Review of the Westin Palace Madrid Spain

 

 

Over the years, the Westin Palace in Madrid has established itself as one of the city’s top hotels, receiving of numerous travel awards and accolades. Located on the prestigious boulevard Paseo del Prado in front of the world-renowned Prado Museum and across from the Thyssen Museum, the Hotel could not have been any more conveniently situated for sightseeing.

Needless to say, we were excited to be able to stay there and had high expectations for the establishment and the level of service offered. I had requested two feather free connecting rooms–a king-size bed and two singles–on a high floor to minimize our exposure to city traffic and noise and received an e-mail confirmation to that effect from the hotel reservation desk.

Review of the Westin Palace Madrid Spain coppola

Our rooms

Our connecting rooms, 5451 and 5453, on the fifth executive floor, were ready when we checked in, but we had to call housekeeping and remind them about the feather free request that was mishandled.
The rooms were designed in neutral colors and faced a side street away from the city’s noisy traffic.
Both rooms were beautifully furnished with a mahogany dresser, end tables, and chairs, not to mention Westin’s famously heavenly beds. The closet, which boasted multiple drawers and hanging areas, was encased in a mirror façade, as was the short and narrow corridor that led to each room.
The walls were mostly wallpapered, but they also had several areas upholstered in fabric, which was not only aesthetically pleasing but served as somewhat of a noise buffer between the rooms. The sand-colored bathroom, covered in marble tiles, featured ample countertop space and a state-of-the-art dual showerhead.

Review of the Westin Palace Madrid Spain beds

 

Public areas

The hotel’s public areas—from the magnificent staircase to the soft blue velvet sofas in the lobby, shining marble floors to the opulent cupola in the main restaurant—were quite impressive.

Built in over a century ago, the property had its own mini-museum, right by the restaurant, with souvenirs from famous people who have stayed there over the years.
The main restaurant features an elaborate but pricey breakfast buffet (approx. $35) and an opera Sunday brunch (approx. $85).

For budget conscious guests; there is a VIPS (an upscaled AM/PM ) fast food restaurant/mini mart that offers breakfast items for about $3, as well as the quintessential Starbucks.

Review of the Westin Palace Madrid Spain buffet

How the hotel accommodates autistic travelers

When I sat down for a brief chat with a hotel PR person, he told me that his hotel motto is flexibility; they try to accommodate all special needs and take an interest in the growing autistic community in particular.

Furthermore, he mentioned that the hotel staff is very involved in many community-based charities like ALADINA, a children’s cancer hospital, to which they donate a portion of the brunch opera proceeds.

The hotel offers quiet, allergen-free, comfortably large rooms as well as casein/gluten-free foods in their dining room upon request. They even treat man’s best friend kindly: they offer a dog version of their heavenly bed.

Review of the Westin Palace Madrid Spain restaurant

How we liked it

We did encounter several snags during our week-long stay–some were language misunderstandings while others could be attributed to cultural nuances in matters of time and customer service.All in all, we would stay again at the property and recommend the hotel because of the central location and amenities it offers.

 

 

Family Stay at The Sheraton Miyako Tokyo

 

The Sheraton Miyako Tokyo is located in the Shirokanedai district in Tokyo, which is well known for it’s lush greenery.

The hotel is also located within walking distance of famous landmarks such as Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum, The Institute for Nature Study, and Platinum Street.

It is also within minutes from Shirokanedai Station (Nanboku Line/Toei Mita Line) and the Shinagawa railroad station. The hotel provides a morning shuttle to Shinagawa until 10 am and then to a subway station that you can go to Shinagawa from via a subway line.

The website describes the hotel as a “Japanese and modern Asian-sensibilities fused with modern Western-style” and promises the familiar comforts of a Sheraton experience.
The hotel offers suites, non-smoking, and Japanese style rooms, all of which come with complimentary high-speed internet and the Sheraton Sweet Sleeper Bed.

The Sheraton Miyako Tokyo front

General Thoughts:

The architecture was pleasant, and the hotel was geared more towards the business traveler than families, although it does not have an executive level.

