Thursday Doors – Amsterdam

Amsterdam was the second stop on our Europe tour. The tour guide told us that Amsterdam is below sea level. This capital city of the Netherlands has a Canal Ring of one hundred kilometers (62 miles) with 1,500 bridges.

The first thing that impressed me was the number of bicycles. It was mind-boggling to find out there are 881,000 bicycles and one of the parking structures accommodates 7,000 bicycles. When we arrived at a location, I got off the tour coach and almost got hit by a bicycle because I didn’t realize that the riders have the right-of-way. I saw one lady with the business skirt-suit carrying a backpack and paddling the bicycle with the tennis shoes. It must be a common practice to change shoes when people arrive at their offices.

We visited the Anne Frank House. When I was teaching, my second-grade class read The Diary of Anne Frank. It was intriguing to find out more about the Frank family’s hiding place.

Anne Frank House – green building

During World War II, Anne Frank and her family hid from Nazi persecution in a room in the building’s rear of the Secret Annexe. The room was hidden behind a movable bookcase.

Anne Frank wrote her diary in this hiding place. She and her family were hidden there for two years and one month until they were arrested and deported to their deaths in concentration camps. Anne and her sister Margot died from typhus and malnutrition in March 1945 in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, Germany, just a few weeks before the liberation by the British army on April 15, 1945. Otto Frank, Anne’s father was the only one who survived the concentration death camps.

The hiding place was cleared by order of the arresting officers and all the contents of the Frank family were seized. Before the building was cleared, Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl, who had helped hide the family, returned to the hiding place against the orders of the Dutch police and rescued some personal effects. Amongst the items they retrieved were books and papers that would eventually be compiled into The Diary of Anne Frank. 

Anne wrote tales and planned to publish a book about her time in the Secret Annexe. After Otto Frank returned to Amsterdam in June 1945, he was given Anne’s diaries and papers and subsequently compiled the two versions of his daughter’s diaries into a book published in Dutch in 1947. Anne Frank’s Diary has been translated into over 70 languages.

Anne’s diary was in a display case on the ground floor. We picked up a brochure that chronicles her life from 1929 to 1945. Photos from the brochure:

One night we walked around in the Red-Light District. This area has red neon-lighted windows. The prostitutes sit or stand behind their windows from 8:00 am until 6:00 am soliciting their services.

As we walked on the street in the same area, I saw a shop that has a potted plant display in the window. I made a comment to my husband about the pleasant look of the plant. He told me it was marijuana. We went inside the shop and found different sizes of packaging that looked like snack items. Soft drugs are legal in Amsterdam.

It was a great experience to visit the diamond factory and learn about the different grades of the diamond. The factory guide explained that the value of the diamond goes higher with the increased facets of the diamond. She also pointed out that when reflecting the colors of the diamond, the blue color is more expensive. After she said that, the ladies moved their rings under the light to check on the reflecting colors.

Diamond factory

Our other visits included the tours of the ceramic painting factory, wooden thong factory, and the cheese factory.

On the last day of the tour, we had a free afternoon. My husband and I wanted to walk around but there was pouring rain. We then took the free trolley to the Van Gogh Museum. It was an educational visit to learn about how Van Gogh developed his style of painting.

Thursday Doors – Amsterdam

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