate your itinerary, and reserve your flights and accommodations before the time. Vacationing does not imply you must squander. When you can save on flight as well as hotel reservations, do so. You can book cheap hotels on the World Wide Web or cheap flights from United Kingdom to Amsterdam, for example, once you have the exact date identified.

When searching for cheaper hotels, you do not simply check out the costs and once you see that it’s within your budget, you go for it. Nope. Confirm if the amenities are right for you, if it’s got everything you may need on your vacation. If the accommodation you have in mind is a romantic bed and breakfast, ensure the room is in a secluded part of the area or it possesses a veranda that oversees the garden or the ocean or the room is just exact and the atmosphere of the room is sweet. If a Paris bed and breakfast that possesses an excellent look of the Eiffel Tower would suit you fine and the cost is just ideal, go ahead then book it before somebody else does.

Hotels or hostels in Amsterdam may be difficult to get by taking into consideration that this is a relatively little capital that is flocked by foreigners all year round, most specifically during the holidays. You may like to book an accommodation a couple of months ahead. This is also true with other cheap bed and breakfasts located in other European metropolitans that are well-loved among vacationers. Amsterdam transportation is largely dominated by trams, canal bus, as well as bikes. And cars are employing right-hand drive. You would want to take that into account to stop confusion and injuries.

London is another typical destination. Whether it is to tour the London Eye, the British Museum, Cathedral of St. Paul, or to watch the finals game of your well-loved team on the Stadium of Wembley, you are going to require a venue to stay. There are many budget hotels in London, yet finding a vacant one during peak times could be a dilemma. Better reserve one beforehand. You may find very affordable hotels in London that offer superb service, and you may book them online ahead of time.

Going on a vacation and spending extravagantly on hotel reservations doesn’t necessarily have to go along together. If it is possible to save a little on hotel rooms to make way for other programs or things that you might enjoy, like sampling the enticing cuisine at the Four Seasons in France or that little black Chanel dress you bought in Oxford St. in London. I would gladly surrender 5-star hotels in Berlin and make a less expensive Berlin hotel booking that also contains marvelous amenities for something truly unforgettable or to acquire something for my loved ones at home. Won’t you?

Barbados Naked

Barbados Naked

Welcome to my Barbados naked series. Here I will provide you with details of things to see and do on the island and recommend restaurants, bars and excursions that I have either experienced myself or had guests tell me just how good they really are. I hope that you find the information useful for your trip or research of the island and would be very pleased if you feel you could add anything to my information. If you do please do drop me a line at Admin@VIPvillas.com and we’ll look to add it to our ‘Barbados Naked’ feature for future readers. Please enjoy reading the articles which I will be posting weekly. The series starts this week with an introduction to Barbados, the main tourist knowledge points, some history and facts and figures.

Next week we’ll find out about restaurants and food on the island. I’ll be supplying details of the best restaurants in each town and district and giving you a flavour (if you’ll pardon the pun!) of what they offer. I’ll also detail some of the local dishes that you should try and while there.

Then comes activites. Barbados really does make the most of it’s weather. There are lots of activities to get engaged in from relaxing on the beach to the more energetic pursuits such as diving, watersports and or course golf.

Excursions follows that with a guide on what to do and when. This guide gives you all you need to know to actually ‘do it yourself’, so standby for a full breakdown of the island with contact details for excursion providers and tour operators.

You really can’t go all the way to Barbados and not sample the nightlife now can you!! Well click through during week 5 of my Naked Barbados series to find out which are hot and which are not. From beach bars to the high life of the West Coast this instalment has it all. Barbados naked it most certainly is!!

I have previously completed the top ten beaches in Barbados. Tune in to week six for an indepth look at the best beaches. I’ll be reviewing nearly all of them on the island so you can feast your eyes on those that the tourists don’t know about.

Week seven provides a calendar of events for 2009. Make sure you don’t miss a thning with an indepth study of all that there is going on in 2009.

And we finish in week eight. A whistlestop tour of all that is Naked Barbados!! I’ll round off my series for those specialist trips, getting married? Then tune in, fancy a nature trail? Then click through… it’s all here in this last ‘round up’ week.

So with no time to waste here is my opening piece. Please enjoy!!