The Sheraton has three restaurants; a sit -down Chinese venue, a fancy Japanese/French Fusion one that was quite pricey for our American budget and a sandwich and coffee shop in the lobby, where we ended up dining several times. The hotel also featured a spa, gym, and mini Japanese garden to walk through, which is a great attraction for antsy kids.

Location:

The hotel is in a more residential area, but a  convenient location, nonetheless. It is minutes away from many public transportation stations, two 7-11 convenience stores,  three major grocery stores where you could get meals to go and five minutes away from the 100 Yen store (a major favorite with us.)

Families staying at the hotel who want budget friendly meals, with unlimited sodas like in the U.S., should try a food chain called Jonathan’s right around the corner.

The Sheraton Miyako Tokyo lobby

There is a kid-friendly park five minutes away if your child needs to let out some  steam or is just profusely jet lagged and wakes up at ungodly hours,
(Note: the park is locked at night).

Price:

The hotel offers specials from time to time, so be sure to check the website first. Otherwise, the standard rate is around $147.00/night and goes up from there depending on the particular dates.

Parking:

Covered self-parking – JPY 1,500 per day

The Sheraton Miyako Tokyo entrance

 

Rooms:

The Sheraton has several rooms types available: Suites, Japanese-Style Room, Garden View Room, Starwood Preferred Guest Room, Balcony, and Connecting Rooms.

Be sure to mention allergies especially feathers at booking since Starwood has the “heavenly bed,” which is feather-based (down comforter and pillows).
Also, Make sure you request a non-smoking room at booking if any of your family members suffers from asthma as. Japan, unlike the US, still both smoking and non-smoking rooms available.

Our connecting rooms were spacious for Tokyo standards, and we were upgraded to the 11th floor, with a view of the city.

Our rooms, decorated with dark wood furniture  had comfortable beds.

 

The Sheraton Miyako Tokyo beds

The sitting area, with a lounge chair and ottoman had a huge plant that was taking up much-needed space.Also, each room had a desk with a comfortable chair, perfect for anyone who needed to work.

The A/C system and windows were excellent: we did not feel the heat outside, and windows the city sounds out while keeping the chilled air in.

The bathrooms were a decent size and featured japanese (electric ) commodes which we had to unplug after our son with autism became apprehensive thinking he would be electrocuted when using it.

Like many Japanese hotels ,the property supplies slippers, bathrobes, and even kimonos for guests, so guests don’t need to pack any from home.

The Sheraton Miyako Tokyo amenity kit

Front Desk/Concierge:


Both the front desk and concierge were fluent in English and provided excellent customer service support.
The front desk volunteered to call the next two hotels on our itinerary and remind them we needed connecting rooms with hypoallergenic bedding while the concierge skillfully arranged our day trips and advised us how to get from place to place using the exceptional Tokyo public transportation system.

Housekeeping:

We benefitted from Impeccable housekeeping, and always received our requested items within 5 minutes.

Special Perks:

  • Great breakfast buffet spread! Our family enjoyed the different dishes offered and liked trying the Japanese breakfast delicacies.
  • Excellent bathroom amenity kit that included not only the regular shampoo and soaps but hair brush, comb, toothbrush, and toothpaste.The Sheraton Miyako Tokyo breakfast


    Autism Travel Tips:

    We found the neighborhood setting calmer and less overwhelming than other neighborhoods for the autistic traveler.
    The hotel is within walking distance to a large train station with the quintessential Mcdonald’s, Starbucks, and Baskin Robbins that will make most kids feel right at home!.

Review of the Swissotel Chicago

Location

The Swissotel  Chicago is on Wacker Street within walking distance to the city’s main attractions like the Art Institute, Miracle Mile and the Navy Pier.The location provides convenient access to restaurants, including fast-food joints, mini markets and local drugstores to purchase water and snacks for the room.

Hotel

The building itself is a high rise (like many others in downtown Chicago) with decorated in a modern minimalist style.The Lobby design with pod-like areas instead of the regular reception desks and glass cascade chandeliers looks futuristic.The budget-friendly property offers  661 oversized guest rooms and suites (including kids suites)with magnificent views of the Chicago River.

