Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Spring Break, Part 1: Amsterdam

Spring Break 2017 began in Amsterdam, a place I have long wanted to visit. It did not disappoint, not in the least.  We spent two full days touring the town, hopping from metro to metro, walking miles and miles, and taking in the sights, sounds...and smells...that make Amsterdam great. 

bikes and canals everywhere

Flower Market

We approached this trip a bit differently than previous ones; we had very loose plans at best and agreed to simply take it day-by-day, hour-by-hour.  It turned out that we quickly and happily filled up our time in Amsterdam.  If it wasn't long and leisurely meals, some of which we even enjoyed outdoors, it was stopping off to check out the various canals, meandering through the Red Light District, or enjoying fries from a cone and Dutch pancakes (though not at the same time).  


around town 
like I said, bikes and canals everywhere 

Red Light District 

Oh, there's lots of cheese, too


One of the most powerful experiences we had while in Amsterdam was our visit to the Jordaan neighborhood, where the Anne Frank House is located.  Much like our visit to Normandy and the Luxembourg American Cemetery (more to come on that in a later post), we were truly and deeply impacted by the experience.  We were given audio guides as we entered the home and made our way to the secret annex.  We walked through many of the rooms where Anne Frank spent nearly two years in hiding, all while listening to excerpts from her diary, recountings from those who helped the family, and the voice of a father who lost his children and his wife.  It was hard to know what to do next once we left the House.  To step out into a world busy with traffic, human interaction, a world of freedom, felt strangely unfair.  We quietly walked through the neighborhood, and with time, began to speak again, began to return to normal.  There's a lot to learn from places and people like this, and I am so glad we took some time to do just that.


one of my favorite sights 


Anne Frank statue in the Jordaan neighborhood

Amsterdam was everything one would expect from a European town - it was gorgeous and a bit gritty, full of character and life, and totally captivating. I was certain I could have  happily spent our entire break there, but Belgium was calling - we were onto three new towns and many new experiences.
....everywhere 





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