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Wheelchair Accessible Tourism & International Travel Tips

The support structures and community awareness for wheelchair accessible tourism & international travel across Europe are gaining in strength every year. In many ways Europe is quite advanced in its catering for travellers with a disability. Most buses in London have ramps that come out to the footpath and have special areas inside for wheelchairs,

London city has a great booklet available called ‘Accessing London’, written by people with disabilities (usually available at the local tourism office) in any city you visit.

Travel by train is straightforward with a special area available for wheelchair travelers and child prices for the wheelchair user and their carer. In Belgium, the locals are helpful with accommodating visitors in wheelchair to their National Parks. If travelling by car make sure you take your disability parking permit, as designated parking is available at most places and is often invaluable. An international disability plate (the wheelchair symbol) is also essential.

The MS Society of the United Kingdom was quite helpful and suggested a disabled tourism site on the internet. Disabled toilets varied widely, where they were available. Most tourist sites in the UK have them available, in France they are a little less common, but Germany is well-endowed. Like here, you often have to wait for the quite able-bodied to vacate them. Many toilets have attendants sitting outside, whom you pay. As a person with a disability however, you are not expected to pay; which in some cases was just as well.

The top tips for traveling in Europe, plan ahead, plan ahead and plan ahead. There will always be some accessibility challenges, the truth is that the more research you do, the more accessible your trip will be. For instance, avoiding bridges in Venice and hills in Paris is entirely possible. The Herculaneum’s ruins are nearly identical to Pompeii’s, and are wheelchair-friendly. Cruise passengers with disabilities don’t have to take the “donkey path” up the cliffs when visiting the Greek island of Santorini, such a vacation doesn’t need to be a struggle — do your homework and your trip can be filled with fully accessible hotel accommodations, accessible routes between accessible tourist attractions, and wonderful accessible travel experiences.

Book hotels far in advance. It is almost always cheaper to book your accessible hotel accommodation far in advance. Many hotels in European city CBD have only one or two accessible rooms. The best ones get booked very early. For travel in the summer, make your reservations in December.

Carefully plan your route. If you know what you’re getting into before you arrive in Europe, you’ll have a much easier time on your trip. There’ll likely be numerous ways to get to the tourist attractions you’re so eager to see. Some routes will have wheelchair ramps, smooth pavement, and flat terrain; others may have steep hills, bothersome (and even dangerous) cobblestones, and flights of stairs. Research the accessibility of sidewalks, bus routes, subway stations, and the location of accessible building entrances before your trip.

Stay in the most accessible parts of town. This is one of the hardest parts of planning your trip. You may have found a great accessible hotel, but what will you find when you walk/roll out the front door? Are there hills and stairs in all directions? Will you have to roll over cobblestones? Are there accessible restaurants nearby? It’s REALLY crucial to research the hotel’s neighborhood.

Most of all have a backup plan. Even on the most perfectly planned accessible vacation, something can go wrong. If it does, how will you deal with it? If you prepare for all the possible issues, travel with someone who can help you during your trip, and remain flexible, unexpected events won’t turn into potential trip-ruining problems. What will you do if a part on your wheelchair breaks? If a train strike occurs in Italy, how will you get from Florence to Rome? With backup plans (such as packing vital spare parts for your wheelchair), you won’t have to put your vacation on hold. A company that specializes in accessibility will lead you on the flattest, smoothest, shortest tour routes.

In addition, before you take a tour or hire a guide, ask these questions:

Is the tour guide a licensed professional?

How much training has the guide received and what tests have they passed?

What route will the guide use? Does it involve curbs, steps, steep hills, or cobblestones?

Where are the accessible bathrooms located? Will the guide physically assist you if needed (i.e., push a manual wheelchair)?

Is this a private tour, or will you be with other travelers? Are you expected to keep up with able-bodied tour members?

How many people with disabilities have they guided in the past year? (If it’s been a long time, the guide may not be aware of the latest regulations or updates regarding accessibility.

