Friday, August 24, 2012

Thursday, August 23

We wake up about 9AM from a deep sleep. Since we have our WWII walk with Peter at 10AM, we get going. We did not take the breakfast package with the hotel as it was 34 Euros a morning! Carolyn felt like we could do better at one of the many coffee shops. Our clock is still off this morning and we aren’t even hungry so we get a cup of the good coffee and hot chocolate in the lobby and walk to the meeting place outside of the Anne Frank House, about 20 minutes away.
Peter is waiting for us when we arrive and the other two couples join us momentarily. They are Americans about our age. This is a nearly two mile walk through Amsterdam highlighting the story of the Jews during the Germany occupation. As we walk across the city we see many sites and learn about the city...Peter is a great guide...he talks to us as we walk and look for nearly three hours. We start at Otto Frank’s warehouse, where the Franks and four other people hide for 25 months before being betrayed. Then we pass by Westerkerk with its pretty spire
and head to Dam Square, the Royal Palace and Nieuwe Kerk built in the 1600's when the city out grew the Oude Kerk, built in the 1200's.
We saw it yesterday nearer the harbor in the current Red Light District. Across Dam Square we stop at the National Monument for some more stories about war time life. Peter has photos from the occupation period showing the existing buildings with Nazi flags and posters on them. Very little has changed other than the removal of the Nazi symbols.

We head for the Jewish was not a ghetto like in some cities since some non-Jews lived in the area also. But, during the occupation the Nazis made it a ghetto and closed the area off by barricading the canal bridges.
At the beginning of the war about 10% of Amsterdam’s population was Jewish, ~80,000 people. Only about 1,500 returned after the war. What a sad time. Peter had taken one of the bocks we walked and researched what happened to the people living on that block. All were dead by April 1944 either in Auschwitz or Sobibor. The canals and the merchant homes are just beautiful. It is hard to believe what actually happened here.

We stop for a coffee break before heading on to the Amstel River. We pass by the new City Hall which our guide considers an eye sore and the music hall. Apparently some wonderful historic buildings were sacrificed for these concert monstrosities; one building being the Jewish orphanage were workers risked their lives saving some of the children and others lost theirs trying to protect the children. A very simple black granite Monument to the lost Jews is located here.
We walk along the Amstel to the Magere Burg.
This is the end of the tour. Saying our good-byes, we all head in different directions. We go back to the City Hall area where we grab a bite to eat and then walk through the lively Jewish market.

From there we start weaving our way back to the hotel crossing several more canals. We get a nice view of the Waag, a multi torreted medieval gatehouse down one canal and the Zuiderkerk down another one.

We finally get to the Zuiderkerk, Amsterdam’s first Calvinist Church with its colorful clock and onion dome. At this point our feet are killing us so we find a taxi and go back to the hotel the easy way! Eleven Euros well spent!

After walking about three miles this morning, we both collapse once back in the room resting and reading for a while. We have a timed tour ticket at 4:20PM for the Anne Frank House back over where we started this morning. So we are off again. There is still a huge line of people waiting to get in so Carolyn is really glad she got our tickets on line. We walk right in. The ticket taker is a little concerned about Carolyn’s walking sticks due to the really steep stairs, but we feel we can manage . The stairs are very steep and narrow and the living spaces are small and dark. What a terrible way to spend two years. The museum is well done and we are glad we did the walking tour first and then visited the museum.
After this outing we are really dead on our feet when we get back to the hotel! Dick gets some ice from the bar...they actually have an ice machine and give us a nice bucket full. We head to the room, fix some drinks and talk about what to do for dinner. Dick finally goes down and asks about places to eat, apparently there is a whole street, Spuistratt, of eating places on the street behind the hotel. He goes for a quick walk and finds several that offer salads which we are both craving...this is another place where the food all seems one color.

We get out and walk over to this really busy shopping area and have dinner alfresco with the natives. It has been a long day so we head back to the hotel and collapse again.

No comments:

Post a Comment