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Amsterdam Museums

The Netherlands is affectionately known as ‘the land of museums’ and Amsterdam alone has over 42 museums displaying a vast array of history and artefacts.  Visitors interested in art, sex, erotica, hash, torture, maritime transport, diamonds, religion, the holocaust, beverages, flora and fauna, theatre, archaeology, science and technology are all well catered for.

The most touching, true story and personal account is that of Anne Frank’s house located at Prinsengracht opposite 296.  Anne Frank was a 14-year-old Jewish girl growing up during the Second World War.  The house, now a museum open to the public, is a reminder of what happened to so many Jewish families during the holocaust.  Visitors are able to walk through the house and even climb up to the secret annexe where Anne and her family hid for so long from the Nazi’s prior to their capture.  During that time Anne kept a diary which a family friend later had published, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl.  For more information about living in Amsterdam during the years of German occupation, An Interrupted Life by Etty Hillesum is about a young Jewish woman living in Amsterdam prior to her death at Auschwitz.  More information about the Jews and their history may be found at the Jewish Museum (Joods Historisch Museum) at Jonas Daniel Meijerplein 2-4.

Other more shocking but on some accounts, humorous, artefacts may be found in the Torture Museum, located near Muntplein on the left bank of the Singel canal.  It is a small but confronting documentary of human cruelty displaying instruments used on prisoners throughout the medieval times for crimes we would today regard as petty.

The Tulip Museum also on Prinsengracht (112) just over the bridge from Anne Frank’s house may offer solace after appreciating such terror as that experienced by Jewish families during the holocaust and medieval prisoners.  The tulip is the floral symbol of the Netherlands and the museum presents the history of the cultivation of the tulip including the tulip mania of the 17th century.

On a lighter note, the Sex Museum – Temple of Venus is located just in front of Centraal Station on the way to Dam Square consists of a rich collection of art, photography, sculptures, plates and other wares displaying the beauty of human sexuality.  Once in the mood, the Erotic Museum in the heart of the Red Light district is sure to provide pleasure if not a good laugh.  It displays a series of John Lennon’s lithographs, erotic photography, and an adult version of ‘Snow White and Seven Dwarfs’ is projected in a separate room.  There is even a vending machine holding the most unusual condoms for sale for those who wish to purchase in public!

The Hash, Hemp and Marijuana Museum at Oudezijgs Achterburgwal 148, presents convincing displays about the various constructive uses of hemp such as fuel, clothes and paper.  According to the museum, one hectare of cannabis plants can make the same amount of paper as four hectares of forest.  The hemp seed also produces oil which is good for many things including human health.  Once upon a time it was illegal not to grow a plant of cannabis for the government and it is only due to international pressure that it is officially illegal in Amsterdam.

If the controversy proves too much or information overflow builds up a thirst, the Vodka Museum at Damrack 33 in front of Centraal Station features the history of Russian Vodka.  There is an amazing collection of old vodka bottles in timeline order in addition to a wide selection of vodka from all around the world for sale in shots on the spot at the elegant Museum bar.

A bigger thirst may send visitors to the Heineken Brewery further out at 78 Stadhouderskade.  Brewery tours are held each weekday in the morning for a donation which is given to several different charities.  Amsterdam’s brewery was Heineken’s first, opened in 1864, and the tour guides visitors through the whole brewery process including the old brewing facilities and a beer museum.  Cold beers are served in a large drinking hall overlooking the city at the end of the tour.

After a short break in the many coffee shops all over Amsterdam, art lovers should never miss the opportunity to view Vincent Van Gogh’s Museum at Paulus Potterstraat 7, which is home to the world’s largest collection of the most important Dutch artist of the 19th century in chronological order.  Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art is close by on Paulus Potterstraat 13.  Other art museums include Rembrandthuis Museum on Jodenbreestraat 4-6 and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam’s largest at Stadhouderskade 42.

These are just some of Amsterdam’s museums but of all, the Amsterdam Historisch Museum at 92 Kalverstraat is the best designed.  The former orphanage exhibits 700 years of the city’s history with a focus around the Golden Age of Amsterdam in the 17th century.  It was during this time that the city flourished as the richest city in the world.  Some of the exhibits even included actual traded goods which contributed to its success of the time.

June 1, 2010 Posted by | Travel & Tourism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

South African Visas Required When Traveling Overseas

South African passport holders need a visa to enter the Schengen area of Europe. The countries of the Schengen territory are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

If you are visiting only one Schengen country, you must apply for a Schengen visa at that country’s embassy or consulate.

If you intend visiting several Schengen countries, you must apply for your Schengen visa at the embassy or consulate of the country where you will be spending the most time. For example, if you are visiting Germany for three days, France and the Netherlands for two days each, you would apply for your Schengen visa at the embassy or consulate of Germany.

