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February 2010
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April 2010

March 2010

Sage advice for travelers in wheelchairs

ACTV water bus in Venetian Lagoon
ABOVE: An accessible water bus in the Venetian Lagoon. 

Sage Traveling offers "comprehensive accessibility information for the European traveler." Although it's a work in progress and has a few gaps here and there, it's the best site of its kind that we've run across, and it has the advantage of being written and edited by someone who travels around Europe in a wheelchair.

For information about traveling by wheelchair in more than 40 European cities, go to Sagetraveling.com.


Splashtours: amphibious bus tours of Rotterdam

We first heard of Splashtours during a visit to Rotterdam last summer, when local tourist materials were already promoting sightseeing tours on a 45-passenger amphibious bus. The actual debut of the new bus took place more recently, and now you can book tickets on the Splashbus at www.splashbus.nl.

The tour, which lasts 75 minutes and costs €19,50 (or €14,50 for kids 12 and under), drives you past Rotterdam's major sights before plunging into the Nieuwe Maas River for a cruise past the city's skyline. The videos below will give you an idea of what to expect.

The first video shows the Splashbus being built, followed by a demonstration of the amphibious bus cruising and cutting doughnuts in the water:

Here's a two-part video that shows successful water trials of the Splashbus in Rotterdam:



Again, for information on Splashtours aboard the Splashbus, visit www.splashbus.nl.


A pub tram in Helsinki

Visitfinland_helsinki_restaurant_tram_325
ABOVE: Take the tram and enjoy a tipple. INSET BELOW: A beer drinker's view of another tram along the streetcar line.

Helsinki streetcarVisit Finland sent us this news release, which we liked so much that we're publishing it in full:

Who said drinking on public transport is forbidden? SpåraKOFF, the world’s only pub tram, has been offering Helsinki sightseeing rides to thirsty customers every summer since 1995. Starting in May, you can again hop on, sit back, enjoy a cold drink and take in the highlights of the Finnish capital. What better way to get the feel of the city than sitting in this moving pub with a cold beer in front of you?

A tram converted into a classical style pub with interior decor of mahogany, brass and velvet, SpåraKOFF is truly one of a kind. The tram carried regular public passengers for 35 years, without a liquor license, before starting a new life as a pub tram in the spring of 1995. The name SpåraKOFF is coined from a Helsinki slang word for tram, “spåra”, and from the name of the oldest industrially operating brewery in the Nordic countries, Sinebrychoff.

The whole tour around the city takes about an hour. SpåraKOFF is an excellent way for summer visitors to experience Helsinki since the route passes many of Helsinki's main sights: the Central Railway Station, Linnanmäki Amusement Park, the Olympic Stadium, Finlandia Hall, the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, the Market Square and Helsinki Cathedral. The video screens inside show you how the sights look from the driver’s perspective.

You can hop on and off without a reservation at five different tram stops in the center of Helsinki. Your on board crew consists of the driver, as well as a waiter or waitress serving you beer, cider and soft drinks. There are approximately 30 seats.

Regular traffic in 2010 begins in early May and runs until the end of August. The pub tram is on the move five days a week, Tuesdays to Saturdays, from 2pm to 9pm. The fare is 8 euros for adults and 4 euros for children under 12 years old. Drinks are charged separately.

For more information about tourism in Finland, visit www.visitfinland.com.

Photos: Visit Finland.