Travellers tales-Amsterdam notes and whispers
We stayed near the Ann Frankhuis. The queues were as impressive as they were intimidating. The guide book tells of a realistic simulation that the house puts on to re-enact the immortal two years of the teenage girl. The human face of the Holocaust. Here is a teenager full of it all ,who lives in secret who writes a diary which has been read by tens of millions in 70 languages. And judging by the queues ,it is still read. Cynics like me may even feel we should move on, even though I had close relatives who breathed their last in the camps, but the world still queues for Ann Frank. Not least because she was such a good writer. The crowds are always largest at the funerals of the young.
Everyone knows about the Dutch and cycling. Even their Royal family do it. But as they hurtle along in their stand up and beg models, pedestrians, beware. The upright stance makes the riders seem even more powerful and attractive. And many Dutch are very beautiful.They are also extremely unforgiving of walkers who stray off their narrow pavements into the path of these Gods on two wheels as they gather up pace to mount yet another of Amsterdam’s hundreds of canal bridges.
It is really a very small world. We had gone to Amsterdam not only because it was on our wish list but because my famous brother was over from Canada to contribute to a legal conference in The Hague. The subject- trying to establish an international convention on what to do when multi national family partners break up and take children away. Nick’s wife had stopped over in Paris to link up her worldwide charity. While in Amsterdam we took a trip to nearby Hilversum to meet up with Tilly and Wim professors we had met last year in Umbria. And on the Easy Jet home we bumped into and travelled with Nick who until two years ago had been our much loved neighbour in Putney.
While Western Centrum Amsterdam has all the charm of a civilised urban village the Centres and South could often be anywhere in tourist Europe. Fast and slow food, souvenir shops, money changers,hotels of all sizes, more souvenir shops and obvious fashion are the themses. Walking parties of very nationality march to the top of the canal and back again. Where in Eastern Amsterdam you hear little but Dutch elsewhere its English. Though the Dutch speak English,rather like the Welsh, indeed we met an English woman who was s working quite happily and had lived in Amsterdam several years and only had “shopping Dutch”. One would often hear shop assistants talking to each other in English.
Outside of the stylised historic canal driven centre, Amsterdam reverts to a well connected, modern shopping precinct, apartment block city with all the charm of high rise Croydon or suburban Epsom.
Elsewhere in an organic restaurant we were offered the chance of puffing on a vapouriser. We chose lavender and palm flower ,among several other choices were peppermint and hops.