Finally, enjoy your trip. You’ve done as much planning as you can. You’ve relied on the experience of other travellers with disabilities and you’re prepared for the unexpected. Now it’s time to reap the rewards. Majestic cities, priceless art, wonderful architecture, ancient history, exquisite food and truly life affirming experiences await.

Sex Abroad: Dos and Don’ts

It is said that your European experience will not be complete without having sex with strangers or fellow travellers.

How does this happen?

There are three components that make up the continent’s recipe for sex-while-traveling spree: alcohol, European accent and momentary freedom. For instance, the Netherlands is known to be among the most pro-sex nations in the world. As such, it is common that you’d see the modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah. That being said, tourists, travellers and backpackers should prioritise their sexual health since sexual health is an important component of our overall health.  Here are some dos and don’ts that may help you in having a clean but liberating sexual experience while overseas:

– Do get your own room

Even if Europe’s very open to casual sex, there are laws that prohibit outdoor sex. To ensure your privacy and intimacy, do get your own room. Hostels may not be your best choice if you are on a budget, but you will definitely enjoy having sex in a comfortable bed. You can also opt looking for party hostels where you can pick up your prospects and have sex there at the same time.

– Do use condoms

Whether you’re a man or a woman, make sure that you or your partner has a condom ready. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Condoms will protect you from getting sexually transmitted diseases (or from getting pregnant).

– Do use a private shower or bathroom for a quickie

If you think you and your partner don’t have the time to get back at your hotel, look for a private bathroom or shower and go f*ck there instead. However, always lock the door and mop up the place after your quick session.

– Do eat the locals.

This applies to the food, too.

– Don’t f*ck on the beach

Having sand on our body or private parts is not pleasurable, not unless you are a masochist.

– Don’t give up on sex

If you don’t have any protection, don’t give up yet. There are other pleasurable ways that you can do without penetrating your partner. There’s titty-f*ck, blowjobs (believed as not to be THAT risky), getting off mutually or finger penetration.

– Don’t just f*ck or get f*cked

If you want to get sex just to cross out your sex-while-abroad checklist, don’t do it. Engage in any sexual activity only if you feel like doing it.

– Don’t get too drunk

If you’re planning on having sex with a girl or guy you met at the bar, don’t drink too much alcohol. You still want to get f*cked or f*ck someone while you’re still aware of what you’re doing, right?

Amsterdam: Window Shopping for Sex Blackout

Those who frequent in Amsterdam are very much familiar with the city’s infamous Red Light District. A lot of sex shops, brothels and prostitutes featured in red-lit windows can be traced here. But due to the city council’s Project 1012, sex workers and brothel owners are starting to lose their jobs and source of income.

First proposed in 2007, Project 1012 intends to deter crime and corruption in Amsterdam by minimizing the number of establishments or businesses that is opportune to crime. In addition, prostitution will only be allowed in two areas. Because of this “clean up”, several protesters and sympathizers have expressed dismay and have taken the streets and held demonstrations with outcries of “Don’t save us, save our windows” and “Stop closing our windows.”

 What’s in it for Amsterdam?

The Guardian reported that ever since Project 1012 went under way, 126 windows where sex workers wearing skimpy outfits are preening to attract customers have been shut down. Some owners of whorehouses were even said to be ‘coerced’ into selling their leaseholds so that the government can build luxury boutiques, upscale coffee shops and restaurants, and art projects in the area. Moreover, these measures are part of the city council’s plan to revive the Amsterdam’s historic network of canal-side streets. By scaling down the number of window bawdy houses in some high roads in the city center, residents and travelers will be able to use them freely. More so, it is said that illegal activities, which some owners are associated with, will be discontinued when brothels in the district are closed down.

