Amsterdam, The Netherlands

I confess, I was not looking forward to Amsterdam, but I tried to suppress my bad attitude and view the city anew. I am so glad I did. My expectation the first time I came to Amsterdam was to see windmills and dykes. Yesterday, I saw them as the first photo shows. Amsterdam was settled where the Amstel River meets the North Sea. A dam (same thing as a dyke) built in the city center changes the course of the Amstel River and creates water for the extensive system of canals.

During our walk to the city center we stepped through the arch shown in the second photo and back in time. This place, called Het Begijnhof, is a complex area where devout Catholic women, called Begijens, lived and worked beginning in the fourteenth century. The property contained homes, gardens, and a church (shown in the third photo). From 1578 to 1795 English Protestants were in control and outlawed open Catholic worship. In 1601 the church was given to English Protestants, but two houses were combined and provided a secret place of worship. You could still feel the sanctity of the place.

The last two photos, taken during our canal tour, show architecture along the canals and some bridges. We passed beautiful homes in one prosperous neighborhood where Ann Franks’ house could be seen with crowds of people in front. I closed my eyes and saw the tiny room where eight of her family lived from 1940 to 1944 while she wrote her diary. Our guide said that you have to make reservations to see her house months ahead. I was grateful to have seen it on my previous visit to Amsterdam. In the evening, Holland America gave us a private party at the Rijk Museum. I will do a whole post on that later. On Sunday we visit Copenhagen.

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