ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

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Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Going to Pot in Amsterdam, and experiencing Anne Frank house...

Hello there!

Well I'm having a marvellous time in the Northern winter, how about you? America looks scary at the moment. 

When I was in Amsterdam there was the mighty wind storm. Thankfully it just lasted the day...the day we took a trip into the country. Got absolutely blown away every time we stepped outside, but on the bright side the windmills were turning. I think Amsterdam is definitely best visited in summer! Although the Christmassy feel was at times dazzling.


The view from our hotel

This was my first trip to Amsterdam, but of course I knew about the coffee shop culture. Still, nothing like seeing it for yourself.




Just a couple of coffee shops near our hotel. 

Loved the art everywhere...here in a little alley...


The best thing about Amsterdam is to just stroll around the streets and alleyways. So much to discover. So many niche shops. 

However, the highlight of my visit was always going to be to experience the Anne Frank huis (house). I left it until the last day as I knew it would depress me. It wasn't that depressing, just so poignant to think I was moving through the rooms of this little girl's home, seeing the blacked-out windows, feeling the claustrophobia of being shut in for two years. Photos weren't allowed for whatever reason, but I will show you the facade of the building which was obvious to the Nazis, being just another canal house. 

The little white plaque shows the entry door to the building which was a manufacturing warehouse during the war. The Annex where Anne Frank and her family and others were hiding is in the back of this building. You can see the canal homes from across the canal reflected in the windows. This is the bare chestnut tree Anne saw from the attic.

What the Nazis didn't know until some unknown betrayer told them, was that hidden behind a bookcase in the building, Jews were hiding out on two back floors and an attic. 

There are quotes from Anne's diary throughout The Annex, which add to the impact of the experience. 

In the words of Anne on 23 February, 1944...

"I go to the attic almost every morning to get the stale air out of my lungs. This morning when I went up there, Peter was busy cleaning up. The two of us looked out at the blue sky, the bare chestnut tree glistening with dew, the seagulls and other birds glinting with silver as they swept through the air." 

The rooms were laid bare by the Nazis when they arrived that fateful morning to take them away, and Otto Frank, (Anne's father), the only survivor from those hiding out, didn't want it refurnished when the house was opened as a museum in 1960. He wanted this house to be a metaphor for all the Jews had lost during the time of Holocaust. Instead, he had a huge scale model made so visitors can see it as it was.

THE original Diary is on display, the one she was given on her thirteenth birthday, before they moved into The Annex. Anne's writing is everywhere behind glass. She also wrote short stories. She was planning on being a novelist when the war was over and was re-writing her diary when she was taken away. Writing kept her sane during the horrendous time. 

"When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived."                 April 5, 1944.



Sadly, her life was cut short. She died of typhus in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp only one month before the end of the Nazi occupation. She believed all her family was dead, so gave up hope, according to her life-long friend who used to throw packages over the fence for Anne.

My most treasured possession from my trip will be the replica Anne Frank diary I bought. Lots of facts about Anne at the front, and lovely blank white pages thereafter. Not sure what I'll write in it yet... 

Standing looking towards Anne's house. She was denied this view throughout her incarceration. Geo is holding my precious diary in the style of Anne's.

After leaving the house, I just wanted to find a little hole somewhere and cry my eyes out...not just for Anne, but for all those who suffer and die in the name of prejudice, hate, greed and whatever motivates humans to turn on humans. Plenty of that still going on. As Marcus Zusak says through his narrator Death in the fabulous novel, The Book Thief, "I am haunted by humans."

But instead of moping, we walked along the canals through snowy scuds to the Van Gogh museum. How splendid was that! Many of his 800 paintings and drawings are on display over 3 floors. 

So now I have arrived in Paris and am taking photos of pretty things to recuperate, although France has plenty of war wounds.


Yesterday we visited the medieval city of Provins, north east of Paris. Was amazing. Today we're heading for Champs Elysee. Stay tuned for a Paris post before too long. Want more? I post nearly every day on facebook.

Meanwhile, it's hard promoting Write...Edit...Publish while on the move. I'd love you to sign up and share something about your Christmas/Holiday traditions...simple but uplifting maybe??


  • Have you been to Amsterdam? What was your experience?
  • Have you visited Anne Frank house? How did it affect you?
  • Have you read The Diary of Anne Frank? (It's published in 70 languages, so Anne got her wish to be a published author.)
  • If you enjoyed this post, please share...