First Impression

When we arrived, the lobby area looked chaotic with some guests trying to check in while others were leaving.Apparently, the hotel is popular with large groups like conferences and wedding parties, especially over weekends and holidays which makes it busy during both weekdays and weekends.

Dining

The hotel boasts a luxury restaurant ‘The Palm’ that serves lunch and dinner as well as a lively bar and a breakfast buffet. There is a 24-hour room service with a rather disappointing menu composed of one salad and two types of cold sandwiches. If you are arriving on a late evening flight with kids who have allergies or are picky eaters, you should plan to dine at the airport or a local restaurant.


Review of the Swissotel Chicago lobby Family Stay at Chicago's Swissotel
Place to improve

The worst problem we encountered were the  automated elevators  where you had to punch your desired floor ahead of time      ( since there are no buttons to do so inside.) If you suddenly changed your mind or mistakenly pressed the button for the wrong floor you needed to exit and start the whole process over again.This process managed to both frustrate and scare my autistic son.

Best Feature

The hotel provides chilled citrus and berry flavored water in the lobby felt refreshing after walking in the hot and humid  Chicago weather.

Would like to take home

The giant display clock in the lobby area was gorgeous and added a cosmopolitan vibe to the space.

The room

Our room had a river view and two double beds with a relatively hard mattress none of us felt comfortable sleeping on.
The front door had a safety lock a useful feature if your child tends to wander, and a doorbell that our son loved to press continuously.
The closet provided ample hanging space and a safe while the elongated desk/bar area was convenient to place snacks and beverages on.
The room also has extra outlets under the desk on the right-hand side for to recharge several electronic devices simultaneously, which was a much-welcomed bonus.
The bathroom featured the standard tub and granite counter-top sink combination as well as a separate glass-enclosed shower which I thought would be helpful for families with younger kids.Our bathroom didn’t have a handheld shower head which many parents would find useful when bathing younger children.

Review of the Swissotel Chicago room Family Stay at Chicago's Swissotel
Housekeeping

We found housekeeping to be prompt when we asked for extra toiletries(soap, lotion and shampoo) as well as feather-free bedding.
We did have an issue with getting two additional chairs in the room and it did take multiple calls to the front desk over a period of 24 hours to resolve the matter and send up the two chairs from one of their conference rooms.

Autism travel tips

This property allows small pets so if you or any family members suffer from allergies be sure to ask for a hypoallergenic/on chemical-free room ahead of time.
Ask for a high floor during booking, especially if your family is not used to city traffic noises or your child is noise sensitive.
The hotel has a Mini Mart in the lobby if you are in need of quick snacks or bottled water.
Be sure to bring your own anti slip bath mat and a night light if your kid has any balancing issues or is fearful of the dark.
The hotel interconnects through underground tunnels to other hotels so you can walk in a temperature-controlled environment to the Miracle Mile and nearby restaurants.

London’s Marriott Grosvenor Square Hotel

This 237 bedroom establishment is a five-star hotel that is run by the Marriott hotel chain. The refurbished former private mansion is located at Grosvenor Square in the heart of Mayfair, very close to the US embassy.

What makes it family worthy?

 The centrally located and luxurious hotel has wonderful family rooms. These suites can accommodate two adults and two kids (even older teens) comfortably. The main shopping areas in London are only a short walk from the building and the hotel also received a Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence in 2014.

Review of London's Marriott Grosvenor Square Hotel our room

Fellow Travelers

This hotel is a good spot for families and couples, but travelers of all types are well represented.

The upscale establishment is decorated in a sleek modern, minimalist style with mostly neutral colors throughout. Some public areas featured colorful ambient lighting with upholstered velvet and leather furniture.

Our room had a large, well-lit closet that contained plenty of space to hold our belongings. A shelving unit was included inside the closet as well, for even more storage. The room’s mini bar area was furnished with clean glasses, some beverages, a miniature refrigerator, and an in-room safe. There was also a small fold out chair in the suite and a large LCD television to keep travelers entertained while they are in their rooms for the night. Along with the usual amenities, the hotel sent us a number of complimentary gifts due to some minor inconveniences we encountered upon check-in. This was a very nice gesture, which we appreciated.