FLIGHTS/GETTING THERE

Barbados is well connected to Britain and North America, and currently has a limited service from Continental Europe. With so many incoming flights it acts as a hub to other islands within the South Eastern Caribbean. This makes the island an excellent island hopping base if you intend on visiting other islands. VIPvillas.com can organise separate stays in luxury villas on more than one Caribbean island for you.

The following airlines serve Barbados:

UK:

British Airways from Gatwick

Virgin Atlantic from Gatwick and Manchester

Caribbean Airlines (former BWIA) from Gatwick using British Airways codeshare

BMI from Manchester.

Europe:

Martinair from Amsterdam

Condor from Frankfurt

USA:

US Airways from Philadelphia

American Airlines from New York & Miami

Air Jamaica from New York (JFK)

Delta Air Lines from Atlanta.

Canada:

Air Canada from Toronto

Regional:

Caribbean Airlines (former BWIA), Air Jamaica, LIAT, and American Eagle, which have flights across the Caribbean. Flights to the Grenadines are served by SVG air, TIA 2000 and Mustique Airways – the three airlines also operate together as Grenadines Airways.

ISLAND HOPPING

One very useful fact to know is that there are a number of flights from Barbados to the Grenadines, both as day tours and as transfers, that are known as ‘shared charters’. Practically speaking they run every day, but because they are run by charter airlines, rather than scheduled companies, they are not listed on the international computer systems. See below for the airlines that offer shared charter to the Grenadines.

REGIONAL AIRLINES

LIAT

Caribbean Airlines (former BWIA)

Air Jamaica

SVG Air

Mustique Airways

Trans Island Air/TIA 2000

Day trips to other islands:

Grenadines Discoveries

Fly to Union Island and join a Catamaran for a day sail, with snorkelling and swimming stops in Mayreau, Tobago Keys and Palm Island. $640 including lunch and drinks.

One day air tours to the Grenadines, St Lucia, St Vincent and Young Island, and Grenada.

If you would like to charter a plane, then they are available through:

St Barth Commuter

A local airline based in St Barths, which offers scheduled flights from there to St Martin/St Maarten and Caribbean private aircraft charters to islands all over the Eastern Caribbean. They have a fleet of five twin-engine planes and five specially trained (STOL) pilots with permission to land in St Barths.

SVG Air

A local Caribbean airline that offers charters to the Grenadines from around the region, often from Barbados, but also from St Lucia and Grenada, even from as far as Puerto Rico. SVG Air has around a dozen 5-19-seater planes and also offers island hopping and air ambulance services.

AIRPORT

Grantley Adams International Airport (airport code BGI, after Bridgetown, the island’s capital) is located approximately 10 miles/16km south east of Bridgetown city centre. VIPvillas.com have luxury portfolio of West Coast Villas in Barbados for you to choose from; they really are sheer luxury!

The airport has recently undergone a multi-million dollar expansion with the major phase completed in 2007. This included the construction of a new, much larger arrivals terminal which now houses 22 immigration work stations, five large luggage carousels and two duty free shops. The old arrivals hall has become part of an extended departure lounge and houses a new airside food court and retail concourse. Other facilities include a bank and postal services. Approximately four air bridges are part of the next set of improvements and there has been talk of enclosing the check-in area and installing air-conditioning.

PASSPORTS & VISAS

As a visitor to Barbados you will require a passport which is valid for at least 6 months from your date of entry, along with a valid return airline ticket. This now applies to all American and Canadian citizens, whilst British citizens are required to hold a full 10-year passport. American, Canadian, British and EU citizens do not require a visa for short stays. Other nationalities please check with the Barbados High Commission or with your travel organiser for entry requirements

LOCAL TRANSPORT

The bus system in Barbados is a good one and the fleet of blue and yellow buses (BM licence plate) reaches every corner throughout the island on a regular basis. You will need exact change for the buses and they stop only at official bus stops, which are marked either ‘To City’ or ‘Out of City’ in a red and white circle. The destination is displayed over the front windscreen.

