The Anne Frank House, on the Prinsengracht, was the foremost in my mind, when I visited Amsterdam. The place I had wanted to visit for over thirty years. Ever since I had first read "The Diary of Anne Frank". It is hard to imagine this quiet canalside street, echoing with the clatter of jackboots on the cobblestones, and the harsh, guttural commands as Dutch Jews were herded from their homes and onto trucks bound for who knew where? The tree-lined street looks to have changed little in the fifty years since. Other than the constant lines of people waiting to pay homage to a young girl whose life was cut tragically short by one of the greatest crimes against humanity. It was Otto Frank's wish that the house remain as it was after the Germans looted it, so the living quarters are empty save for a model on each floor which shows how it was furnished, and the pictures on what was Anne's bedroom wall. Despite waiting about 30 minutes in line, and the line of people being ever-constant, there was a silence as we all trudged through. Some quiet sobs. A respectful awe. At first, it seems quite spacious and then you begin to realise the number of people sharing this space, and you begin to see how cramped it actually was. And you ebgin to think of the way they had to live. not to be able to flush the toilet. Not to be able to open the windows for air in the Summer, or light a fire for warmth in the Winter. To be afraid to sneeze or cough. It is hard to imagine the fear that made people capable of living under those conditions. And then to remember that Anne was one person of millions. Not just Jews, but Romany gypsies, the mentally ill, and any other deemed undesirable in that awful time. Had she lived, how great might her talent have become? And, taking hers as the story of just one, how can we ever begin to imagine the immense talents in all walks of life, that were lost forever during this period? The Anne Frank House now ow
ns the building next door, which was being transformed into a museum when we were visiting. I believe this has to be a must-visit for anyone visiting Amsterdam. If nothing else, it truly makes you appreciate all that you have. I had never been to Madame Tussaud's in London, so on our trip to Amsterdam, I was determined that I was going to visit the master waxworks. It was a brilliant foray into history and popular culture. We traipsed through a historical canalside scene, with small boats bobbing on the water. There we met people from the "golden age"of Amsterdam - the crippled beggar, Jewish scientist, the prostitute and the sailor to whom she is plying her wares. There is a moving panorama of Amsterdam, showing the city and the low-lying polders beyond, constantly turning and giving you a full view of Amsterdam, in miniature. And you can walk through the studio of Johannes Vermeer - the famous Dutch painter. Or see the inside of a local tavern, complete with drunks and jolly peasants. To the present day, and Holland's first astronaut, Wubbo Ockels as he was on his Challenger mission in 1985. From there, to the great (and just well-loved) people of our century - Nelson Mandela, Freddie Mercury of Queen, Mel Gibson, Benny Hill, to mention just a few. It was well worth the visit. Almost centrally located at Dam20, it is easily found and accessible on foot or by tram from all parts of the city. The local telephone number is 020-622-99-49. There are discounts for groups, and the souvenir book is worth it's keepsake value. This is a place for adults and children. I recommend it as a place to go in Amsterdam. Finally, if this is your first trip to Amsterdam, make it a top priority to take one of the daytime canalboat trips when you first get there. Some are large and seat maybe 50 people, others are smaller and take maybe 10 or 12, but they are an excellent overview of Amsterdam and it's history. Our guide gave us
a running commentary in three languages, about the history and culture of the city, and pointed out numerous places of interest and idiosyncrasies along the way. The trips are usually an hour to two hours long, and are a tranquil island in the hubbub of the hustle that is life in Amsterdam. We were enthralled by the different fascias of the buildings, marvelling at their age and ornate decorations in stone and wood. We learned why the houses are so tall and narrow, because the taxes were paid on the footage of the width. And we were also told that just because the front is old doe not mean the rest of the house is. When the foundations fail, the houses are rebuilt, but the front has to remain! Who'd have thought it? We enjoyed our daytime trip immensely, but for sheer beauty ... We also took a candlelit cruise - ah, romance in this city of extremes. Champagne and hor dóevres, and a couple of candle bowls flickering at each table. We sailed the same maze of canals, but the buildings were aglow from within, the bridges ablaze with hundreds of coloured lights. It was magical. the same city as we'd passed through in the day, but looking magical in the dark night. I'd advise couples to take both cruises, they are so different and give you a chance to see a different side of the city. Families with school age children would enjoy the daytime trip, as there was more to see. They are both well worth the money and offer excellent chances for photos to remember your holiday in Amsterdam, by. I have to go back another time though - there was still so many places that I didn't get to see.
I went to Amsterdam in the summer of 2000, I don't know why. I had heard about what goes on there and deep down I knew that I would not really like this place. I went shortly after the football riots and so I had a feeling that being a Brit the people there may be a bit cold towards us. I was correct in thinking this, I also found the people there to be very cold and just wanting to take as much money off you as possible, they are not hospitable. Okay so it's good if you want to smoke and do the redlight (which by the way I was just an observer) but it's a place that I found to be over rated. When going to some bars I found that they tried to over charge us because the money is a bit confusing, also when you go to the toilets you are expected to pay even though you have just spent a fortune on drinks. One place we went to I sat down had a drink then just chatted with my friends. The bar maid then rudely came up to me and said 'you have to buy a drink' I was so angry because it is obvious they don't care about you having a good time, they are just after your money. I then said to her I have a drink and she then said 'if you are going to be rude then you will have to leave', she was an individual but that is the general vibe I got. This is my experience but to be honest there are much nicer places in the world to visit, so don't let these people get your money.
Obviously there's lots to see and do in the nations capital, however alot of things are very 'touristy', full of shops that sell plastic clogs and windmills. However, if you know where to go you'll be safe. if you're a football or architechture fan I reccomend the tour of Ajax stadium which is an amazing building. Anne Frank's house is another good attraction, put go early as in peak seasons the que is ridiculous. The tours round Amsterdam on the canals are quite good, but make sure you pick the right tour as some are better than others. If your into high culture then a trip to the galleries and museems is well worth it, especially to see the Van Goughs. Other than that just wander around by the cities scenic canals and take in the atmosphere and watch the street performers. Alright but if your going to Holland I reccomend Maastricht over Amsterdam.