This is the 4th year I've taken part, and, since in previous years people seem to have enjoyed my blogs about different places, I've decided this year's A-Z will cover other places (mostly in mainland Europe) which I've visited, some only one, some several times.
So - here goes: A is for Amsterdam
My first visit to the city was as one of the leaders of a school group (of 12-15 year olds) back in the 1970s. Main thing I remember is a canal cruise in the evening, which went through part of the Red Light district. Most of the teenagers were fairly wide-eyed at the sight of women leaning out of red-lit windows – except for a group of 4 boys, all aged about 13, who had spent most of the trip to the Netherlands playing cards. Even on the sight of the scantily clad women couldn’t drag them away from their card game!
A few years later, I took my car over to Holland, one of the only times I have driven on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. We stayed at a seaside town, but one day decided to be brave and drive into Amsterdam. I had the route into the city planned in my mind, but unfortunately, there were road works on the main road that should have taken me right into Dam Square, and traffic was diverted. As with many diversions, the signs didn’t help, and eventually I decided that a narrow street might take me to Dam Square. Only after I’d turned into it did I realise I was driving the wrong way up a one-way street. Fortunately, no traffic was coming the other way, but when I got to the end, there was a policeman directing traffic. He obviously saw my car’s British number plates and grinned as he gave a shrug, then stopped all the other traffic, and with a sweeping movement of his arm, waved me into Dam Square.
On another visit to the city, my purse (wallet) was stolen. I think it may have been in a souvenir shop, although I didn’t discover the loss until later. My friend and I then had to ask for directions to a police station (where I needed to report the theft for insurance purposes). This involved a trip on a crowded tram where we had to ask people to tell us when we reached the police station – which turned out to be the city’s police headquarters. After all the hassle, though, we did get to meet the most gorgeous blond-haired and white-uniformed police officer, who was most sympathetic, but obviously couldn’t do anything about the theft apart from give me an official report to submit to my travel insurance company.
I’ve been to Amsterdam several times since then – seen the canals frozen over on a New Year’s Day and visited the Van Gogh Museum, but maybe my most abiding memory is of the Anne Frank Haus on Prinsengracht. The rooms where the family hid were much smaller than I’d expected, and it was hard to imagine eight people living there for two years.
|Anne Frank house|