Madame Tussauds: Where all public figures are waiting to have photos with you

Growing up, we all had dreams of meeting our childhood celebrities and role models. But sometimes we grow up only to realise the cringy hand of death has pulled them to the other side of life, or sometimes we just are not in a position to meet such cult figures one on one because of distance, finance, field of work and so many hindering factors.

But all hope is not lost, literally. What if I tell you there is another way you could ‘meet’ these celebrities and role models you so much dream to meet one day? Well, in a wax form.

That’s exactly the kind of experience the old famous Madame Tussauds museum offers people from all over the world.

The Madame Tussauds Museum, first opened in London, was founded by famous French sculptor Marie Grosholtz (later adopted his husband’s surname, Tussaud) in the late part of the 1800s. Marie who was born in 1761 spent her educational life learning wax modeling from mentor and teacher Dr. Curtius. By the age of twenty, she had become well known for her skills and knowledge in the art of wax modelling and was even employed as a tutor to the French Royal family.

After the death of her mentor and tutor, Dr. Curtius in 1794, Marie inherited his amazing collection of Wax models of war heroes, revolutionaries, royals and political figures famous at the time and began to tour Europe with them, organizing public exhibitions with them. She later renamed her exhibition as Madame Tussauds.  Unable to return home to France due to the Napoleonic wars, she finally settled in London as a permanent resident around 1830, and established the first Madame Tussauds Museum in the city of London.

Branches of the wax museum can be found in major cities around the world including the Amsterdam in the Netherlands and Pulau Ujong in Singapore where I recently visited and toured their Madame Tussauds Museums.

World renowned personalities like US president Donald Trump, Queen of talkshow, Oprah Winfrey, Basketball legends, and every person famous on this planet has their wax models in Madame Tussauds museums around the world.

Madame Tussauds Museums are one of the world’s most visited tourism destinations with people from all over the world travelling to different European, American and Asian cities to visit the famous wax models museums and take pictures with that celebrity or role model they wished but never had the chance to see.

Currently, Madame Tussaud Museums can be found in North America, Asia and Europe only, with branches yet to be established in any African country.

Have few hours to spend in Amsterdam? This is what you can do

If you are traveling via Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, you may want to see what the city has to offer tourists especially if you have to wait for long hours to catch your next flight.

Tour Operators at the airport advertise various tour packages to travelers on transit but Jetsanza.com recommends you spend these few hours at the Dam Square.

Dam Square has a bit of almost everything that Amsterdam has to offer. The tourist-packed area houses Koninklijk Palace, the 17th-century Royal Palace and also former home of the Dutch royal family. It serves as venue for royal functions.

Dam Square boasts of Amsterdam’s top tourist attractions. Visiting Dam Square alone means seeing almost all what Amsterdam has to offer tourists. Amsterdam’s great attractions like Nieuwe Kerk (the New Church); Madame Tussauds wax museum; and the National Memorial Statue are all found at the Dam Square.

Foster Sentence and I. Could you spot Michael Jackson behind me?
Madame Tussauds: Could you spot Michael Jackson behind me?

The public square is very huge. Dozens of cafes and shops with vendors all over selling food and souvenirs. Dam Square has a Ferris wheel to give tourists different views of Amsterdam, as well as plenty of entertainment, which ranges from street performers to music festivals.

Ferris Wheel at night in Dam Square, Amsterdam Stock Video Footage - Storyblocks Video
Ferris Wheel at night in Dam Square, Amsterdam Stock Video Footage – Storyblocks Video
And YES, you can also find the “Instagrammable” I AMSTERDAM letters.
And YES, you can also find the “Instagrammable” I AMSTERDAM letters. PHOTO: Air France

The good part is that, Dam Square is easily accessible from the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Both bus and train take approximately 25 minutes. If you have to wait for over 5 hours before flying, this is perfect for you.

Take note of your boarding time to avoid missing your flight. Have your train or bus ticket booked before beginning your Dam Square tour. Choose the bus/train that will get you to the airport at least an hour before departure.

Also note that you may not require transit visas to travel through Amsterdam Schiphol Airport but obtain the necessary visa to enable you exit the airport for the Dam Square experience.

Is Netherlands Embassy Working?

