Nov 17, 2008

Amsterdam - Part 2 Continued

When I left you, my friends and I were walking to the Anne Frank House. What seemed like 7 blocks on the map turned into three times that, and it took us at least an hour to finally make it to our destination.

If not for the Anne Frank statue and the line of people outside, I think we might have missed it all together. The building is unobtrusive and almost cookie cutter. Externally it blends into the building beside it, and the building two doors down.
Somehow, I don't remember how, but we already had our tickets. We didn't have to wait in line and went right inside. Photography isn't allowed, so unfortunately this is straight from memory. The exhibition begins downstairs with Otto Frank's office and the rooms his secretary used. These rooms are large and open, and I remember more than one desk.

We wound through the museum and came to the stairwell leading to the secret annex. The stairwell was blocked by a large bookshelf which is moved off to the right and out of the way for people to pass. The shelf was attached to a rope, which I think is what they used to move it.

The stairs were steep and large, and never seemed to end. As I ascended the stairs I felt the temperature rise and the air become thick. According to the website, a climate control system was recently installed which I'm sure I would have appreciated. Calling the annex unlivable is a stretch, but I can see how being cramped with so many people in such a warm, small dark space must have been trying.

The other thing that was interesting was that there was no furniture. After discovering the annex and arresting its' inhabitants, the German soldiers raided the rooms of anything valuable. When Otto Frank returned to the annex after the war he found the rooms empty, and it was his wish that the rooms remain they way they were left by the Germans. For each room there is a single photograph of the room staged with furniture, but the space is bare. There's the occasional artifact behind glass against the wall, but nothing more.

Anne's room is the one I remember the most. The wall where her bed used to be is covered in pictures, and the website says that even more have been restored. I remember the picture of a young Queen Elizabeth, the same one I saw hanging in the National Portrait Gallery.

After leaving the annex you enter a room filled with artifacts from Anne's life after she was put into an internment camp, and other relevant items. There is also a video interview with Otto Frank talking about his daugther. I tried to listen to the interview, unfortunately Otto was drowned out by the sound of techno booming outside. One of the gay pride floats was outside on the canal and the music ruined the mood. If I could do one thing over, it would be to visit the House when there wasn't a party being thrown outside.

We left the house and walked back towards the hostel. We were famished... starving even, and decided to go to the Hard Rock Cafe for the free refills. Free refills are a purely American idea. There are no free refills in Europe for anything. There's also no free water. Let's just say you learn to sip and quickly.

The line at the Hard Rock was ridiculous, and we decided to walk around to find another place to eat. Eventually we gave up and returned to the Cafe for dinner. Long story short, they moved us to the back of the restaurant, forgot about us, gave us a buzzer that didn't work, forgot about us some more, and all in all left us waiting for more than an hour before we were seated. If looks could kill Christina would have felled the entire staff. In retrospect it's pretty hilarious, but at the time we were eating sugar packets and lemons just to fend off starvation while waiting for our food. I don't think it was worth the free refills.
Me pissed... and ranting with my eyes closed ?Jackie about to throw the buzzer into the canal...And Christina about to lay the beat down.
Following our long awaited dinner we headed back to the hostel for our last evening before leaving for Brussels the next morning.

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