29 March 2008

lots to see on a sunny saturday

i had had a plan, an itinerary if you will, of today's "must-see" sights. i couldn't believe my luck when it looked as if it were going to be sunny out. we had planned on going to the anne frank house and then wander through the eastern part of amsterdam on our way to the dutch resistance museum. we had yet to see any WWII sites or museums, so we thought we'd make a day of it in order to better reflect on what we were seeing.

i have seen, on many occasion, what the lines outside the anne frank house can be like, so i wanted to be there at 9 in order to avoid them. alas, i am my father's daughter and i slept in instead...i think we left the house around 10:30. needless to say, on a sunny saturday the lines were out the door, around the corner, and wrapped around the block. as we do so often these days, scott and i just looked at each other and laughed. we turned around and took a seat in the sun in front of westerkerk. we had made plans with a friend of a friend from seattle to meet up at the dutch resistance museum at 3:30, so my "itinerary" had to be thrown out the window and we went on to plan b.

because we were already on prinsengracht, i thought it would be fun to check out the pulitzer hotel. the hotel is actually 25 17th and 18th century canal houses "perfectly integrated" to create one amazing hotel. i had been dying to see inside the hotel for a number of reasons. first, i love, love, love hotels. second, it is the hotel featured in one of my "signature movies," ocean's 12, and third, it was picked as one of the 1,000 places to see before you die. the place was incredible, and i WILL stay there someday! we wandered through the art gallery and sat out in one of the courtyards. even scott was impressed! ;-)

right around the corner from the hotel is a shopping area called de 9 straatjes, (the 9 little streets), which is just what it sounds like...nine little streets of fabulous design shops, boutiques, art galleries, cafes, bakeries and cheese shops, antique stores, etc. it really is the best shopping area i've ever encountered. i'm learning that the antique shops here are actually full of REAL antiques, as opposed to just "old stuff" that most of them are full of at home. they are wonderful and VERY expensive!

this type of outing is a learning experience for both scott and me...he is getting better at letting me duck into each and every shop while he waits outside, although, even he enjoys looking in some of the really good ones. i too am learning that i can skip some of the shops and come back to look on my own. one thing will never change, though...he will always make fun of me for making him go into shops like sabon no matter how fabulous the french soaps are! ;-)

my favorite find was a interiors shop called kauppa. they carry a huge selection of marimekko products. i became obsessed with marimekko while i was working at crate & barrel. the crate has an exclusive relationship with the famous finnish company and carries products and styles not available anywhere else in the world (the woman i was talking to at kauppa was impressed at my knowledge of the product!) and they use the fabrics in all of their displays and as huge banners that hang from the ceilings. i think it's one of the major elements that makes crate & barrel such an interesting place to shop. anyway, i've been planning to use their idea of using fabric as wall decor for some of the huge walls in our place...the ones i would not be able to fill otherwise. i'm pleased that i have found a store that can help me with that project!

we still had a few hours to waner so we wandered in to a little cafe for a light lunch. we're still on a tight budget so a light lunch to us means we split a sandwich and each have a cup of coffee. it's amazing how little can fill you up! we went to van heart and had a deliciously fresh bacon, lettuce, tomato, and turkey sandwich. i figure as long as he can have bacon, scott will continue to humor me by letting me choose these chic little places, when i think secretly he'd rather be in a pub. he's a keeper! we make it to verztsmuseum, the dutch resistance museum, and it was very well done. it took you through life in amsterdam before the war, the events leading up to the war, and the efforts to sabotage the nazis during. i will not try to put into words what the read or saw, it's just too difficult. it's also difficult to explain what it feels like to walk down the street, look to your left and see a non descript plaque on the front of a building, begin to read it only to realize it is a plaque commemorating the hundreds of thousand people who were deported to concentration camps from that same spot. that happened to scott and me. it's chilling and very real. the plaque read:

"During part of the Second World War, in 1942 and 1943, the Hollandsche Schouwburg (the Dutch Theatre) was used as a deportation centre for Jews. The theatre, built in 1892 as a centre for relaxation and entertainment in the heart of the old Jewish quarter of Amsterdam, became a place of grief and anguish. Thousands of men, women and children were sent by train from here to Westerbork transit camp in Holland, and from there to death camps. Few of them lived to return. In the course of the Second World War 104,000 Dutch Jews were killed in Nazi extermination camps."

what it didn't mention, and what we later learned, was that there was a nursery across from the theatre was was used to house the jewish chirldren before they shipped them off...5,000 of them. this happened in my new city. i cannot even imagine what it must have been like, and must still be like, for those who lived here through the whole period. the museum captured the spirit and the determination of thousands of dutch men and women who chose to take action against evil. it is a must-see for all visitors.

do some homework before you come...the holland scheschouwburg and life in amsterdam during the war are good places to start.

after the museum we were spent in every way possible. my navigational expert, scott, figured out that we were actually closer to the muiderport train station than centraal, which was fun because muiderport is the stop between amsterdam and diemen. we got to see de gooyer, one of only six original windmills within the city of amsterdam, as well as a dappermarkt, which is very lively street market. we had seen both from the train, but never up close. it was recently in the dutch news that the market was rated #8 on national geographic's top shopping streets in the world and just won for best street market in amsterdam...pretty fun to have it so close to our flat! we walked down the center of the market just as all the stalls were beginning to close for the night. we were able to pick up some apricots and, of course, a bundle of tulips...the best price in town! we will be back!

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