Wednesday, August 14
Today was our first full day in Amsterdam!
First thing in the morning, we got the chance to visit the secret annex and hiding place of Anne Frank and her family. We got there at opening and the line to get in was already three blocks long! Our presentation began with the story of Anne Frank and the others who appeared in her famous diary.
Next, we were able to walk through the building, in which the secret annex was constructed and Anne lived for almost two years of her life. It was unbelievable to see how small the house was and how secluded the families must have been. We also learned that many others who were persecuted by the Nazis were put into similar or even worse situations.
The thing most striking about the visit to the Anne Frank Museum
was seeing and hearing the young 13-year old girl's ability to change such a
negative experience into a positive through her writing. Overall, the visit was
not only historically significant, but also very humbling for us all.
After the museum, we got to go on a boat tour through the canals that make up the city of Amsterdam. This tour was very informative and will help us to navigate the city over the next few days! I'm very excited to see what the rest of our visit has in store for us!
Bye for now!
Thursday, August 15
We began our day with a walking tour of the city of Amsterdam.
On our way to our first stop we saw Gable stones. These stones were placed over the businesses so people who were illiterate could find their dentist, breadmakers and other services because there were no street numbers at the time.
We continued on to Dam Square, located in the middle of the
city, where we came upon the Stadhuis House. First built in the 16th century,
it was a town hall and the largest building in the city. During the reign of
Napoleon, he sent his brother to rule the Netherlands and, because of its size,
it was used at his palace. He wished for a balcony and when it was built he
went out onto the balcony to greet the Dutch people and intended to say, "Hello,
I will be your new king," when he actually said, "Hello, I will be
your new rabbit," because he was learning Dutch and the word for king and
rabbit are similar.
After three years, Napoleon removed him. The Netherlands had been under a Dutch king since 1813, beginning with William I.
We continued our tour of the city and walked along Warmoesstraat, the oldest street in the city dating back to 1170. The Netherlands is a trading nation and Amsterdam is a city of canals. Every four weeks the canals are refreshed with freshwater from the Rhine river of Germany. One of the queens swam in one of the canals in a fundraising effort for ALS, and to demonstrate the freshwater content of the canals.
As we continued our tour we stopped at the Museum Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder, that was once a forbidden church. In 1578, the Netherlands converted to Protestantism and Catholics were allowed to live in Amsterdam - just not to practice their religion in plain sight.
They turned a canal house into a church, and people smelled the incense and heard the organs of the Catholic church, but it was not visible from the street therefore tolerated - out of sight, out of mind!
As we continued our tour, we visited the medieval gates of Amsterdam, which are now a restaurant. After the gate closed in the 16th-century, it became an anatomical theater. Once a year, one of the men that was executed for a crime would be examined by doctors and gave medical students the first insights of the human body.
The tour around the city was historically-filled and gave us a very good idea of the enormous amount of culture within the city. We had a very full morning and spent our afternoon down the shore of the North Sea, where we had a wonderful lunch.