On May 27th, we had to figure out which museums to tackle in Amsterdam. I decided on the Het Scheepvaartmuseum (National Maritime Museum) and we concluded that this was one of the best museums for kids that we had encountered on the whole trip.
|Visitors can board the ship and check out the the various decks. Here, Sarah is reviewing the steps to firing a canon, which was pretty neat with sound effects.|
|Paul testing some lines below deck.|
|This room had a 360 degree view of the high seas all around us.|
|Working our way through the Golden Age exhibit which covers the Netherlands during the 17th century: At that time the Netherlands was one of the richest and most powerful countries in the world, primarily thanks to seafaring.|
|Sarah resting in the Tale of the Whale exhibit, which shows how our image of the whale has changed over time.|
|Sarah exploring Jan's home: Jan's father was a minister; Sarah is in the church pulpit giving a sermon. To the left is a fighter plane and kids can go in and pretend to fly it.|
|The living room of Henk's house: Henk enjoyed collecting things that he found during the war.|
The exhibition tells a chronological story, from approximately 1930 to 1950, in which information is offered in various "layers". Visitors get an overall picture of a rather indolent Dutch society in the thirties, experience the shock of the unexpected German invasion, then discover that both the oppression and resistance to it gradually intensify in the occupation years as the war progresses.
|The streets and walls of the museum help evoke the climate of the war years.|
|The exhibition covers all forms of resistance: Strikes, forging of documents, helping people to go into hiding, underground newspapers, escape routes, armed resistance, espionage and so on.|
As we were about to leave the museum, we discovered all four of our umbrellas were stolen at the front door. I must say I was shocked; having just gone through the Resistance Museum, didn't those thieves develop any sense of humanity out of it? Disappointing, to say the least.
We walked back to collect the car and then we decided to drive over to the Anne Frank Museum to see what the line was like. We were not organized enough to order tickets in advance and therefore we knew that we'd have to stand in line with the other poor planners in order to see the house. We arrived and I saw that the line was at the 45 minute wait mark, which was pretty good as far as the Anne Frank house lines can be. It was starting to rain however and we no longer had umbrellas, so we opted to leave and instead get there early in the morning the next day. With that decision made, we drove back to the campground.
|On the way back to the campground, we stopped for groceries. This supermarket had a neat little play area for kids.|
|Here we are about 60 minutes into our wait. Moods were much improved with a hot chocolate in our hands.|
|At about the 20 minute mark, museum staff handed out a brochure outlining the path of the museum and an introduction to the 8 people who went into hiding and their 4 helpers who kept them fed and with supplies over the two years.|
There were 8 people in total in hiding in this house at Prinsengracht 263, which was Otto Frank's place of business where he produced jam and sold meat seasonings. They were the Franks: Otto, his wife Edith and daughters, Margot and Anne. The Van Pels: Hermann, his wife Auguste and their son Peter. And a friend of Miep Gies' (one of the 4 helpers), Fritz Pfeffer. The 8 people hiding were discovered on August 4, 1944 which was after D-day (June 6, 1944); they came so close to surviving. Initially all of them were sent to Auschwitz. Edith Frank was selected for the gas chamber but managed to escape and hide in a different section of the camp; she kept most of her food for her two girls and became very weak as a result.
Around the beginning of November 1944, with the Russian Army advancing, Anne, her sister Margot and Auguste Van Pels were moved out of Auschwitz (along with the healthier prisoners) and sent to Bergen-Belsen. Edith Frank's poor health was probably the factor that led her not to be chosen and she was held back at Auschwitz; Edith died from starvation on January 6, 1945.
Otto Frank, Fritz Pfeffer and Hermann and Peter Van Pels initially managed to be able to stay together. Otto, Fritz and Hermann were assigned to heavy labor. After a few weeks, Hermann was unable to keep up and was exhausted; he was selected for the gas chamber and was killed.
Fritz Pfeffer was sent to the Neuengamme concentration camp in October 1944. Thousands of prisoners died there from a combination of heavy labor, lack of food and poor sanitary conditions. Fritz Pfeffer was among them. He died in the sick-bay barracks on December 20, 1944.
With the imminent arrival of the Russian Army to Auschwitz, the Nazis evacuated the camp. Prisoners who could still walk had to go with them. Peter Van Pels was among these prisoners. He arrived at the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria at the end of January 1945. The prisoners had to perform heavy labor. It is believed that Peter died sometime between April 11th and May 5th from exhaustion.
In February 1945, Auguste Van Pels was transferred to Buchenwald concentration camp and then to then to the Czechoslovakia camp, Theresienstadt ghetto, on April 9, 1945. While she was noted as being alive on April 11, 1945, she died sometime afterward between April 11th and early May 1945, when the camp was liberated.