The Government service is supplemented by privately operated mini-buses (B licence plate) that are painted yellow with a blue stripe down the side, and route taxis (ZR licence) which are white with a burgundy stripe. These buses do give change, and they also play local music (somewhat loud at times) and can be hailed down anywhere on route. Destinations are usually on a sign placed in the bottom left-hand corner of the windscreen, and routes normally painted on the sides of the buses. It should be noted that ZR vans are an adventure as well as a mode of transport. They tend to stop at the drop of a hat and travel at speeds which are not for the faint hearted. But then they’ll go out of their way to drop a granny with her shopping outside her house. Avoid travelling at peak times when buses are packed to the limit. The fare to any destination is Bds$1.50 one-way. Depending on the routes, during the week buses can operate from as early as 5.30am to as late as 12.30pm.

For more information on the Government Transport Service, telephone Barbados 436 6820

CAR HIRE

Hiring a car is an excellent addition to a visit to the Caribbean, but particularly so in Barbados because there is plenty to do and because the island is surprisingly good to explore. There are some delightful beaches cut into the cliffs of the south east, which make for an excellent day out and picnic, and the Atlantic coast is wonderfully dramatic. Getting lost in the canefields is almost par for the course, so don’t worry when you do. Just stop and ask and someone is bound to help. Finally, there are all the restaurants to visit in the evening. From an island perspective, cars are a vital aspect of local life. The Bajans would prefer to drive a few hundred yards to work than to walk and so there is actually a rush hour each morning and evening. There are a staggering 1719 kms of paved road network on the island.

A local driving permit is required to drive in Barbados. This costs Bds$10 and can be obtained from the car hire company when you hire the car, or at any police station. If you are visiting during the winter season and know that you will want a car then it is advisable to book it well in advance otherwise, due to demand, it will be impossible to get hold of one. VIP villas can secure excellent car hire rates for you; better than the main car hire companies. You must have held a licence for at least two years to hire a car in Barbados, and be at least 21 years of age and under 75 years of age.

Indicative prices can be found below.

2007-08 Stoutes Car Rentals Rate Guide in US$ per day/week:

Mini Moke Auto (4str) – 61/265

Jimny Jeep (Soft top) Auto (4str) – 69/320

Terios Jeep 1500cc (Hard top) A/C Auto (5str) – 85/420

Vitara Jeep 2000cc (Hard top) A/C Auto (5str) – 95/490

Rates are in US$, subject to 15% VAT and are valid 16 Dec 2007 to 15 December 2008.

Comprehensive insurance is included in the rental rate except for a deductible of US$1,500 in case of loss, accident or damage to the vehicles – regardless of fault.

A collision damage waiver (CDW) is offered to cover this deductible at a cost of US$49/week or US$10/day. Clients are charged for the petrol in the vehicles at the time of hire, and should return the vehicles empty. Child seats and booster seats are available for hire on request. Car hire rates, CDW, petrol, and extras such as child and booster seats are subject to 15% VAT. Payment is made for the hire at the time of delivery.

DRIVING & PARKING

Driving is on the left on Barbados, don’t forget your driving licence!

Generally speaking drivers are fairly courteous and, being quite conservative, they tend to abide by the Highway Code. However do be cautious going around roundabouts, as not all drivers know which lane they ought to be in. You will also need to keep an eye out for Z vans and minibuses which stop in the middle of the road at the drop of a hat. Try to avoid going anywhere during the rush hour, when all of the major roads heading into Bridgetown, Holetown and the South Coast tend to be back-to-back with traffic (the local radio stations have traffic reports during both the morning and evening rush hours). Almost every household on the island seems to own a car, and for those that do not there are plenty of families who have more than one. Some children still walk to school, so as there are very few pavements (sidewalks) you should drive with caution during the start/finish of the school day. Take special care when going around blind corners in rural areas.

Drink driving laws are being introduced so check for new regulations.

Seat belts are compulsory and failure to wear one attracts a fine of Bds$500. The speed limit in Barbados is 37 mph/60 kph except on the highways (55 mph/80 kph) and in Bridgetown (20 mph/32 kph).

PARKING

The parking fee for official car parks in Bridgetown, and at the airport, is currently Bds$1 per hour or part thereof, and $6 for the whole day. Tickets are issued on entering and payment is made on exit.