 Effect to the Sex Industry

 It is suspected that much part of the Red Light District is reign over by organised crime syndicates. That’s why Project 1012 was brought about to put to stop the alleged human trafficking in the district. However, the people who were supposed to benefit from this are the same people who were hit hard by this plan. By shutting down these windows, looking for work has become more difficult for the sex workers. As a matter of fact, some prostitutes have been toiling on the streets since brothels that are still open for business are now overcrowded with harlots, gigolos and some transsexual sex workers.

 

Activities While Holidaying In The Netherlands

Activities-While-Holidaying-In-The-Netherlands

The Netherlands is a great holiday destination for the whole family. Its rich history, culture and architecture are worth exploring. There’s a never ending selection of things to do in this wonderful country. Here’s a list of activities you can do while holidaying in The Netherlands:

 1. Learn the country’s history and culture by exploring the best museums. Delve into the past of the nation at Amsterdam’s best museums located in the Museumplein district. Discover the work of the Master at the Van Gogh Museum which is conveniently located in the edge of the district. Visit the Amsterdam Museum which features the last eight centuries of urban evolution. Rijksmuseum (aka the Dutch National Museum) it has been collecting rare art since 1809. It has an extensive collection today amounting to nearly seven million art works. Next visit the Stedelijk museum of modern art with an amazing collection of 20th and 21st-century artists.

2. Explore the world’s largest flower garden
Feast your eyes in the beauty of tulips, the country’s most popular flower. Keukenhof the world’s largest flower garden is located in Lisse in South Holland. The name translates to “Kitchen Garden” in English which is also known as the Garden of Europe. The 32 hectare garden features more than 7 million tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. You can find a wide range of different gardens and styles here. Many areas of the park also include water gardens, fountains and ponds. You can easily reach the garden via bus or from the train stations in Leiden, Haarlem or Schiphol.

3. Visit the largest Theme Park
Let the kids live their fantasy at De Efteling, the largest theme park in the Netherlands. This fairy-tale world is full of delightful dreams and adventures for kids. The park features over 30 attractions that can be divided into four different realms: fairy, adventure, travel and alternative. You can also enjoy the biggest watershow in Europe in the De Efteling.

4. Enjoy hands-on experience at The Madurodam Miniature Park
You will be treated to a trip through the country’s history and famous buildings at Madurodam. This major tourist attraction is located in Scheveningen district in Hague. It features miniature 1:25 scale model replicas of the most famous Dutch castles, industrial projects and public buildings. You will enjoy hands-on experiences while exploring the park like loading containers into cargo ship in the miniature port, helping a plane take off at the airport or prevent a great flood by operating the storm surge barrier. The three themed areas include: The Netherlands as a source of inspiration, Water as friend and foe, Old town centres. Madurodam is open all year round from 9:00am. It can be accessed via car or public transportation from The Hague.

5. Tour the country side and see the Windmills
Join a local guide and pose for a picture in one of the traditional windmills. The Netherlands is famous for its windmills, the windmills is an important part of their water management to prevent flooding. The best place to see traditional windmills is Kinderdijk, near Rotterdam. This village fantastically preserved the 18th-century windmills, it is a UNESCO world heritage site.

6. Witness Amsterdam after Dark: Red Light District Tour
Join the infamous De Wallen area tour to uncover Amsterdam’s nightlife. Learn what keeps this adults-only district a buzz. You’ll see the city’s kamers or illuminated glass windows where workers market their services. Peep in brothel windows designed for show or check out adult merchandise. Meet up with your guide and walk the narrow streets as you learn about the history of Amsterdam’s prostitution.

7. Picnic in one of the country’s national parks
The largest national park is the Hoge, Veluwe National park situated between Arnhem and Apeldoorn. The park is the largest continuous nature reserve in the county with 13,800 acres. It features a dense woodland, fascinating sculpture park and dramatic dunes. The park is best for picnic, biking, hiking and birdwatching. Visitors can even access bikes for free.