Our quad room contained one sofa bed, a regular sized bed, and a poster queen-sized bed. On either side of the poster bed were sizeable nightstands and small reading lights over the bed. Our favorite feature in this suite was the special sockets on the poster bed that allowed us to recharge easily our electronics. Another elegant touch was the live plant in the suite that enhanced the elegant ambiance. A work desk with plentiful drawers and a comfortable chair rounded out the room’s furnishings.

The bathroom had spotted tan and gray granite countertops and tan and black patterned tile that gave the whole area an elegant appearance.  The amenity kit that included shampoo, soap, conditioner, and a good number of fat, fluffy towels were waiting for us in the open wooden cabinet that was located right by the sink.

This bathroom also contained a scale so that guests could easily see if they need to pay a visit to the hotel’s gym. Meanwhile, the shower curtain had a swirled black and white pattern that added a bit more pizazz to the overall decor. Our room had a hand held shower device, a feature that makes it easier for handicapped persons or small children to take a bath with ease.

Review of London's Marriott Grosvenor Square Hotel maze restaurant

The hotel

Over seven different languages are spoken by the staff, and the reception desk is open at all hours to better meet the needs of their guests. Complimentary Wi-Fi is likewise available in all public parts of the hotel. In room internet is also offered for a modest fee Free for Marriott Elite members)  so travelers should definitely be aware of that fact.

The small outdoor courtyard is a good spot to hang out when the weather is nice, but this being London travelers should expect rain more often than not.
Indoors, guests might want to pay a visit to the Michelin starred, Maze.The restaurant as it one of the many establishments founded by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.
The executive level on the bottom floor is a large well-designed room, able to accommodate the different travelers, for breakfast and light lunches and dinners.We found the staff enthusiastic and helpful trying to cater to requests.

Autism travel tips

Make sure to ask for a room that overlooks their interior courtyard because they tend to be quieter.
It is also a good idea to ask for higher floors to avoid the noise that may result from the wedding receptions that often take place here on weekends. Handicapped persons should have no trouble entering and exiting the bath because the tubs have two safety handles. However, those who need a bathmat for more traction should be sure to bring their own as these are not provided by the hotel.
Allergy sufferers will additionally be happy to learn that the entire facility is nonsmoking and pet free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking the Kids to Madurodam Park

Taking the Kids to Madurodam Park in the Netherlands bridge

 

 

Maduorodam’s  History

The Netherlands is a beautiful country that, despite its size, holds many wonders and activities for all ages to enjoy. From the traditional tulip fields to Turkish shawarma, The Netherlands is a lovely mixture of classic and modern.If you decide to visit The Netherlands with your family, one place, you must stop by is the Madurodam Park. Located in the Scheveningen district in Den Haag, the Madurodam Park is the famous miniature city of The Netherlands.

Opened in 1952, the park was created thanks to the efforts of Mrs. Boon-van der Starp. Mrs. Boon-van der Starp was a member of the foundation for the Dutch student’s sanatorium. The sanatorium was a place where students who suffered from tuberculosis could receive treatment and study at the same time. The student’s sanatorium aftercare was highly expensive, and the foundation was in desperate need of funds. Mrs. Boon-van der Starp heard about a miniature park in Beaconsfield, England. The park generated a considerable profit that was donated every year to a hospital in London. Mrs. Boon-van der Starp thought that the same concept could be applied to The Netherlands and approached George Maduro’s (a former student) parents.

George Maduro, the namesake of the park, was a Jewish law student from Curacao, who fought the Nazi occupation forces as a member of the Dutch resistance. He later died at Dachau concentration camp in 1945. After speaking with his parents, Mrs. Boon-van der Starp was granted a donation from them to start the project for a miniature park. The Maduros viewed it as a chance to build a permanent memorial to the son they had lost.

The Madurodam Park is a miniature city on a scale of 1:25. Effort and research are painstakingly put into each and every detail of the park from buildings right down to the tiniest tree (an actual living small tree).