57 comments:

  1. An excellent post about Amsterdam, thanks for sharing. I've never been but I wonder how the Anne Frank museum would affect me, places like that really get me.
    After missing the last two I will be signing up for this months WEP. I've been on blogging sabbatical but I'm back now, and raring to go!

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    1. It certainly affected me and everyone who went through with me was very quiet. So excited that you will be back to WEP in December !

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  2. Loved hearing about Amsterdam. I'd definitely want to see Anne Frank's house. I read her diary as a kid. It would be an emotional visit for me too.

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    1. I hope you get to visit one day Natalie.

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  3. I cannot WAIT to visit Amsterdam someday. It's on my bucket list for sure!

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    1. Go in summer is my advice. I missed the tulips !

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  4. I would never guess those were coffee shops.
    Sad she didn't live to see her dream come true. Glad you were able to visit the house.

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    1. It was definitely an honor that I willnnever forget.

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  5. It is many years since I was in Amsterdam and at the time I knew nothing about Anne Frank. I read the play some years later which depressed me quite enough without reading the diary. Have fun in Paris, a great city.

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    1. Yes I will thanks Jo. The Latin Quarter tomorrow.

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  6. Oh Denise, that was a beautiful post. How lucky you were to be able to visit Anne Frank's hideaway, but wow, what an incredibly sad story.

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    1. So sad Cathy but I feel honored to have experienced some of the emotion.

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  7. Denise,

    As always, I enjoy looking at the scenes you've captured. I haven't read Anne Frank's diary and didn't know how she died. Sad.

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    1. Glad you are enjoying the scenes Joy. Yesa terribly sad story.

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  8. A beautiful post, Denise. I can understand how it would feel to see where so much suffering took place. We need to see these historical places.

    I liked the coffee shop photos! I'm not on FB, so hope you will share some of your Paris stories on your blog. Say Hi for me to Paris! I'm thinking about joining your WEP in the new year, will see how it goes for time. ENJOY your trip, it sounds fabulous.

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    1. I will do a Paris post next D.G. I will definitely say hi to Paris for you. Really looking forward to your joining WEP next year. How exciting.

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  9. What an amazing trip to an amazing city. I would very much like to visit Amsterdam…in the summer. And I don't know if you've read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green or not, but part of it is set in Amsterdam and Anne Frank's house. Very poignant story about teens with cancer. Not to be missed.

    Enjoy the rest of your travels!

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  10. Interesting post again. But, it seems a little creepy to me that tours are allowed to go through her house. But then, I have a Libra Moon, so on the other hand, I suppose it does serve some purpose.

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  11. It serves a great purpose. It shows how many lives Anne has touched.

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  12. Hi Denise, so sorry the weather hurled everything it could at you while you were here. Still your visit was distinguished by one of the rare sea surges too, so thank goodness for all our flood barriers, or you might have got wet feet as well as being blown to smithereens. Anne Frank house is poignant isn't it? And you are right, Amsterdam is actually best in Spring. I would say May. It is truly lovely then!

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    1. Ha ha Val. I kept thinking - how do people live here? A tough lot! Must try for Spring next time.

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  13. I've been to the Netherlands twice but never did get to Amsterdam.

    I've written a couple of posts myself on Anne Frank. I cried every time I read her diary, but my heard didn't break until I got to college and read Elie Wiesel's 'Night'. That was when I discovered the horrors of the concentration camp, and what Anne was put through from the time they were arrested until the day she died.

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  14. I would love to visit Anne Frank's house but doubt it will ever happen so I am so jealous that you got to visit it

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  15. I got choked up just reading about your experience in Anne's house. I'm not sure I could see it in person.
    The snow in the USA is big news, but for most people it's just another winter storm.

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    1. I wasn't sure how I would cope but I am glad I went.

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  16. Hmm, yes, I was in Amsterdam a lifetime ago. Unfortunately, I was on a tour bus which stopped in the worst district for about half an hour, and we were not even allowed off the bus. I wish I could have visited Ann Frank Huis. But Holland was a beautiful place.

    Your FB posts have not been showing up in my feed. Probably cuz I really want to see them - ya know how persnickety software gadgets with logic systems can be.

    Have fun Partner. Don't seem like you need encouragement in that area though.