TAXIS

Taxis are widely available around Barbados (if you can’t find one just walk into the nearest hotel and they’ll find one for you), with taxi stands located at the airport, Bridgetown Harbour, and Bridgetown at Independence Square Lower, Broad Street and Heroes Square, South Coast at Accra Beach – Hastings Rocks, West Coast at Sunset Crest Shopping Centres 1 and 2.

Taxis are not metered. Instead the fares are fixed. However it is always a good idea to confirm the cost of your journey before setting off.

Rates by distance should not exceed Bds$2.50 per mile or Bds$1.50 per kilometre. The flat rate per hour is Bds$32, with waiting time Bds$7 per hour between 6am to 10pm, and Bds$8 per hour between 10pm and 6am.

MEDICAL

Generally the climate in Barbados is pretty benign and there are only a couple of issues that you can encounter here that are not in Europe or the States. Check that your coverage for polio and tetanus is up to date. There is no malaria in Barbados, but there are very occasional outbreaks of dengue fever – another mosquito-borne disease which happens after considerable rain. You should take normal precautions against mosquito bites. If you are susceptible then make sure to use insect repellent during daylight hours and after sunset.

Visitors’ prescriptions can be fulfilled by local pharmacies, following consultation with a local physician.

HOSPITALS

The medical facilities in Barbados are among the best in the Caribbean. There are eight polyclinics throughout the island and two hospitals.

The general hospital is Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in Bridgetown which has 600 beds and operates a 24 hour A&E department.

There is also a modern private facility at the Bay View Hospital in St Michael which does not have an A&E Dept., however there is the FMH Emergency Medical Clinic in St Michael.

VACCINATIONS

Vaccinations are not required for entry into Barbados, though you may with to check with your GP prior to travelling. There is one exception, for travellers who have come from areas infected with of Yellow Fever, where a vaccination certificate is required from travellers over one (1) year of age.

ELECTRICITY

Domestic current will operate appliances designated for 115/230 volts AC, 50 Cycles, with 2-pin US style plugs and sockets.

TELEPHONE

Barbados has a pretty good telecommunications system and it has recently been deregulated so that mobile phones from abroad will work (though calls can still be pretty expensive). The networks are Cable & Wireless, Digicel and AT&T Wireless.

The international dialling code for Barbados is +1 246 followed by seven digits. When on-island simply dial the seven digits. If you are staying in a villa do check to see if the phone allows international calls, as some have debars, which will need to be lifted, and for which there is a deposit.

Internet services are available at most hotels, and some villas, plus a number of internet cafes have now opened. Cellular phones can be rented or a roaming feature can be added to your own mobile

Overseas phone calls can be made from any phone booth around the island, payment for which is by credit card or a local pre-paid calling card.

TIME ZONE

Barbados is 4 hours behind GMT and so during the winter it is four hours behind Britain and five behind the rest of Europe, and an hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the States. Barbados has no daylight saving time in the summer so the island is then five hours behind British Summer Time (six behind the rest of Europe) and on the same time as the eastern seaboard of the United States.

TOURIST INFORMATION

There are Barbados Tourism Authority information offices at the airport, between the arrivals hall before Immigration and the Departure Lounge, t 428 0937; at the Deep Water Harbour (where the cruise ships come in), t 426 1718; and at the BTA’s main office on Harbour Road, Bridgetown, t 427 2623.

Outside Barbados you will find BTA offices in the following places:

Britain: 263 Tottenham Court Road, London W1 P 7LA, t 020 7636 9448, btauk@barbados.org

Canada: 105 Adelaide St West, Suite 1010, Toronto, Ontario M5H 1P9, t (416) 214 9880, toll free 1800 268 9122, btapublic@globalserve.net

USA: 800 Second Ave, New York NY 10017, t (212) 986 6516, btany@worldnet.att.net; 3440 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 1215, Los Angeles, CA 90010, t (213) 380 2198, btala@worldnet.att.net; 150 Alhambra Circle Suite 1000, Coral Gables, Florida 33134, t (305) 442 7471, btamiami@barbados.org

DEPARTURE TAX & TAXES

Departure tax is no longer payable at the airline check-in desk as it should be included in the cost of your airline ticket – please check your ticket to confirm this. This tax (passenger service charge) is payable by all passengers leaving the island (exempt for stays under 24 hours) and over the age of 12 years. The amount increased to Bds$55/US$27.50 on 1st February 2007.