8. Enjoy the races in Hague
Nothing is more exciting than spending a day at the races. If you want to experience the joy of horse racing visit Duindigt Race Track in Hague.  Everyone who loves sports and free bets congregates at Duindigt Race Track every Sunday. From April to November this track hosts racehorses, jockeys and hundreds of horse race lovers. The best way to reach the race track is by car or bicycle. Parking at the race track is free of charge.

9. Visit Anne Frank House
Discover a tragic slice of world history at the Anne Frank Museum on Prinsengracht. This is the home where Anne and his family hid from the Nazis during the World War II. The front of the house was transformed into a museum while the back was kept in its original state as a poignant monument. The queue could be long so visit early or book online to beat the queues.

10. Stroll the outdoor Museum
Explore the outdoor museum in the town of Zaanse Schans. This amazing place has 35 houses, barns, windmills and museums that date back to the 18th and 19th century. There are 4 museums that operate and display the true history and culture of the Netherlands: Bakery Museum, Zaans Museum and Verkade Pavilion, The Museum of the Dutch Clock and the Albert Heijn Museum Shop.

11. Admire art at the Van Gogh Museum
You will see the world’s largest collection Van Gogh paintings in this impressive museum. It features more than 200 painting, 500 drawings 700 letters of the master. The gallery chronicles his life, and the progress and development of his work. Works of his contemporaries and friends such as Gaugain, Monet, and Toulouse-Lautrec are also on display.

12. Bar Hopping
Drink in Netherland’s best bars, having a drink in a bar or a café is the best way to mingle with the locals. Amsterdam is famed for its nightlife and alternative scene. Visit the historic pubs and trendy bars to have a good time. You can also join a bar hopping tour to learn tips on where to catch live gigs, exhibitions and upcoming events.

13. Cycling
Explore the country the “Dutch way” cycling is the Dutch way of getting around. Enjoy a leisurely bike ride around the flat open streets. There are plenty places to hire a bike. You can also catch all the sights by booking a guided tour that will take you to any region of the country.

14. Sightseeing Canal Cruise
The Canal Bus is an ideal way to go around the city to see the sights. There are also comfortable boats that will sail you to the city’s historical centres. Listen to the stories about the city’s past and get tips on where to dine, shop and dance the night away. You can travel at your leisure with a combined transport pass.

15. Experience Wellness in Holland
If you are holidaying in The Netherlands, don’t forget to enjoy some relaxing and beautifying moments at the wellness centres. The country has countless well-appointed sauna facilities and wellness centres in beautiful locations. A sauna visit will improve your health, immune system and let you achieve complete relaxation. Some of the Wellness centres on the Dutch coast include Zuiderduin, Amadore wellness, Beau Rivage and Azzurro Noordwijk.

16. Swimming
Beach lovers should visit the beaches of Zeeland. The sun shines 140 hours more in this province than the rest of Netherlands. Popular beach resorts in Zeeland include Cadzand, Oostkapelle, Vlissingen, Dishoek, Domburg, Ouddorp , Renesse, and Westkapelle. The most popular beach resort is the Scheveningen it has numerous pavilions, a pier and all sorts or entertainment. Other popular beach resorts are Katwijk, Noordwijk, Callantsoog, Zandvoort, Bloemendaal, Bergen aan Zee, Hoek van Holland, Den Helder, Egmond aan Zee and Schoorl.

17. Family Fun at the Amusement Park
Attractiepark Duinrell in Wassenaar in Hague is a fun park for visitors of all ages. The park offers a range of exciting attractions, including water rides and roller coasters. The main attraction is the Tiki Pool which is the longest water slide in the Netherlands. The tropical pool has 11 pools and a lazy river. Experience indoor fun at Rick’s Fun Factory where kids can climb, glide and jump in the giant playground.

18. Beer tasting
Beer lovers will surely love the Heineken experience. Taste the world’s best beer at the Heineken Museum and amusement gallery. Discover the architecture of the 19th century and see the original brewery buildings. For a small admission free you will learn about the famous beer maker and drink as much as you want.

