I AMsterdam

Our bio-clocks woke us early, which was a good thing, as we wanted to line up early at the Anne Frank House, having heard the lines and wait times could be long. We arrived by 8:15, 45 minutes before the museum opened. By 9:30 we were inside, a somber journey up steps and across the timeline of Anne’s short and tragic life. Photos were not allowed inside, and it’s just as well, because images can’t capture the intense emotional experience of ascending into the secret annex which held the Frank and Pels families for 2 years before they were betrayed, discovered, and shipped to Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen like so many other European Jews, gypsies, disabled, and homosexuals. The Anne Frank house is a powerful reminder of a horrible chapter in human history. While we want to believe such brutality can’t happen again, I can see how Trump (#RealDonaldTrump) and his buddy Ted Cruz are sowing the seeds and cultivating hatred, bigotry, and using Islam as a scapegoat in the US Presidential Campaign. You don’t have to stretch your imagination far to see how a movement like this becomes one like the Nazis.   

We purchased a few paintings from a local street artist named Baker outside of the Anne Frank house. Then meandered through the Jordaan neighborhood of Amsterdam making our way towards the Van Gogh Museum. On the way we stopped at a small bar/restaurant called Brasserie Blazer where we had a couple of delicious beers and excellent broodjies for lunch.  


We had 3pm reservations for Van Gogh and had some time to kill when we noticed the Moco Museum nearby had an exhibit of Warhol and Banksy. It was a smaller but interesting exhibit demonstrating the strong connection between Warhol’s Pop Art and Banksy’s Street Art and how they both celebrate and criticize popular culture and consumerism.


Andy’s Marilyn


Banksy’s Kate Moss



Then on to Van Gogh, who’s work is truly beautiful to behold. To see his brush strokes up close and the thickness of those strokes play off the intense complementary colors set side-by-side made me appreciate the artist and his vision that much more. Unfortunately the museum was crowded, and our feet sore from walking so we focused our time there on his most important works with an audio tour. 


After the museums we stopped for beers and patat frites (with copious amounts of mayonnaise) to rest our feet and gather our strength for the long walk back to our hotel were we rested and researched restaurants for dinner. One that looked good was Restaurant Max (an Indonesian Rijsttafel (rice table)) restaurant which are common in Amsterdam due to the former Dutch colonies there. As we set out for dinner a sudden storm arrived with thunder, lightning, hail and torrential rain with an angry sky inflamed by the setting sun.


Restaurant Max turned out to be absolutely delicious, with perfectly tempered heat from the spices and intense flavors of lemongrass punctuating every dish. We must search for Indonesian food when we return to Seattle.


After dinner the rain had stopped and we wandered through back streets and over canal bridges past red lit windows with ladies of the night displaying their wares (or wears?). To bed, as the wall of sleep came upon us quickly.  

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Spring break brings us to Europe for a long anticipated tour of Portugal. But our journey starts in Amsterdam – our port of entry into the EU. 

While Tawny and I had both been to Amsterdam many times, our daughter hadn’t, and we wanted to show her some cultural sites before heading onto Portugal. 
Landing in the morning we forced ourselves awake for the day. We eased into Amsterdam with an orientational canal tour upon a beautiful old wooden boat. The world, still capable of being small, presented us with some acquaintances from Seattle as we came aboard the boat. After awkwardly acknowledging each other and exchanging niceties we settled in to enjoy a tour of Amsterdam from the water.   


I remember the canals of Amsterdam to be filthy. As a child my parents brought my sister and I here and I recall sitting in a nice restaurant with a canal view watching a man piss into the canal before us as we ate. Getting up close and personal with the canals they don’t seem to have changed, although our tour guide insisted the water is cleaner that it looks. And yet, there’s a beauty to the labyrinth of serpentine canals that snake their way through the city.  



We spent our day drifting aimlessly in a jet-lagged daze across the city, our only goal to track down record stores as an excuse to explore the city. We found some near the Red Light District and in the Flea Market before stopping at Freddy’s Bar (mentioned on our tour) within the De L’Europe Hotel which is run by the Heineken family. We sat in the sun at the canal edge and had a few afternoon beers (drinking a beer called Brand – not Heineken) before heading back to our hotel. 

We took some time to relax in the hotel while researching restaurants via Yelp to eat at that evening. After reading reviews we chose one nearby so we wouldn’t have to walk too far. Little did we know it was actually the restaurant in our hotel called Scossa, which turned out (true to its reviews) to be quite nice. Had we paid attention to the map (pictured above) and seen the advertisement for this restaurant we would have received a discount of 10%. Amsterdamn! We missed that opportunity but enjoyed the meal.

Back in the room with bellies full of wine, risotto, and burrata we forced ourselves awake a few more hours before giving into our jet-lagged exhaustion, hoping a good night’s sleep would reset our biological clocks and set us on European time…

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