Madurodam strives to be as realistic as possible; to accurately represent the lives of Netherlanders. An example of this is the city’s multi-cultural nature, as a result of the immigration of people from around the world for the past decades. The park tries actually to mimic a real city in that it even has a mayor and city council.
The tradition started in 1952 when the then teenage princess Beatrix was appointed mayor of Madurodam. Since then the city council, all of which are the Hague students, would vote and elect a mayor annually.

 

 

 

 

 

Taking the Kids to Madurodam Park in the Netherlands airport

 

Exploring the Park with kids

The Madurodam Park is comprised of three themed areas for visitors to enjoy.
The first is the Center City; this shows how the Netherlands has grown from old cities to the country of today: characteristic, free and eccentric.
Next, there is a Water World, which highlights the Netherlands relationship with water.
Water for the Netherlands can act as a friend or an enemy, which is explained in Water World. While there you can also experience the hustle and bustle of the port of Rotterdam, view the workings of a watermill and operate the locks of the Oosterschelde barrier.
The last place is Innovation Island, which demonstrated the international success of the Netherlands entrepreneurial spirit and innovative strength such as architecture, logistics, entertainment sports and design. You can learn and see modern expressions with which the Netherlands inspires the world.
Our kids loved exploring the park and recognizing the landmarks they had seen in Amsterdam and the Netherlands over the several visits we made. Their favorite was the replica of Dam’s Square and the Schipol airport with its miniature runways and planes.
The Madurodam Park is a must see if you decide to visit the Netherlands. It is a highlight to the Netherlands culture and contributions that it has made towards the world. You can purchase your tickets online ahead of time if you desire and there is also a combo deal where you can buy a ticket to not only see the park but to also another top attraction such as the Omniversum giant screen or Sea Life Scheveningen.

 

Autism Travel Tips

Since this is a self-guided tour, you should allocate 2-3 hours to walk around.
There is a playground called the Waddenzee for children between six and twelve to run around and let off some steam.
The venue is wheelchair accessible and leveled but can become slippery due to rain(it frequently rains in the Netherlands.)

 

Family Stay at the Marriott Vienna

 

The J W Marriott Vienna, a five-star establishment, is part of the Marriott chain and can be found at Parking 12A in Vienna, Austria.
The hotel contains approximately 323 rooms and is easily accessible via trolley or subway. Its location makes it ideal for families and travelers that wish to be near music venues like the Schadt Park, the Haus der Musik, and the famous Kursalon. Concert goers can walk to get back to their hotel at the end of an evening.
Likewise, the hotel is only ten minutes away from all the famous shopping and tourist attractions like Grabenstrasse, Hofburg Palace, and Stephen’s Dome, Karlsplatz, and the Belvedere Palace ; not to mention the proximity to the city’s excellent eateries and cafes like Figlamuller.

Family Friendly Stay at J W Marriott Vienna Austria buffet Decor

This establishment is decorated in trendy modern style with generous splashes of color and wooden accents throughout. The lobby central atrium boasts live plants and ample comfortable seating.The building’s spaciousness is further enhanced by the large windows that are a prominent feature of the décor.

Rooms

Going by European standards, the two double beds room we stayed in at this hotel was quite sizeable. The clean and comfortable room adequately housed our party of four. A rollaway bed was even supplied for our son because he didn’t want to share with his brother and this was much appreciated. The spacious bathroom area was also outfitted with a shower and tub, which we greatly enjoyed.

Facilities and Service

All of the staff members that we encountered at this hotel were deserving of praise, but there were three groups that stood out as being worthy of special recognition. We do a lot of traveling, and I have to add that the housekeeping staff found here is among the best I have ever seen. They promptly responded to all requests in less than 10 minutes, even when it was late, and the hotel was filled.The creative folks were working the front desk likewise went above and beyond to find solutions to even the most perplexing guest problems.I would further like to compliment Olivera, the Night Manager, and Sandra, the Morning Manager, on their excellent service.Our son with autism loved the small keepsake teddy bear that the manager gave him.

