Sunday, October 28, 2007

Zondag (Amsterdam)...

The time changed today in Europe, so we got to fall back with a welcome bonus hour. After another simple breakfast, we decided to take advantage of a hint of blue through the persistent clouds...I swear, I saw shadows for a minute. The Sunday morning streets were nearly vacant, which added to an already pleasant walk. The quiet streets also lulled us into believing that the line at the Anne Frank House would be was twice as long as before. Sigh...look at the pretty trees :)

Instead, we veered south to see the famous flower market, which was more bulbs than flowers at this time of year. Every tulip known to man, and even some "starter cannibus"...only in Amsterdam. From there, we found the nearby Willet-Holthuysen Museum...a historic 17th century Amsterdam canal house. This a small, easy museum, but its restored rooms are beautiful.

Grabbed a quick bite of so-so Mediterranean food at the Cafe Noona...and then on to the train station to book our Tuesday tickets to Paris. Along the way, merged into a throng of protesters marching loudly for something...not sure what, but we quickly separated ways. The train station was packed, but we figured out the system and made reservations on the Thalys train with the help of the kind woman at Desk #13.

More lovely canals, but any hint of sun or blue skies was gone for the day...rain was on the could smell it.

One more try for good ole Anne Frank...success...only a 15min wait. We toured this famous and touching landmark...the hidden rooms where Anne Frank, her parents and sister, and the Pels family of four lived in total secrecy for over two years beginning in 1942. The rooms were cramped and warm...surely the claustrophobic feel they gave to their residents. The Frank and Pels families were eventually betrayed and deported by the Nazis to Auschwitz, where Anne Frank died shortly before the camp was liberated. In all, the tour was a sobering experience narrated by the words of a child's diary.

On our way back to the hotel, shopped at several Royal Delft stores. Delft is that classic blue and white ceramic...immediately identifiable, and quintessentially Dutch. We picked up a couple of handpainted examples...including a Christmas tree ornament and beautiful vase.

A light drizzle joined us on our walk.

Dinner was the very popular Ristorante Saturnino, which we had passed each night...always with a long waiting list. Figuring that consistent crowds can't be wrong, we had made a reservation earlier in the day. Definitely worth the trip...our pasta dishes were right out of Italy. Two excellent Italian restaurants in a row...literally too, since Saturnino and Romana (from last night) are next door to each other.

By the end of dinner, the drizzle was a bit more persistent. After drinks, the drizzle was heavy. Reluctantly, the umbrella came out.

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