Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Amsterdam Part 2

On Saturday morning we took a canal cruise. It was a great way to see the city from the safe confines of a boat (i.e., no getting lost!). Amsterdam is an amazing city. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. So old. As we were both walking around and on the cruise we noticed some of the different buildings and canals had dates on them from the year they were built. 1600s and 1700s, people! I just kept comparing it to the events I teach in social studies. *Oh, that building was built in 1620...the Pilgrims were just landing at Plymouth.*

We continued to walk around after our canal cruise. After our never-ending walk the night before, Jay studied the map well. He's great at those "directional" things, so we did much better on Saturday!

I have about a hundred pictures of the canal houses. They are just so pretty!

Jay looking very...American? We enjoyed playing a game trying to guess who the Americans were. There is just something about Americans. They look differently than Europeans. Their clothes? Their shoes? The way they walk? We never could put our finger on it, but we were almost 100% correct when we guessed. (We would walk closer to them or let them walk by us to hear them speak).

See how the building is leaning? Much of the Netherlands is land they reclaimed from the sea. The land they build on is soft sand, so as you can imagine, there is a lot of settling!

St. Nicholas Church

This church is literally 100 meters from the house Anne Frank and her family hid in. It is also the church that Queen Beatrix married in.

Saturday evening we got to tour Anne Frank's house.

Wow. It was by far the best part of the trip for both of us. As you know Anne and her family, along with another family of Jews, went into hiding in an annex of a house in Amsterdam. They hid for two YEARS. I have read about her, read parts of her diary, and I've had numerous kids do reports on her. Saturday, though, it became personal.

Her dad was the only family member to survive once they were discovered and sent to concentration camps. Eventually he published her diary and worked with a group to later form the museum connected to the house and annex. When he got back all of the furniture was out of the annex, and he decided he didn't want the museum furnishing it. It is all empty except for pictures on the walls and some quotes from her diary on the wall. It is so haunting.

It is difficult beyond words to comprehend how something like that happens. How one human (or a group of humans) treats another (or another group) so terribly.

I would definitely put visiting her house on your list of things you MUST DO! It's that powerful. Unfortunately, but understandably, there are no pictures inside the museum.

There are, of course, some seedier parts of Amsterdam. Most people first think of these when they hear you're visiting Amsterdam. You know, the Red Light District and the fact that smoking marijuana is legal and, well, everywhere. Well, it's all true! No pictures of that, though. :)

This is "Old Church" and was built in the 13th Century. It's the only picture we got of that area of town!
Amsterdam was a great first adventure for us. We saw everything but the museums, but it's so close we figure we'll make another weekend of it! On to the next great adventure.

Tot ziens!

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