Awesome Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a vibrant city.

Yesterday I walked 17km – far more exhausting that 17 Camino km!- but lovely nonetheless.

Whereas the Camino was almost a cash only environment – Amsterdam is the complete opposite – the supermarket didn’t take cash, the tickets for trains don’t wither, (and there’s no one to help if your card doesn’t work -as mine didn’t!)

I’m not staying downtown (my daughter is) but in a lovely little place (30 mins by train) and the walk from the station takes me past schools and houses, across fanning little bridges and alongside dykes or tiny canals. It’s a different world to both downtown Amsterdam and the Camino. And it’s so flat!

We went to the Anne Frank museum yesterday … the secret annex where she and her family were in hiding from the Nazis for two years of the war. Being there made her diary come more alive to me … but also the horrors of the Nazi regime -their thoroughness in their genocide – its heart breakingly chilling.

Anna, her sister Margot and her mother were murdered by the Nazis. And this happened after the allied invasion when people must have hoped the horrors were ending. The whole family were on the last cattle truck train for Jews leaving Holland in 1945. Only the father Otto Frank survived. His words about reading her diary after the war (he’d never read it before that) made me cry.

Seeing the warehouse in Amsterdam in its context of a rustling vibrant city, and knowing that the family were in hiding – in the darkened blacked out rooms -and being forced to be totally silent between 8:30 am and when the workers went home, dependent on someone secretly bringing them food, and never ever setting foot outside – it’s hard to imagine. No wonder Anne wrote! It must have helped her keep her sanity!

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