Hotel and villa accommodation incurs a 7.5% government room tax and a service charge in Barbados, which is normally added to your bill (unless you are staying in an all-inclusive hotel). It can make quite a difference to the eventual price of your holiday, so if you are booking direct make sure you calculate it in when pricing up your trip.

A 15% VAT applies to most services including car hire, tourist attractions, restaurants, retail (apart from Duty Free items), excursions etc, but this is usually included in the published price, except for car hire rates, which are usually quoted excluding VAT so you’ll need to add it.

WEATHER

Barbados boasts that it has 3000 hours of sunshine each year. Certainly even within the Caribbean it has an excellent climate. Temperatures vary by just a few degrees across the year and because it is surrounded by sea the island rarely gets too hot, except occasionally in summer, particularly if it is still. Generally though, there is a breeze to take the edge off the heat. The best time to visit is in the winter, when the northern hemisphere is at its coldest in February, though this is of course the high season and the most expensive time.

The rainiest time of year is over the late summer months between August and late October. Often the sun comes back out after a shower, but occasionally a blanket of cloud will spin off a weather system in the northern hemisphere and may cover the island with cloud for a few days.

Barbados lies just on the edge of the hurricane belt, but has not been seriously affected in recent years.

WATER

Most of the water in Barbados is artesian water, rainwater that has soaked into the limestone structure of the land. Generally it is drinkable from the tap and tastes good, but in restaurants you will be offered a choice of bottled or local water. However, with so much pressure on existing groundwater supplies in recent years, a desalination (the largest in the Caribbean) facility is now in operation, which provides water for 20% of the island’s population, currently within the Spring Garden Highway area where the plant is located. Sandy Lane Hotel also has a desalination system.

Piped water was introduced to Bridgetown in 1861, and to commemorate the event an ornamental fountain, made in Britain, was erected in 1865 in what is now Heroes Square.

CHILDREN

In general children are well received in Barbados, but some of the smarter hotels have an age restriction policy at certain times of year, especially during February and March. Others offer special children’s programmes. Most villas are well geared up for children too. It is easy to find babysitters and they cost approximately Bds$20 per hour, plus transport home.

There is not an abundance of playgrounds in Barbados at the moment, however six of the Chefette fast food outlets now have Kids Zones (air-conditioned at Rockley) and each playground has slides, cars and rides and other activities and also cater for parties. Pizzaz pizza restaurant in Sunset Crest in Holetown on the West Coast also has its own playground.

Apart from frolicking in the sea and building sand castles, there are a number of child friendly activities available on island: the Barbados Museum has a dedicated children’s gallery with an exhibition called ‘yesterdays children’ in the Kidd Gallery, Folkstone Marine Park near Holetown is a recreational underwater park with a snorkelling trail, an interpretive centre and museum with marine displays and a saltwater aquarium, there is also a picnic area, tennis and basketball courts and a playground. The Barbados Wildlife Reserve is popular with children for the animals on view, as is Atlantis Submarine and Harrison’s Cave. The Barbados Golf Academy has an 18 hole mini course with special rates for 14yrs and under. There is a Drive-in Cinema near the Sheraton Centre, which also has an indoor cinema. Farley Hill National Park has a picnic and play area. See later instalments of Naked Barbados for further Child friendly activities in Barbados.

Adventure Beach at The Boatyard has kayaks, pedal boats, glass bottom boats, ocean trampolines, a floating rock climbing ice-berg, beach volley ball and snorkelling. Accra Beach in the Rockley area is another popular beach spot and is good for boogie boarding with boards for hire. Batts Rock on the West Coast (close to Calabaza Restaurant) has good swimming and snorkeling, plus a small children’s playground with slides, swings and see-saws. There is a parking area, picnic benches, shower and changing facilities, and drinks machine.

CORPORATE/INCENTIVES

Barbados has excellent facilities for corporate clients in all types of group, incentive and corporate travel and events. The island has good international and regional air links, making it easy to get to. Where accommodation is concerned, some of the VIPvillas larger villas can make ideal settings for smaller groups. Especially those that come staffed with chefs.

