Vikki: Being in the Netherlands reminds me very much of home - green grass, cows, sheep and the smell of farm animals everywhere, especially as our camp site is rural and we are surrounded by farms. About 15km out of Amsterdam on the coast it's very different to where we have been to date and much cooler, so we are digging into the bag to find the warm clothes.
We spent time checking out some of the local sites close by, especially the pretty village of Volendam, a small fishing village with cute wooden houses lining the streets. On one street we walked down, the houses were all joined but every house had a different front door and they were really flash and fancy, it almost looked like a competition to see which house had the best front entrance.
We have headed into Amsterdam and spent the days wandering the streets, which has been much easier given the cooler temp's. It has required concentration crossing roads to dodge between the million and one bikes going in every direction, and trams zooming down the middle of the streets. We spent time visiting the newly re-opened Rijks Museum & Van Gogh Museum which were fabulous, with many great artworks to see and outdoors at the Rijk, a number of sculptures by Henry Moore and Auguste Rodin. Not to mention the amazing building itself. Then on to Anne Franks House. The house has changed a lot since I saw it 20 years ago, and is now much more of a museum, with interpretation. Quite a different experience this time, but really good for the kids to see. A visit to the Heineken Brewery was great fun, and I know Raj certainly enjoyed his time there.
Raj: Goes in golden, comes out yellow was one of the sayings at the Heineken Experience attraction. After the disappointment of missing the Pilsner Urquell Brewery tour in the Czech Republic, I was encouraged and yes persuaded by the family to do the Heineken tour in Amsterdam to make up. It was a great insight into the history of Heineken in a fun, modern and very cool way. We got a 4D experience of what it's like to 'be the beer and be bottled', played games, took videos and photos, saw the famous tv ad's in comfort and style, and of course got to sample a few (well 4 actually as Vikki was the designated driver!) The kids had a great time also, finishing with a pepsi at the bar, and we got gifts also. Not a bad time and a nice a side from the museums.
As for Amsterdam itself, it's go go go, with a hive of activity in a city built for biking and walking. We certainly got our share of cannabis whiffs from the many 'brown' cafes or from just walking the streets. The kids were giggling or looking in surprise/disgust at some of the 'adult' window displays we passed. We also took a quick shortcut through the Red Light District and yes, the ladies were on display in their small booths. Vikki walked quickly, Harley had his head down as he was tired and a bit grumpy, while Anouk's eyes wandered as I pulled her along. She asked, "ouhh look dad, why are those girls in their undies?", to which I replied, "maybe Halloween is earlier in Holland and they've dressed up" (or down as the case was). I don't think she believed me. All part of the Amsterdam experience!
Anouk: It is very exciting to know that we are in our third to last city and country in Europe. We are in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. We are staying in another camp ground and it gets really cold at night here. We had a fun day at a cheese and clog factory. We tried some samples of cheese and chocolate that were yum. We also got some clog souvenirs and a really good cheese slicer. One of my favourite things has being going into Amsterdam. I have seen some very exciting buildings such as an art museum and Anne Frank's house. We also went to the Heineken factory. My favourite thing was Anne Frank's house because we got to see what her life was like in WW11. Anne Frank was a very famous Jewish girl who hid in a house in Amsterdam with her family during WW11. Some friends of her family were not Jewish so they helped them to hide. Sadly they got caught and sent to concentration camps. Her dad (Otto Frank) survived but the others including Anne died. The reason why she is famous is because while she was hiding she wrote a few diaries about her life. After the war her father found her diaries and had them published and now it is a very famous story that everyone (especially me) wants to read. We learnt lots of facts and lots of things in there and one of the coolest things that we saw was their house where they hid.
Harley: We have been into Amsterdam City twice. The city is full of bikes! First we visited the Rijks Museum, which is like the Louvre Museum in Paris. We saw paintings and art works from 1600-2000 from many different artists. We saw the most famous painting called Night Watch by Rembrandt. Next we visited Anne Frank's House. Anne Frank hid in a secret annexe for 2 years during WWII. She was born in Frankfurt, Germany on 12 June, 1929. Anne hid with her family and 4 others, and there were 4 friends that helped them out with supplies. Otto Frank, Anne's dad owned two companies, Opekta and Pectacon, which made jam and meat spices. Their secret annex was above his shop.To enter the secret annexe you would enter through a door that was hidden behind a book case. When we went inside we saw the rooms including the bedroom, bathroom, lounge and kitchen. All the furniture had been removed from the rooms, but we saw reconstructions. It was 6 July, 1942 when the family went into hiding and on 4 August, 1944 the family were found and sent to concentration camps. That's over 2 years in hiding! Anne Frank died at Bergen - Belsen Concentration Camp on the 6 January, 1945 at the age of 15. She died 1 month before liberation and they would have released her. One of the other people hiding with her, Peter Van Pels, died at Mauthausen Concentration Camp which we visited in Austria.
The reason why Anne Frank is famous is because she wrote a diary while she was in hiding. Otto Frank, Annes dad, survived the war and found Annes diary which he got published. It is now a famous book that I'm going to read. I really enjoyed Anne Franks house.