I guess I had just pictured quiet little canal streets like this:
And to be fair, there were plenty of those. But I wasn't prepared for how congested the city was. I mean as soon as you step off the train there are sights and sounds . . . and smells.... It can be overstimulating to an exhausted traveller.
Our hotel was located in Leidseplein, which is a busy and lively area. We got a little lost trying to find it at first, which is very easy to do, so wandering aimlessly, dragging my luggage behind, was not making me feel less anxious. But needless to say, we found the hotel, got checked in and immediately went back out to explore our new city.
We spent the afternoon and early evening wandering the streets, walking in and out of shops, and of course, trying to avoid death by bicycler. We ended the night with a stroll through the red light district. Which in all honesty, was no big deal. Just a bunch of slightly unattractive older women sitting in a window in their underwear looking bored and underwhelmed. I personally think most of them could use a Zig Ziglar course in effective sales techniques, but whatever.
The next day we visited the Anne Frank House, the Dutch Resistance Museum and the Jewish History Museum. I have wanted to see the Anne Frank House since I was 13 years old. Although it was a very moving experience being there, and reading everything her father Otto went through to open the Museum in her honor, I was a little disappointed in the bookstore. The store carried the Diary of Anne Frank in every possible language, as well as other versions of the story, including a comic book. Really? A comic book? I don't know. It just felt icky.
My favorite by far was the Jewish History Museum. I loved every single thing about this amazing place. It walked you through a history of the religion and explained the persecution these people have gone through for thousands of years. I am so fascinated by other cultures and religions, so this museum really spoke to me. But Uberman said we could not convert because of that teeny tiny detail about believing Jesus is the son of God. Bummer.
Regardless, I think everyone should live by the words above. Your life should have meaning. Make each moment count. And do your part to make the world a better place. These words stuck with me. Our last day in Amsterdam was spent touring the Heineken Museum and walking along the canals.
And looking at all of the bicycles...
I am sad we missed out on the amazing art museums this city had to offer. But we'll go back... Some day....