With tears rolling from my eyes, I told Raga, “I can’t watch this anymore. This is so inhumane.” I could see sadness in his eyes as well when he softly asked me “I know. Do you want to stop watching?”
Our trip to Amsterdam began a few weekends before our actual travel date. Since the time I had read ‘The Fault in Our Stars’, I had been wanting to visit Amsterdam and Anne Frank Huis. Raga could not understand why I kept talking about Anne Frank Huis as the number 1 item on my list and I was not able to give a well deserved justification to it. So, as a part of our weekend routine we cuddled up cosy on the bed after dinner and watched a three hours’ documentary on Anne Frank. Let me give you a brief idea of what this is all about.
Anne Frank is a German born Jewish who and her family were a victim of the Holocaust by cruel Hitler and Nazis. The Franks were forced to go into hiding and lived in concealed rooms for about two years before being betrayed and transported to concentration camps. Anne’s father – Otto Frank – was the only survivor of the family while Anne and her sister died just few weeks before the camp was liberated. During her hiding, Anne had maintained a diary which is now the most read book in the world only after the Bible. Anne Frank Huis is a museum in the form of a replica of Otto Frank’s office and their hiding place and it has more than a million visitors per year.
Feel of the City
Raga loves buildings and architecture. Whenever we go on trips, 90% of the photos he would take will be of buildings (which I never understood why – it all looks the same right?) and 90% of the photos I would take will be of us in trying to pose and be candid at the same time. But Amsterdam converted me. These seventeenth century narrow houses overseeing canals, little skewed in structure with huge windows have a charm of their own. Now I was the one who was constantly taking photos of the buildings, while Raga kept thinking something strange has bitten me. Jokes apart, I fell in love with the city. With more than hundred kilometers of canals and 1500 bridges the city looks beautiful. The bridges are picturesque usually decorated with beautiful flower pots and bikes (cycles) locked to them. You will see bikes everywhere. The Dutch bikes are sturdy, classy and have absolutely no breaks. You will see people going about their lives on their bikes, be it rain or sunshine.
One of my favorite memories of Amsterdam is of the last day we spent there. Me and Raga rented bikes for the entire morning and happily rode along the canal and on hidden alleyways. For breakfast, we went to one of the cafes and grabbed a stroopwafel and a cup of coffee, sat at the canal and enjoyed our food in peace, admiring the beauty of the canal houses and looking at boats passing by. It was just so out of the ordinary.
Tips and things to do
Amsterdam has a lot to offer. You need to choose what you need to do depending on the time you have in hand. We spent three and a half days there and we were happy that we could tick off everything on our list.
Below is the list our tips and top 10 to do things in Amsterdam –
- Please go to Anne Frank Huis. It’s such a humbling experience. And if you plan to go, book tickets online. The tickets get sold fast and almost immediately. Booking opens two months before, so plan accordingly. We didn’t know that the online tickets get over so soon. We stood almost 3 hours in the rain in a queue to go inside, but I wouldn’t regret any minute of it.
- There are a lot of museums in Amsterdam. I would suggest not going to each one of them as it would probably be similar. But if you plan to go to all of them, buy an “I Amsterdam City Card” to get a discount. We went to Rijksmuseum. It was huge, lovely and well organized and we loved it.
- Cheese is omnipresent and I would say it’s a crime to come back without buying some for yourself. There are like a billion varieties and so hard to choose from and you will find a cheese shop in about every street. We came home with Spicy Chilly and Baby Goat and Raga is already sad that Spicy Chilly is about to get over.
- Rent a bike and ride to your heart’s content. If not anything else, I am sure you will re-live your childhood.
- Keep half a day at least to go to Zaanse Schans and learn how wooden clogs and cheese are made. Get a picture of yourself in one of those oversized clogs with windmills in the background. It’s worth it I would say. Kamalesh / Durga, if you are reading this – thank you for taking us there. It was just wonderful.
- Take Amsterdam canal tour. You will learn more about Amsterdam and the beautiful houses I fell in love with. If possible, try to take an open boat tour. We took the closed boat one and kept thinking that an open boat tour would have been better.
- Do visit Bloemenmarkt – the world’s only floating flower market. You can buy souvenirs, tulip buds, seeds etc. for you to take back home.
- Amsterdam is huge and walking around can be tiring. Buy a GVB day pass what will allow you to travel unlimited on bus, tram and metro. Public transportation is really good in the city.
- If possible, plan your trip during the tulip season and ride a bike along the tulip fields. Our friends tell us that its beautiful. Sadly, we missed the season by just a month. But there is always a possibility of next time, right?
- Last but not the least, if you are a South Indian and haven’t had any Idli for a few months, go to Sarvanabhavan and devour. Raga was in 7th heaven. 🙂