Amsterdam

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be.”
– Anne Frank

I boarded my plane from Florence via Swiss Air (which I loved… mostly because they fed me). For the first time, I had headed to the airport alone, and I was flying alone to meet my roommate from PC at the airport, where we arranged to meet at her flight’s baggage claim. This was the first flight that I’ve ever flown that was also delayed by about 40 minutes. Usually, that wouldn’t be bad, but I was originally supposed to leave at 7:05 to arrive at 8:15, but with this delay, we took off around 7:45. Funny, because I had a layover in Zurich, Switzerland, and was supposed to board at 8:35 to take off at 8:55. This didn’t stop me from sleeping for the entire plane ride (except when they came by with a sandwich-like pretzel (bun) with butter in the middle, juice, and swiss chocolate), but as soon as I landed, I was definitely in panic mode. However, when I got off the plane and onto the ground, there was a man standing in front of a bus holding an “Amsterdam” sign. They were going to take care of us. I boarded the bus, and thankfully, double checked with the people around me, who were strangely going to places like Munich. I hopped off the bus, to find out that I was supposed to stand with the man. Good thing I did that. He shuttled the 7 or us over to the next plane, that was now delaying itself to wait for us. Bless their souls.

Within a few minutes, we were up in the air again, on the way to Amsterdam. This time, they fed us cold-cut chicken and mustard sandwiches on a baguette, I got my apple juice again, and swiss chocolate. We landed within 5 minutes of our originally scheduled landing time, which was fantastic. I went through the huge airport to baggage claim, and found her, no problem. We took a cab with her two friends from her program in London, and arrived at the hotel, where we planned our next day and crashed.

Saturday morning, we woke up, ate the complimentary breakfast at the hotel (in case you can’t tell, I love my food… and traveling/trying new foods. This will be evident throughout this post.). We were going to go to the Heineken Factory, which was right across from our hotel, but it was more money than we wanted to pay, so we decided to bypass it and go to the Van Gogh Museum. On the way, we passed the “I AMsterdam” sign, which was empty for once, since it was only about 9 in the morning. We took several photos on it while we could, of course. Climbing up the letters was harder that I thought it would be (I often forget I’m short), but we figured it out.

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Afterwards, we went to the Van Gogh museum. It was unreal. In front of all of the paintings/drawings, there was a little barrier (like a lot of museums), but it was maybe a foot away from the paintings. If I leaned over the little maybe 2.5 foot barrier bronze fence thing, I could essentially touch the works of Vincent Van Gogh. You could also see his name signed, bright and clear, which was just weird to see in person. I guess it just makes it more human. Seeing his works reproduced do not do his work justice. Seeing his brush strokes in person was fascinating. One could see the depth and layers and color mixtures in them, as well as the texture of the paintings. They’re certainly not flat. At one exhibit, we were able to look at a chunk taken off his paintings under a microscope. I wish I could have taken a photo of that, because the paint mixtures were astonishing.

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BRUSH STROKES. (See full painting below- I took a close up of the bottom left corner).ImageImageImageImageImage

We then ventured to the Red Light District, which is actually a very nice area, but it was very interesting how different Amsterdam is from any place in the world. We just walked around the city and explored a bit. Amsterdam is beautiful; it’s very similar to Venice. At some points in time, I didn’t know how it doesn’t have the reputation that Venice does. The canals are throughout the city, and there’s more to do than in Venice. The entire town was very cute, and EVERYONE rode bikes. It’s a very eco-friendly town, and it’s adorable. Example A:

Venice?

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We wandered to a notorious pancake place… I can’t figure out what is so good about Dutch food, but their specialties are foods like pancakes, waffles, and I had delicious apple pie there. Their pancakes were similar to a crepe, but a little sweeter, and I got mine with apple slices in it. I think their flour is something special, I don’t know.

