3 Things for Friday in Amsterdam

by - Tuesday, May 14, 2013

1. That today is only 14 hours long- time changes are so weird. We are losing 10 hours today, so this day is technically super short. 2 red eyes in a row is a pretty ambitious travel schedule, but I liked having the eight hours in Amsterdam to rally stretch our legs (and eat a bunch of junk).

2. Waffles with chocolate ice cream on top- I guess both chocolate and waffles are Belgian things, but Dutch food is a close neighbor, and bother were delicious. The chocolate wasn't as sweet, but it was really rich, and I think the waffle had a teeny bit of syrupy glaze on it. Why didn't I have this when I was there before?

3. The canals in Amsterdam- it is just such a smartly laid out city and I think the canals, with all of the boats, bicycles, canal houses, and trees around them, are more beautiful that the ones in Venice (and smell a lot less like piss). If you only have a little time to walk around in the city, you should go for it, because it couldn't be a nicer walk.

4. The Anne Frank House- The Boy had to pick which big attraction we would go to, since we really only had time to do one touristy thing, and I was there before. He picked that we go there, and I was pretty ambivalent at first (and then way more so when I saw we would have to wait at least an hour to get through the line). I was wrong. I have never really gotten into Anne Frank, and I don't remember loving reading the diary when I was younger. I perceived her to be an especially sympathetic symbol- standing in for the huge population of victims of the Holocaust, both for how resilient they could be and how ridiculously cruel the whole situation was. Before going, I wondered about whether Otto Frank had done his daughter wrong by making her personal and private feelings so public when she wasn't around to consent.

 To see the tiny, shady space they lived in, and the (actual!) bookshelf they lived behind, and the original written diary pages reminded me that she wasn't just a symbolic figure, she was a person too. The most heartbreaking part of the whole thing was that they still had the pen marks on the wall marking both sisters' growth. She was really just a kid. I think this helped me understand that the importance of Frank as a figure is only symbolic as long as it is rooted in her being a real person with a real life. In some ways, it is harder to think about this happening to an individual young girl than a large crowd of faceless people you never know. Her embodied personhood (as opposed to that of a fictional character or even many other historical figures) is really  useful to understanding a tragedy we are increasingly separated from. The whole thing was moving without being as much of a downer as you might expect. The end applied lessons of the Holocaust to more contemporary events, and warned against the dangers of racism, xenophobia, etc. I would highly recommend it, but I would also recommend that you buy your tickets ahead of time!
5. My new t-shirt- it is the most dignified and glamorous thing I have ever owned. It is just so amazing that I have actually been afraid to put it on so far. If it was all that had come out of our Amsterdam trip, it would have been worth it.
6. That we went 45 minutes out of our way on the train with little sleep and no idea what we were doing, but we were still laughing- We ended up way out in Weesp, and we only got off the train because I thought there were way too many cows and too few buildings for us to think we were still in the city. The Boy and I didn't turn on each other, which felt like a solid accomplishment on its own. Of course, it cut down the time we could have spent with prostitutes, but they all seemed really bored when we walked through the Red Light District anyway. They were all standing there in their underpants texting on their phone. Alluring.

7. Being back in Europe, even if it was only for a day- Some things reminded me so much of my life in Vienna six years ago, which made me both sad and happy. I feel really at home there, even though my Dutch is non-existent. I was so happy to be in an old European city, and to eat lots of pastries (and fries!), and to be surrounded by people speaking other languages. It made me feel like it is really time to go back to Vienna (maybe next year?). Also, let's not linger on the differences in the two pictures. I had already been on one red eye and was at least 18 hours from a shower in either direction.

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