"Everytime we go to Amsterdam, someone almost dies!"
Amsterdam is a city that I was eager to visit. I imagined quaint canals, an artistic bustling vibe, bike paths, museums and culture everywhere. These all turned out to be true contributing factors of this vibrant city, however, Amsterdam is not a place where you can let your guard down!
While discussing our upcoming day-trip to Amsterdam from Rotterdam, our good friend whom we were staying with declared; "Everytime we go to Amsterdam, someone almost dies!" I was more than a little surprised at this statement. She then regaled us with funny and crazy stories of the many near death accidents that had befallen them whenever they had visited this famous city. Although humorous, I kept this little morsel of information tucked away and determined to be extra 'aware' during our trip.
Luckily I did...because her statement turned out to be true.....
For us, we had two main reasons for visiting Amsterdam; The House of Anne Frank and the Van Gogh museum. We purchased tickets to the House of Anne Frank online. These are purchased ahead of time and you are given a time slot. We were so lucky to get our 4 tickets, it's a very popular place and we were there in the summer holidays! We gratefully left our younger three kids at home in Rotterdam with our friend, and eagerly set out for a day of fun learning...and near death...but more on that later.
We had watched the movie 'The diary of Anne Frank' the night before to prepare, and we were in the process of reading the book to the family. I was truly excited for my kids to learn history at the source!! I had studied WWII quite thoroughly in high school, but nothing quite compares with actually being there. It can be difficult to imagine places and events so far away and disconnected from your own life, I was simply thrilled to be able to educate my children on this important topic in such a vivid and memorable way that I hoped would have a lasting impact.
The museum did not disappoint. It was truly amazing to walk through that tiny attic where Anne and her family hid for two years.
We felt how cramped it was.
We noticed how dark everything was with the windows covered.
We felt deeply sad at the evidences around us of how difficult it must have been for a beautiful young girl on the threshold of womanhood to be shut away because of such violent hate. We were all touched and impressed with the information that was on display. Because of the time slot system, it never felt too crowded and we enjoyed freedom to walk through at our own pace and to learn and feel heartbroken over this terrible time in our world's history.
One thing I learned to love about Anne Frank was how 'ordinary' she was. Don't get me wrong, in many ways she was extraordinary; her imagination, her ability to hope and dream through such dark times. But I also loved that she was such a normal teenager; she complained, she was moody, she annoyed her family...and the world loves her. We love her with all her faults, and the museum truly did seem to honour the value of all life.
After touring the museum, we were able to purchase a replica of Anne Frank's diary for our own daughter to write about her life and dreams. She is also imperfect; complains, is moody, and annoys us intensely sometimes, but what a wonderful way for us to be reminded of how precious each imperfect life is.
After we had finished in the museum, we walked in the direction of the Van Gogh museum. It began to rain... a lot. This is when that imperfect precious daughter of mine decided to have a meltdown about how wet she was...and her shoes were unbearably uncomfortable...and everything else that was bothering her. "Sigh", travel with kids is never perfect, it can hit you with challenges at any moment.
Despite the emotional upheaval, I did get to catch glimpses of how gorgeous Amsterdam was, even in the rain, it was all that I had imagined!