Saturday, March 5, 2011


The last leg of my journey brought me to Amsterdam.  I arrived on Tuesday March 1st at 10pm.  I easily found my hostel, Heart of Amsterdam, literally in the heart of the Red Light District.  It was a long day of traveling and I was happy to find my next home for the remaining 4 days of my trip.  I have never been to Amsterdam and I was a little nervous to travel to this place by myself, but quickly my fears were put to an end.  It is an AMAZING city and everyone is so relaxed and cool.  I am sure the fact that most of them are high, probably helps the chill atmosphere but I didn't feel unsafe at all. Since I arrived so late, I went to sleep.

    Wednesday morning I was up early and set out to find Anne Frank's House.  Along the way I stopped at a cafe for breakfast and coffee.  The city is so architecturally crazy.  Most of the buildings are not built straight and they are all lop sided and it feels like I am walking in a Dr. Seuss book.  The buildings were built around 6 meters wide and some are even as small as 1 meter wide.  Unique to Amsterdam are the gables at the top of the buildings.  Since the buildings are so narrow, it is impossible to get furniture up the extremely narrow steps so each building has a hoisting structure to lift the furniture up to the level.
Cafe where I had breakfast

Statue of Anne Frank

Bookshelf leading to Secret Annex
Anne's Bedroom
      Anne Frank's House was amazing.  I have been reading, The Diary of Anne Frank, with my students for the last 4 years and to actually be standing in her house is amazing.  I have seen pictures of the apartment but to actually be inside was quite a different experience.  I was amazed about how narrow the building was.  The staircase leading to each level was EXTREMELY narrow.  The rooms were sooo small as well.  There is no furniture in any of the rooms because after the Nazis captured them, they came back and confiscated the furniture.  Otto Frank, Anne's father, did not want the museum to "refurnish" the rooms, he wanted it to be left how it was when they were taken.  The most interesting experience was walking up to the "secret annex" behind the bookshelf.  The book shelf was shorter than I am and it opened up to a secret staircase.  We were able to go up the stairs which led to the bedrooms, living room. It is so hard to see how their living room, not only was a bedroom and the gathering room.  Anne's room still has some of the pictures she put on the wall.  She had pictures of famous actresses and she was like any other girl her age, who pasted pictures all over the walls.  I was not allowed to take pictures, but I could not miss an opportunity to show my students what it really looked like.
Anne's House is the one with the flag pole
cat rescue house boat
    After Anne's house, I walked around Amsterdam to take in the ambiance and ended up taking a canal tour.  The tour took about an hour and we were able to see the city from a different point of view.  I learned that there are 2,500 house boats living on the canal.  They are part of an "old birth" and "new birth" boats are not allowed.  The only way a "new birth" can happen is if an old birth boat left.  There was even a house boat full of cats.  Amsterdam is the mecca for cats.  The Czech Republic is the country of dogs and Amsterdam is the country of cats.  Almost even house has a cat sitting in the window.  I have not seen so many cats in my life.

1 meter wide house

Central Station
Floating Flower Market

Famous view of the 7 bridges
different types of gables
coffee house

The next morning, I got up early to go on a tour of the Dutch countryside.  Our first stop was at Makken, a cheese making factory.  I have to admit that I do not like cheese but since I was there, I actually tried some and wait for it....I actually liked some.  I did cake the cheese with a lot of mustard but I have to admit that some of it was really good.  This doesn't that my hatred of cheese is over but there were some baby steps made today.  Outside of the cheese factory, you could see so many authentic windmills.  I just wish the weather was better so the pictures would have come out more clearer.

 Some more homes in the village

Me outside cheese factory with windmills in background.

Windmills at Makken

Windmills at Makken


 After Makken, we went to a clog making factory.  We watched our guide make some actual shoes.  The are made with a type of wood that is waterproof and long lasting.  Many Dutch people still wear clogs today out in the garden and in their everyday life.  They protect the feet and if they get stepped on by a cow it won't hurt because the clog's are made out of wood.  The original process took 5 hours to make one pair of shoes. Now modern technology allows them to make the shoes in 5 minutes, in the same fashion as a new set of keys are made.

         Then we ended our tour Volendam an original fishing village.  We had an hour to tour the village.  I had a good lunch and then walked around the town.  It was soooo chilly and the wind was brutal but it was nice to see the hand made dikes and fishing boats. 

Me at Volendam

Me looking out and dreaming about undiscovered places

Dykstra in Dutch means a man who lives by the dike. And since I am part Dutch, this is my interpretation of that.  This me, sitting on a dike. (also a reference to a picture that was taken in Australia when I was 12)

in the Voledam village

 It took about 40 minutes to get back to Amsterdam.  When I got back and hung out with Justin for a bit and then ventured to explore the city for awhile.  That night I walked around Amsterdam  and hung out with my American friends for "thirty minutes" and then watched a  movie.  My 7am check out came too quickly and I was very sad to leave Amsterdam.  I had a great time, met some hopefully new friends, and had the best, last night in Amsterdam.

Red Light District

Red lights on in the Red Light District

Amsterdam at sunset

Floating Flower Market

Floating Flower Market

inside one of the floating flower market shops.  Just across the street, I stepped into a cafe for the best Dutch Pea Soup I have even eaten. For dessert, I had a piece of Dutch apple pie.  It was delicious but nothing on my grandma's apple pies.  Sorry Dutch people, but true.

At night in the Red Light District, hundreds of swans would appear.  They were so beautiful and so ironic in the district of sin, such purity floated by.

Red Light District at night

Red Light District at night.  My hotel is on the left

My tour of the city the last night.  

The city is so beautiful at night.  It is all lit up with lights and perfect for evening strolls

Amsterdam at night

1 comment:

  1. Wow, very beautiful pictures!, love the atmosphere.

    I've just got back from Amsterdam too, describing my experiences in three words: I loved it!
    Found a very cute place to through short term apartments Amsterdam. They had a nice clean canal house where we'd stayed, maybe worth checking it out for your next trip,no too expensive either!