We are halfway through our last stop on this tour. We have had a great time, but that big bed is calling our names.
Yesterday we exposed Ria and Scott to their first Vietnamese coffee, complete with the obligatory condensed milk. The owner of the shop moved here 10 or 12 years ago and 2 years ago opened her coffee shop, La Purete. She imports the coffee from Vietnam and roasts it herself. It was as good as anything we ever had in Vietnam. For those unfortunate souls who have yet to have the experience, you have no idea what you are missing.
We were wandering through the shopping area – which is pretty much all of Amsterdam that isn’t a bar and came upon this little shop. The owner was delightful. She has been selling vintage clothing and accessories in this place for 25 years. The number and variety of socks and tights was fantastic.
But our favourite were these – a package of three.
We had some time to kill before our appointment to go through the Anne Frank house so stopped for a drink at a little cafe. Now, you need to know that for some strange, unfathomable reason Scott has a thing for accordion music. He just loves it. Imagine his glee when this gentlemen strolled across the street and began playing right next to us.
Then we visited the Anne Frank house (no photos allowed). It was quite the experience. After Oskar Schindler’s factory, Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Jewish Memorial and Jewish Museum in Berlin, this seemed to bring it all together. I think because it was so incredibly personal in that we have all read her book. What was surprising were the sizes of the rooms. They were quite large. When it was turned into a museum, Otto Frank, the only survivor and Anne’s father did not want the rooms furnished as they had been, so the most powerful items were pages from her actual diaries and books. The Frank family were betrayed by someone who has never been identified. I suspect it was one of the people closest to the families living there since the hiding place was so well hidden.
Strangely enough, the single most emotional item there for Terry and I was the actual Oscar award given to Shelley Winters for her portrayal of Mrs. Petronella Van Daan, one of the women who lived in the secret annex. When she won, she told Mr. Frank that she would keep it for a while and then give it to the house, which she did. Somehow, seeing it at the end of the tour just tore both of us up.
From there it was meandering until dinner to be followed by the infamous red light district at night.
We sat at a street side bar/cafe and watched the Dutch go by.
Terry took all these photos.
Finally – even in Amsterdam there are distracted
After dinner at a very nice Thai restaurant, owned by a sardonic Chinese/Dutch fellow who has only one Thai person working for him, it was off to the “sights”. Here’s the problem. It doesn’t actually get dark until after 10:30 and we finished dinner at about 8:00. We’re old and the chances of us being up at 10:30 are negligible. We assume most of the action starts when it is dark, so we didn’t see the traditional sights. However, at street level in many little alleys are glass doors behind which sit minimally dressed women. There may have been 15 or 20 of these rooms which were “in operation”. There were many others waiting for a woman to start work.
I want to say that I felt quite uncomfortable walking through here for the 15 – 20 minutes we were there. I’m far from a puritan, but the entire atmosphere was demeaning. From the hordes of drunk guys on stags marauding through the streets, to the middle aged tourists – me included – to the parents with children it was like we were alien visitors to a zoo, with the unfortunate women in glass cages. It was the ultimate degrading tourist trap.
Saturday we headed off to Zaanse Schans. This is a typical Dutch village which dates from the 18th and 19th centuries. We watched how they make wooden shoes – it now takes 10 minutes on a couple of machines to make a pair as opposed to the 3-4 hours it used to take. We saw many many windmills – most of them still working. We enjoyed a nice lunch and walked through along a street of traditional homes. All in all it was a pleasant experience – right up until we got on the bus for the very hot, long forty minute bus ride home.
Anyway, there’s the wedding wooden shoes
There’s the steppin’ out wooden shoes
There’s the artsy wooden shoes
And there’s the travellin’ wooden shoes
A couple of the traditional homes.
The Shoe Blog