The concierge staff was also incredibly helpful. Although we started discussing our arrival a full month in advance, they always responded to our emails in an expedient fashion. The concierge services were crucial in helping us book fun tours and find great places to dine in Vienna.

Although we were very impressed with the staff, there are other noteworthy attributes of this particular Marriott. The hotel has complimentary Wi-Fi in the public areas for their guests to use. Those who tire of the city will be happy to learn that the building contains an onsite restaurant, a bar, a sauna, an indoor pool, and a gym.

Family Friendly Stay at J W Marriott Vienna Austria bear

Executive Level

The executive lounge found here is well worth the additional expense. Breakfast and complimentary beverages, such as bottled water, are included. Executive level guests are additionally provided with a substantial evening snack. Travelers who aren’t very hungry in the evening hours could substitute this repast for dinner if they so desire. Since we were upgraded, we had the option of taking our breakfast in the room, enjoying the first-floor buffet, or partaking of the meal served at the executive level. We selected the last of these three options and were pleasantly surprised by the fantastic array of breakfast foods provided for guests.

Autism travel tips

Hypoallergenic, non-smoking, and soundproof rooms are all available at this hotel, making it an excellent destination overall for autistic travelers.
Make sure you bring your own bath mat for the bathroom.

 

Ten Cultural Differences My Kid Learned from Traveling

One of the fascinating aspects of having visited as many countries as our son with autism has, is the opportunity to form his unique perspective of how the world differs from his suburban Los Angeles enclave. In fact just last week, he compiled his top ten cultural differences he learned from traveling.

#1 Is THAT a toilet?

Parents, both current and expectant should remember that the shape and even the function of toilets worldwide vary, considerably!
In Turkey—and many Arab nations—toilets (especially in poorer areas) are frequently replaced by a hole in the floor. Meanwhile, in Japan, the modernized public stalls are equipped with electronic water jets and heated seats while the traditional ones are facing the ‘opposite’ way compared to the European ones.
Ten Cultural Differences My Kid With Autism Learned from Traveling toilet


#2 Pay-per-use

 

While American stores and restaurants let most patrons use their facilities free of charge, in Europe, these same utilities often come with a price tag.
My son was puzzled when confronted with the cleaner’s tip jar and the dirty looks he got after he didn’t comply.When traveling, especially from the States, remember to keep a few quarters handy for the unexpected bathroom rendezvous.

 

#3 Why is there a water fountain in the bathroom?

While bidets are a staple in many European bathrooms, my son mistook it a “water fountain” and was excited to discover it in our hotel bathroom.Luckily, he didn’t get to try it out!

 

Ten Cultural Differences My Kid With Autism Learned from Traveling bidet

#4 Siesta Time?

American-born and raised, my son had grown accustomed to stores and restaurants staying open most of the day even on weekends.maintaini. So, imagine his surprise to see whole cities shut down for a few hours—in the middle of the day, no less—from restaurants to entire malls for siesta time.

#5 Food, best served cold

Living in the USA—where macaroni and cheese are just a microwave away—restaurants are seldom closed, and restrictions (past those about health) are rarely imposed. As such, my son with autism was in for a shock when he visited Israel; unlike in America, the Israeli “Shabbat” laws (not laws per se, but the Orthodox majority imposing their beliefs) prohibit the cooking of food from Friday to Saturday night in hotel restaurants. Not to say that he went hungry-he managed,  to get by, replacing his usual morning omelet with a plentiful array of cold and pre-prepared warmed up items.

Ten Cultural Differences My Kid With Autism Learned from Traveling buffet

#6 Lunchtime Siren Call

One of the most bizarre encounters on our travels involved our visit to the Central American country of Nicaragua on a cruise. While waiting in a town square café and sipping soda, we flinched at the sound of an air-raid siren blaring through the streets, horrified at the thought that war was upon us. When we asked what had happened, we were baffled to hear from the guide that the siren was used to alert the locals it was time for lunch!

#7 Where’s my bread and butter?

