Day 4: Amsterdam- City of Canals and Moving History
The sun was shining brightly this morning when we left Antwerp, but our ride on the high speed train Thalys was amazing. Inside it was beautiful, comfortable, swift, and quiet. We were served free juice, coffee, and croissants or mini sandwiches and enjoyed free wifi. We made it into Amsterdam in under one hour.
Our accommodation BB Herengracht 21 is right on the canal and our bedroom is in the loft under the eves. During lunch at a quiet canal side cafe, we saw boats of all kind passing by ranging from sleek long tour boats to one shaped like a beer barrel. While we ate two small metal boats with "Boats 4 Rent" on the sign confidently pulled into the intersection. All was well until we heard a crash. One of the boats chose a too narrow tunnel and put a nice dent in the side of the boat, but the passengers were ok. While we ate, we both agreed we could live here.
After seeing so many canal boats glide by, we decided to go on a one hour canal cruise with Holland International Cruises. It was a little like being in a greenhouse, but the sites were very pretty. It's Sunday and all over the city people are taking the opportunity to relax in the warm sun. On the downside, though, there was litter everywhere along the banks of the main canal in certain sections. Yesterday there was a huge gay pride parade here with thousands of spectators, but the city was not on top of cleaning up the litter overnight and bottles were strewn everywhere.
In the evening we visited the Anne Frank Huis. It's the most visited site in Amsterdam and we were thankful we had reservations so we could walk right in because even at 7:30 pm, there was a long line. I read the book back in 7th grade, but this summer I re-read it with a greater appreciation. I purposely decided not to visit the museum site online beforehand because I wanted to get a picture in my mind of what I thought it would look like and I was right. It was very moving there and there are no furnishings because the father wanted it that way to represent the void left by millions of people who were deported and never returned. There were mini films with people who knew the family giving their point of view. It was all so well done. At the end of the tour was an Oscar in a case that was won by Shelley Winters who appeared in the 1959 motion picture version. She had promised Anne's father that if she won an Oscar she would give it to the museum and she stayed true to her promise.
Our evening ended with a memorable meal at Bistro Neuf. It was the type of restaurant where you can see two chefs working in sync to turn out artistic meals of mussels and steaks. It was delicious. We decided to check out the shops in the neighborhood, but they were kind of sketchy so we returned back to our little apartment at the B&B where people sat out at night just enjoying the nice summer night.