19. Visit the Zoo with the children
Burger’s Zoo  in Arnhem is a popular tourist attraction for the whole family. It is one of the biggest zoos in Netherlands set in a 45-hectare lot where animals are given freedom to roam. The zoo features various theme sites that can be enjoyed by both children and adult tourist. It has a safari park indoor tropical rainforest, mangrove swamp, indoor desert, seawater aquarium and a kid’s jungle.

20. Spend the night in a castle
Make your holiday more special by staying in a special place. Experience living in grandeur by spending the night in a castle. Choose from five beautiful castles to spend the night. Relais & Chateaux Engelenburg castle, De Essebburgh castle, Ophemert castle, Huis Bergh castle and Hattem castle.

Holland’s Most Charming City: Utrecht

The city of Utrecht in Holland is the country’s fourth largest city. That being said, its city centre known for houses and buildings that go back as early as the Middle Ages can be navigated by foot. That’s why more and more tourists are being charmed by this cool and cosmopolitan city.

There are a lot of things to do and a lot of places to visit in this vibrant student city. The testimonials of young travellers in particular, rave about the funky late night bars and night dance clubs that occupy the subterranean parts of Utrecht. The city is also known for its UNESCO-protected architectures, the sunken wharf cellars and picturesque views which are celebrated on social media from travellers around the world.   

When in Utrecht, here are some activities and places not to miss:

1. Have breakfast at The Village Coffee

Before you start wandering off the city, head straight to this café and sip some of their deliciously brewed coffee while listening to good music.

2. Get a 360-degree view of the city at Domtoren

Domtoren is the country’s highest tower. In 1674, it was detached by a devastating storm from the Cathedral of St. Martin. Atop this 112-metre tower, tourists will be treated with a superb view of the entire city.

3. Explore the city on bike

Probably the best way to travel around the city is on bike. There are bike rental centres where you can hire a bike.

4. Visit St. Martin’s Cathedral

St. Martin’s Cathedral or Domkerk can be traced at the Cathedral Square. Inside, you can see old tombs and the crypt where the internal organs of Conrad II and Henry IV are said to be stored.

5. Go museum-hopping

The Museum of Catharijneconvent, Museum Speelklok, Centraal Museum and the Railway Museum feature some of the best exhibits and galleries in the country. You can find Holland’s largest collection of medieval art treasures at the Museum of Catharijneconvent while Museum Speelklok highlights an assortment of music boxes and barrel organs. If you crave for some art paintings from local painters, such as the Romanists and the Mannerists, pop in at the Centraal Museum. For train enthusiasts out there, the city’s Railway Museum should be included in your itinerary.

Ten Great Luxury Hotels in The Netherlands

Whatever time of the year you plan to visit the Netherlands, there will always be something that tourists will surely enjoy. If you like to relax or just chill out, book a ticket to the country during summer. If you prefer a calm and peaceful environment that is different from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis, go to Netherlands when it is autumn. You should extend your stay until spring to appreciate the blooming of tulips. Come winter, tourist attractions are less crowded. If and when you plan to visit this beautiful country, here is a list of 10 luxurious hotels you should definitely stay at.

  • W Amsterdam

W Amsterdam is flanked by the Singel Canal and the Royal Palace. The hotel is just a stone’s throw away to everything that the capital has to offer. Inside their suites, you will be amazed by its cutting-edge designs, pulsating adornment and cool amenities integrated with modern technology. You can either arrange a cruise with them to the UNESCO-listed canal belt or feast on sumptuous cuisines that their restaurant offers while taking pleasure from the breathtaking view of the Dam Square.

  • Sir Albert Hotel

Facing the famous Rijiks Museum, Sir Albert Hotel is a posh boutique hotel that offers tourists an aristocratic but comfortable stay. All the hotel’s 99 guest rooms and suites were designed by BK Architecture.

