On Monday morning we bought an ‘Amsterdam Pass’ as it seemed to be the cheapest way of paying for transport and attractions, and we caught the train into the city. The wind and rain hampered us a bit, however we managed to see most of the things we had planned. First stop was Anne Frank’s House which was very moving. It showed the place where the Jewish Frank family had hidden during the war. It was a tiny space above a warehouse that they had shared between eight people. The entrance to the secret rooms upstairs was concealed by a bookcase. The family needed to be extremely quiet all day as most of the people working below them did not know they were hiding there. Sadly, someone had betrayed their location and in the end everyone except Anne’s father died. Anne’s father had later published the diary Anne had kept while the family was hiding. Hopefully seeing the house gave the kids a taste of the reality of war without it being too overwhelming for them. We also visited the Amsterdam Historical Museum which was a bit lame, did a canal boat ride through the city, and saw the Van Gogh Museum. The kids had to be dragged through the later. Their mild interest in art seems to have turned to a strong and vocal dislike unfortunately! We tried to see a couple of other art museums also, however they either had huge queues (in the rain) or were being renovated. I have to say that the kids were relieved! We tried some hot chips which were claimed to be the best in the Netherlands. Josh thought that they were one of the nicest things he had ever tasted, which is notable for someone who dislikes potatoes so much! Another thing we have discovered is the wonderful bread here. Our campsite bakes fresh bread daily. We have decided that the Stokbrood is the most delicious bread that we have ever eaten – better even than the French baguette!
Today we did Amsterdam’s Science Museum. It was somewhat expensive and extremely busy, but certainly worthwhile. There were masses of interactive things that the kids enjoyed playing with. Poor Daniel was a bit hampered in the water exhibits with his plastered arm, so he was feeling a bit sorry for himself. Caleb and Tim also visited a replica of a trade ship that had sunk (the standout feature of the ship for Caleb seemed to be the number of cannons that it had!). After lunch at the promised McDonald’s (of which there seem to be hundreds) we rode the train home. Tim has unfortunately picked up a cold and is not feeling the best. Amsterdam is an interesting place with fantastic public transport, heaps of museums and the most amazing bike lane network I have ever seen. Almost every road seems to have a two-way cycling lane next to it. Josh was amused to find that they even have pedestrian crossings! I enjoyed the canals and the old houses with their pretty gables. However, it would not be on our top list of cities. There were masses of people and rubbish everywhere, and we found it too liberal for our liking (as expected). We are looking forward to taking a trip to see a small town from here tomorrow. It seems easier to just take a train there rather than drive and set up camp again, and we also have another day to use on our Amsterdam cards of free travel.