Dana lives in Seattle, and Tracie lives in Germany. We are businesswomen, writers and humorists. We write about life, dating, and today's modern women.
The first tour of the day, the Amsterdam’s Jewish Quarter Walking Tour was set to begin at 10:30. The meeting point would be in front of the Jewish Historical Museum. Because I had absolutely no idea where I was going, I left the hotel early enough to afford myself time to get lost and STILL be on time.
Fortunately, the Museum was only about a 15-minute drive from the hotel where I was staying, so I had a good forty-five minutes to wander and discover. I begin to stroll down the street.
Instantly, just a few breaths away from the meeting point, I see a motley collection of color and things and stuff which make me come to a full stop. I couldn’t figure the whole thing out. I stepped up a bit closer and carefully observed this beautiful, eclectic, perfectly appointed mishmash which was the entrance to the living quarters of someone who was clearly a very free spirit. The occupant stepped outside, eyed me, smiled, turned around, and retreated back inside, seemingly satisfied that he’d aroused the curiosity of another passerby. His outdoor feast for the eyes was just staggering! He had certainly put a lot of effort into finding just the right place for just the right thingumabob. I lingered for a while admiring his creative colorful composition. Hah! Another lone ranger. If Amsterdam is gonna be like this, we’re going to get along just fine, I thought and with a bit more spring in my step, I moseyed on down the street.
Just as I was thinking that I had time for a coffee, I see about half a block before me a cafe. I stepped inside The Strain Hunters “coffee house”. You actually could get a coffee with any of the house specialties of various kinds of weed, hash cookies, pre-rolled joints, and space cakes.
It dawned on me where I was. “Good morning,” I said smiling.
The guy behind the counter said, “Good morning love. What can I get for you?”
I glanced up at the menu.
“Could I get a cappuccino–with oat milk?” I said. (I am laughing at the memory as I write this. Duh, Tracie.)
“Sure,” he said. Step on over to the side there to my colleague. She’ll set you up.”
While my hot foamy drink was being cooked, I sat down on a stool at a low seated table near where it was all happening. The music of Earth, Wind and Fire accompanied the good vibe. I looked around. On every table there in The Strain Brothers, there are various shaped small glass jars–all filled with cannabis of some kind or another. I look at my table. Yep. Mine too.
What a treat. I wasn’t expecting to land in a real coffee house–I just wanted a cappuccino. It’s quite interesting how the 300 or so coffee shops fit into the Dutch culture. It’s fun just to watch the array of customers. One caveat is that no cannabis –considered a soft drug–may be sold to anyone under the age of 18.
I finished my coffee and headed back down the street from which I’d come towards the tour operator who had just arrived himself.
Our group consisted of seven, plus the tour guide who was extremely knowledgeable about Jewish history in Amsterdam. I lauded his clear affinity for the Jews (and the inclusion of all people for that matter) and his disgust of their plight during WW2.
He explained what happened during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands between 1940 and 1945, and the effects of the brutal regime. He showed us original photographs of the documents used to remove the Jewish folk from their homes, their families, and their livelihoods; explained how some Jews turned on their brothers and sisters out of fear for their own lives; about the Dutch resistance who worked tirelessly and in secret to save families like Anne Frank’s.
We walked to various monuments and I was deeply moved by the monument (near completion) which will honor more than 102,000 Jews, Roma and Sinti killed in the holocaust or who died on their way to the concentration camps. The brick-shaped stones each engraved with a victim’s name have been constructed as 4 walls to form four Hebrew letters spelling out the word that translates into: In Memory Of.” Beautiful, right? Of course, Anne Frank’s name is here. Our tour ends at her home.
Standing before the green front door of what was once her family home, our tour operator tells us about her life, her fears, her yearnings as she was just coming into puberty and wrote about her feelings, and the betrayal of her family: no one could ever have known that anyone was behind that narrow book facade.
I couldn’t help but want to touch the green door, leaving a bit of myself behind and taking so much with me. So much heritage, heartache, and history. I just had to take some with me.
In my next post, I’ll share my adventure and some interesting facts about Amsterdam as seen from the water on a canal cruise. It’s Monday, make it rock everybody!