Like many other restaurant-goers, my son is an avid bread eater, especially when it is freshly-baked or a specialty. While most diners in the United States serve complimentary bread and butter, many establishments in Europe supply bread by request only and charge an extra fee for it.

 

Ten Cultural Differences My Kid With Autism Learned from Traveling kids in Mx

#8 Pushy salespeople

Frequently on travels, my family and I  have encountered aggressive merchants of all ages, using any method imaginable to convince you to buy their trinkets, including having toddlers as salespeople. My kids sometimes felt guilty or, at least, uncomfortable when faced with such tactics, ending up buying some unwanted souvenirs.

#9 Wait, no air conditioning?

While air conditioning is ubiquitous in our home country, the United States, many countries—even European—lack any acclimatization room system. In many countries, older hotels may require even a central cooling system; in others, there may be strict restrictions as to what time of year and to what extent they utilize their air conditioning (and for the winter, heating).

 

Ten Cultural Differences My Kid With Autism Learned from Traveling crosswalk

#10 How do you cross the street?

Unlike the States, several countries drive on the left side of the road so, or son had to practice looking to the right when he crossed.But that didn’t quite prepare him for what we were faced with in Tokyo.In the Shinjuku area the main thoroughfare, there were several intersecting crossroads with people crossing simultaneously in different directions -a situation that we all found extremely confusing.
 Post updated October 18, 2015

 

 

 

Visiting Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in Amsterdam

During our frequent visits to the different European and American cities, my son would often beg me to go and visit Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. Frankly, though I wholeheartedly support going to explore most museums, this genre seemed like the ultimate tourist trap to me and as such, I refused to give in.

Although I continuously explained to him how unreasonably expensive it was, how kitschy it looked, and what a total waste of our precious travel time it would be to go, I would still get the occasional childish whine of “but why not..?”

One day I finally cracked. We were in Amsterdam, on a rainy day and had already seen everything I had set out to see; like the famous Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh and Modern museums along with Anna Frank’s home, and Rembrandt’s Studio.
We had extensively walked around the canals, visited the beautiful squares, and even wondered unknowingly through the Red Light Zone. Besides, I reasoned with myself–my kids had enough educational tourism, so let them have some fun.

Visiting Amsterdam's Madame Tussaud Wax Museum dalai lama

And that is how I ended up taking the boys to the Madame Tussaud Wax Museum for the afternoon alone, of course since my dear husband made it abundantly clear he was not wasting fifteen euros for the admission ticket

 

.Visiting Amsterdam's Madame Tussaud Wax Museum einstein

The Museum.

We walked in after I signed off thirty euros on my credit card slip(kids were 50% off) and entered a dark and crowded room that looked like it had been borrowed from a run-of-the-mill theme park. At this point, as my son was busy running from exhibit to exhibit, I was wondering, “why did I do this to myself?”
Visiting Amsterdam's Madame Tussaud Wax Museum bush
Luckily that dark Halloween-like room viewing lasted less than ten minutes, and we finally got to the real part of the museum-the wax figurines. And that was where my real surprise was about to be unveiled.

We leisurely went from exhibit to exhibit discussing all the famous people there.Right there, I later realized, was the best history lesson any kid, especially an autistic kid could get. Suddenly, the likes of Churchill, Lenin, Picasso, and Einstein were standing right there in front of us, almost ready to shake hands.

The boys commented on their height and speculated why Gandhi wore his famous austere sari while Elvis appeared in sequined suits. During those two hours in there, I managed to explain and cover more than a century’s worth of history in politics, art, music, and cinematography.

 All in all, it turned out to be a productive and highly entertaining afternoon for the three of us, while I learned to reconsider my biased opinion of tourist traps.

 

Autism Travel Tips.

  • The museum might be a bit crowded during peak hours, so it is recommended to call ahead and ask what time is best to arrive.
  • For kids scared of darkness and ghosts-skip that exhibit as it might be a bit frightening. 
  • Reiterate the rules to your kid as to what is or isn’t permitted including touching the exhibits.
  • Some of the exhibits may be PG13 so you might want to ask the staff that ones they are and decide whether they are or aren’t appropriate for your child..

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