7 March – Wednesday
This was the day we were in Amsterdam for.
We woke up early enough to go to a local bakery for breakfast, seeing as how all of our breakfast stuff was locked in our car which was parked at an undisclosed location. I was still bitter as we prepared for our day. However, this actually turned out to be a blessing because when forced to eat on the economy, I decided I was going to make the best of it. We bypassed a couple of McDonald’s and I found a cute little place called delifrance.
(In the right-hand picture below you can see the yellow sign and awning of the restaurant. In the background you can see a large building. It is located in the Dam Square and houses the wax museum… 72+ euros for my family to visit… we skipped it. The left-hand picture is of the interior of the bakery.)
I have such fond memories of our breakfasts here that I had a hard time putting all these pictures in a collage. Parker loved his croissant and made an absolute mess with it. The one thing that was taken from the car was my coffee stuff. We ordered our breakfast and two cups of hot water. We were able to make our own coffee in the deli, complete with our own creamer. Best coffee ever! Guess I’m sort of glad our cheapo breakfasts were being held hostage.
And then we were off to visit the Anne Frank House. I loved this row of houses. So pretty.
(F0r my photography co-op students, this picture was the one I accidentally took on the wrong White Balance setting and it turned out crazy blue. I went to turn it to B&W but hit Sepia instead, and actually really liked it.)
We arrived at the museum very early because we wanted to make this as stress free a vacation as possible. Once we arrived we even had time to take a walk around the entire block, which means we crossed the canal twice. I was really glad we got there so early, as it gave us a chance to be completely settled and to talk to the boys about what we were seeing. They said, “You mean the Nazis walked right on this street?!?”
There was no photography allowed inside the museum. Of course the photo-lover in me wished I could take pictures but I was actually glad for the chance to just soak it all in.
We entered the door and were taken to the front of the queue and told where to leave the stroller. We began our walk-through tour with a reminder to the boys that they were to be quiet, reverent, and respectful of not only the events that occurred here but especially to the other visitors. Some of the other visitors were already in tears before we even entered the first main room.
The building was cleared and completely emptied by the Nazis after the family was discovered and Otto Frank requested that it remain that way. He helped museum coordinators stage it for photographs some years later which gives us a good idea of what it was like while they were in hiding, but during the walk through the house it is eerily empty. We watched all the videos and for those that were spoken in Dutch I read the captions to the bigs who were all huddled close to me. When we went through the book case I could see the intrigue in the boys’ eyes. We went through the Frank’s bedroom, then Anne’s bedroom, and then the bathroom. The boys were getting excited and we went quickly to the next level, the Van Pels’ living quarters. Talk about steep stairs! We spent some time in there and then went through Peter’s room. Hayden noticed that, while we couldn’t go up into the attic, they had positioned a mirror so that we could see the window through which those in hiding had a touch of the outside world. After leaving Peter’s room we were then out of the Secret Annex and I was disappointed. It had gone by so quickly.
I broke the rules and went back into the Van Pels’ apartment, wishing I could go back down the steep, ladder-like stairs into the Frank Family apartment. I would have except for that the moment I got the courage up a curator came through and did a walk-through. Made me nervous and I chickened out.
I spent more time watching all the videos in the next few rooms and reading all the text beside all the displays. Fascinating information.
As we descended the stairs to exit the building I asked Matt if he minded me going back through one more time. He knew that this was the most important thing on our trip for me and didn’t mind a bit. I asked permission to walk back through and the lady at the desk said, ‘Of course!” My disappointment turned to relief as I slowly, this time with no children, walked back through the entire house. I was brought to tears a few times at the thoughts of what people can do to others. I imagined Mrs. Hitler holding her little one the way I hold Parker. I imagined her teaching him how to tie his shoes and fold his clothes. How her heart must have ached had she lived to see what he became. (I admit, I haven’t done any research into this and don’t even know if she was a caring mother or if she lived to see his rise to power. I’m sort of afraid to know.) My thoughts turned to prayers of protection for my own sons that they will use their strength to defend others and will never be caught up in following a person who is so misguided as Adolf Hitler. I prayed that for all nations, as well.
Later I learned that only 10% of German citizens actually associated themselves with the Nazi party but that they remained silent and did nothing, expecting this phase of history to pass, not necessarily wanting to know what was going on in those ‘concentration camps.’ May we be more aware than that.
In fact, even in our own country laws are being passed to “protect the people” from themselves. I haven’t read it yet but it’s on my ‘to-read’ list: How Do You Kill 11 Million People? I will review it fully once I have. Here is an example of a law just passed in California that can take us down the wrong path, politically: it is now illegal to throw a football or a frisbee on the beach in Los Angeles. Really, people?!? A LAW that states you can’t throw a football. I think it is a step in a dangerous direction.
It’s sort of hard to switch tracks and go from discussing such a serious topic back to our fun vacation, but I must.
After I went through the museum again we walked to the Hop-On-Hop-Off boat dock that was a block away. It was going to cost a LOT of money for us to have a day’s pass and we really only wanted to be able to say that we had been on the water. While researching Amsterdam I noticed that the Hop-On place offers canal bike rentals by the hour so I put that in our plans. The restaurant we wanted to have lunch at didn’t open for an hour after our tour of the Anne Frank House ended so this was a perfect time filler.
It was cold and by the 45 minute mark Parker was DONE. I am glad we can say that we rode the canals of Amsterdam but I can imagine that this would be more fun in the spring.
I had read that The Pancake Bakery was the best and most famous pancake restaurant in Amsterdam and it was only about a 5 minute walk away from the Anne Frank House. We actually spotted it while we rode the canal bikes which was neat. Lunch was delicious. The boys had kids’ meals that came with really cool toys. I had a the Greek Pancake which was basically a Gyro with a pancake instead of pita (DELISH) and Matt had the Canadian Omelet. (DELISH as well.)
As we left the restaurant we walked to Central Station. In the rain. It was pretty miserable to be honest. Once inside we purchased my treasure (a Starbucks mug) and headed to our hotel. Parker slept the entire walk so that by the time we got to our room, he was ready to play. We stuck him in the containment device and turned on cachow; Matt and I napped/read while they watched a movie. Toward the end, Matt and Carson took a walk around town looking for some treasures for Matt. When they returned we loaded up and went to dinner.
We ate at an Irish pub we had noticed when we were circling Amsterdam looking for the “On Site Parking” the day before. While our dinner was really good and all six of us enjoyed the Fish and Chips, it was no Burdocks! (Yes, I let the boys play their iPods while they waited for dinner. Don’t judge. Well, Bailey didn’t but that was because he was on restriction for bugging Parker… he watched his brothers play theirs.)
When we got back to our room we went to bed. It had been a long and somewhat emotional day for us. More adventures awaited us so we needed to be rested! We slept very well that second night in Amsterdam.