Tuesday, October 19, 2010

We Love Amsterdam!

We. Loved. Amsterdam. We really did. I loved the canals and the buildings. It was just gorgeous. Andrew loved all of the little squares surrounded by bars and restaurants and shops with big seating areas in the middle of the squares. The tables were each marked for the restaurant that served it, but all of the tables from multiple restaurants were mashed together in the square. We tried lots of different food and beers. We liked everything. The area in the middle of town was close enough to walk to everything and everyone rides bikes and scooters everywhere. What was perplexing though, was the lack of stop signs. I don't know how many traffic accidents they have but they seemed to manage just fine from what we saw. Everyone takes responsibility for themselves it seems. The same can be said from the liberal marijuana and prostitution laws. It seems to work for them and that was kind of inspiring. We did see the ladies of the red light district and smell pot pretty often. But we never felt anything was dangerous or out of control. Everyone was pretty nice and everyone spoke English. We even spoke with a real Dutchman (a very old man fumbling his way through English) while we were waiting out the rain in a cafe on the day we left. He told us about his daughter the beekeeper who lives in Santa Monica. He also warned us that there are still Facist nazis in the Netherlands and to watch out for them. I don't necessarily not believe him!

The museums we went into were really moving. The Anne Frank House made me tear up several times. Andrew too. She was and is such a great voice for the Jewish people as well as any group that has been or will be discriminated against. Andrew thought I should explain what the house is and was just in case someone doesn't know. She and her family were in hiding in the top floor of this home belonging to another non-Jewish family. The entrance to the area they lived in was hidden by a bookcase. We got to walk through the bookcase entrance, climb the steep, ladder-like steps and walk around in the rooms where they lived. It was very surreal. Some of her quotes were on the walls throughout the house. My favorite quote was:

"One day this terrible war will be over. The time will come when we will be people again and not just Jews. We can never be just Dutch, or just English, or whatever. We will always be Jews as well. But then we will want to be."

And then video interviews with her father were playing at the end. Him talking about how he felt after he read her diaries and how surprised he was at the things she thought about was really interesting. I didn't know that he had lived to see the liberation or how intregal he was to creating the museum. His sad, but refreshingly insightful and honest conclusion that parents don't ever really know their children was a nice way to end the tour. Something that all of us can relate to. They didn't let us take photos in there, unfortunately.

We also went to the Dutch Resistance Museum containing artifacts and stories about the Dutch resistance to the Nazi movement. That was really interesting to see the ways the people would secretly access the BBC radio broadcasts, hide firearms in everyday items, send secret messages, and attempt escapes. We saw a couple of very old churches around the city too. Here are all the photos:

Us in front of the canals.

I could have taken pictures of the canals all day long.

Lots of bicycle riding around the city.

Even most of the alleys were attractive and charming.

At the Dutch Resistance Museum - a cell door to one of the many Nazi jails.

We ate lunch in this cafe (food was good) and we sat down unknowingly next to the cafe cat!

The Red Light District - beyond the "artwork" on the building you'll see a few glass doors... standing inside, on display, are the ladies of the red light district with all of their "goods" showing. Crazy!

Just like in Mexico, they label "Cola Light" here and they use classic glass bottles (love that).

The inside of St. Nicholas Church. Very grand!

St. Nicholas Church.

The outside of the "Old Church" (in the middle of the Red Light District - gotta love it).

This is the inside of the Old Church... really loved the wooden ceilings here! This church dates back to 1306. Rembrant visited often and his children were christened here!

Loved the windows here too!

Some fragments inside the Old Church that look like they are undergoing repair. It must be exhausting to keep up all of these buildings.

Saw this on our walk around the city. It was like something out of a movie!

They love dogs here, I think!

We saw so many dogs walking around the city and running in the parks. It made us miss our babies!

Set up in the Old Church were these wonderful art displays. The creator of this rug was inspired by dollhouses - how the proportions of everything are off when you shrink the little furniture down to size. This is what a dollhouse rug would look like if you made if life size. Giant flowers on it and huge grains of braided fabric. I thought this was cool!

Cement that shows a pretty pattern when it gets wet! The cement is partially dry in the top right corner and you can see how the flower disappears.

I was really really obsessed with this light fixture. There are many photos that follow. Sorry, but I loved it!

Light fixture continued...

Ooooooooh! A full shot of what the fixture looked like!

More of the same. And I still love it!

This was a segment of a chain link fence with a floral design crocheted into it showing how the industrial and mundane can actually be beautiful!

The creator of this rug is going for an "East meets West" theme. It's the rug's traditional Eastern pattern, but then the pattern stops and the colors are then stitched out into strips giving it a more modern look. I want this rug!

That's all for now. Will post Berlin soon!

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