If you are visiting several Schengen countries, but will not have a main destination, you must apply for your Schengen visa at the embassy or consulate of the first country you enter.

A Schengen visa is comparable to a multiple visa for all the above countries, and you need only one Schengen visa. There are several kinds of Schengen visas – a transit visa, a short-stay visa, a long-stay visa, an airport-transit visa and a group visa (only under some circumstances). The general cost of a Schengen visa (of any category) is l60 (R575).

When applying for any visa, you must phone the embassy or consulate concerned.

A Schengen visa will be issued to South Africans on a temporary passport provided the passenger is travelling within two months of the issue of that temporary passport and if that traveller has a South African identity document. Some Schengen countries do not allow entry on a temporary passport. Check before you travel.

Austria: Austrian Embassy, Pretoria, phone 012-452-9155. Cost: E60.

Belgium: Belgian Consulate-General, Rosebank, Joburg, phone 011-912-9600. Cost: E60.

Britain: South African passport holders do not need a visa to enter Britain for visits of up to six months. However, visa clearance cannot be issued on a temporary passport. Working holiday makers must have a visa when entering Britain. Working-visa applications should be made at the DHL Visa Centre (the British High Commission’s outsource partner). Call 0861-858-4727 or go to http://www.britishvisas.co.za. Cost: R195 to DHL plus cost of relevant visa.

Canary Islands: SA passport holders will need a Schengen visa for entry. The Spanish Embassy, Pretoria, phone 012-460-0123. Cost: E60.

Cyprus: Cyprus High Commission, Pretoria, 012-342-5258. Cost: R110.

Denmark: Royal Danish Embassy, Pretoria, phone 012-430-9340 or Royal Danish Consulate-General, Sandton, phone 011-804-3374. Cost: E60.

Finland: The Embassy of Finland, Pretoria, phone 012-343-0275. Cost: E60.

France: French Consulate-General, Rosebank, phone 011-778-5600. Cost: E60.

Germany: German Embassy – visa section, Pretoria, 012-427-8999. Cost: E60.

Greece: Greek Consulate-General, Illovo, 011-214-2300. Cost: E60.

Iceland: The Royal Danish Embassy represents Iceland in the issuing of visas, Royal Danish Embassy, Pretoria, phone 012-430-9340 or the Royal Danish Consulate-General, Sandton, phone 011-804-3374. Cost: E60.

Ireland: SA passport holders do not need a visa to enter Ireland for a stay of up to three months. Contact the Embassy of Ireland, Pretoria, 012-342-5062 for further information.

Italy: The Italian Embassy in Pretoria issues visas only to Pretoria residents. Phone 012-423-0000. Applications from South Africans living in the postal code areas 1000 to 2899 and 9300 to 9999 can be made to the Consulate-General of Italy, Houghton, phone 011-728-1392. Cost: E60.

Luxembourg: The Belgian Consulate-General, phone 011-912-9600. Cost: E60. South Africans with temporary passports are not allowed entry into Luxembourg.

Malta: SA passport holders need a visa to enter Malta, but if you already have a Schengen visa, you can enter Malta on that. The Honourary Consulate for Malta, Cape Town, phone 021-430-5319. Contact the Malta government website http://www.gov.mt

Monaco: Contact the Honorary Consulate of Monaco on 021-702-0991/2.

Netherlands: The Netherlands Embassy, Pretoria, phone, 012-425-4500. Cost: E60. South Africans travelling on a temporary passport will not be allowed to enter the Netherlands.

Norway: Royal Norwegian Embassy, Pretoria, phone 012-342-6100. Cost E60. As well as a Schengen visa, South Africans travelling on a temporary passport must have their SA identity books to show as proof of residence.

Portugal: Portuguese Consulate-General, Johannesburg, 011-622-0645-9 or the Portuguese Embassy – consular section, Pretoria, 012-341-5522. Cost: E60.

Spain: The Spanish Embassy, Pretoria, phone 012-460-0123. Cost: E60. As well as a Schengen visa, South Africans travelling on a temporary passport must have their SA identity books to show as proof of residence.

Sweden: Swedish Embassy, Pretoria, phone 012-426-6400. Cost: E60.

Switzerland: SA passport holders do not need a visa to enter Switzerland for a visit not exceeding three months. But if you are studying, working, etc, you need a visa. The Embassy of Switzerland, Pretoria, phone 012-452-0660.

Turkey: South African passport holders need a visa to enter Turkey. The Turkish Embassy, Pretoria, phone 012-342-6053/4. The cost of a visa is R676.

May 23, 2010 Posted by | Africa, South African, Travel & Tourism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments