Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Spending Time In Amsterdam

Guest blogger Danielle Fear, aka Cruise Miss, arrives in the famous Dutch city prior to her cruise with MSC Cruises MSC Magnifica...

This is my first visit to Amsterdam and, aside from the hustle-bustle of the main part of the city, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The big reason for wanting to visit here is the Anne Frank House. I mentioned in a blog previously that I have read her diary many times and watched numerous TV adaptations of her story but I think until you actually go and feel it, you can’t fully appreciate it.

I had tried to book online but they were sold out so, as soon as I arrived at the hotel and stored my luggage, I made my way straight there. The walk was very pleasant and remains the area of Amsterdam I am most fond of. The queue was substantial but not as big as I had anticipated; the sun was shining and the breeze was warm, so I didn’t mind the 45-minute wait.

The second you walk through the door you feel apprehensive, but in a way I can’t fully put into words. I had a happy and warm feeling whilst queuing, I knew what I was going to see but, it didn’t really sink in until you entered the building and listened and watched the first part of her story.
'The more you see, the more the silence becomes the loudest thing in there'
Danielle Fear on being in the Anne Frank House

As you make your way through, you are following her words. Everything you see, along with the occasional narrated short film, is through her. The more you go through the building and follow her journey, the more the silence becomes the loudest thing in there. It is truly fascinating yet very painful. The mix of emotions got to a lot of people and I witnessed more than a few grown men and women shedding quiet tears.

I held onto that sad feeling until I got into what was Anne’s bedroom. In here I felt different. Yes, it is still sombre but you can smile thanks to the images she left on the walls, images that also made her days a little brighter and most certainly lifted her spirits. I left her room feeling happy, increasing my grin as I passed a well-preserved poster of Ginger Rogers on the wall. Everything she enjoyed was positive, there were images of Hollywood royalty and British royalty, along with a few others, and it added a nice lift to such a grim space.

The one part of the visit that got to me the most was looking up to the attic and out of the window. She talks about this in her diary and to actually stand in the same spot, read her words, look up and still see the same tree and daylight she had written about was truly heart breaking. This was her only view of the outside world for so long. It was a small window and you could see only the sky and branches of the tree, yet this kept her going. This for me shows how lucky each and every one of us are to have our freedom. I can’t begin to imagine what that really must have been like especially for such a young girl.

I could write my own book about why everyone should take the time to visit the Anne Frank house when in Amsterdam. There are few places on earth that can move you in the way this house and the words of this child can. It gives me a lump in my throat writing this now!

Once leaving the house, I did do some other exploring, walking for what felt like miles up and down numerous streets and then ending up in Dam Square, purely by accident. The speed of everything in Amsterdam is almost overwhelming. If you are not trying to avoid bikes and cars, there are the trams to look out for, while the sheer volume of foot traffic from all directions is amazing. I thought London was busy, even New York, but I truly don’t think you have seen anything until you have been here.

I would definitely like to come back, maybe spend more time sightseeing and taking in a little more of what Holland has to offer. I can, however, leave with my head held high and say I did NOT get mowed down by a cyclist - although I did come close a few times! 

For now though, I bid Amsterdam farewell and am en route to join MSC Magnifica, my home for the next three days.

Next - at sea with MSC Cruises.