Day fifteen of the World War 2 Memorial Tour takes us to Amsterdam. The city and its canals are beautiful, but for our tour, the Anne Frank House is an important stop. The weather has cooperated the entire trip with just occasional mist during this usually rainy period.
This is my third time cruising the Amsterdam canals, once before with David during an earlier Rhine and Danube River Cruise and years ago with my daughter on a Netherlands tour. I still love the feel of going back in time that the local architecture provides. Looking at my Flemish and Netherlandish prints at home, time stands still. Artist Johannes Vermeer is a favorite.
After the cruise we are dropped off at the Town Square. We have time to shop today and the Delft shop is one I can’t resist, especially the jewelry. The local restaurants are full on this busy noon, so we opt for the quick and familiar KFC and meet others from our group with the same idea. Marijuana smells permeate the air around us. Supposedly it’s only legal to smoke it outside the store where purchased or in public spaces, but the law doesn’t seem to be enforced.
The Anne Frank House
The house is a fitting Holocaust-related visit near the end of our travels. The line to enter stretches around the corner. It’s always that way. The house is small. The instructions in our itinerary say “not recommended for those who may have difficulty climbing steep staircases or who are bothered by crowds or close quarters.” No one speaks as we walk through the house. There’s no rule. It just doesn’t seem appropriate. The history of the Holocaust seems to continue to speak most effectively to the world through the diary of one young girl.
We all relate to her in our own way. I have a framed copy of one of her poignant quotes from the diary in my writing room:
“As long as this exists,” I thought, “and I may live to see it, this sunshine, the cloudless skies, while this lasts, I cannot be unhappy. The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature, and god. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and the God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”
On the way out of town, we make two stops to learn about three important traditions. The first is to a small manufacturing building where cheeses and wooden shoes are made.
We also stop at a lovely old windmill, one of few remaining working ones in the area.
Next time: The Rhine Valley
Ann Otto writes fiction based on factual as well as oral history. Her debut novel, Yours in a Hurry, about Ohio siblings relocating to California in the 1910’s, is available on-line at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kindle, and at locations listed on her website at www.ann-otto.com. Ann’s academic background is in history, English, and behavioral science, and she has published in academic and professional journals. She loves speaking with groups about all things history, writing, and the events, locations, and characters from Yours in a Hurry. She is currently working on her next novel about Ohio’s Appalachia in the 1920’s, and preparing for future works by blogging about a recent World War 2 European tour. She can be reached through the website, or on Facebook @Annottoauthor or www.Goodreads.com.