For meeting facilities outside of the featured properties note:

Sherbourne Conference Centre, St Michael, t 467 8200

www.bcslbarbados.com

Multi-level conference and event facility with 164,000sq ft of meeting and exhibition space, for trade shows, conferences and special events of up to 1200 persons, seated theatre style in the largest room. Eleven meeting rooms, five break-out rooms, two foyers and two dining rooms, mass media facilities and state of the art telecommunications equipment, infrared Simultaneous Interpretation System

Frank Collymore Hall, Central Bank Building, Bridgetown

The Grande Salle, at 61’x 29’, can be used for exhibitions, art showings and meetings, with five large & eleven small screens. The Meeting Room seats 70 and is equipped with presentation and projection equipment.

WHAT TO PACK

Consider the following items when packing for a trip to Barbados:

Adequate sun protection, high factor sun cream, sunglasses, hat/cap and a lightweight beach-shirt/blouse/t-shirt; suitable beach and walking shoes; mosquito repellent containing DEET suitable for use all day; cream for insect bites. Also consider and adapter plug, film and batteries for camera; toiletries; beach mat/towel; preferred brand of coffee/tea; small torch.

Clothes – lightweight cotton clothing, with elegant/casual attire for evenings. Note that most good restaurants and top hotels require that men wear long trousers and shirts in the evenings, not shorts, flip-flops or t-shirts. During the festive season people tend to dress up and a few of the more exclusive establishments may request jacket and tie. Women may wish to pack a lightweight wrap or jacket during the winter months, as the evenings (Jan/Feb) sometimes feel cool after the heat of the day.

You should be aware that it is an offence for anyone, including children, to dress in camouflage clothing in Barbados. It is also an offence to bring in meat products from the UK.

BANKS

International and local commercial banks operating in Barbados include the Bank of Nova Scotia/Scotia Bank, Barbados National Bank, First Caribbean Bank, Caribbean Commercial Bank, Royal Bank of Canada and The Mutual Bank. The Central Bank of Barbados has been in operation since 1973. The island also offers offshore banking and insurance services.

Bank opening hours are Mon-Thurs 8am to 3pm and Fri 8am to 5pm. Most banks are closed on the weekend, but the Mutual Bank has two branches that open until 7pm on Fridays and until 2pm on Saturdays, and the Caribbean Commercial Bank opens from 9am to 1pm on Saturdays. ATMs are located across the island, including the airport, harbour, some petrol stations and shopping malls. Note that ATMs will only give out Barbados Dollars (not US Dollars) and some charge for overseas cash transactions.

Banks require customers to show their passports when cashing traveller’s cheques. You will need to show a transaction slip as well if you wish to convert Barbadian dollars back to your home currency.

CURRENCY/CREDIT CARDS

The currency of Barbados is the Barbados dollar (Bds), which is fixed to the US dollar at a rate of US$1.00 = Bds$1.98 (some street/beach vendors may do a straight 2 for 1). All prices on island are quoted in Barbados dollars, with the exception of hotel rates which are in US only, and duty free items where the local Bds$ price is shown alongside US dollar price. US dollars (notes only) are accepted throughout the island, however you will often find that the rate of exchange will not be as favourable in hotels, supermarkets and large stores as that in the bank.

CREDIT CARDS

Most of the major credit cards (including debit cards) are accepted anywhere that deals with tourists on a regular basis. Do not expect local bars or small local restaurants to accept them (if in doubt double check in advance), but you will find that the larger supermarkets often do. It is worth noting that certain credit cards may attract an additional charge.

Next week I’m covering restaurants and food on the island so make sure you click through to read it. I will detail specific restaurants and include contact details for them so put that together with the taxi numbers and you’re on your way!!

 

 

 

European Flight Travel Laws

In a flight never carry any of the items mentioned below

• Many flights do not allow to carry any kind of liquids or fluids including perfumes, hairspray, shampoos have been banned recently due to safety measures (please check with your air flight company)

• Under no situation carry drugs, heroine, brown sugar and any other kind of narcotics.

• Needless to mention although never carry any kind of compressed gas cylinders like oxygen, butane, and aqualung.

