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Amsterdam – More Than a Sin City

September 28, 2011 by Chelsea Slone

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Amsterdam may be well known for their liberal legislation with their “coffee shops” and seedy red light district but if you look beyond the downtown bridges you’ll see this funky town is much more than a sin city. So whether you are admiring the incredible art galleries throughout the city, visiting the Van Gogh Museum, and taking a trip to the home of Anne Frank you’ll quickly see what amazing things Amsterdam has to offer. Oh and the must have accessory, a bicycle, is necessary… So grab your bikes and let’s make our way over the bridges and through the canals to the must sees of Amsterdam.

As an art lover the Van Gogh Museum was top of the list. The Museum which opened in 1973 holds an amazing collection of 200 paintings, 500 drawings and 500 letters written by Vincent Van Gogh. Sadly, Van Gogh although full of talent was a tormented soul suffering from a mental illness. And at the age of only 37, Van Gogh committed suicide. In his short life Van Gogh produced some amazing artwork and after he passed his loving sister-in-law dedicated her life to publicizing his work and talent. Her son who inherited Van Gogh’s works loaned them to Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, where it was displayed for many years, before being transferred to the Van Gogh Foundation in 1962.The super talented Dutch post-impressionist painter is famous for his unmistakeable style of his swirling brush stroke and use of vivid color. Some of the most notable works in the museum include the Bedroom in Arles, Wheatfield and Crows and Sunflowers. We weren’t exactly allowed to take pictures, but snuck in a few for you!

We also took a visit to another famous museum in Amsterdam, the Rijksmuseum. The neo Renaissance contains the world’s largest collection of paintings by Dutch masters to include Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Frans Hals. And while this style art is not such a huge interest of mine we went to see the famous “The Night Watch” work by Rembrandt which is currently being displayed in the museum.

One of the most fascinating yet heartbreaking places in Amsterdam is the Anne Frank House. For two years, Anne Frank and seven others hid from Nazi persecution. They hid in a secrete annex behind a swinging bookcase. The 13-year old Anne, who began her now famous diary in July 1942, provides a unique account of growing up under persecution and of a life in confinement. In our visit we were able to walk through their secrete annex and see the photos and magazines Anne glued to the wall during their time of hiding to make her dark home a little more happy. We were also giving the privilege to see the hand written diaries cased in different areas throughout the annex. It was not until 2010, fifty years after Anne Frank House first opened its doors to the public that the first complete collection of Anne’s writings went on display at the museum. On 18 March 2010, custody of all the materials that Anne wrote while in the attic was officially transferred to the Anne Frank Foundation, including the three diaries, the “book of nice sentences”, the book of stories she wrote, loose pages and the photo album she put together during her time in hiding.

The Anne Frank Story:
Anne Frank was born on June 12, 1929 in Germany. She was the second daughter of Otto Frank and Edith Frank-Holländer. She had a sister named Margot who was 3 years old at the time of her birth. The Franks were, of course, Jewish.

Anne’s father Otto worked at a bank owned by the family. It looked like Anne Franks childhood was going to be like any other young girls. She and her sister were popular kids. In 1933 with all of the problems in Germany and the rise of anti-Semitism the Franks decided to move to the Netherlands . Everything seemed fine and the Frank’s were happy until the German army invaded the Netherlands in 1940. The Jews were forced to follow the same restrictions as other Jews in countries such as Poland and Czechoslovakia. All Jews had to wear the star of David. There were some rumours of the existence of concentration camps but nobody was really sure.

In 1942 Anne would turn 13 and she received a diary as a present. From this day on it would become one of Anne’s the most treasured possessions and one of histories greatest documents. The Franks knew something was wrong when Margot got a call and was told that she had to report to work camp duty. Now they were beginning to believe the rumors were true. Otto Frank had an idea that deportations might happen so he began to prepare a hiding place for the family and another family, the Van Pels. The secret annex was concealed by a moveable bookcase in a building owned by Otto Franks company. Otto Franks employees helped by bringing them food and clothing. They were never allowed to leave the building and had to stay quiet during the day because there were workers in the lower level. While all of this was going on Anne continued to write in her diary. They hid in the annex for two years and finally the allies landed on D-Day and they had hope for there liberation.

On August 4, 1944 a car pulled up to the front of the building and an SS officer entered the building and ordered one of the workers to show them the secret annex. Everyone was taken away and Anne’s diary was recovered by one of Otto’s workers. On September 3, 1944 all of those in hiding were packed on a train and sent to Auschwitz. Instead of being sent to the gas chamber they were given hard labour. Anne and Margot were transported to Bergen-Belsen and died of typhus in March 1945, only a few weeks before the camp was liberated by the British. Otto Frank was the only one to survive.

A few more things to mention about Amsterdam…
The famous floating flower market to show us why they are the flower capital of the world!

The oh so popular fast food vending machines. Disgusting right? And they say Americans are the fast food lovers…

And last but not least a glimpse of the Red Light district.

Well that’s all we have for Amsterdam, so meet us for some chocolate at our next stop… Belgium!


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