Friday, October 17, 2008

Amsterdam Day 2 - Let's Rap About Jesus!

Well, today was a day I will never forget.
We didn't bring an alarm clock (it's sitting on my desk at work) so I borrowed a watch with an alarm from the front desk. The girl set the alarm and in the morning, ta dah! Nothing happened. Luckily my dad got up about 8:15 and woke me up. I was up until about 1:30 blogging.
My dad mentioned the elderly Asian fellow beneath him had woken him up about 100 times in the night and he had gotten no sleep. Turns out he couldn't find the earplugs we brought. You need them to stay in a hostel. I went to sleep really late and with the earplugs slept like a baby.
So we got up and had free juice and headed to the Anne Frank house. Our ticket was for 9:30 and after stopping to take 1,000 pictures of buildings in Amsterdam, we got there about 9:28 and went right in. It was the best time to go, when we left an hour later the line was around the block.
Once inside there were some exhibits set up on the main floors of what used to be the factory. The house is right on a beautiful canal. I had missed the parts of the diary where she called it an "old lake house". After some exhibits and some videos, we went into the annex. Stepping in to the small doorway behind the bookcase really takes your breath away. All of the rooms are empty at the request of Anne's father, but her room still has the magazine pictures she cut out and pasted to the wall to make it less grim. Watching the pictures of movie stars and singers and cats, you get a real sense she existed, she was a real girl. You can feel her in the room. I was crying as soon as I entered.
It was fantastic to see everyone else's room as well, and they had a boardgame Peter got for his 17th birthday up on the wall. Anne mentions it in her diary. At the end of the door is the room with the actual diary itself which was not on display due to renovations so they had a copy, but an exact copy.
In the lobby was some exhibits on how hate still manifests itself in our society and the Oscar Shelly Winters won for her role in the 1959 movie which I now must see! I had never seen an Academy Award before so that was cool too.
No pictures allowed in the museum but my dad did manage to get a shot of the Oscar:

Afterward I bought the museum guide, which was reasonable at 10 Euros and the Definitive Edition of the Diary with 30% more content. They also had an "interactive map" walking tour from the Anne Frank house to the Dutch Resistance Museum with 30 points of interest along the way and an hour and a half walk. It took us about 4 hours.
When we were walking the mile to the Anne Frank house it was POURING rain and I had no umbrella so when we left we were greeted by a rainbow:

And then began the tour. The very first stop was the Homomonument:

And the triangles in question:

Which were pretty sad again. Europe doesn't know how to make monuments.
In this final shot of the monument notice the black metal object behind the sign:

It is an outdoor urinal. It's better than people pissing in the streets but very strange to see someone walk into something on the sidewalk and start peeing.
This picture I believe shows better how all the buildings lean:

Check out the top of the black building to the left of the all white one.
This shot had the perfect amount of sun:

The walk was quite good, talking us really all through downtown Amsterdam and stopping at various points of interest or monuments along the way. The statue garden was cool:

And the last stop before the museum was the Auschwitz memorial:

This one isn't as bad as all the rest. The artist describes trying to come up with a memorial to sit on top of ashes of people found at Auschwitz and she looked up at the sky for answers. It seemed amazing that that same sky could have seen such atrocities, a similar feeling I had at Auschwitz when I heard the birds singing. She said after this the sky was broken and would never be the same again, hence the broken mirrors reflecting the sky.
Much later, after getting hopelessly lost and checking out the tulip district, we came up the Resistance Museum. Some amazing German propaganda posters. In this one it looks like Bolshevik:

And this one all I recognize is the word mother:

And this one the word 'clandestine' referring to trading on the black market:

They had some items from war resistance prisoners, like a poem written in blood with a straw and this chess set made of cardboard:

Which I thought was ingenious.
Afterward we walked through the downtown core. I must say, the Europeans have weird (read: bad) taste in movies. In Paris there was a poster everywhere for this movie with a middle aged man in a kilt dancing and here they have this:

Who the Hell would go see that?
Speaking of Hell, we were invited to a free dinner of Indonesian food, and they had vegetarian! So after sitting down to eat, a girl got on the microphone and proceeded to rap about Jesus for 20 minutes and we were trapped like rats. She described how her life was a pile of crap and then Jesus started talking to her. Two things I dislike, everyone of these stories always starts with the person trying to go on and on AND ON about how bad their life was before Jesus ("I lived in a car. I saw things a child should never see. I should have been a prostitute." etc.) and secondly, if you actually hear Jesus talking to you, get medication. We should have stayed at the heathen hostel. The graffiti on the back of the men's room door says "[Someone] is a pagan". Is this Catholic libel? And why does the person's name look like Adam Dunn?
Here's a picture of the red light district:

and another of the girls in the window:

They wear underwear and beckon the people over. There are no men in any window in the whole city. Just like everywhere in Europe this place is totally heterosexist. I've been to 3 gay shops and they're all ridiculous. Why do they encourage so many gay tourists to come here? There's like 6 gay districts and each has about 3 shops, then the next is a 20 minute walk away.
Two final observations.
#1- We should not legalize marijuana in Canada. I used to think we should, even though it is not part of the Conservative Party platform, I believe in less government and letting people do whatever they want, but after seeing this, no. There's yahoos everywhere smoking pot. Tourists blowing it into your face all over. Marijuana souvenirs everywhere. Even women's panties with marijuana on them. WHY?
#2- In some cities I have been in, like London, you take your life in your hands crossing the road. Here you take your life in your hands on the sidewalk. The sidewalks are VERY small and are frequently covered with parked bicycles. When they're not, there are cyclists EVERYWHERE and they RACE by you, usually ringing their bell to indicate you have one second to jump out of the way into the canal or you will be killed. Fun!
Tomorrow I hope to rent a bicycle and try it out.

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