“Watch out!” Mario grabbed my arm and pulled me closer to the buildings. Two seconds later, a bicycle loaded up with the week’s shopping whizzed by, its owner happily oblivious to his surroundings.
In Amsterdam, like all tourists, I got used to a few things: the smell of marijuana (it’s no joke!) wafting around the side streets, the rather impertinent cyclists, and—of course—the miles upon miles of breathtaking canals.
There are, after all, over 60 miles of them. They’re all throughout the city, giving Amsterdam its nickname, “The Venice of the North.” Having visited Venice last summer, I can attest to the fact that both cities’ canals are spectacular in their own ways, but Amsterdam’s have an advantage in the orderliness department—it’s much easier to get lost among Venice’s waterways that snake throughout the city, leading you to dead ends and impossible crossings.
While in Amsterdam, be sure not to miss the Anne Frank House. If you were like me, you read her diary at least once as a child. (Okay, I actually read it three or four times.) Anne Frank was a girl just like me, who had thoughts with which I could wholly identify, with unrequited love, with school troubles … I felt a bond with her, and so I read her story again and again.
Of course, I couldn’t miss a chance to visit The Secret Annexe, or the Achterhuis (Dutch for “back house”) while in Amsterdam. The Secret Annexe was where Anne, her family, and four others hid for a little over two years.
Nowadays the house, located on the Prinsengracht canal, is a museum dedicated to Anne and the prevention of persecution and discrimination of all kinds. It opened in 1960.
You’ll see quotes from her diary, photos, interviews with survivors, and some original objects that belonged to Anne, as well as the reconstructed bookcase that covered the entrance to the Secret Annexe. Most of the original objects were taken away by the Nazis: furniture, carpets, etc. Otto Frank, Anne’s father, wanted it to remain empty. In Anne’s room, you can still see the photos of famous people she taped up on the wall—like any normal teenaged girl. The famous original diary is kept on display.
The original door to the house where the family hid
The Little Details
- From March 15 to September 14, it’s open from at least 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and in the summer a bit later.
- Tickets: You can buy them online (and skip the line!) or when you get there.
- Price: Adults €9.50, Young People (10-17) €5.00, Children under 10: €0.50
- Photography is not permitted inside the house.
Have you read The Diary of Anne Frank?
I am happy to report that, come Friday, I’ll be setting foot on Dutch soil for the very first time!
I don’t know if Amsterdam has as many “must-visit” sites as a place like Paris, but I’m quite looking forward to the general ambiance: canals, bikes, tall people like me (you know, the usual).
What are your Amsterdam recommendations?