• Corrosives such as acids, alkalis, mercury and wet cell alkalis or fireworks, guns and flares

• Lighters, matches, magnetized materials, offensive irritating materials, medicines without prescriptions.

(there are few other items that are banned in certain countries that might even lead you to imprisonment so be extra cautious not to break any rules and never forget to ask for a travel law copy from an agent)

Inside Countries Law

• If your flight is full and you want to quit it voluntarily always ask for better incentives if you feel you are not offered well.

• If your luggage is expensive and you want to declare a higher value then please do it at the time of check in so that the airline will become liable in case of loss.

• In Europe rules are very strict, so if you get to know that you have victimed ‘bait and switch’ that do not forget to file a complaint with the attorney general of the state. The results are much faster for a traveler because tourism is a big business for Europe and they do not want to lose on the tourists.

• The major car rental service provides free assistance if you have a flat tyre so don’t forget to contact your company in case you face one of these situations

• European countries have strict rules against law breaking so incase if you break one don’t panic and always let them know that you are a foreigner you might be let go of.

• Littering off in a garden or tourist attraction could end you up in heavy fines so always remember to use bins.

• Never bribe a cop in the European countries that might lead you to severe fines or imprisonment.

• Never overtake or drive fast they will levy a heavy charge on you. Always follow the traffic lights and road instructions which are very well organized in the European countries.

• Always be polite to people and never trust a stranger in the Europe because there are thieves and bag snatchers at tourist locations

• Gay sex and lesbians are not encouraged at all places in this continent unless you are in Amsterdam (A city in Netherlands) where free sex is allowed.

• If you are caught with a prostitute or a whore you might end up in severe imprisonment.

• Never drink too much because if you get unconscious the police might catch you and jail you up.

Things To Do In Amsterdam

Amsterdam is famous as one of the greenest cities in Europe. Parks are quite relaxing and are also a source of great entertainment here. Greenery of parks gives a fresh feeling and refreshes the mind of a person from the busy life. Different parks have different source of amusement. In addition to these many parks are featured with large variety of trees and flowers, sports facility, water features paths for cyclists and many more. Another tourist attraction spot of Amsterdam are its museums. Amsterdam is well known as the home of a number of varieties of museums. More than 40 museums present here reflect the cultural diversity of the city. A wide range of European art collection could be observed here. To visit the sightseeing it is quite easy to travel on foot as most of the museums lies close to each other. Another way is to use the Canal Cruises or Museum Boats. Water taxis, trams or ubiquitous bicycle could also prove to be helpful for long excursion. Churches in Amsterdam are the beauty of the city. They are the unique examples of various architectural styles and patterns. Amsterdam is a place well known for its market besides its natural beauty. Thus it is famous as ‘Shopper’s paradise’. The markets have their own pleasing impression and attractiveness. One can easily purchase a variety of product from this place, whether it’s antique items, second hand clothing, fruits, vegetables or some biological products. The best part of the place is that most of the shopping centers lie nearby at walking distance from Dam Square so it’s quite easy to visit the market at foot. Thus one can save both his time and efforts. Amsterdam is also famous as the center of world diamond industry also. The departmental stores and malls in Amsterdam offer unique choice of products as the products are imported from various countries. Dining in Amsterdam is a great experience as the food is not only unique but also unimaginative. It ranges from fast food to world-class cuisine. One can find a number of Indonesian, Chinese restaurant and European, South American and Asian cuisine are well represented in Holland. Among them most popular is the Italian food. Cuisines of other nations as China, Japan, France, Turkey, Spain, Italy, India, Yugoslavia and other can also be discovered easily. Amsterdam is a beautiful city and famous not only for the outer attraction but is also well known for the various events and celebration helps you to get familiar with all the events, spots, hotels and many more attractions in Amsterdam. Thus it’s not a problem to choose any particular time to visit Amsterdam because it is ever beautiful and enjoyable as it is. Although most of the travelers visit here in between April and September as the days are longer and temperature is milder as compared to other months. As the weather is unpredictable here so the Dutch carry on with the festivals, events and celebrations according to the plan. Visitors who are interested towards traditional side or the modern era both can enjoy the events held here.

Dining in Amsterdam, Netherlands – Part 1

Are you going to Amsterdam and will you go eating out there? Here some advices.

