Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Twist in the Story

So we had a delightful time in Germany and were ready to head back to Edinburgh first thing Monday morning. I was ready to get back into my routine, since just the week before I had been in the US. I had papers to grade and loads of legal work to get caught up on. And then an Irish guy in the lobby utters the forbidden words to me: Ash Cloud.


I thought that was over a month ago!

Au contraire!

Not only were our flights canceled, but our airline -- the infamous Ryanair -- wouldn't allow us to rebook. They said they would, but when we tried (and tried and tried and tried), their system wouldn't work to get us rebooked on the next flight. I have a hunch that they purposely looped people through their website so they wouldn't have to pay hotel costs and fees. Just a hunch!

So we were left to our own devices.

Our devices led us to hiring a car in Munich and driving all the way to Amsterdam where we caught an overnight ferry to Newcastle, England. Hence, my recent travels didn't just call for a plane, a train, and an automobile. They also included the underground metro, a bus, and an overnight ferry.

And by the way -- if you haven't looked at a map lately, check out where Munich and Memmingen are in relation to Amsterdam. Not close. Try 800 kilometer drive. Combine that with the cost of gasoline over here = potential headache.

Anyway. Upwards and onwards. I've now been to Amsterdam! I have set foot in the Netherlands, and I liked it.

Amsterdam was such a vibrant, energizing city. We arrived a bit after 9pm in Amsterdam, checked into our hotel, and went in search of something to eat. MBA didn't have a good feeling about what would be open at 10 pm. To his surprise, we had a lot of options. Not only did we have options -- but they were swinging! Live jazz bands. Loads of funky, eclectic hole-in-the-walls. Plus, loads of "coffee shops." But that's not my thing.

We ended up at a little Dutch diner, which was half full at 10 pm on a Tuesday night. The waitress spoke beautiful English -- a nice surprise since we were in no way prepared for speaking a lick of Dutch. After asking for a recommendation, we were blessed with an amazing classic Dutch meal. We had a plate full of vegetables -- three scoops of mashed potatoes, red cabbage, Brussels sprouts, leeks, carrots, and green beans -- a dish of meat stew in gravy, and a side of homemade apple sauce. It was way more than I could eat, but it was delicious, and the combination of the three dishes was great!

MBA and I then took a stroll along the canals and around the blocks surrounding our hotel before calling it a night. Because our ferry left the following afternoon, we wanted to make sure we could hit the ground running come morning. And hit the ground running we did!

Check out how much this building was leaning -- completely normal for Amsterdam!

First things first, we went out for Dutch pancakes for breakfast. Dutch pancakes are crepes with loads of interesting toppings and fillings. You can choose from sweet or savoury. We both opted for savoury. No need for a sugar crash when you only have one day in Amsterdam! I enjoyed a massive apple and bacon pancake -- quite the combo!

After our breakfast we went on a walking tour laid out in the local tourist map (which was a really good map!). The two things I wanted to see in Amsterdam were the Anne Frank Museum and some Van Goghs. And of course the romantic canals!

We arrived at the Anne Frank museum right after its opening time and went right in. I definitely recommend arriving early to the museum. As we were exiting the museum, there was quite a long line to get in. So go early!

And I definitely recommend visiting the Anne Frank Museum. I've been to both the Yad Vashem museum in Jerusalem and the Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C., yet something touched me differently about Anne's museum. The story of one little girl and her life hidden within the walls at 267 Prinsengracht was sad and captivating. Multiply the strength, the struggles, the stories times 6 million and its beyond overwhelming to comprehend. Digesting just one story that unfolded in one location, and there's a simple but profound empathy one experiences. Clearly, I think people should remember the Holocaust and learn from it by visiting all kinds of memorials for its victims. But a visit to this captivating hidden of home of Anne Frank personalizes things -- for that reason, you should definitely visit this museum when in Amsterdam.

The rest of the day we wondered the romantic streets and canals. Here's just a small glimpse of the coolness we saw in Amsterdam:

 Rembrandt's Former Home

Next stop: the ferry!


Katie S Brown said...

Umm...these pictures are okay, no biggie just gorgeous and amazing.

Hilary said...

That answered my question!

Rebecca Manor said...

Gorgeous! Now I really want to go there....

Ashli said...

Rebecca - I volunteer to go again! Ha!

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