From there, we wandered to the Anne Frank museum. No photos were allowed out of respect for the museum, which is fair enough. This was also an unreal experience. We entered the old jam factory on the ground floor, where her dad worked prior to going into hiding. We watched video interviews with Meip, who had taken care of them with meals and hospitality while they were in hiding, and who had also worked in the factory. The house they hid in was in the back of the factory- not on top, like I had originally thought. There was a back house that was attached, that cannot be seen from the front. We turned a corner, and there was the bookcase that had hid them for so many (I think 8? years). The bookcase was still the original one, with the original, now yellow, books on them. It’s propped open now, but we had entered the house the same way that Miep had, as well as the Nazis upon arresting them. This photo was taken from Google:

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Before:

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What you cannot tell from looking at the first photo is that, yes, you can enter and go upstairs, but you could also enter and go left, where there was a ground floor level, where their kitchen was and living room. It wasn’t a little attic, but almost a whole house. Well, it was small for a house and living quarters were relatively tight, but I expected it to be much smaller. The house was cleared out after the Franks and Von Pels were captured, and Otto Frank, who survived Auschwitz, wished it to stay that way. Photos were taken of refurbished rooms for the purpose of giving the viewer an image of what it was like, but after they refurbished the rooms for the photos, they gutted it again. The windows were all blacked out, like it was for them. We saw artifacts, such as Peter Van Pel’s birthday present (a board game) and some photos of celebrities that Anne liked to look at.

At the end, there was a video taken of Anne’s best friend, who she hadn’t seen since she went into hiding. I forget for what reason, but she was put into a camp that was different than the others (I believe her nationality was more respected because of them being allies with the Germans, although she was Jewish). When Anne was in Bergen-Belson camp, her friend saw her at the fence that bordered it, and they were reunited. However, at this time, her sister Margot had been killed, and Anne said she had no one. Little did she know, her father was still alive in another camp. Anne died one month before the camps were liberated. Her friend said that if Anne had known there was a reason for living, she would have been stronger.

This is a picture of the Anne Frank House from the outside:

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From there, we went to get some of the best apple pie I’ve ever had. It was at a well known place, and it was very different than anything I’ve had in the US. It had almost a banana bread filling, but not banana. It was just cakey. And it had apples, obviously. Mmmm.

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This is me in a shoe.

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And we ran into Barry Weiss, which is pretty funny to me. Sarah (my roommate) and I somehow discovered that we were both obsessed with Storage Wars, and we began to play the simulated game on Facebook last semester. No one else that I know watches it, except for Sarah and my family. I saw him, and said to her, “That looks like Barry from Storage Wars…” (which is also funny, because I never watch TV or movies, and probably couldn’t identify Kim Kardashian if she was standing right in front of me. I certainly do not even know what her sisters look like, never mind what their names are. I don’t follow celebrities, just Storage Wars…). Anyhow, Sarah was like “Oh my God… he does!” We walked closer and heard his voice, and he was undoubtably him. A waiter saw us bugging out and was like “Ooohhh take a picture!” (somewhat mocking us). Barry’s friends also saw us, and asked if we wanted to come in closer, at which point I was like, “Excuse me, I don’t want to bother you, but would you mind getting in a picture?” He was very nice and said of course, and was like “Yeah! Just selfie it! That’s the best way to take a picture!” when I held up the camera to take a picture, but a lady who worked there took my camera and took it for us.

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We went back to the hotel from there for the night. Upon arriving at this hotel, we saw the staircase and was amazed. It was the steepest stair case I have ever seen. However, Anne Frank’s stairs were like this too. I think it’s just how the Netherlands do things. The picture below doesn’t do justice… I was standing up straight and one leg is 4 steps up from the other leg.

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The next day, we just did a lot of wandering. We got in line for the Rijksmuseum, but the line was too long. We stopped at a diamond museum though, which was pretty cool. There were lots of diamonds. They were big.

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We then checked out Vondel Park, which is the park that Central Park is modeled after. After, we ate a delicious waffle with chocolate ice cream on it. The waffle was so so good, as was the ice cream that I haven’t had in a long time.

Eventually, I found my way to the train station and got back to the airport. Amsterdam was a very quaint city. It was simple with the bikers and the houses all looked like gingerbread houses all smushed together, all on canals.

I end with a very irrelevant quote that is only relevant because Anne Frank said it and I like it.

“We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.”
– Anne Frank

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