If you are in a hurry you may ask for an “uitsmijster” a sandwich consisting of bread buttered and topped with cold slices of roast beef or ham and one or two fried eggs; but if you are looking for a relaxed breakfast you may ask for a “pannenkoeken en poffertjes”: these are the equivalent of French crepes, served flat on a dinner plate and topped with plain sugar, confectioner’s sugar, jam, syrup, hot apples or hot ginger sauce. “Pofferjes” are small “puffs” of a fried pancake mixture with confectioner’s sugar. The so called “bitterballen” are fried potato balls, or crocquettes, that are generally quite spicy. Instead a “capucijners met spek” is a marrow beans with bacon; cabbage are served as “stamppot” that is cabbage with smoked sausage. If you wanna try some dutch bacon ask for a “zuurkool met spek en worst” that is a sauerkraut with bacon and sausage.If you desire to eat some fish you may try an herring: ask for “nieuwe haring” the fresh-caught fish that is eaten whole or chopped with minced onion at stands all over town during summer; during the rest of the year it is eaten pickled. There is another way to eat a herring in Amsterdam, it is called “maatjesharing”, that means “young herring”: this food can be stored for one year in salt. The herring tastes its most delicious from an authentic herring stall: Amsterdam has many of these stalls, most of them traditionally found on a bridge over one of the canals. Because fresh herring are stored deep-frozen they do not have to be so heavily salted. That’s why this delicacy still taste “like fresh catch” in the springtime’s. If you got a typical dutch restaurant you may ask for a “hutspot”, a stew made of ribs of beef, carrots onions and potatoes, often mashed together. Someone may prefer a roll: so try the “saucijzenbroodie” a Dutch sausage roll.

In case you wish to eat meat you may try the “krinketten”, some fried croquettes of meat, prawns or cheese also called “kaassouffl” that may be gooey inside but are at their best when served piping hot with a blob of mustard. If you prefer a soup, in a late afternoon meal, you may try a “erwten soep” a pea soup, thick and creamy an chock-full of chunks of ham, carrots and potatoes It is mostly served in winter.

Best cities in the world

Do not let the XXX scare you when you see the Amsterdam flag. Yes it is one of the biggest, most notorious cities for legal prostitution and consumption of marijuana, but Amsterdam is also known as a city rich with history and culture. Please, I beg you; reconsider the other side of Amsterdam.

For a cheap hostel I suggest The Flying Pig (located down at the beach and on Leidsplein St.) They have multiple accommodationssingle rooms, double rooms, even squeezing in a remarkable eight beds in one room. However, the more isolated you want to be, the pricier it becomes. I suggest getting a bed in an eight person room, that way you can meet other travelers and see what brings them to Amsterdam. One of the important aspects of traveling is meeting other people.

I understand Amsterdam’s reputation, but it holds a much better place in my heart. I have spent many a nice afternoon sitting in Vondel Park (runs parallel to Leidsplein) and watching the numerous cyclists speed down the pathways. There usually is a hotdog vendor that isn’t too far off from the most eastern exit of the park. They are served in a delicious, warm bun that is softer than a normal bunexquisite for a snack. Sometimes they have small concerts set up by local artists in the park. They are free to sit down and watch the musicians play. As well, along the northern edge of the park there is a caf where people can sit outside and enjoy the weather with an espresso or caf latte. The deserts are magnificent and if you are willing to splurge, I suggest you stop in and have a bite of cheesecake.

There are a few key spots that you must visit while in Amsterdam. First Madame Tussaud’s in Dam Square: a wax museum that exhibits sculptures of famous people. It is a world famous museum that has other locations, like in London. Also in Dam Square, if you are looking for a cheap hotel (not a hostel) you should try Hotel Doria. They have quality rooms for reasonable rates, however, the rooms are not what make this hotel so great, the location does. Check them out for booking info:http://www.intris.nl/hote ldoria/

Another stop is the Van Gogh Museum. It is four levels of nothing but Van Gogh art, including the infamous “Starry Night.” The cost of admission is rather hefty if you are traveling on a budget, however, if you can afford it, I recommend it highly.

One of Amsterdam’s best kept secrets: the zoo. If you are staying at either the Flying