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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.

Must Do Sites In Amsterdam

However, tourists are tourists and time is limited, so here are the top sites that you would be a fool to visit Amsterdam and miss.

Canal Cruise.

The canal cruises in Amsterdam come in all shapes and sizes and are an absolute must. The canal boats are a great way to see the city and many of its sites quickly and comfortably, as well as getting some kind of concept of how the city is laid out, and for this reason alone, making a canal trip a top priority is advised. If you are less interested in an introduction or overview of the city, a canal cruise is still recommended for one very good reason its fun, and there’s so many to choose from. You can pedal yourself around the city, go on a jazz cruise, a night time or sunset cruise, a private cruise, romantic dinner cruise or one of tens of other themed and un-themed cruises.

Van Gough Museum.

Whether you are a Van Gough fan or not, or even whether you are an art fan or not, the Van Gough Museum is a must. With the biggest collection of Van Gough paintings in the world, the museum is situated in the Museum quarter of the city and can be reached by the 2 or 5 tram.

Rijksmuseum.

The Rijksmusuem is again a must for art lovers and non-art lovers alike, the former will simply wish to spend more time there. Hosting examples of the Golden Age of European art, the Masterpieces collection at the Rijksmuseum is second to none, but this only makes up a part of the entire collection of exhibitions on offer. The Rijksmuseum is open every day with the exception of January 1st from 9am to 6 pm and until 9pm on Fridays, but the times do vary from section to section. Entry, as with most places of cultural interest in Amsterdam is moderately priced, at 10 euros for the Masterpieces collection.

Anne Frank’s House

Prinsengracht 263 means little to most people, but the name Anne Frank means a lot more; the girl who’s diary tells of her daily life hiding at this address from the Nazis for 2 years. Anne Frank has become a household name when it comes to the suffering endured across Europe at the hands of the Nazis and a visit to her house whether it be to pay respect or simply out of interest is a very worthwhile and moving experience. The queues at Anne Frank’s house are notorious and often stretch around the corner but don’t be put off by this, they move quickly and it’s worth a little wait. Entrance costs 7.5 Euros for adults.

The Cat Museum

If all this history and art is getting a bit much for you why not head to Herengracht 626 where you will find the Kattenkabinet. It is just what it sounds like; a Cat Cabinet! That’s right, Amsterdam boasts the only cat museum in existence, anywhere, and if you fancy something a little different, this is definitely the place for you.

Coffee shops

Any discussion of Amsterdam is not complete without even a mention of their infamous coffee shops. Whether you are all for it or dead against it, cannabis is decriminalized in Amsterdam meaning that it isn’t a free for all, but it is readily available in coffee shops and comes in the form of hash, grass and food products; so, if you see a special cake or special shake advertised, be warned that it may be a little more special than you are expecting.

The list could go on and on, but with hostels starting at 15 euros a night and hotels from 65 euros a night plus a bunch of alternative accommodation options like nearby camping and bungalow villages there is no reason why your first visit to Amsterdam shouldn’t be the first of lots.

Amsterdam Airport Guide

Amsterdam Airport

If you are planning a trip to Amsterdam then it is a good idea to get your self a bit educated on the area. That is where an Amsterdam Airport Guide would come in handy. With a simple guise you will be able to tell where you are and what you can do to get around the area. A good airport guide will give you such details as the location, directions to the nearby cities as well as some basic facts of the area.

Location Of Amsterdam Airport

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is the official name of the airport here. It is located in the Netherlands at 1118 G Schiphol. They can be contacted by phone at (020) 794-0800 or 0900-0141. You can also go directly to their website at www.schiphol.nl . This airport actually has just one terminal and is located approximately 15km or 9 miles southwest of Amsterdam. This area is on GMT+1. Cheap flights to Amsterdam are readily available across the internet with a variety of carriers.

Amsterdam Airport Parking

The Airport offers two short-term parking areas that are both connected to the terminal. This makes for easy access to all who are using the airport. These car parks are recommended for short stays such as 48 hours. There is long term parking also available for longer stays if needed. You may want to check to see if reservations are needed.

