For my next instalment of my blogtober series, I am writing about Amsterdam!
Charlotte and I went with our friends to Holland the weekend after Malta, so it was all a bit crazy but we had an amazing time. I will mainly be talking about Anne Frank’s house since it was the reason we visited Amsterdam and we were only there one weekend so it was pretty much the only historical site seeing we got to do.
In March 2016, a group of 6 of us went to Amsterdam for the weekend, we took a coach from our university in Reading overnight and woke up in Holland. (Note: I hate travelling on coaches). It was a long way but luckily we slept most of it. The first day we pottered round in the rain and sat in pubs and cafes. We stayed in a hostel, called the Hans Brinker, which prides itself on being dirty as sin. The basement has a club, complete with stripper poles, and the rooms were cramped and not the cleanest, but it was so much fun there. They had a large bar on the ground floor with beer pong tables and lots of music. Perfect for a large group of students. That night we wandered down the street until we came across a restaurant to cater for 2 meat eaters, 3 vegetarians and a vegan.
The next day we woke up, still exhausted from the journey but raring to go. Myself and my best friend, who studies other history related things, dragged our friends to Anne Frank’s house. We were shocked by how long the queue was to get in but only waited around 40 minutes to get in. We paid €9 for entry and we followed the directions inside the exhibition.
Anne Frank was a Jewish girl who had to go into hiding with her family during the second world war. She kept a diary whilst she was hidden in a secret annexe in Amsterdam, which is now a museum. Anne and her family hid in the annexe for two years until they were discovered and deported to concentration camps. Only her father, Otto Frank, survived. He published her diary years later. It was incredible to see where the Franks had lived, for two years. I didn’t fully understand the importance of this until I saw where she lived. I understood the fear and the difficulty her family must have gone through, all living in a tiny annexe, relying on others to bring them food, water, every type of essential. It is so small and cramped, you could not imagine so many people living there. Anne was just a teenager when she wrote her diary in the annexe, she spent two years of her youth without friends, without school and without going outside. The entrance to the annexe was covered by a moving bookcase, and it was very surreal walking through it.
I think that visiting the places where significant moments in history like this happened, make you feel more connected to them. They give you a new perspective, it isn’t just a book or a diary anymore when you visit, it is like you’re visiting what her life used to be, experiencing it. That is what made it important for us to go and see her house. To try to understand what the Jews in Holland and other European countries went through, what their life was like for those years. I would recommend visiting the Anne Frank house if you get a chance and also reading her diary if you haven’t already.
We had hoped to go to the Van Gogh Museum but didn’t have enough time (definitely my excuse to go back though). On Sunday, we ventured out of our hostel in the rain and managed to get lost in the Red Light District. We saw some interesting things there. When we were trying to find our way back, our map disintegrated because it was raining so much. One of our friends accidentally knocked a cyclist off their bike when the bike handle got caught on her back pack strap (to be honest the cyclist shouldn’t have been so close) but it resulted in a lot of angry Dutch shouting I think. We really weren’t prepared for the sheer amount of cyclists, I had had enough of bikes when we got back to England. We’d had near misses with bikes every few minutes whilst we were there. On the last night, we went on a bar crawl, I don’t remember all of it but I know we had fun. I’d definitely recommend doing an organised bar crawl in a European city once, but I wouldn’t bother doing it more than that. I think it is better to try it once and then use the time you would’ve spent hungover sat in a nice café having breakfast or mooching round a museum. I’m still not entirely sure how I made it back to my hostel, and with a bag of McDonald’s chips, but it was certainly fun for the whole coach load of students. The next day we crawled out of our hostel room and onto the bus when the coach driver remarked it was like ‘driving a hearse back to England’ (he wasn’t wrong). We all slept most of the way home and reminisced how much fun we’d had whilst we were on the ferry from Calais.
As I mentioned before, I definitely will go back to Amsterdam. It is such a beautiful place and I wanted to explore more of the museums and galleries that it has to offer!