And it's not even as though everything went wrong. In fact, our first experience in the city was when we discovered upon checking in that we had been upgraded to a swanky hotel room the likes of which our peasant eyes had never seen so that they could accommodate our request for two cribs in the room. Annabelle and Charlotte approved.
We had a marvelous time taking in the lovely architecture and canals--and of course the Red Light District. We just did a quick walk through the area because we had to see it for ourselves, but we were there at about 2 pm on a weekday--hardly prime time for prostitution, I suppose. It was not exactly the 1st string team in the windows is what I'm saying. We did get some laughs as we walked past the girls, making half hearted attempts at enticing the looky loos, playing on their phones, and essentially epitomizing the phrase "over it". That said, we did witness a gentleman enter one of those find establishments, so mark that experience off on our Amsterdam Bingo card.
While there was about a 15 minute screaming session in the Anne Frank House, it was still one of the top moments of our visit. As a child, I read The Diary of Anne Frank countless times, captivated by the story of this courageous girl who told a story of great optimism in one of history's darkest moments. I even credit Anne with being a big part of the reason I started blogging. I grew up imagining what it would be like to tell your story to the world, and while my story is in no way comparable to hers, she did inspire me to maintain a record of my life for posterity. It was incredibly moving to see the exact spot where she lived the life that she wrote about so beautifully, and even more incredible to see one of her diaries on display.
The other big hit for me was the food. In our little area of Germany, 85% of the restaurants are a sort of German/Italian hybrid, and all seem to have the same basic menu consisting of pizza, pasta, and schnitzel. I cannot tell you how sick I am of pizza, pasta and schnitzel. Amsterdam, being a major metropolitan city, had SO MUCH VARIETY. We ate Indonesian, Mexican, Greek and, of course, Dutch, in our few days there, and I would be happy to return just to sample more of the delicious cuisine.
Then, there was the Keukenhof. Oh, the Keukenhof. The whole point of our trip to Amsterdam in the spring was to go see the tulips. Waaaah waaaaah. There were a few tulips just beginning to bloom outside, and they had made an effort to pretty up the place with potted tulips they'd brought out from the greenhouses, but overall, it was a pretty bleak scene. Not much is more depressing than a garden in what is still essentially winter. Plus, it was super windy, and we were all pretty much over being freezing cold by that point.
We spent our last day in Haarlem, and it was a very cute little town, with a really lovely art museum featuring the work of the Dutch artist, Frans Hals. We stopped in at a little cafe in the Grote Markt, visited the massive organ (thats what... she said?) in the Grote Kerk, and capped things off with a spin through the museum.
We even learned a fun new word as we were repeatedly approached by people wanting to meet Charlotte and Annabelle--"twins" in Dutch is "tweelings". How perfect is that! So, while we were met with a few great disappointments during our journey north, I still managed to form a highly favorable impression of the Netherlands. The people were incredibly kind, Amsterdam was absolutely lovely, and the food was delicious--good food alone can go a long way toward redeeming most any situation.