It was my first full day in Amsterdam and I had a time slot booked to visit the Anne Frank House Museum at 4.15 pm, and an arrangement to meet a facebook friend at the Concertgebouw late morning to catch the free lunchtime concert. This left plenty of time to fill exploring Amsterdam, so I decided to make an early start and walk to the I Amsterdam sign by the Rijksmuseum to get there before there were too many people as it seems to be a hotspot for photo opportunities! Update, this sign has now been moved, and is touring other less busy spots of Amsterdam.
Though raining on and off, it was really very mild, so I didn’t bother with a raincoat and made do with my umbrella.
Sure enough, getting to the I Amsterdam sign before 9 am meant that it wasn’t particularly busy and I could take a few photos without hoards of people in the way.
I decided to walk to Vondelstr, a pretty street just north of Vondelpark to visit the Hollandsche Menage, Hollands version of the Spanish Riding School, but unfortunately despite the fact it should have been open, it wasn’t, so a visit wasn’t to be. Instead I walked back through part of Vondelpark, a large public urban park, to head to the Concertgebouw and the rain had stopped which made it even more enjoyable.
At the Concertgebouw I got in line for the tickets for the free lunchtime concert that they hold on Wednesdays for part of the year. Here I had arranged to meet up with a new friend I had met on facebook, on a page especially for women who travel, where we had been discussing visiting Amsterdam. Her name was Carolyn and she was traveling with her Grand-daughter which was fun. Once we had our tickets we sat and got to know each other before going in for the concert which turned out to be a lovely 30 minutes listening to award winning Mexican Harpist, Cesar Secundino Mendez.
After the concert we all walked together to the I Amsterdam sign, which by now was a lot busier than it had been earlier, took a few photographs and then said our goodbyes – it had been fun to meet up with a fellow female traveler.
By now it was after 1 pm and I was hungry, so I decided to have a late lunch at a restaurant called Greenwoods that I had read about online and happened to be on my walk back towards the Anne Frank House.
Greenwoods Tea Room and restaurant in on Keizersgracht 465, and has seating inside and right by the canal which is where I managed to get a table. I was tempted to have Afternoon tea for my late lunch, but instead went for a healthier option of a salad as is sounded delicious on the menu, and it was. I hoped to come back to Greenwoods later in my visit to try the Afternoon Tea, but unfortunately ran out of time, so will save that for another time hopefully. You can read more about Greenwoods on my blog post, Delicious Foods in Amsterdam.
After lunch I walked on to the Jordaan district towards the Anne Frank House Museum. I stopped briefly at my Hotel, the Nadia Hotel, which was in a great location and handy to be able to drop in and freshen up before moving on to the Anne Frank House Museum for my ticketed time for entry at 4.15 pm.
The photo above shows the Anne Frank House Museum complex, with the visitor centre on the right, where you enter, and the actual Anne Frank canal house being the one to the left with the black doors at the bottom. At the moment you have to buy your tickets for the Museum online, and they become available 2 months before the date you plan to visit, and you can choose the time you want to visit. I arrived just before my 4.15 time, showed my confirmation e-mail, and was allowed to enter into the visitor centre. Once inside your ticket time is checked again, then you can get an audio guide in your language and start making your way through the museum.
Most of the rooms, including in the actual secret annex, are empty except for photos on the wall and just a few items on exhibit. Apparently this is because Anne’s father (who was the sole survivor of the 7 hiding in the annex) didn’t want any items returned to the rooms after the war.
The audio tour beautifully moves you through the rooms, talking you through the photographs on the wall and explaining any items being exhibited. Having just finished reading the Anne Frank Diary, I found it very moving and many of her quotes are also on display. Once you go through the secret entrance to the annex behind the bookcase, the rooms have a photo on display that shows you how it looked when the group were hiding there. Even looking up into the loft area where Anne would carefully look out the window over the wartime city of Amsterdam made you realise how difficult and scary it must have been!
At the end of the tour your return your audio tour unit, and the exit is through the gift shop as they often do. Here you can buy various editions of Anne’s Diary, diary’s for your own use, postcards and many other items. I purchased a postcard of Anne looking happy and how I would like to remember her. It’s so sad to think, if they had just been able to remain in hiding for another 5 or 6 months, they most probably would have survived the war.
I was so glad to have been able to see the Anne Frank House Museum and in my own way pay tribute to Anne, but it’s quite a sobering experience, so to lighten my mood a bit I walked some of the pretty streets of the Jordaan district and made my way towards the restaurant Winkel 43. Now I’ll tell you more about this in my food post on Amsterdam, but Winkel 43 has the most amazing Apple Pie, so that along with a cappuccino went down really well.
While eating my Apple Pie I realized that the lady sitting on the little table right next to me was eating the same thing while she looked at maps and guidebooks, and we got talking about the Pie and how we were both solo travelers on this trip. It’s fun how things like this happen if you are open to it, she was from Mumbai, India and after chatting a while we agreed to spend some more time together, after finishing our Apple Pie, exploring some more of Amsterdam.
So off we went and found ourselves walking in the direction of De Wallen, the largest red light district in Amsterdam and decided to take a look for ourselves to see what all the fuss it about. What I found to be so strange is that the streets actually felt just like any other streets during the day, families walking along etc., but if you looked left and right, some of the windows had women sitting in them in bikini’s, some even glowing in the florescent lights! Sure enough, there are also shops selling sex items, peep shows and shop windows showing rather explicit pictures. When walking past the Museum of Prostitution we got talking to the man on the door and he turned out to be good fun – filling us in on the history of the red light district, how it is a bit different after dark, and even that there are a few streets known as the purple light district, where the person behind the window is transgender or transvestite! I’d never heard of that area before!
A side note, be careful what you take photographs off while in the red light district, if you take photos of the women in the windows they will get upset and it’s not uncommon for a man to come out, snatch your camera/phone from you and throw it in the canal!!
It was a different and unusual way to end my day, but that’s part of what makes each day interesting. This last photo below is looking down Oudezijds Voorburgwal, part of the red light district, towards Oude Kirk which surprisingly is kind of in the middle of it!
Date of visit; 23rd May, 2018.