Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011--Anne Frank house and Jordaan Walk

We had reservations to see the Anne Frank house this morning, so we hiked up the Leidsestraat, over one of the canals, and then down to the Westkerk and on and on.  Yes, lost again.  We backtracked to the Westkerk and, voila, we were there.  We stopped off for a quick bite in the cafe next door, and then made the tour.


Westkerk rear

No pictures are allowed, but the place is impressive both for the ingenuity of deception (a hinged book case hid access to the rear rooms in what was a commercial building) and its size.  Indeed, the living quarters were small and cramped when other families were added to the Franks, but I had a preconceived image of much, much tighter quarters.  The place is definitely worth seeing in spite of the fact that there is no furniture.  After the Nazis discovered the family, they cleared the place, and Otto Frank, the only survivor, insisted that the house remain in the stark condition after the families' discovery.  The tour also features some interviews and film clips that explain and enhance the whole experience.

Anne Frank house in center
We then headed out to Dam Square (what Steves calls the Times Square of Amsterdam) and then a walk through the Jordaan neighborhood.  Dam Square is beautiful and immense, but the Royal Palace, which looks over the square, is covered in scaffolding and sheeting, so it is largely invisible.  Still the square is worth seeing, and unlike anything we saw elsewhere.
National Monument, an obelisk dedicated to peace

Madam Tussaud gets around, if you'll pardon the expression

Royal Palace

We then headed out past the New Church and came flush into the Magna Plaza Shopping Center, an opulent building dating back to the 1880s.  There, in front, was a message to me, but I refused to take the insult, still a picture was necessary.

New Church

Magna Plaza Shopping Mall
should I have been insulted?

We gradually walked back to our hotel and took in many of the gorgeous canals; I went ape taking a thousand pictures. I'm not sure about the names of the different canals, so I will make some uneducated guesses below.

Prinsengracht canal

Leliegracht canal
The buildings are also fascinating, shifting one moment from commercial businesses to residential.  Once again, this is a photographer's paradise for all the variety.

my newest friend
We headed back to the hotel for a little lunch and rest; I was starting to feel really wiped out by the cold.  Late in the afternoon, we stayed close by and walked through Vondel Park, Amsterdam's version of Central Park.  The place was large and beautiful.  There are a string of large, obviously expensive, multi-story houses ringing the park's perimeter.  This is clearly a neighborhood that would have restrictions against the likes of us.  Many people were out for a stroll, and many mothers were walking their prams or chasing their kids.  It was a beautiful day, and the park was just the thing for weary travelers.


one of many grand houses

small boathouse-restaurant near Vondel lake

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