Amsterdam Airport Car Hire

You will find that there are car hire or rental services that are available at and near the airport so you will have plenty of choices when it comes to getting a car to use while visiting Amsterdam. There is also the tried and true public transportation such as the railway stations, public buses are available should you need to use them. There are plenty of help desks around that you can go to with any questions that you may have. They people there will be happy to help you and point you in the right direction should you need their assistance.

Facilities At Amsterdam Airport

You will find plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars located throughout the airport so you do not have to worry about being hungry when you get off of your flight. You can also choose to sit in one of the many airport lounges to pass the time away if you have an extended layover but are unable to leave the airport. There will be a 55 unit hotel accommodation facility that will be available sometime in 2008, which will make it very convenient to stay right at the airport.

5 Days In Amsterdam

All was still. Around one hundred people had settled in the rest room for the overnight ferry crossing from Hull to Holland. It was pitch black and the only sounds were the faint humming of the engines and the odd snorer.

All the seats had been snapped up so I found myself lying in a vacant space on the floor with a couple of mates trying to get comfortable. About five minutes had passed and I could feel myself about to drop off.

You could hear a pin drop. Then my mate farted. It began as a kind of muffled snort and developed into a full crescendo. The whole process must have taken at least five seconds. I struggled for a moment, trying to contain my laughter. Eventually I had to leave the room, quickly followed by my two mates.

After docking in Holland we were ushered onto a waiting coach for the one-hour drive to Amsterdam. The landscape was full of all the quintessential things that make Holland so unique.

Windmills were liberally scattered throughout the land. Wonderful white structures whose arms spun endlessly in the wind. The undramatic flat countryside seemed to stretch forever. In fact, over a third of Holland lies below sea level.

The coach dropped us off in the heart of Amsterdam, deep amongst the network of canals that divide this old city into a million different pieces. We found ourselves stood outside the central train station debating our accommodation options. We had decided beforehand to wait until our arrival until finding a hotel.

Just as we were getting anxious, a middle-aged woman approached us. She walked with a swagger and wore an air of confidence.

“Are you lads looking for a room?” she asked in broken English.

“Yes,” we all replied simultaneously. We sensed a solution to our predicament was imminent.

“I have a bed and breakfast not far from here, just two stops on the underground. Would you like a room?”

The hotel was reasonable enough. A twenty-minute walk and we were back in town with all the other tourists, walking round in circles trying to get a bearing.

Amsterdam is a truly surreal place. Legalising cannabis has certainly raised an eyebrow from the rest of the world and is regarded with a certain fascination. As we sampled the local delicacy, one day pretty much blended into another like some sort of hazy dream. Before we knew it we were back home contemplating a quite bizarre vacation.

In The City Amsterdam Hotels

If you are visiting Amsterdam, you will not be able to miss the canals. As part of the day to day function of those that live here, the canals are a much needed and enjoyable way to get around. And, some of the best hotels within the city of Amsterdam are situated right on these canals. Some of the very best, even five star hotels are those that allow you to gaze out over the canal in a breathtaking view of the water and the life that is Amsterdam. If you want to stay within the inner city, these are the hotels to take into consideration.Some of these hotels are also located ideally in the middle of all that Amsterdam has to offer. You are sure to find them located within walking distance of major attractions and motorways. You should find them located easily from your favorite parks and even the Amsterdam airport a well.

Amsterdam has many hotels that offer a wide range of choice located right in the heart of the city. With a flare of old world stay or of the most modern amenities, Amsterdam hotels are ideal for just about every type of trip business or pleasure.

Planning a trip? Use the Internet to save both time and money – Part 1

The thing that is most convenient about planning a trip over the internet is the idea of comparison shopping. Places like Travelzoo, Hotwire, Sherman’s Travel, Hotels Combined, Orbitz, Expedia, Cheaptickets, Travelocity and a host of other travel services are all dedicated to finding not only the cheapest airfares by cost comparison across the board with all airlines that offer your specific travel plans, but offer package deals on a combination of airfares, cruise fares, train fares, bus fares, car rentals and hotel accommodations as well.

