Amsterdam, Part II: Anne Frank, Van Gogh, and More

We had to leave the canal tour early because we had tickets for 5:30 at the Anne Frank House.

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The Anne Frank House and Museum, the brown/glass building on the right

I am so glad that Deator was able to get us tickets in advance, because the line was all the way down the street. The guide said that over the summer people line up for 4-5 hours waiting to get in. It’s nice to know that even after 70 years so many people come to learn about and pay respect to her.

Our ticket included a 30 minute intro to the museum with a tour guide, which was quite informative. I like guided tours because I tend to get more out of them. For the first half hour we were in a room with pictures of Anne and her family.

The guide gave us a brief overview of World War II and Amsterdam’s experience during it. Apparently, Amsterdam was supposed to be a very tolerant city to Jews at the time, but 85% of the Jewish population was destroyed once the country came under German occupation.

We were then able to walk around the rest of the museum on our own, which took about an hour. It was a very surreal experience to walk through the rooms that the Frank family and their friends had hid in for 25 months.

After they were discovered, two of the women who had been helping them stay hidden were able to collect their things from the annex before the “cleaners” came to take and sell the possessions to help the Germany army. It is because of this that so much of their personal belongings, especially Anne’s diary, still exist today.

Anne’s original diaries, notebooks, drawing, and short stories are all on display. In order to preserve these fragile pages, no photography was allowed throughout the museum.

At the end of the museum and before the gift shop, there is a video of past visitors, some of whom are celebrities, discussing their thoughts and feelings after visiting the museum. John Green read one of my favorite quotes from his book, The Fault in Our Stars, which discusses seeing the book that lists the names of every Jewish victim from Amsterdam. In this huge book, there are thousands of names listed. I think this quote adequately describes how many of the people around me felt after finishing the tour:

“The book was turned to the page with Anne Frank’s name, but what got me about it was the fact that right beneath her name there were four Aron Franks. FOUR. Four Aron Franks without museums, without historical markers, without anyone to mourn them. I silently resolved to remember and pray for the four Aron Franks as long as I was around” -John Green

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Program from the Museum

We finished the tour around 7pm, and went to a comedy show to cheer us up a bit. We ended up getting very, very lost and missed the 8:00 show, and just made it in time for the 9:00 one.

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It was a fun improv show, with two of its comedians being from the US (Boston and D.C), and the other two from AustralAsia. It gave us a few much needed laughs! Afterwards, we were so hungry, and didn’t end up eating dinner until almost 11pm.

Since the next day (Friday) was going to be our last full day in Amsterdam (we booked a day trip to Keukenhof Gardens for most of Saturday), we woke up early to get a head start.

We (once again) got a bit lost, and didn’t end up reaching the museum plaza until almost 10am. Our first stop was to the Rijksmuseum to check out the I AMsterdam sign!

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We arrived a bit late, so there was already a swarm of people cluttered around the sign.

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Squeezing through…

You have no idea how long we had to wait for people to not jump right in front of our pictures…

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I FINALLY got to be the tall one!

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Because our bus to the Keukenhof Gardens to see the tulips left at 2, we wanted to make sure we had enough time to visit the Van Gogh museum. We were going to come back to this museum, but sadly we ran out of time….This museum is so big, I’m sure we could have spent the whole day there!

We made our way towards the Van Gogh museum and say a long line. We knew we were in a bit of a hurry, so we went to the ticket box straight away to buy our. After we picked up our tickets, we went to get in line, only to have the security guard tell us we didn’t have to! She said that the long line we saw was the line to BUY the tickets, not to go into the museum. We felt so awful for cutting in front of so many people! She made us feel a little better by saying that her colleagues should have been paying attention, and that it wasn’t our fault.

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I bought the audio tour for the museum, because otherwise I would just stare at pictures and learn nothing about them (interpreting art is not my strong suit). The audio tour was great, and gave me a lot of background on each picture, and told me a lot about Van Gogh’s life.

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I learned that I wasn’t a big fan of his early work, mostly because he used dark, dreary colors. After he traveled to Paris to study, his paintings become much more colorful and vibrant (definitely more my thing!). It was neat to see his progression over the years. The museum has over 200 of his paintings, 400 drawings, and 700 of Van Gogh’s hand written letters to his brother Theo, other family members, and fellow artists.

We ran out of time, and headed towards Central Station to catch our bus to see the world famous tulips!

(You can read about my Keukenhof Gardens Adventure here.)

We ended up being a little early, so we went souvenir shopping and wandered down the main street.

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Aren’t these slippers adorable?

Last looks around the city!

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My new favorite building, purely because of the sign

Goodbye, Amsterdam! I’ll miss you.

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