Sunday, November 30, 2008

Amsterdam to Paris 27 Nov

Happy Thanksgiving from Paris! Of course, here in France it is just another Thursday. We arrived last night in the area of Clichy, just NW of the heart of Paris. We will have our petite dejeuner (breakfast) and then head off to explore on a sunny, crisp fall day. Yolanda, our au pair from Spain who lived with us for a year back in 1998-99, is in Paris on vacation with her boyfriend, David. We will meet them today!
Up until now, our favorite day was spent in the unique city of Amsterdam. It is a city of canals, like Venice. One million people live here, with one million bicycles. We enjoyed walking all around the canals, bridges, and city squares. Oh, and the architecture of the buildings along the canals is fabulous. You’ll see stair-stepped gables (tops of buildings), fancy decorated gables, and statues up high. Most have a hook and pulley up high outside. This is how they lift up furniture to the top floors, since the stairwells are too narrow inside. Then they simply bring the heavy objects in through big windows! We took a 1-hour boat tour around Amsterdam where we saw many buildings dating back to the 1500’s and 1600’s! The boys loved spotting sinking boats that were tied to the sidewalls of the canals. They also spotted bicycles that were locked to bridges or railings which hung down into the canal! Swans dotted the water, and we saw where the trading ships brought treasures back from India, China, and other faraway places centuries ago. Amsterdam was truly one of the centers of world trade.
We visited the Anne Frank Museum, a solemn building along a canal. We walked through the building which was her father’s business, and then we walked through the hiding spot behind the bookcase which led into the annex where Anne and 7 other people hid during World War II for two years. Our boys’ eyes have been opened to the tragedies of our world, first hand. They have many questions. Anne was outwardly a happy girl, but in her diary she shared her serious thoughts. We bought her diary there at the museum which we all plan to read.
Amsterdam is a city where prostitution and drug sales of marijuana are legal. Again the boys had many questions about things they saw for sale along the streets in the heart of the city, which is right downtown by the train. We all felt very safe with many other tourists and locals all around. Only Thom was allowed to venture into the Red Light District for a short walk…I told him he had to go! We linked up and returned by train to our hostel in Souse.

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