The Netherlands currently runs two hundred and fifty embassies and consulates across the countries in the world in order to facilitate both diplomatic, trade, educational, and tourism relations with all of those countries.

With the harrowing face of the Covid-19 pandemic, most countries are forced to either shut down embassy operations or limit the rate of operation.

You may be wondering if the Netherlands Embassies are functioning normally, limited, or shut down?

Attention coronavirus covid 19. A robotic research computer doctor holds a test tube with drugs and pills. Black chalkboard with the handwritten words warning of an epidemiological virus threat

As of now, though there are travel bans on European countries which includes the Netherlands, all of the country’s embassies abroad are open for visa application but on limitation to a certain category of people.

You must take note that:

  1. If you are traveling to the Netherlands, you must complete the Health Screening Form, hold a negative COVID‑19 PCR test and rapid antigen test certificate before departure. You might also be required to undergo self‑quarantine on arrival.
  2. Effective April 26, 2021, to May 15, 2021, all passenger flights departing from South Africa, India, Dominican Republic, Panama, and all countries within South America are not allowed entry to the Netherlands.

 

Is the Netherlands embassy in Ghana open

At the moment, Netherlands Embassy in Ghana is open and functional for travel documentation on weekdays but the general public is advised against visiting, unless on appointments only.

Netherlands visas are being refused; reasons for refusal and how to avoid them

Netherlands visa applications in Ghana
Netherlands visa applications in Ghana

It’s fascinating to know that visa applicants only seek for professional advice after their visa applications have been refused. A good number of people who have been denied visas contact me daily for advice on the to do next. Few things cut across all the refused Netherlands visa applications. All the applicants who applied without Invitation Letters from the Netherlands had almost the same reasons for their visa denial.

The reasons for visa refusal for those travelling to stay in a hotel are either two or more of the following:

1. Sufficient justification for the purpose and circumstances of the intended stay was not provided. You were unable to provide plausible, verifiable information about the purpose and circumstances of your stay. Consequently, it cannot be determined with sufficient certainty that all the conditions for the issue of a visa have been met.

2. Your hotel reservation has lapsed, and no other reservation has been made in its place. As a result, the purpose of your journey cannot be confirmed.

3. Your intention to leave the territory of the Member States before the expiry of the visa could not be ascertained. Since it has not been demonstrated or established to a reasonable degree of credibility that you have a regular and substantial income in your country of origin/habitual residence to support yourself, it is not felt to be sufficiently probable that you will return to your country of origin promptly.

4. You have failed to demonstrate that you have significant social and/or economic ties to your country of origin or country of habitual residence. As a result, your prompt return following the conclusion of your intended stay cannot be ensured. In this connection, it should be noted that one of the basic criteria for the issue of visas is the prevention of illegal migration. In determining whether there is a risk of illegal migration, immigration authorities examine the local and general situation in an applicant’s country of origin/long-term residence and his/her specific personal situation.

5. Sufficient justification for the purpose and circumstances of the intended stay was not provided. Although you have stated that the primary place of residence during your trip is in the member state of destination you indicated, this is not supported by the documents submitted.

Causes of Netherlands visa application refusal

The requirements for a Netherlands visa include a plausible travel itinerary. The keyword here is “Plausible”, which means “probable”. What this means is that applicants are to tell the Consular how they intend to spend their days in the Netherlands in the form of a written itinerary detailing a “possible” plan. Though resources are available on the internet to help travellers plan their trip, someone who has never visited the country is likely to make some errors unless maybe an assistance was sought. Such errors are expected to be overlooked, but in recent refusal notices issued to visa applicants, the Embassy instead requests for a “verifiable information about the purpose and circumstances of your stay”. If an applicant intends to visit the Red Light District, how is this information expected to be verifiable? Red Light District is not an attraction where you can book for entry tickets. It’s accessed for free, so one may wonder how the Consular expects to verify this information.

A critical look at the above reasons show that the Embassy expect applicants to confirm their travels contrary to the advice that visa applicants should not confirm any aspect of their travels unless the visa is issued. For reasons yet to be known, hotels request for applicants to pay for their stay in advance despite the hotel agreeing at the time of booking that applicants would pay when checking in. It has not yet been established if the Embassy requests the hotel to confirm if truly the applicant has secured the room and would be staying there during his/her vacation in the country. Applicants who are not sure of getting visas ignore the hotel’s request for advance payment.