In March 1945, Margot died of typhus and just a few weeks later in March, Anne died as well. A friend of Anne's, whose interview is shown in the museum, is recorded as saying she saw Anne in Bergen-Belsen a week or so before she died. At that point, Anne knew Margot was dead and thought her whole family had died. It appeared she had nothing left for which to live. Anne died just a few weeks before Bergen-Belsen was liberated.
|Otto Frank's business, and the location of the secret annex, was the flat-roofed building to the right of the house with the triangular roof. The next two buildings to the right were acquired and are a part of the museum complex.|
|James walking up the very steep staircase to the "secret annex".|
|The Diary of Anne Frank has been translated into 70 languages and published in over 60 countries. More than 30 million copies of the diary have been sold. One of those copies is with us in LandShark.|
|Statue of Anne Frank near the Anne Frank house: Several bunches of flowers were left at the foot of the statue illustrating how moved people are today by her story.|
After lunch, no one wanted to tackle anything too heavy so we decided on a canal tour which we could catch near the Anne Frank house. The tour lasts 75 minutes and one can choose between 2 different routes. For €5 extra, one can use the canal tour as a hop-on hop-off means of transportation for 24 hours. (We chose just the 75 minute tour.)
Here are a few fun facts about Amsteradam. The name Amsterdam is derived from the city’s origins; it grew around a dam in the river Amstel. The city has 165 canals with a combined length of about 100 kilometers. There are 1,281 bridges and about 3,100 houseboats in the greater Amsterdam area.
Because the city accommodates cars, a comprehensive tram system and well over 600,000 bicycles (often with separate paths for each), it has one of the most elaborate road systems we had seen anywhere; there certainly was a learning curve in order to comfortably navigate it, both as a motorist and as a pedestrian. Cyclists have the right-away over anyone. Finally, what is the difference between a coffeeshop and a koffie huis (coffee house)? A coffeeshop sells soft drugs (marijuana or hashish), space cakes, coffee, tea, and sometimes freshly-squeezed juices and sandwiches. A koffie huis sells the same things, minus the soft drugs and space cake.
|Waiting for our canal tour, James tried on some wooden shoes for size.|
|In the days before numbered addresses, buildings had some sort of sign on them which was used to label that location, and sometimes depict the profession of the owner. Fortunately, some buildings still have these signs.|
|Many warehouses (here with simple pointed gables) have been converted into housing.|
|At some point during the tour, both Paul and Vincent nodded off. Looks like James could have done with a nap too. Good thing I took photos so they could see what they missed.|
When we visited, we found that some rooms had an English translation card but many areas did not. This could be an excellent second tier museum if they put more effort into providing language translations; I think they could really boost their visitation numbers if they did so.
One of the highlights of visiting the Scheveningen had nothing to do with the museum itself. We happened to catch the removal of garbage from the waste bins at the front of the museum and the subsequent cleaning of the containers. This was an advanced refuse system that none of us had ever seen before.
|We looked outside the museum window and saw a robotic arm from the garbage truck latch onto the top of a waste bin.|
|We then saw the arm lift the waste bin which was attached to a much larger bin underneath that was hidden underground.|
|The double bin was lifted over the truck and emptied.|
|The arm carried the bin over the rear of the truck and the interior was pressure hosed. The bin was then returned to its slot on the street. The process was then repeated for the other two bins.|
|After each bin was pressure hosed, the second worker hosed down the parked car next to the truck to remove any debris that may have struck and stuck to it.|
|There was a room that gave a sense of going into the ocean and meeting sea life under water.|
While I hated the kids to miss one of the best galleries in Europe, deep down I was looking forward to spending the afternoon in a museum at my own pace with nobody nearby whining to leave.
|Main foyer of the Rijksmuseum.|
The museum offers an audioguide for €5 which contains 4 different tours one can take. Vincent and I both did the "highlights" tour and then "golden age" tour. Vincent then went off and did the "art therapy" tour on his own. For those that are successful in getting their children through the museum doors, there is a "family" tour available as well. Here are a few snaps of some of the gems that the museum holds.
|Portrait of a Girl Dressed in Blue (1641) by Johannes Cornelisz Verspronck.|
|Dutch Ships in a Calm (c 1665) by Willem van de Velde II.|
|Looking down the Gallery of Honour: At the very end is Rembrandt's Night Watch.|
|Model of the William Rex., a Dutch warship from the late 17th century.|
|Portraits of Giuliano and Francesco Giamberti da Sangallo (1482-85) by Piero di Cosimo.|
|Still Life with Cheese (c 1615) by Floris Claesz van Dijck.|
|Self Portrait as the Apostle Paul (1661) by Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn.|
|Still Life with Gilt Cup (1635) by Willem Claesz Heda.|
|In the Bois de Boulogne near Paris (c 1906) by Isaac Israels.|