Monday, October 09, 2006

Amsterdam Part II – Daylight

Amsterdam is a study in dichotomy. Daytime is polarized from the city at night by more than the presence of light. The entire character changes. In day light, Amsterdam is a beautiful city.

With only one full day there, we had to prioritize our activities. There just wasn’t enough time to see everything I would have wanted. Instead, we settled on a visit to the Anne Frank House and museum, followed by a boat tour of the city’s canals in the afternoon. This meant we never made it to the Van Gogh and Rembrandt museums.

The Anne Frank House is very well done. Tourists are granted access to the entire hideout, all of which is preserved incredibly well. For instance, many of the magazine pictures Anne Frank pasted to the walls of her room as decoration are still hanging. I read her diaries a long time ago for school, but walking through each room of the annex quickly refreshed my memory. It’s a great experience, even if it’s not the easiest thing to get through, and it was my favorite part of the city.

Anne Frank Huis is the building to the right of the red and white awning with dark green trim. At first glance, it looks like any other building on the street.

Before we hopped on the boat tour, we did a little more walking. Amsterdam consists more or less of several concentric canals that surround an inland harbor. Because the city sits below sea level, a series of locks was built to prevent flooding. As the city expanded, its residents would simply build another, wider canal around the harbor, much like a tree adds a ring to its trunk as it grows outward. The locks prevent tidal changes in sea level, thereby making the canals very easy to navigate. Countless arched bridges make walking around even easier.

Once on the boat, I was able to snap better photos of the row houses. The buildings you see below are representative of pretty much all of the structures that line the canals. In addition, over 2,000 house boats are tied up along the canals. It’s really great architecture. I’ve definitely never been anywhere like it.

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