Locating the right travel arrangements can all be accomplished in the comfort of your own home and without the need to be placed on hold for inconvenient blocks of time, as with calling individual airlines. You have the option of reserving your choice while taking a brief amount of time to decide which travel arrangements are best for your needs. However, keep in mind that prices can change on a daily basis so make sure you do not take too much time to decide.

You can search by specific name, if you have a travel service or airline in mind or you can search by entering keywords in the browser of your computer. Keyswords such as “travel to Rome” or “travel to Amsterdam” will bring, instantly, loads of information for your review on these destinations.

Once you get to a site of your choosing the directions are generally easy to follow. You, more often than not, simply answer some basic questions such as the city/country you are planning to visit, the dates you plan to travel, your preferred departure and arrival times and locations, how many people will be in your travel party, do you prefer a non-stop flight or will a stop or two be ok. The trip is tailored for your specific needs.

After keying in the data that is relevant to your preferred vacation, just hit search and through the magic of the internet highway, major travel sites are searched bring you back all flights offered for your search requirements. You can then compare prices with major airlines all listed on one screen and choose the price that is right for your finances.

After selecting the flight that is most compatible with your travel plans, most sites ask if you will need a rental car or hotel accommodations. This is your opportunity to set up these accommodations if they will be needed.

Another thing about setting up travel arrangements via the internet is that you can research tourist attractions, cities, restaurants, hotels and

How to make the most of a day in Amsterdam, Netherlands – Part 1

One day in Amsterdam is nowhere near enough, but if that’s all you have, pre-planning is essential to make sure you make the most of the day. What you decide to do depends entirely on the kind of person you are, but whatever you decide to do, you are guaranteed to have a great day in this wonderful city.

Note: Amsterdam is one of the few places where hotel prices are greater at the weekends than during the week. So if you have a choice well, you know what to do.

Some people want to spend their days soaking in the ambience and finding out what is unique about the place they are visiting. Others like to spend their time in museums or art galleries, basking in some of the greatest art and culture of the world. Some like walking or cycling and exploring by themselves, while others like to be guided so that they do not miss anything. No matter what kind of person you are, Amsterdam has plenty to offer.

UNIQUE ATTRACTIONS

Amsterdam is an old city with 165 canals and many narrow, picturesque streets. Spend at least some time during your day strolling the banks of the canals, and exploring the streets. Amsterdam is known as the Venice of the North because of its extensive network of canals, so take a ride on a canal boat too, preferably on a canal dinner cruise to end your overcrowded day in this beautiful city, or take a free cruise. Most canal rides (except the dinner cruises) take around an hour.

Just strolling through the old sections of the city reveals more about the city than you could find out any other way. Since you have only one day, take public transport whenever you can. (Buy a Nationale Strippenkaart with 15 tickets for about 6.5 Euros from the ticket office next to the Information Center (opposite Centraal Train Station)). Ask the conductor to help you validate your ticket.

If you are into marijuana, you could always finish your day at a cafe where you can sample the ‘weed’ quite legally. This isn’t recommended, but you won’t risk getting arrested.

INDOOR ATTRACTIONS

There are 42 museums in Amsterdam, but without doubt the Anne Frank’s House at Prinsengracht 267 is the most emotional of all. The house is still as it was when young Anne Frank and her family were hidden there, and it is impossible not to be affected by the heart-wrenching experience of visiting the house. This is definitely not to be missed, but go very early or very late to miss the rush.

Since there is only one way through the house and there are steep stairways

Indonesia

Indonesia is derived from “indos nesos”, meaning islands near India. It is the world’s largest archipelago with exactly 17, islands spread between the Asian continent and Australia, and between the Pacific and the Indian oceans.

Air transport is the easiest and most comfortable means of travel in Indonesia. Domestic air service, including the remote areas are provided by Garuda Indonesia, Merpati Nusantara, Sempati Air, Bouraq and Mandala Airlines.