    .......dhole

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    1. Hi Partner! What a shame. Those tours can be so frustrating. Only ever did one. FB feeds are one of life's mysteries. I hope you do catch a couple of my pics over there.

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  17. Hi Denise, I haven't been to Amsterdam but I would love to. I have read Ann's Diary, it is deeply moving. What an incredible gift her story has been over the decades. "Lest we forget" indeed. The Van Gogh must have been fantastic! Happy travels and see you soon.

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    1. Yes it has been an incredible trip so far and only the first week! Hopefully we can meet in the New Year.

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  18. Your post brought back lovely memories, I was in Amsterdam many years ago, the highlight of my tour being the Van Gogh Museum. The Dutch countryside is absolutely lovely.
    Enjoy the rest of your trip!
    Nilanjana

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  19. Hi Denise .. so pleased you're enjoying yourselves .. and I've never been to Amsterdam - one day I must go. Interesting to read about Anne Frank - something else I need to find out about .. the scale model must have been educating to see ..

    Enjoy Paris and the rest of your trip .. cheers Hilary

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    1. Enjoy your research into Anne Frank. Amazing yet so sad...thanks I am enjoying Paris and off to Prague on Saturday .

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  20. Sounds like quite the spot, maybe one day around Amsterdam I'll trot. At least the aliens there are too high to worry about the probe lol

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  21. Know what you mean about Anne Frank's house . . . soooo much tears at the heart . . . if you return to Amsterdam to fly home and have the time, take one of the local buses out to the countryside . . . it's counter image to Amsterdam . . . Enjoy Paris . . . have a baguette or two for me!

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    1. Hey Kittie we did that. Got blown away literally but the countryside is lovely.
      Haven't stopped stuffing myself with baguettes and all sorts of cheeses and pates. Carbo heaven!

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  22. Yes, I've been to Amsterdam and to Anne Frank's house. It was an amazing, humbling experience.

    I loved walking around the city too, but on one walk I accidentally ended up in the red light district and suddenly I'm window shopping and want to poke my eyes out with a fork. I turned around real fast! ;)

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    1. Ha ha. That red light district comes on you so quickly.

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  23. Hi Denise,

    I have been to Amsterdam. My son went to Amsterdam and well....had a fine time, from what he can recall. Your fascinating insight and going to Anne Frank's house, a stirring and emotive time for you. And now you are dazzling Paris. Enjoy and don't go in Seine. Rather cold this time of year.

    Gary

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  24. My family went on a trip to Europe when I was eleven. We made a brief stop in Amsterdam - at my older sister's request - for the main purpose of going to the Anne Frank house. It was not my first awakening to the horrors of the Holocaust - that came when we went to see the film, The Chosen - but the personal connection one gets through Anne is devestating. I didn't read her book until a few years later - definitely one of the most important works of the last century.

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    1. I was amazed that so many from so many nations were moving through the house.

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    2. It wasn't until a few years later that I finally read the book myself. Such a tragic life story, yet such a beautiful gift she bestowed upon the world.

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  25. Love those photos of the coffee shops, how funny. I can only imagine what an emotional experience the Anne Frank house must be. I almost got chills just reading about it.
    Sounds like you are having an amazing trip.

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  26. Oh lucky you Denise!! Every time I've tried to visit Amsterdam something happens to prevent the trip. But I love reading your experience! Visiting teh Anne Frank house must have been riveting. Wow. I remember reading the diary in school and seeing the movie. I should really read it again. So very heartbreaking, but so fantastic that she's remembered as the writer she was. I'm sure she's watching over with love.

    Viva la France! *swoon* Love it there. Eat lots of delish food and soak in the beautiful art and culture. Can't wait to see pics!

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  27. Finally getting back to reading blog posts. Such a heartbreaking reality. I'm glad you were able to see such wonderful sights though, and going to Paris - heaven - but alas the history there is equally sad. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could build monuments to love instead of war atrocities.
    Enjoy, and I will definitely check out all the posts on FB.

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  28. Yolanda lovely of you to take time out of your schedule to say hello. There are a few monuments to love out there but not as many as the other kind.

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  30. Thanks for sharing your trip with us, Denise! I visited Amsterdam a couple of times years ago (back when we used to fly KLM to Turkey and have extended layovers!), but I haven't visited the Anne Frank house yet. A return trip is in order!

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