Saturday, August 08, 2009

Amsterdam 2009: favorite pictures and thoughts

Like every other visitor to the city of Amsterdam, we made a stop at the Anne Frank House. (side note: I recommend that tickets be purchased online and printed before visiting. We went right in, but I believe the line is five or six hours long.) My initial impression of the Anne Frank House is just how innocuous it appears. It is just a quiet rowhouse along the Prisengracht canal. What you do not get from the book is just how small and unassuming the house really is. I cannot imagine the number of people who lived in this house, in fear, for several years.

I was shocked at the number of bicycles in Amsterdam. Which is wonderful, I think we should all cut down on the time that we spend in our cars. However, walking on city streets is dangerous. Traffic flow in Amsterdam seems to be chaotic without rhyme or reason and everyone yields to the bikes. Any given street will have two bike lanes, lanes for cars, then in the middle, a bus/tram lane. Before you cross any street it is necessary to look back and forth about five times, then cross your fingers and pray as you run.

Amsterdam 2009: Haarlem

As a day trip we visited St. Bavo's Cathedral in Haarlem. This church was built on top of 1500 graves. It is quite eerie to have the floor made of gravestones, complete with names and dates.

This is the most photographed organ in the world. (Thanks Mallorie!) I was hoping that some music would be played that would use those huge pipes, but it was only Baroque minuets that day.

This is one of my favorite pictures from the entire trip.

Amsterdam 2009

Despite raining for three days straight, Amsterdam has earned its place in my heart as one of my favorite cities. Where else can you see the collision of the kitschy (wooden shoes, windmills), the edgy (Amsterdam Torture Museum, Red Light District) and the just plain wild ("coffee shops" with 20 different types of marijuana) in one place? God bless Mallorie for humoring me in visiting this place.

This wooden shoe is the single largest tourist trap I have ever seen, but ridiculously fun. What you do not see are several dozen people lined up to pose with this shoe. Par for the course, I have no idea why there is an upside down cow on the ceiling of this shop. But it was enough to draw me in off the street.