On our final day in Amsterdam, we had no where to be and nothing to do till late in the evening. So we slept in a little and spent the morning eating a leisurely European breakfast at our hotel. After breakfast, we boarded the train to the little town of Haarlam. I find it kind of funny that in historic times it took the Dutch two days to float down the canals to visit Haarlam, but it only took us 20 minutes to get there by train. Technology is astounding. The reason we were going to Haarlam was to see the home of Corrie Ten Boom, who was a Christian who helped hundreds of Jews during the Holocaust. Her story is miraculous and detailed in the book, The Hiding Place.
When we reached Haarlam, we had a little time before the next tour started at the Ten Boom Museum, so we explored Haarlam. We hit the Grote Markt, which is an outdoor market, full of beautiful items. I was so excited to see this place because I remember reading about it in the book. We bought several souvenirs for our families here, including a little Dutch board game that I found for our 3 year old nephew, Caden. I was so excited about this because I put a lot of thought into the souvenirs I buy for people. And until the last day, I could not find anything special and age appropriate for him, so I was on cloud nine after this purchase.
The first thing I noticed about the Ten Boom house was the Alpina triangle in the window. The same Alpina triangle the Ten Booms would place in the window so that people in the resistance movement would know it was safe to enter. Unfortunately, when the Ten Booms were invaded, the Nazi Guards figured out the purpose of the triangle and placed it back in the window, which led to several arrests. Next, the guide lead us into the home and everyone gathered in the living room. We all got to know each other better and the guide spent some time telling us the story of Corrie Ten Boom and The Hiding Place.
The Ten Boom House is an odd house. A split level with narrow stairs and bedrooms that sit higher than the attic. We went up to Corrie's bedroom, where a piece of the wall had been sliced open, so we could see where the 6 people hid for 6 days while the Nazis searched for them (they never found them). It was a moving experience and we even got to step inside the hiding place. I can't imagine being trapped in there for so long.
After our amazing visit at the Ten Boom house, we headed back to Amsterdam for a late lunch. I would have liked to get something more Dutch cuisine specific, but Adam really wanted to check out this American diner, so we did. We had the loveliest waitress, who was thrilled to find out we were from L.A. She had just visited L.A. and had fallen in love. So in love, she was planning on picking up and moving there in a few months. We exchanged e-mails and it was so cool to make a friend while on our vacation! And if I didn't know better, I would think Adam was flirting with her in this picture! But no, he wouldn't, he knows I would kill him!
We had a little time before our reservation at the Anne Frank House. So we used the extra time to explore the beautiful neighborhood surrounding the Anne Frank house on the Prisengracht canal. There were gorgeous canal houses, churches, and unique shops. We spent some time just sitting back and watching the people aimlessly float by on the canal. So lovely. It was hard for me to believe that Anne as a young girl, spent two and a half years hidden from the world. Especially when the world just outside her doorstep continued on.
I have dreamed of visiting the Anne Frank Huis for at least the last 10 years, and it is so weird to realize this dream. It wasn't exciting, and I didn't expect it to be. It was sobering. The rooms were so much smaller than I had pictured in my head. And all the windows were blacked-out as they were during their time in hiding, and it made the space feel so claustrophobic. I can't even begin to imagine what those people, who were innocent of everything expect being Jewish, must have been feeling. The fear they lived with and the pressure the people helping them hide were under. And in the end, the plan failed. It seems like such a waste, these beautiful people killed for nothing. Both I think their tragic story brings such an awareness to the injustices in WWII, and the dangers of letting prejudices and hate linger.
It seems like a weird turn around to go out to a bar after such an emotional experience at the Anne Frank Huis, but that is what we did. We went to the ice bar for a below freezing clubbing adventure. Once you enter, everything is made of ice, including the bar, the seats, and even the shot glasses! Adam and I looked very dapper (OK, foolish) in our thermal suits. The cold was invigorating. Part of the fun at the ice bar involved this crazy 4D movie, where we were penguins sliding on the ice. It was odd but entertaining. After the movie, we had several drinks and danced to songs like Ice, Ice, Baby.
When we exited the Ice Bar, the sun was setting over the canals, and it was a beautiful end to our wonderful trip. We then proceeded to get on a tram to get back to our hotel, but we got on the wrong one, and ended up somewhere in the middle of the Amsterdam suburbs. It was full circle, being as that this was pretty much the last time we would be using the public transportation, and we had gotten lost the first time we used the transportation.
Song of the Day: How Many Miles by the Waifs