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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!!

 

 

 

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.

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

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.

Comfortable Destination In Any Budget Hotels Amsterdam

Amsterdam also is well known as “The Venice of the North”, its canals covering a length of 76 km or 47 miles. Tourists can appreciate this natural beauty in the Netherlands capital. Tour boats are very common to see canals, take your precautions and carry a camera. If you don’t have a camera, you must buy one. Amsterdam is a city with many modern malls, perfect to lover’s shopping. The staff of the Budget Hotels Amsterdam can recommend you where to buy local products and other things.

Stedelijk Museum is the place with the best modern art collection in Holland. It is located at Museum Square, close to Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. If you want to see different art’s expressions, Stedelijk Museum is the right place. Probably, Amsterdam will be the city with more museums in the globe; it is good because culture is the first step to improve the education, for this reason Dutch people have a high level of instruction. Budget Hotels Amsterdam provides a lot of amenities to their guests.

Amsterdam is known for its flat streets, that because the bike is the main means of transport in the country. Children, businessmen, housekeepers and students use this kind of transport to get around in the city. Even tourists and visitors hire bikes when they visit Amsterdam, the experience is different than ride in another place, check it. Obviously, there are moments when a car is necessary but it is another theme. Remember, if you hire a bike, you can not keep it in any Budget Hotels Amsterdam, it is not allowed.

An essential part of Amsterdam is the coffee shops. These typical places receive a big amount of visitors during all the year. These small businesses can sell cannabis with freedom, but in specific amounts, just 5 grams per person. Remember, don’t buy any drugs in the street, you could have problems with the law.

Car Hire Bournemouth Airport – The Best Way To Travel UK

When flying into London, many travelers will want to employ the use of an automobile. The Exeter airport is only 5km from the city. One can also get quickly to other tourist hotspots in a matter of minutes.

To arrange a car hire Exeter Airport, has many separate options. The locations in driving distance are endless, and the smaller airport allows travelers to either find a hotel close to it, or use it as a hub to gain access to other area airports.

This airport has been in operation since May of 1937, and continues to expand as time goes by. The coming years will see the airport meet its maximum capacity, so the north side of the airfield will likely become the site of a new passenger terminal.

Another close-by airport, situated to the east of Exeter, is the Bournemouth Airport, that has recently seen an impressive increase in its number of passengers. They have also seen a huge increase in passengers, and in response added more wonderful destinations to its list of flight options that include Luxor, Egypt, Amsterdam twice a day, and the Bodrum Peninsula in Turkey.

Once travelers venture out from these airports, there is the option to use the Underground system, but it will limit their ability to get around at their individual pace. Much of the best sightseeing is done on the roadways, so hiring a car is truly a preferable way to travel throughout the area.

Some of the best things to do in London do not have to be expensive. The FREE admission museums are located all over London. Children and adults alike will truly enjoy the hands-on Science Museum and the neighboring Museum of Natural History. These offer learning experiences as well as REAL dinosaur bones on display.

The city of London is set to host the 2012 Olympic games, and likewise is creating many new sports facilities to the already numerous sites.

Tourists are able to hire a car for the weekend, or for a full week of their holiday at reasonable rates. For just a short ride over, the town of Windsor shows visitors several wonderful sights. Visitors with children will want to find LEGOLAND, which is a theme park based on those childhood staples – yes, LEGO’s. Then, of course, the picturesque Windsor Castle tour will offer picture opportunities of a lifetime.

All of London is as picturesque as Windsor as well. The London Eye will offer a birds-eye view of the city from the breathtaking height of 135 meters.

Whatever the destination within London, any of the five airports will offer great access. When planning the trip to London on limited time, travelers should determine the best arrival and departure airport for their particular itinerary. The areas in southern London are best accessed by the Bournemouth and Exeter Airports. Fortunately, as the number of passengers increase at both, efforts are being made to expand the terminals, add terminals, and offer more flights to more areas of the world. This will allow more travelers to use these airports as base stations, and destinations. Enjoy the city!

Budget Hotels Amsterdam, Perfect Lodgings

You are in Amsterdam, first than nothing; you must change your money to Euros. The official Netherlands currency is the Euro, don’t forget that. You can also exchange currency at the airport. Then, you will need a good hotel and there is not anything better than Budget Hotels Amsterdam, book a room in one of them. If you do these basic steps, it is time to explore the city.

Anne Frank house is a historic place in Amsterdam. Here, the popular Anne Frank wrote her renowned dairy during the World War II. She and her family lived hard months during the German occupation in Netherlands. If you have the chance to buy her book, buy it and you will appreciate this house much more. The house is located in the downtown, in the same place of the Budget Hotels Amsterdam.

Summer is the best season for visiting Amsterdam. Thousands of visitors explore the city with their bikes. Remember that Dutch people use this kind of vehicle even more than cars or another kind of transport. Usually, tourists also hire bicycles when they arrive to the town. It is a healthy habit that other cities and countries should imitate. If you ride bike during one hour you will have a good physical condition.

Walking in Amsterdam is another pleasant activity to discover the city. But, you will need a map; you can get one in any Budget Hotels Amsterdam. Bloemenmarkt Flower Market is the unique floating market in Netherlands where you can find a diversity of flowers and plants. The specialty is no doubt, the tulip. It is the national flower, recognized in the entire world.

Dutch have many habits that identified them. Visit Amsterdam and share experience with local people. Welcome to the Netherlands.

AIRPORT GUIDE

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is the official name of the airport here. It is situated in the Netherlands at 1118 G Schiphol. They can be telephoned on (020) 794-0800 or 0900-0141. You can naviagate directly to their webpage at www.schiphol.nl . This airport only has one terminal and is located approximately 15km or 9 miles southwest of the city of Amsterdam. This area is on GMT +1.

The Airport offers two short-term parking areas that are both connected to the terminal. This makes access a lot easier for those 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 need to check and see if reservations are required.

You will find that there are car hire or rental services available in and around Amsterdam Schiphol so you will have plenty to choose from when it comes to getting a car whilst 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. The locals are happy to help you and point you in the right direction should you need their guidance.

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 relax in one of the many airport lounges to pass the time if you have an extended wait yet 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.