Once you fall into the hotel and itinerary issues, other reasons are added to you as bonus LOL. The problem of not having enough funds, substantial income, economic and social ties come in. When a visa applicant is not able to prove his/her travel intentions, it is then assumed that the applicant may not leave the country before the expiry of the visa.

How to avoid refusal of Netherlands Visa application

The key to a successful visa application is making your intentions clear and supporting it with enough evidence. Genuine travellers mostly do not have issues with their finances but get their visas refused because they failed or did not provide enough documents to support their purpose of travel.

Holidaymakers suffer the most when it comes providing enough documents to support their purpose of travel. A mere hotel booking and plausible itinerary have lately proven not sufficient in telling a Consular that applicant is genuinely travelling for tourism purposes. These requirements are usually ‘waived’ for applicants with travel experiences.

The only way an applicant can make his/her case stronger in confirming the purpose or intention is to buy a tour package. A package that includes accommodation, local transport and a professional guide that will take the tourist to all the places mentioned in the plausible travel itinerary. In this case, it’s no more PLAUSIBLE, but CONFIRMED itinerary. This single document will do away with the issues of lapsed hotel reservation and the inability to verify information about the purpose of your travel. The other reasons come up when the applicant fails to meet these two.

When buying tour packages, take note of the refund policies so that you don’t lose much should the embassy find other reasons to deny you the visa. With a confirmed tour package, applicants have had their entire stay in the Netherlands paid in advance, and the likelihood of getting a visa refused is very minimal if enough documents about the applicant’s personal circumstances in the country of residence are included.

Why you should visit Amsterdam this December

Many people travel during summer despite airfares being very expensive but a trip in the winter for someone who experiences summer all-year long is recommended. Though everyone runs away from the cold, having a feel of these freezing temperatures especially would worth the experience.

Amsterdam is a city built on the back of history, defiance and most importantly tourism, receiving millions of tourists every year, most of who come to the city to enjoy the amazing services and attractions this wonderful city has to offer.

It is particularly not surprising to see trips to Amsterdam peaking in the Winter, just when it is close to Christmas as most t travelers choose this particular period to make their travels in other to enjoy the incredible winter weather and festive mood of the beautiful city of Amsterdam, found right in the middle of Netherlands.

Now you may be murmuring to yourself “I definitely have to visit this city”. Well you may not be the only one with this plan or intentions because millions of people are already planning towards it, trust me.

Why should you even visit Amsterdam this Christmas? Not only are you going to make huge savings on air tickets, and carry few cloths, there are lot of activities and reasons why you should visit and the rest of the article will give you a clue about the few things you could do in Amsterdam as you plan to visit this Christmas.

Top things to do in Amsterdam during Christmas

Ice Skating

Understandably not everyone may be a skating freak or lover of the art or even know how to skate, however if you happen to be a fan of this wonderful sport and enjoy skating, then you might just be visiting the best city to have the experience of a lifetime. Amsterdam has over the course of the decades gained a reputation for producing some of the world’s best ice skating champions and this largely due to the availability of so many skating spaces in the city and the people’s love for the sport.  For tourists who may be looking for a more iconic and historical place to skate, then Jaap Eden is just the right place to go. The facility is the city’s largest skating centre boasting of a 400m outdoor rink.

Amsterdam Winter Paradise

I personally deem is a capital crime to visit Amsterdam in the winter and not visit the Amsterdam Winter Paradise.  You may be thinking I am exaggerating at this point, well you simply have to visit this amazing place and make that judgement for yourself and I can assure you, you will come out and say I wasn’t. The Amsterdam Winter Paradise is held during every winter usually from December 21st to December 30th. Activities like skating, dinner with family and friends, enjoying live band music and drama performances etc are a few of the many incredible fun filled activities that take place within the ‘paradise’. If you are visiting Amsterdam this winter, you simply do not want to miss out on the fun at the Amsterdam Winter Paradise, and it is not even negotiable.

