Finally – time to explore. Since a lot of players in the DEL were playing in the Winter Olympics this year, the league stopped playing for a few weeks and Chris’ team gave them two full weeks off.
Stop number 1 for us was Amsterdam. It was only a four hour train ride from Bremerhaven so we booked first class tickets, kicked our feet back and waited for the dementors to invade.
After a hiccup in our path there, we finally made it to Amsterdam Centraal. We realized our airbnb was pretty far so we hopped in a cab and took in all the cool buildings we were passing by.
When Chris and I first started dating, we both read The Fault in Our Stars – it felt different reading it with someone who went through a lot of the things the characters did so it always held a special place in my heart. In the book, they go to Amsterdam. Since then, I’ve been dying to go to Amsterdam with Chris to see the same things Hazel and Augustus did.
We spent our first evening walking around the canals and going to see the “I Amsterdam” sign. When it got dark out we headed over to the infamous Red Light District. We had so much fun people watching on this street that we decided to visit the Museum of Prostitution. The things I learned in there! It actually is an art how these women made this into their career – and thrived. Sex is such an open topic in this city that I gained a new appreciation for the prostitutes and the work they do.
Our second day was the day I was most excited for – we were finally going to the Anne Frank House. This had been at the top of my bucket list for years and after taking a course called America & the Holocaust my senior year of college, I had an obsession with learning about the Jews and their stories during the war.
Our appointment at the Anne Frank House wasn’t until noon so we had time to get breakfast beforehand. I follow Shailene Woodley a.k.a Hazel Grace on Instagram and she had recent posts of her being in Amsterdam. One of her Instagram stories was at a place called Pancakes Amsterdam so I told Chris we had to go there. They have several locations but luckily there was one a few blocks away from the Anne Frank House, so thats where we went. These Dutch pancakes were humungous but so satisfying. It was a really cool atmosphere so we spent a while just hanging out here before it was time to go to the museum.
Upon entrance to the Anne Frank house you are given headsets set to your language. The tour goes one-way only, so there is never a crowd of people trying to go every which way and it ensured you got to see everything and read every sign.
I was always a history nerd growing up. When my aunt and uncle took me to Boston when I was in elementary school, they can tell you how much I was obsessed with Paul Revere’s house. “I want to live here” I said. Ever since I can remember, the feeling of being on the same grounds where history took place gives me the chills.
Anne, her parents, her sister, Mr. & Mrs. van Pels, their son Peter and dentist Mr. Pfeffer stayed in this annex for two years. Four of Mr. Frank’s employees helped them get food and supplies from the outside, but other than that there was no interaction with what was outside their annex except for a radio. They couldn’t even open a window for fresh air without risking getting caught.
This was where Anne spent her days – getting annoyed and angry with the people she was stuck in these small quarters with. Going through all the emotions – hate, anger, sadness, happiness, laughter, hope and falling in love in this annex.
Who would have thought that a fifteen year old girl could make such a profound impact on the world. In her diary, Anne said she wanted to be a famous writer one day and the thought of that brings tears to my eyes. She did it. She is a famous writer. But because she put her entire life in a diary she got for her thirteenth birthday and had to go through something so devastating at such a young age, without being able to see the impact she made on the world.
Being in this house was such a paralyzing feeling. It is devastating that everyone in this annex ended up dying – some just days and weeks before their camps were liberated. Everyone except Mr. Frank, and lucky for the world, he is the reason Anne’s diary had been published around the world. Reading a first hand account of what Jews went through during this horrific period in time was the most heavy material I had ever read. I’m so glad I bought an extended and unfiltered version of Anne’s diary from the Anne Frank House itself. It makes you take a step back from your life and lets you know how easy you have it. It reminds you that she was a real girl going through the same emotions that all girls do her age. She still worried about boys and still worried about school work and how thought about how annoying adults were. Her life was just confined to the secret annex.
I would say I’m sorry for getting into history and heaviness there, but I really am not. Every city I go to in Europe, remains and memorials of the Holocaust are found. Europe embraces what had happened and wants visitors to be educated. What the Jews went through is something a lot of people are going through today, and it is sad to see history repeating itself in terms of religious persecution. But, as a citizen of the world, we can do better.
Ok, back to our trip.
Our last day was full of fun. We went on a canal tour through the city and found ourself at a bar in the Red Light District at night. There we met two Norwegian guys because me and Chris were sitting at a table with two extra chairs. The four of us drank and drank and drank and I didn’t realize how drunk I was until we stood up to go take a walk down the district. So many people told us to go to a sex show in Amsterdam but we didn’t really think it was necessary – up until that night when we were drunk and we had a few edible suckers and brownies in our system. So, we went to Casa Rosa and were in for the shock of our lives. Unless you’ve ever been to one of these shows in Amsterdam, I’m sorry but I just can’t describe it for you. We laughed our butts off on our way back to our airbnb and definitely let Amsterdam know that they won.
We put the Casa Rosa tickets in one of Chris’ jacket pockets and so now we always find it in random spots or forget it is there, pull it out “what’s this?” and start bursting out laughing.
Amsterdam was everything I could’ve asked for and it was so much fun that I am definitely planning on coming back one day.