Click the dots on the map above to view pictures I have taken in these locations.
On a flight from Chicago to Madrid on December 31. 2008, I had a seven hour layover in Amsterdam. Obviously, I wasn’t going to sit in the airport for so long when an unknown city to me is so close.
Getting to Amsterdam from the airport is easier than I could’ve imagined; just jump on a train and you’ll be in the city center within twenty minutes. From there, it’s easy to walk everywhere.
I had very little knowledge of Amsterdam before going. Really, all I knew about the city was that marijuana is legal and that the Red Light District is located there. Not the best image for a city. I was pleasantly surprised by what I found, very busy main roads but extreme calmness located on just a few blocks away on the back roads. The canal system is impressive in itself, as it lines the entire city. On this New Year’s Eve, however, a canal tour was not in my plans. Instead, I wandered the city, admiring the architecture and plazas, and toured the Anne Frank House.
Amsterdam is just fun to walk around and see what you may find. You may walk right by two popular coffeeshops selling weed. Or you may find the most quiet, serene canal surrounded by beautiful architecture and an occasional cyclist.
As expected, the Anne Frank House is an exhilarating experience. Most of us read the book in school, but it may seem so far away and so far in the past. Like watching the news, it’s easy to feel detached from it. Stepping into the house is a different story. Walking up the hidden stairway, seeing Anne’s desk, the family’s tiny living quarters, it all becomes very real. It’s heartbreaking to think of the fear in which they lived during the war. Hearing the bombs outside, or the Nazi soldiers entering the store below. Seeing where it all happened, that brings it to life.
Having just a seven hour layover, this is about all I was able to do in Amsterdam. A short time frame, but I’m happy to have experienced a small portion of the city.