Sir Albert Hotel is strategically situated at the center of De Jip, a district known for its lively and exciting culture and destinations. For those who are craving for delectable Asian dishes, the hotel’s in-house bar and restaurant do not only serve tasty Asian food, but also bring out the unique Asian culture experience as well.

  • Hotel De L’Europe

Those who wish to stay at Hotel de l’Europe will be treated with an amazing view of the Amstel River. Once inside, you will be greeted with paintings from the private collection of Alfred Heineken. Also known as the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, Hotel de l’Europe is the perfect get-to point in experiencing the classic Amsterdam feels and vibes.

  • Grand Hotel Amrath Amsterdam

Grand Hotem Amrath Amsterdam is probably the most picturesque and striking building constructed in the Amsterdam School fashion. This five-star hotel is located at the city center and has 165 rooms and suites bedecked with Art deco style. Guests can relax in their spa facility, eat at the hotel’s fine dining restaurant or arrange a thrilling boating and biking experience through the hotel’s concierge.

  • Hotel Pulitzer Amsterdam

Hotel Pulitzer Amsterdam faces the majestic Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht canals. The hotel boasts its peaceful gardens, rooms that are adorned with tiny pieces of the city’s rich culture and tradition, and an art gallery where numerous exhibits are being held yearly. From here, tourists are advised to hop on their bikes and navigate the city’s seemingly endless attractions and destinations.

  • Hotel Des Indes

Hotel Des Indes in The Hague is surrounded by magnificent diplomatic and government edifices. Guests can experience luxury and aristocracy at a very good price. Actually, the hotel was built to cater diplomats and heads of states. It is also the preferred hotel of local businessmen and international business groups. Hotel Des Indes can be traced near antique stores, famous museums, and theaters that have been standing for centuries.

  • The Dylan Amsterdam

A five-star boutique hotel, The Dylan Amsterdam serves as doorway to discovering Amsterdam’s rich past and promising present time. All the hotel’s 40 rooms and suites were uniquely designed and painted. Guests can feast on contemporary French dishes while marveling the scenic Keizersgracht canal.

  • Chateau St. Gerlach

Chateau St. Gerlach is a popular country estate situated in Maastricht. This is the perfect place if you want to temporarily get away from the pressures of your daily life. The chateau will treat its guests with the picturesque view of the Geul Valley, an experience with the wildlife, elegant baroque gardens and so much more.

  • Conservatorium Hotel Amsterdam

Even if the hotel opened its doors to tourists and locals five years ago, Conservatorium Hotel Amsterdam has already made a name and has been a part of the city’s rich cultural heritage. Also known as Amsterdam’s Living Room, the Conservatorium Hotel is the city’s pioneer in luxury lifestyle and sophistication.

  • The College Hotel

If you want to experience an elegant living that is different from your traditional luxury hotel, The College Hotel in Amsterdam is the place to be! The building is in fact among the most historical classical buildings in the city. The hotel is situated near the museum district and shopping area for the elites. If you’re into elevated Dutch cuisines, head straight to their gourmet restaurant.

Hotel In Netherlands

Netherlands remains a popular destination with travelers to Europe. Why pay more if you don’t have to? Agoda.com offers the best selection of hotels in Netherlands to fit your travel budget and preferences. With 12 different regions, the country offers its visitors a great diversity of beautiful landscapes as well as a vibrant culture and lifestyle. Oh and whatever you do, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague are great cities to visit. With our best price guarantee, we are determined to offer you the best hotels at the best prices.

The city has worked hard in recent years to shake off its potatoes and pancakes reputation, and to unleash its inner chowhound. Cue the Michelin-starred Dutch tapas, Bloody Mary brunches and organic microbrews, all served with a dose of Amsterdam ingenuity and conviviality. Loosen the belt for an indulgent 48 hours in the Netherlands’ capital.

Local attractions: Chill out with a cruise through Amsterdam’s canals, and take in a bizarre cornucopia of museums, from Anne Frank’s House to a torture museum, sex museum and the inevitable tulip museum.