Alert!   Registration Closed, Mar. 15
All Payments are Due Fri., Mar. 30

ARS 2018 Frequently Asked Questions

This Conference is probably the most complex ARS Convention ever with 3 optional pre-tours, the main Convention, and an optional post-tour in 5 countries with 3 different currencies. The Dutch, Danish, Swedish, and Finnish Chapters are Chapters of the ARS. The Deutsche Rhododendron Gesellschaft (DRG) is the German Rhododendron Society and is not part of the ARS. However, the DRG is hosting a joint Convention with the ARS and European ARS Chapters are hosting the pre-tours and post-tour.

The following are some questions that came up.

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Is the convention described in more detail?

Yes, in the Journal of the American Rhododendron Society in individual articles with many beautiful photos and also in individual itineraries with maps:

I am only interested in the tours, not the Convention. How do I register just for the tours?

You can't. This event combines ARS and DRG Conventions and the tours are only available to attendees of the Conventions. Return to Top

How do I pay in US$ or CDN$?

We have arrangements so people can pay with US or Canadian credit cards. Return to Top

Why do I have to make my own air arrangements?

We have people coming from many places in the world at different times. There are 5 different tours to choose from, each with different timing. Hence, it is prudent to have individuals arrange their own flights. If they can work together, so much the better. We have made arrangements with a travel agent that knows about our convention and has researched what arrangements are available including industry discounts and can also arrange travel insurance. She is:
    Kathy Blosenski
    KoKo Travel
    Honey Brook, Pennsylvania
    KoKoTravelService . com

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If I fly into Schiphol, how do I get back there from Bremen?

Some people starting in Holland want to book roundtrip flights to Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. If they finish in Bremen, they want to know how to get to Schiphol to fly home. One of our Dutch Pre-Tour guides, Petra, gave this answer:

There are multiple options for you to come back from Bremen.

1) You can fly directly from Bremen to Amsterdam Schiphol airport. A plane takes about an hour. On average prices for 2 people are € 150 for flying.

2) There is a route by train. The train trip takes about 4.5 to 5 hours. On average prices for 2 people are between € 60 and €120 for the train

3) There is a type of Greyhound called Flixbus. On average prices for 2 people are € 40 for the bus.

4) Or you can rent a car, if you like. Driving would take about 4 hours (a little longer if you hit traffic). I cannot find prices quickly for a rental.

Prices fluctuate so don't pin me down on this. I cannot find prices quickly for a rental. The disadvantage of public transport is that it's relatively slow-moving and you will have to change trains in Germany if you take the train. You will have to take a local (Dutch) train if you take the Flixbus as well. The bus will go to Amsterdam from Bremen directly but to another station than the airport. If you feel uncomfortable with making changes, I woud advise you take a flight. If you are okay with them, a train or a bus is very good and safe options. I cannot say much as to the service in Germany if you change trains but Americans are generally loved in Germany so they probably don't mind helping you. Be aware that maybe only 50% of German people speak English however.     Return to Top

Why would I get travel insurance?

There are two good reasons to get travel insurance. Some of our plans may change unexpectedly or your plans may change unexpectedly. There are many things that can interfere with travel plans such as illness, illness of a loved one, death in the family, acts of terrorism, natural disasters, etc. The organizers of the conference can not be held responsible for changes made necessary by events beyond their control. Travel insurance is recommended. Most Travel Insurance policies will cover you for such risks. You should talk to your travel agent about Travel Insurance when you get your air package and mention what you paid for conference registration. Talk to your travel agent to see if you want to include the cost of your conference package in your Travel Insurance. Return to Top

Who is facilitating registration?

The ARS itself is facilitating the collection of the registration information and payment for conference registration and the tours. Then the payment and registration forms will be transfered to the individual ARS Chapters in Europe and the DRG. Return to Top

How far in advance do I need to register?

We are not sure. Early registration insures your opportunity to go. Early registration will be limited to ARS members only until November 15, 2017. After this time, registration will be opened to non-ARS members. The longer you wait, the higher the likelihood that some opportunities may fill up. We will try to publish on the website,, if any such a limitation appears to be approaching. Also, be sure to join our email list  for alerts about changes and updates. Return to Top

Who is booking the hotels?

All hotels on any of the tours or at the conference are included and are booked for you. However, if you arrive early or stay after, you will need to book these additional nights yourself. The next question tells you where you are to arrive for the first hotel that is included in each tour and the conference. Return to Top

How do I get from one tour to the next?

