While most of Cory's unit was off to places all over the world for their block leave, we stayed in the area. Someone had to stay back and defend the fort, right? ;) Anyway, he did take off most of spring break week since the boys were off. We knew we wanted to go somewhere we could drive, so we picked Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Amsterdam is the capital of The Netherlands and is in the North Holland region. Holland is a region of The Netherlands...it is not its own country. :)
Tuesday morning was our departure time. Tuesday morning rolled around and Cory is having excruciating tooth pain. *sigh* He went to the dentist and they saw nothing (even w/ x-rays). We decided to go ahead and go to Amsterdam b/c we had reservations. The drive was easy until we got to Amsterdam. Holy. crap. There was construction galore, traffic, and thousands of bicylists. If you want to know what Amsterdam should be famous for, first and foremost, it should be the amount of bicyclists in that city. According to Wikipedia, in a city of approximately 1 million people, "in 2006, there were about 465,000 bicycles in Amsterdam." And, "In the city centre, driving a car is discouraged. Parking fees are expensive, and many streets are closed to cars or are one-way." Yes, I have experience w/ the "streets are closed to cars." That was embarrassing. LOL Anyway, here's a picture from flickr of bicycles on the street:
The next morning we got up and headed to the Anne Frank House. On the walk, right before the house and next to the church is a statue:
While I waited in line at the Anne Frank house, Cory and the boys went to the Westerkerk (church) next door.
The 3 X's are St Andrew's cross which is the shape of the cross that St Andrew was crucified on. It is also called a saltire and, according to Wikipedia, "The official city motto is Valor, Resolution, and Mercy. The three X's, saltires (St. Andrew's crosses), are taken to represent these even though the X's are older than the motto. A popular tradition also links the X's to the three threats to the city: Water, Fire and Pestilence." Anyway, these 3 saltires are all over Amsterdam.
And here's a view from the tower. Cory, David and Charlie waved to me down waiting in line, but I never heard or saw them. :)
I waited in line for about 30 minutes. It was cold and rainy. Yuck! I had checked the weather and it was supposed to be nice. I felt vindicated when the Americans behind me in line said the same thing. They were coming from the same area. Oh well. But we finally got into the
Anne Frank House. Official site of Anne Frank House. I read the Anne Frank Diary when I lived in Germany when I was about 9. So, the Anne Frank House was a priority for me in Amsterdam. I even encouraged Cory and David to read a book about her for our trip. Well, they weren't moved as much as I was. The first room we walked into was a very empty room w/ big pics of her on the wall and a quote that included, "I have a goal, I have opinions, a religion and love." And right then I thought I was going to cry. We continued walking through the house. More quotes on the walls. We walked through the actual bookcase that Anne and her family and friends walked through. We was the growth charts penciled into the wall that Otto Frank marked to keep track of his daughters. One of the last rooms had mounted tv's with an interview with Otto Frank. He spoke about how reading his daughter's diary he learned about her as a person and how he never knew what his daughter was really thinking and feeling while they were hiding in the annex and how parents never really know their children. The whole experience was incredibly moving. I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Amsterdam.
The first room w/ the quote I mentioned above:
The bookcase "door":
We left there and began walking toward the Van Gogh Museum. Cold. Rainy. Ugh. This is how the guys looked in line:
The Van Gogh museum was amazing. It's almost impossible to describe how different it is to see paintings in real life compared to reprints. Not even close! I really liked the landscapes, Almond Blossom, The White Orchard, Almond Tree in Blossom but I also like a couple of his still lifes like Basket of Pansies on Table. David's favorites were Wheatfield with Crows and Skeleton with a Burning Cigarette. Charlie like Emperor Moth. Cory and I liked mainly the same ones, but he did like the ones w/ boats, also.
When we left the museum we headed over to the iamsterdam sign. It is huge metal letters. And metal that is wet is very slippery. While I was trying to get David and Charlie in the sign, a guy (that you can see in the "a") slipped and fell. Not just a little jolt, but head over heels. When he stood up he was bleeding. Okay, it's not funny, but his friends weren't even concerned about it. Maybe they had been to a coffee shop (they sell marijuana...if you really want just coffee and pastries you need to go to a cafe). LOL
After this we started walking to the hotel. We got lost. But we happened upon a market. By then the sun was out and we had started drying out. The market was nice, there was fresh seafood, lots of chocolate, and tons of touristy stuff. We finally made our way back to the hotel for coffee and warmth. Yay! However, Cory was downing motrin and using anbesol like it was going out of style. Poor guy.
I'll blog tomorrow about the Keukenhof Garden.