Garuda Indonesia, operates both international and domestic routes and the only airline with an all-jet fleet for domestic Indonesia operations. Garuda serves Honolulu, Los Angeles, London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Frankfurt, Paris, Zurich, Rome, Vienna, Cairo, Abu Dhabi, Jeddah, Riyadh, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Taipei, Manila, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Nagoya, Seoul, Singapore, Brunei, New Zealand, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Darwin, Port Hedland and Auckland.

The country’s second national carrier, Merpati Nusantara Airlines, flies to 110 local destinations and to Australia (Darwin), Brunei Darussalam and East Malaysia (Kuching).

The country’s three main gateways are Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, Polonia Airport and Ngurah Rai Airport.

International airlines that serve Indonesia are Singapore Airlines, Malaysian Airlines System (MAS), Qantas, Cathay Pacific, and JAL.

ENTRY REGULATIONS

Citizens of most countries can stay 60 days without a visa.

CLIMATE

Indonesia’s climate is tropical, hot, and humid but moderate in highlands.

LANGUAGE

The national language is Bahasa Indonesia (a modified form of Malay), English, English, Dutch, almost 600 local dialects, the most widely spoken of which is Javanese.

CURRENCY

The official currency, Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) is valued at IDR 9,704.7 per US Dollar.

DOMESTIC TRANSPORT

Domestic rail service is available throughout Java, parts of Sumatra, Jakarta, Bandung and Surabaya. There are comfortable sleeper trains that serve Yogyakarta, Solo, and Semarang.

Bus services are also available and ply the Bali – Banda Aceh route; many are air-conditioned with reclining seats as well as TV with video programs. Cars can also be hired, for longer out of town trips, from taxi or car rental companies.

Inter-island ships are comfortable and offer an alternative to flying. There are regular sailing schedules and routes at the main port of Jakarta.

COMMUNICATIONS FACILITIES

International Direct Dial Country Code = 62

Fixed Lines = 10,000,000

Mobile Cellular = 30,000,000

Indonesia’s telecommunications service is generally good, provided by an inter-island microwave system, HF radio police net, a domestic satellite communications system and satellite earth stations.

Indonesia’s GSM cellular service providers are Telkomsel, PTT Saleti Palapa, Excelcom and PT Indosat.

Several prepaid calling card and phone card companies are available to call both to and from Indonesia.

Staying In Amsterdam

No matter whether one travels on business or leisure there are plenty of hotels in Amsterdam. From cheap Amsterdam hotels to luxury accommodation in Amsterdam, one can find everything. The choice is unlimited.

One of the hotels the Best Western AMS Museum is a three star hotel. It is part of a franchise ensuring the highest international accommodation standards. There are TV-SAT, phone, mini bar and hairdryer in each of the 110 rooms. Moreover, there is a private bathroom adjoining each room. There is also a safe deposit at the front desk. The hotel also features a relaxed bar and an excellent restaurant, “The Gallery”.

Another name to be recommended is the Bastion Amsterdam Airport. It offers convenient facilities, a welcoming environment and a personal approach to guests. The cozy, restored rooms are equipped with color TV and video, phone, modem plug, alarm clock, writing desk, safe deposit box, mini-bar, coffee and tea makers and a private bathroom with shower and WC. The large, airy rooms also offer sitting areas. Wake-up calls, laundry services, fax and photocopying are other free services which are offered.

Dikker & Thijs Fenice Sercotel is a 4-star hotel is housed in a century-old building on the bank of the Prinsengracht canal. There are 42 functional, restored rooms provided with bathrooms, web access and movies. De Prinsenkelder, the hotel’s restaurant, is housed in a splendid 17th century building, featuring elegant two-toned marble floors. Guests of the hotel are offered reduced rates at the nearby gym and the Vondelpark, which has an ice rink and is within walking distance. The hotel offers easy access to the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum.

Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy is housed in a landmark building, over a century old. It has been converted to a hotel by famous Dutch artists, architects and interior designers.

All these hotels are destined to become new home away from home. So relax and enjoy the cultural and historic feedback o Amsterdam.