All tours connect seamlessly:

  • The Holland Pre-Tour starts in Amsterdam and ends in Bremen. The first hotel is the night of Monday, May 7, 2018, at the Hampton by Hilton Hotel, Schiphol/Amsterdam, Netherlands.
  • The German Pre-Tour starts in Bremen and ends in Bremen. The first hotel is the night of Saturday, May 12, 2018, at the Swissotel Bremen, Bremen, Germany.
  • The Danish/Swedish Pre-Tour starts in Bremen and ends in Bremen. The first hotel is the night of Sunday, May 13, 2018, at the Swissotel Bremen, Bremen, Germany.
  • The Convention is in Bremen. The first hotel is the night of Sunday, May 20, 2018, at the Swissotel Bremen, Bremen, Germany.
  • The Finnish Post-Tour starts at the Convention in Bremen and includes a flight to Helsinki. It ends in Helsinki. The last hotel is the night of Wednesday, May 30, 2018, at the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel, Helsinki , Finland.

Is their another tour before the ARS2018 Convention tours?

Nobody asked this question, but there is a tour of Welsh gardens run by the Scottish Rhododendron Society. It runs from April 22 to April 29, 2018. That leaves about a week between the Welsh gardens tour and the first ARS2018 tour in Holland. Complete details are posted at SRS 2018 Welsh Garden Tour. The ARS and organizers of ARS2018 don't have anything to do with this tour. We are just posting it as a service to the SRS and our members. Return to Top

Is it Holland or The Netherlands?

The country is The Kingdom of Netherlands. Noord (North) Holland and Zuid (South) Holland are provinces on the coastal region of The Netherlands. The largest cities, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague, are in "Holland". People from these cities and ships from these ports often say they are from Holland. The people and the language are called Dutch. Return to Top

If I arrive early in Amsterdam, what are some things to see?

Wow, where do we start: Anne Frank House, Bloemenmarkt, Concertgebouw, Heineken Experience, Rembrandt House, Rijksmuseum, Royal Palace, Van Gogh Museum and on and on. The hop-on/hop-off canal boats reach most of the sights and make it easy to visit the city. If there is a concert at the Concertgebouw, that is always fun. The Dutch Chapter of the ARS has put together a webpage to help us get from the hotel to the sites of Amsterdam and provides some essential details at It has a special page for those of us arriving before May 7 and tells about holidays on May 4 and 5. Also, be forewarned that Europe likes people to use Chip Cards with PINS. For more information on getting tickets visit: Return to Top

While in Bremen, what are some things to do?

You must see the "Town Musicians of Bremen" statue near the Rathaus (town hall). The old city surrounds Marktplatz (market square). The 1699 Am Wall Windmill in the middle of beautiful Wallanlagen Park is a restaurant called Kaffeemühle. On the Weser River is the Old Pirate Ship which has a restaurant called Pannekoekschip Admiral Nelson. You might catch a concert at Die Glocke. Return to Top

If I stay in Helsinki after the post-tour, what are some things to do?

The hop-on/hop-off city tours in Helsinki are a must. There is actually a bus based tour and a boat based tour. There are too many things to see on your own. Things like City Botanic Garden, University Botanic Garden, Rock Church, Sibelius Monument, Parliament, Hietalahti Flea Market, Uunisaari  Island, Finlandia Hall, the Presidential Palace, Uspenski Cathedral, and many more. A personal favorite is Stockmann's Department Store. The clerks wear little flag pins for each language they speak. You will see people from all over the world. Their amazing bookstore has newspapers from all over the world. Their visitors service on the 8th floor offers a 10% discount for one day to visitors. They have very nice souvenirs of Finland that are actualy made in Finland. Return to Top

Can I use my cell phone in Europe?

Probably, first, you will need a cell phone that is compatible with the European cell phone systems and a plan that permits calls within and from Europe. Check out The Savey BackPacker article, How To Use A Smart Phone and Data Plans Aborad. Second, you will need to know how to do International Calling and the Country Codes. Check ou the Rick Steves araticle, Calling Internationally. Personally, when I travel, I rely on Wi-Fi and use email. I take my phone so I can call when I get home to have someone pick me up at the airport. Return to Top

Do you have any other travel tips?

Several people have asked general travel questions, so I put together Travel Tips which covers these questions and additonal tips.

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Last Updated: March 25, 2018