 

World Christmas Circus

There are many circuses in Europe and around the world, yet few comes close to the Christmas circus in Amsterdam in terms of pedigree, history, popularity and tradition. Since its inception some 34 years ago, the Amsterdam circus has grown to become of the biggest traditional entertainment activities in Amsterdam. It is hosted at the Koninklijk Theatre in the city and features activities like singing, drumming, horseback acrobatics and dancing. While the activity was not originally instituted as a Christmas event, over the years, it has become a major part of the Christmas festivities largely due to the time it is held ( in December).

Christmas Market

It simply wouldn’t be a complete winter trip to Amsterdam without visiting the many amazing markets in the city to enjoy some traditional Christmas shopping. Like most markets around the world, markets in Amsterdam offer discount and promotional prices for so many products, especially the much cherished and adored traditional Christmas items and gifts. The best of these markets are the Funky Xmas Market and the Westergasfabriek where almost everything, especially Christmas related products can be found and purchased as relatively cheaper costs.

Amsterdam Light Festival

The Amsterdam Light Festival is another major winter event in Amsterdam you wouldn’t want to miss out if you find yourself in the city. Now in its seventh edition, the event has become one of the biggest attractions in the city, attracting well over a million tourists each year. At this festival, sculptures and artworks from renowned and local sculptors are illuminated and displayed at the iconic city’s canal. The event takes place in the night and when the artworks are illuminated, the entire canal glows, making it a place to behold. Tourists can also take a tour of the canal and appreciate the architectural works around the canal.

Amsterdam Light Festival
Amsterdam Light Festival

Even though it is winter and in the month of December, visiting tourists should expect some occasional snowfall in Amsterdam. While this may sound unusual, it is very much normal in Amsterdam as the country experiences irregular snowfall in December even though the actual time for snowfall is the month of January. CLICK HERE TO JOIN A TRIP TO AMSTERDAM THIS DECEMBER.

How to book Appointment to submit Netherlands Visa Application in Ghana

Before booking an appointment to submit your Netherlands visa application at the VFS, take note of the following:

1-) Your internet browser should be the latest Mozilla Firefox, Google chrome or internet explorer 10 and above.

2-) Your visa card or master card must be secure; this means you must activate Verify by Visa for visa card holders, Secure Code for master card holders. Contact your bank for this activation. ECOBANK cards have this activated for all cards by default. Access Bank takes 24hours to activate for card holders who contact them for this service. Don’t worry yourself to go ahead with the booking if you’ve not fixed this. The payment process directs you to a page where your bank has to send you a code to finalise the payment. You can’t receive the code if your card isn’t activated for this service.

3-) Your Password should have minimum 8 and maximum of 15 characters with at least 1 Uppercase, 1 Lowercase Alphabet, 1 Number and 1 Special Character ($ @ # $ ! % * ? &).

How to book Holland Visa Appointment

  1. Visit the commercial partner VFS’s website HERE.
  2. Fill in the fields to register for  account. Remember to type in your email address correctly. (If you have already created an account on any of the VFS’ websites, you should be able to use your details to log in here)
  3. Check your email for an activation link. Click ACTIVATE ACCOUNT link in the email you receive.
  4. Enter your login details to log in
  5. Click Schedule Appointment
  6. Select Center (Netherlands Visa Application Center) and Purpose of travel (Short Stay)
  7. Hover on Click here to know the earliest available date to know the earliest date available
  8. Click Continue and ADD APPLICANT. Fill your details. If you are traveling with others in a group, add all of them. A maximum of 5 people only can be added in a group. Click Continue when done.
  9. After clicking Continue on the next page, calendar opens. The dates in green boxes are the available ones. No green boxes means either dates are not available or they are not yet opened for bookings. Once you select a date, choose your desired time and click confirm.
  10. The next pages take you through the payment process and booking confirmation will be emailed to you once payment is completed successfully. The amount to be paid is GHS90 but subject to change at anytime.

 

Rescheduling of Appointment

To reschedule your appointment, log back into your account and select Reschedule Appointment. Choose your desired date and time and confirm the changes.

Note that you can change your appoint only twice up to 2 working days prior to your scheduled date and you will have to make new payment for a fresh appointment if you intend changing for the third time.

 

Address

VFS – The Netherlands Visa Application Center
1st floor, Atlantic Towers,
Behind Marina Mall,
Airport City
Accra