I write all this in case someone reads the blog that is looking at this for their trip to Amsterdam. Driving in any city can be daunting, but Amsterdam is on a tourist explosion route right now, so the city is jammed with people. It is good to have a plan if you need to drive into the city for any reason
We had a great day. Started the day at the Anne Frank House (we got to see the diary!). Humbling experience. Seeing the Anne Frank house requires advanced tickets. You can get them 2 months ahead of your scheduled date(and time), and it is like buying tickets for a rock concert. I had to be at the computer when the tickets when on sale because within a few hours, they were all gone. Amazing. We were told they see 3000-4000 people a DAY at the Anne Frank house.
The House was amazing. (you are not allowed to take pictures inside, so just take my word for it) We listened to a talk about the timeline before going in and then walked through the actual place she was hidden. If you have never read the book, you should. But the hidding place is not an attic, as a few people have asked me about. It is 3 floors - there were 8 people hidden there. The house was located in the back of Otto Frank's (Anne dad) business and so it was perfect. For awhile. They hid there for 2 years before they were betrayed. They never knew who betrayed them (and they still don't). Otto was the only one who survived the concentration camp.
We did get to see the diary. That has been on my bucket list for a long time. I have read the book 4 times - once myself, and then with each of my children. So it was amazing to see it in person.
Then we went to a library that had very old books. It was an okay experience. It is called The Embassy of the Mind, and from the fact that it was on the "things to do" list, I expected more. It was very small and we were only there for about 15 minutes and we saw the whole thing. It isn't free, so that was a disappointment.
We did some walking around the city enjoying the sites. Amsterdam is very very busy. Before we came here, we had seen an article on how Amsterdam is working on ways to reduce the number of tourist that come to the city. People are destrying the place with their instragram photos. And we got to witness first hand the massive amount of people that are in this city. This was a Thursday in May, and it was wall to wall people. WE couldn't move freely on the sidewalks because there were so many, and the bikes!! So.many.bikes.
We had lunch in a 600 year old castle, called de Waag. It was formally called St. Anthony's gate and was built in 1488. It was part of the original wall of Amsterdam. IT is the oldest remaining non religious building in Amsterdam. It is actually in one of Rembrandt's paintings (The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolas Tulp). It is now a restaurant. The food was really good and it was neat to eat in there. They have candle chandaliers all over the restaurant (with actual candels still) which were cool.
After lunch we toured Rembrandt’s house. This is where he lived and worked until he stopped being able to pay to live here. The house was HUGE, and he stopped paying his mortgage, so he had to move out. He lived poor until the end of his life. The house is still set up how it was when he lived there, and ran his art studio.
We went into the oldest church in Amsterdam. It is actually not used as a church any more, but just a place for concerts. The organ is still being used.
We rounded the evening off with Amsterdam’s famous Apple pie. It is delicous. Rows and rows of apples plus cinnamon sauce in a thin crust. Delicious.