During an afternoon divided between working on my ACUS project and strolling around Amsterdam (all while dealing with some serious jet lag!), the real highlight was a visit to the Anne Frank House. This is the place where Anne Frank and her family hid out for several years during the Holocaust. It was amazing to see the way in which a movable bookcase provided a cover for the stairs leading to the Secret Annex. It gave me chills to think about the employees from Otto Frank's company working in such close proximity to an entire group of people they did not even know were on the premises.
But, most of all, my eyes got watery when looking at the pencil marks on the wall where the growth of the kids was tracked during the hiding out period. If that doesn't bring it home, then nothing will. These were just human beings, with the same kinds of hopes and dreams as anyone else. Right, Des?
My afternoon wanderings were not just limited to a moving lesson in history. There was also the Amsterdam of the present. And so it was just a wee bit shocking to watch the sale of narcotics of some sort go down right on the street. This was not a main thoroughfare where the exchange took place. No, it was just a side alley. Nevertheless, the transaction was happening right out there in the open.
And then there was the international flavor of the city. To wit, I sat in an Argentinian beef restaurant, ordered fish and chips, and was waited on by a Chinese guy.