Dearest Otto

Today was another fantastic day in Amsterdam. The weather was a little on the steamy side, but nothing like the humidity of the South. We were scheduled for a tour of the Anne Frank house at 10. They asked us to arrive early, and we were a little too early. It was a prime moment to sketch some of the architectural details of the surrounding buildings. My mom snapped a few pictures while I worked. I sketched the dome of our second adventure for the day Westerkerk Church. 
You couldn’t sketch the Anne Frank house because it was encased in amor acting as a protection from the weathering elements. The house was transformed into the museum in 1960 with the help of the only surviving member, Otto Frank, the father. 

When we entered the museum, it was in the basement of the house where her father once conducted business. As you progressed through the house climbing various stair cases you saw just how small their living space was. The extreme conditions, thoughtful preparations, and unrelenting will were things I thought I understood when reading Anne Frank’s diary in 8th grade. But seeing the living conditions, walking the narrow halls, and seeing her actual dairy gave me a different perspective. I am not certain I understand the hatred or persecution of the Jewish people. It is haunting to think this was not too long ago during my Grandmother’s generation. 

Anne Frank would have been 87 years old, just two years older than my Grandma. To think about all the “could have’s and would have’s”. Like, would she have had a family, would she have moved from Europe, would she have been a successful author, could she find life beyond the Holocaust. 

Leaving the Anne Frank house, I was struck by a picture of her father. Unable to take pictures, we purchased a post card in the gift shop, as seen below. He had returned to the house as it was being prepared for museum visitors. The lone survivor stood against a beam and stares into the unknown world without his wife and children. It is a moving image and he carried his family legacy with diginity and pride. His final years were in Switzerland and he died at the age of 91. At the end there was a visitor signature book, I couldn’t think of anything poetic. I simple wrote: Peace, Love, and Heart! Inside the heart, I drew the initials AF. 

After a quiet reflective lunch canal side, we were off to Westerkerk Church home to the tallest steeple in Amsterdam! It is 85 meters tall, which is about 278 feet! The website said the climb was narrow and similar to climbing a ladder of a ship. The number of stairs was not the problem, but my size 11 feet were. My mom had difficulty too. The space was narrow and some areas were wood others were stone. Once we reached the top, we were treated with a 360 degree panoramic view of Amsterdam. I created a collage with all four directional sides. There is an old folk song used in the intro credits of the HBO series “Weeds” called Little Houses, makes me think of this when seeing all of the Dutch architecture. It was a little scary being so high and the structure felt like it was swaying in the wind. I was excited to be back on solid ground!

We tracked down to the flower market, but were less than impressed. Many bulbs for sale, but not many flowers. I think the peek of their season is over. Instead, we hit a top-rated pancake house for an afternoon snack. We dined on an apple pancake, more like a crepe, with whipped cream and cinnamon flavored ice cream. It was to die for! Mom has felt guilty about our sweet treats, but I think (1) we are on vacation, (2) we walk like an average of seven miles a day, and (3) we have shared and split everything, so it’s only half the calories.  

We had one last errand to the post office to ship home extra clothing. Who ever doesn’t believe in global warming should visit the Netherlands. It is hotter than hot here, so we mailed home jeans and sweaters that we haven’t touched in eight days. We now sit in our room wrapping up the day with a little R&R for tomorrow’s excursion to two museums.