Saturday, April 7, 2012

Amsterdam and Germany

Amsterdam: 4/3/12-4/5/12  
     Amsterdam was wonderful!  During our short visit we visited both Anne Frank's house and Keukenhof.  Anne Frank's house was the first thing we saw and it was so moving.  She was young girl with a passion who impacted the world with her words.  The fact that I was standing in the same place where she stood and wrote those words was surreal.  Her story is so terribly upsetting.  When you read her diary, you find yourself in the world of a normal teenage girl who had her world turned upside down. Through all the downs, sitting cooped up in her little two-year home, this young girl wrote.  She stayed optimistic and told Kitty that she knew the war would end.  When she wasn't writing about her future, she was writing about how she felt.  With those feelings, she moved people all over the world.  I asked my mom if I could touch the counter in the kitchen, that we thought was original, because I wanted to touch something that this girl did.  I am one of those many people that she impacted.
     The Secret Annex wasn't furnished because Otto Frank didn't want it to be.  When the Frank family and the others were arrested, the annex was cleared.  Otto Frank didn't want the furniture to be replaced because the people that were killed in the war wouldn't be.  It would have been nice to see it with furniture, but his reasoning was very understandable.  Their was however a small, scale replica of the annex.  It was crazy to see how eight people fit into the annex for two years.  It really shows you how crowded it must have been and how much will it must have taken to just not scream.

   The toilet was still there.  I don't know if it was the original one, but I'm guessing that it is.  It was like china with blue designs.  Even though it was just a toilet, it was fascinating.  Anne's father brought all of her posters and pictures over to the Anne so that she could put them on her wall and make her little room seem more homey.  To see the pictures on Anne's wall, which again, I'm only guessing that they are original, made me realize how she was just your average teenage girl.  She was into movie stars and magazines, which she had one of the helpers bring her, just like girls today.  Then, I read something that said that over the course of the two years, her interests changed from celebrities to history and art.  She was maturing and learning like any person.  What really hit me where lines draw on the wall that I am pretty sure were the real things.  They were lines marking Anne and Margot's growth.  Anne was on the left and Margot on the right.  Margot grew some, but Anne grew a lot.  This was what made the fact that these were real people and not just characters in a book real to me.

     I couldn't take pictures, but I did in my mind.  The memory of going through the doorway that the bookcase hid, their growth lines, and Anne's posters will always be in my mind.

     After you made your way out of the annex itself, there was an exhibition that was just a general one about the Holocaust.  Seeing this exhibition made the fact that the Frank family and the others hiding with them weren't the only ones persecuted, hidden, caught, and murdered clear.  Before this exhibition, Anne's papers and mock diary were on display.  The papers were the part of her diary that she had rewritten in the hope of publishing a book about the Secret Annex after the war.  She did this after she heard an announcement on the radio saying to keep all your records of the war.  Anne was a girl with a vision, passion, and dream.

     On the second day in Amsterdam was out with the sad and in with the cheerful.  We went to Keukenhof which is basically a giant garden.  It mainly had tulips, but it also had daffodils and other plants.  We were about a week or two early considering that the flowers weren't fully bloomed.  It was beautiful either way.  There was a mini lake with ducks and swans that I got awesome pictures of.  I always take pictures of animals.  I guess they just fascinate me :) It was a lovely day.

Keukenhof website for more pictures:

     Over all, Amsterdam is a very fun city.  I could tell, based on the level of noise outside the window at night until 4 am, that it is also very lively.  Oh, and because marijuana is legal there, I got my first whiff of it.  Tip: never go into a "Coffee" shop, but always a "Koffee" shop.  There is a big difference.  Let's just say, "Coffee" shops have less rules :)

Germany: 4/5/12-4/12/12

     Well, we are in Germany now staying with our friends near Stuttgart.  Today, we saw a beautiful palace that belonged to a Duke.  This guy sure got around based on his "rendezvous" rooms, 10-15 mistresses, 56 or so recognized children, and over 200 children total.  The building was made to look exotic using the color red and ivory which represent Asia and Africa and things from there were considered to be just that and also represented wealth.

     We had fabulous steak for dinner last night and delicious tortellini for dunch today courtesy of our friend Mo that we are staying with.  Two nights ago, we had wonderful pasta and shrimp as well as delightful tiramisu for dessert thanks to a well known, little, hole-in-the-wall restaurant near-by.

     I am sad that our trip is coming to a close, but also glad.  It has been a wonderful experience and will continue to be for the next five days.  I miss home though and my boys.  All vacations end at some point which is why they are called vacations and not life.


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