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Published: June 30th 2017
The new city building in Gouda, which locals think looks like a stroopwafel. They're right.
Geo: 52.3738, 4.89095
Ans, Jerome, Andrew, Dejo & I took the train to Amsterdam. Joop's nephew, Adrie, is a professional tour guide, and hd graciously agreed to be our personal ambassador that day. He met us at the train station, and gave us a guided tour of the city, starting with a bit of the history. We started with a bus ride over to Willem de Zwijgerlaan straat, to look at the building where Vince lived. It was nice to imagine Vince walking down the street, or up the stairs into the building.
We went by bus to the Rijksmuseum for some culture. 😊 We fueled up with a coffee and a bit of appelgebak, then headed into the museum. Great art pieces, with (no surprise) lots of Dutch artists. Rembrandt, Vermeer, Steen, Hals, just to name a few.
Being cultural and sophisticated makes you hungry, so we popped over to the Hard Rock Café for lunch. Then Adrie guided us through the older streets, and through the flower market. He took us into a courtyard of a former orphanage, where there was a smaller version of the iamsterdam sign. Absolutely not the sort of place you'd find on your own, but it was
Nice decorations in Amsterdam Central
Most train stations don't have decorations this intersting
great. The large "iamsterdam" sign outside the Rijksmuseum had so many people on it, you'd have someone else in any picture you took. But we had this little version practically all to ourselves.
Around another few corners, we found ourselves in a beautiful, quiet square, surrounded by townhome-type buildings. It was such a quiet, peaceful place, in stark contrast to the busy city just a few yards away. If you step inside the doorway of one of the buildings, you end up in a beautiful little church, the Begijnhof Chapel. We didn't get to spend much time there, but enjoyed seeing it briefly.
Then the mood changed. We had tickets to the Anne Frank house, thanks to Adrie thinking ahead. I knw it wouldn't be an upbeat tour, but it was important to see. It's immediately quiet and somber. You walk through the home, as well as the storefront that Otto Frank worked in. Then it's upstairs to see the rooms in which the family hid. I was okay through all of that.
It was when we headed into the attic that I lost it. The attic is full of videos from contemporaries of the family, letters, papers, and Anne's diary.
The crew en route
Ans, Andrew, Adrie, Jerome, Dejo
I had to sit on the entry stairs to let the wave of tears pass. It's so hard to imagine that such a thing happened at all, let alone in such recent memory. How did we allow this to happen? I resisted reading the diary when I was a young girl, and when I finally did, I remember being puzzled at why all of this had to happen. Decades later , I still have the same questions.
It's a little expensive, but absolutely priceless, and nobody who finds themselves in Amsterdam should leave without experiencing this important bit of history.
A short walk helped us come back into today's reality, and rise out of the solemnity. And how. Adrie guided us through some of the Red Light District, which was pretty interesting. There are very narrow alleys, lined with doorways & their accompanying windows. Each door/window pair has a red light above it (most of them fluorescent). As we were there in the afternoon, there were lots of empty windows, but those that were occupied had a girl displaying herself in the her window. Bikinis/underwear were the outfit of choice, and lots of makeup. No pictures allowed -- they're pretty clear about
It was the end of a long (but great) day, so Adrie helped us find a nice restaurant for dinner, before heading home himself. We enjoyed sitting down almost as much as we enjoyed the dinner itself.
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