Packing went smoothly this morning…..despite the fact that we’re packing more than we’ve ever packed before…….a new pair of walking shoes, a tool kit for the boat and some gigantic vitamin bottles took its toll……we’re under our weight limit but our poor little suitcases are stretched to the max…..hope they don’t pop open in the cargo hold.
With luggage in hand, we checked out of the hotel, turned in the rental car and boarded BART for the trip to the airport. The trip, which usually takes about an hour and a half, stretched out to over 2 hours due to dozens of unscheduled stops along the way but, even so, we arrived at the airport with time to spare.
Check-in was easy, the line at security was short, and a table was open at the bar so we stopped in for our traditional pre-flight Bloody Mary. All was well……….until the gate agents called me for an additional passenger verification.
After scanning my passport a few more times, all was well once again.
Since this was a nighttime flight, Craig and I vowed to sleep as much as we could so we would arrive in Amsterdam rested and ready to go.
After a series of short naps, we landed in London and groggily made our way through the terminal, through another Security Check and over to Starbucks for a few eye-opening shots of caffeine before boarding the plane for the hour long flight to Amsterdam.
The flight was smooth but the landing, in heavy crosswinds, felt like riding a bucking bronco…..whoa, boy, whoa!
After this adrenaline-pumping landing, we started a gentle roll toward the gate. We rolled and rolled and rolled…..past fields and over canals……5 minutes passed, then 10 minutes, then 15, then 20……and we were still rolling along. We thought perhaps the pilot had decided to drop us off downtown…..we’d have to send a note of thanks to British Airways…..but, no, it wasn’t to be…..we finally rolled up to a gate.
We disembarked, had our passports stamped, picked up our luggage and took a van to our hotel, the ‘t Hotel…..a 17th century canal house on the Leliegracht…..a quiet canal near the Jordaan area.
Funny thing about 17th century Dutch houses…..they’re narrow and have short, steep stairs…..I hesitate to call them stairs, they’re more like a ladder with wider steps and hand rails. As my Dutch husband said, “No point in wasting wood or space.” The stairs were a challenge….with high steps that weren’t even wide enough for my size 7 feet.
After dropping off our luggage, we headed outdoors in hopes of reviving ourselves in the cool evening breeze. We wandered around the nearby streets and found ourselves in front of Anne Frank’s house. The house, now a museum, was still open so we ventured inside……and entered a different world.
There were very few visitors this evening so we had time to linger over each display…..reading and contemplating the stories behind each of the few items salvaged from the house.
We climbed the steep staircase that led to the secret annex, passing through the bookcase that hid its entrance, walking through the now empty rooms, trying to imagine what life was like for the eight souls who lived in these small rooms, shedding a tear at the pencil markings on the wall…..made by a proud parent measuring how tall his girls were getting while longing for normalcy in a world turned upside-down,
seeing Anne’s brightly-colored plaid diary…..such a small book to hold such wisdom…..hearing her father say, after he read Anne’s diary, that no matter how well you know your children, you really don’t know them at all.
We were at the end of the tour but not yet ready to leave. The magnetism of the house held us firm. We walked out slowly, pondering all we had seen and read and felt within these walls. It was an emotional, thought-provoking experience that I’ll always carry with me.