The GoGlobal Blog

“I want adventure in the great wide somewhere!”

“I want adventure in the great wide somewhere!”

Amsterdam has some PRETTY BIG shoes to fill!Beauty and the Beast (1991)

…and I got it in Amsterdam this past weekend!

Okay, it wasn’t great and wide, the streets and canals were actually quite narrow…but it was an adventure!

After one of the most stressful weeks in the history of stressful weeks, (I’m sure I’ll top it soon) me and four friends packed our bags and headed to Amsterdam!…on an overnight Megabus….which stopped halfway through the night to get on a ferry across the English Channel….and then back on another Megabus…But eventually we got there! What I’m getting at here is that travelling is hard. There were many points during that busride that I imagined how much easier it would’ve been to stay home and remain cocooned in a nice warm bed. Even once we arrived in Amsterdam, since it was about 5 degrees and the line for the Anne Frank House was outdoors for two hours, I continued to dream about getting back home to the familiar and comfy. I couldn’t feel my toes!

This was my sentiment as I stepped into the Anne Frank House…and it quickly dissolved. I had heard of Anne Frank, sure, everyone has. I even read some excerpts from her diary! But until you climb the steep staircase after staircase, clamber up behind the bookshelf, and breathe in the dank air of Anne’s attic, you don’t understand her story. All along the journey up to the secret rooms, the museum was decorated with images and videos of the family and those that helped conceal them. They had interviews with people who had known the Franks before they went into hiding, and some who had met them in the concentration camps they were eventually sent to. When we finished climbing the third narrow staircase, we were led through a secret entrance that opened up into two rooms. These two small rooms plus the kitchen around the corner were all that Anne and her family knew for two whole years. Quotes from Anne’s diary line the walls, “I long to ride a bike, dance, whistle, look at the world, feel young and know that I am free, and yet I can’t let it show…” “During the day our curtains can’t be opened, not even an inch!” This fourteen-year-old girl was locked in an Annex for two years of her life in constant fear of being caught and killed an I was whining about one uncomfortable night aboard a Megabus! She was a hero. But the thing that struck me most about Anne’s house was her bedroom. There were magazine pictures, postcards, and images from newspapers of celebrities, babies, models, and animals glued to her walls! She was just a regular teenager who wanted to decorate her room with pretty things! I found that so interesting. And kind of adorable. This girl who has been created by the world to be such a legend…liked to tape up pictures of cute couples and puppies next to her bed!

At the end of the tour, a video was shown about how Anne’s story has affected people and pop culture and society. They showed a short clip of John Green reading from his book, The Fault in Our Stars, which has a scene set in the Anne Frank House.  At the end of one of the rooms in the house was a book with the names of all those killed in the Holocaust from the Netherlands. He wrote, “The book was turned to the page with Anne Frank’s name, but what got me about it was the fact that right beneath her name there were four Aron Franks. FOUR. Four Aron Franks without museums, without historical markers, without anyone to mourn them. I silently resolved to remember and pray for the four Aron Franks as long as I was around.” That hit me hardest about the tour. Seeing that book. And seeing the four Arons and the pages and pages of names of people we don’t know. But those peoples’ stories are just as valid as Anne’s, but they just didn’t leave a diary for us to remember them by. I don’t know what to say about it other than that…but I haven’t been able to get that book with all those names out of my head.

Amsterdam doesn’t have a sense of time. The streets are always packed. The pubs? Always packed. The museums? Packed. Market? Packed. Red light district? (YEAH, I AM SURPRISED I WENT TOO.) Packed night and day. It’s crazy! It was fun, of course, because my roomie Chisom and I people-watched the HECK out of that city. We wandered and shopped and art-galleried and ate food and thrifted and had a relaxing, fabulous time. Bikes EVERYWHERE. And if you see something that looks too narrow for a car to fit through…joke’s on you-a car is definitely about to come down that road. Or a Vespa. I’m also pretty proud that I didn’t fall into a canal from all the upward-gazing I did! Amsterdam was something out of a movie. At night, it was even more glorious! Streetlamps glittering along the canals, smoke wafting out of the Coffeehouses, water lapping against the boats, crowds murmuring along the alleys…It was such a sensuous experience! I’m gonna miss that city…

It was JUST as challenging to get home on the overnight Megabus, but this time as I sat in my cramped seat and tried in vain to get comfortable…I remembered all that I learned at the Anne Frank House and thought of those four Aron Franks who don’t get museums. And instead of grumbling into my makeshift pillow, I decided to pray for them.


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