Thursday, 12 September 2013

A'dam New Side

I bought tickets for the Rijkmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank's House on the internet before I went to Amsterdam. Boy, was I glad I did for Anne Frank's House, even if it meant I had to be there for opening time at 9am on the Saturday. By the time I came out the queue was down the street, round the corner and around the neighbouring Church.
Over a million people a year visit the house where the Frank family and four others hid for two years during World War II, and where Anne wrote her diary (left). I was surprised how small the conditions were. The rooms have been left bare at the request of Anne's father, the only one of the eight to survive the camps. The windows are covered as they were during the day. I was glad to have visited this famous spot, but equally glad to get out of there. It connected in my mind back to a harrowing visit to Auschwitz a few years ago... There is an excellent virtual tour on the website I've linked to in the first paragraph. Back out in the fresh air, the air that Anne longed to breathe, a canal-side cappucino and croissant was just what the doctor ordered.
Obviously the canals are one of A'dam's top attractions, and some are indeed very beautiful.
For the rest of the morning I wandered around the famous "Girdle" - three concentric canals built around the original medieval centre. Many of the houses are very dignified, but I think I preferred the smaller, usually older ones. In no time, and after a few pauses at benches to watch canal life go by, several hours had passed, and I arrived at Rembrandtsplein (it's that man again) -  a large square filled with visitors and cafes. I parked myself at one and settled down for some light lunch and people-watching. My guidebook suggested visiting during the day and at night - but I resisted that second temptation.
My return stroll took me along Rokin, one of the main streets and into the principal square, which rejoices in the name Dam. The aerial view (right) is better than the reality, I think. I found this wide expanse a bit deadening and formless, with a rather ugly National Monument. A rather tired magician was trying to hold the crowd. I poked my head inside the New Church, which, with the Royal Palace, dominates the square, but was not particularly grabbed, and made my way back to base. 
Yes, I'm very glad I visited the Anne Frank House, as they call it, and I certainly gave the canals a good going over - essential Amsterdam...

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