Anne Frank House – Annual Advice 2017

Riding my bike along Keizergracht last night I noticed a very long queue and decided it’s time to issue my annual (well, almost annual) advice on visiting Anne Frank House.

Here’s the queue – at least 250 people waiting in line to visit.

They have changed their system since I last wrote about this so here’s the up-to-date advice.

You can buy tickets for a specific time-slot online, the entry time will be between the museum opening and 3.30pm. These tickets are released two months in advance.

If you can’t get an online ticket you can queue for door ticket, these allow entry from 3.30pm until 30 minutes before closing (10pm from April to October).

The ticket price is 9 Euro for an adult and 4.50 Euro for a child between 10-17 (and free for the under 10s).

You can find more details on the Anne Frank House website. If you can’t manage a visit to the annex, there’s a wonderful 3D version online that you can explore.

The museum is going to be extended in the coming year so be prepared for some disruption as a new entrance and facilities are built.

The Anne Frank House

annefrankhouse_bookcaseI’ve lived in Amsterdam for a long time, but despite living within a 10 minute bike ride I have only visited Anne Frank House once.

The museum encourages you to buy tickets online, in fact from 9am to 3.30pm you can only visit the museum with a ticket purchased online for a specific timeslot. From 3.30 onwards you can queue and by a ticket at the door, fair warning – the queues get long.

The museum has been developed around the Annex where the Frank family was in hiding, and my visit takes me through the rooms they occupied. The annex has been carefully preserved and the famous bookcase entrance has been reconstructed.

You do get a feeling for the claustrophobic lives of the attic’s eight inhabitants, as you go through the Frank’s family room, Anne’s bedroom, and the Van Pels rooms. It was interesting seeing the “real thing”, including the pictures Anne chose to put on the wall and the notes in her own writing.

After you’ve been through the family space there is an area for more exhibitions where you can learn more about the occupation of Amsterdam and how Jews hid around the city to stay safe. There is a movie playing that includes an interview with Miep Gies – one of the Dutch people who helped supply the families with food.

If you can’t make it to Amsterdam you can take a virtual tour of the house online, complete with close ups of various artifacts and details of each room.

screen-shot-2017-02-24-at-17-08-41I’d read Anne Frank’s diary as a child, and I’ve seen numerous images of the annex. I think the familiarity of the story and the annex meant that it didn’t have the emotional impact I’d expected. However as I was leaving the museum there was a glass case, and in the case was one of the yellow stars that Jewish people in the Netherlands had been legally required to wear, and I caught my breath. In the grand scheme of things this is perhaps the least of the wrongs, but as a symbol of all the injustice it remains powerful. Any time the government tries to make one group “other” we should be concerned.

The other thing that got me, but in a more hopeful way, was a glass bookcase showing the versions of Anne Frank’s diary in all the translations, there were about 40 different language represented (apparently it’s been translated into 67 languages). And suddenly I saw why Anne Frank’s memory is so important.

There’s a famous quote, often attributed to Stalin,

The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic.

It’s very hard to comprehend the sheer scale of the holocaust, the total death toll is usually given as 11 million; that’s Moscow, or Greece, or New York + Chicago, or 3 times the population of my home country. We can’t empathise with a statistic. But when we read the story of one young woman, who happened to be born of a certain religion in the wrong place at the wrong time, then we can understand the tragedy.

 

Images;

Anne Frank bookcase  |  By Bungle (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Holocaust badge for the Netherlands |  Holocaust memorial

Old Stones

The city council has been working on the the Singel, an old Amsterdam canal, for ages. I walk past the worksite frequently and wondered what was taking so long.

Turns out there has been an archeological project, as part of Amsterdam’s medieval city wall was discovered when the 19th-century stone layer was removed revealing 27 large stones. It’s the first time that any of the city wall has been discovered in its original state.

There’s a short article on the City Council website, only available in Dutch .

The wall appears on the oldest map of Amsterdam by Cornelis Anthonisz which dates from 1538.

screen-shot-2017-02-03-at-23-07-33

Here’s an extract from the city council’s article (translation mine);

The site involves 27 large stone from the medieval city wall from the year 1480. These stones were below the water and were only visible after a layer of 19th century stone was removed during the restoration. This wall is also mentioned in the oldest city map of Amsterdam by Cornelis Anthonisz… It is the first time that a portion of the city wall has been found in original condition. Although there are a few loose stones known to have come from the old city wall built into the wall of the Geldersekade.

The medieval stones remain in place. Experts will examine how the area can be preserved. The demolition of the rest of the 19th century quay continues. City Archaeologist Jerzy Gawronski is in consultation with central district and Engineering Amsterdam on how to preserve these special stones. ”

Raepenhofje

raepenhofjeThe Raepenhofje is on Palmgracht in the northern part of the Jordaan, and it’s old, built in 1648. At the time it was built Palmgracht would have been a canal, but the canal was filled in in 1895. At around the same time many of the old houses in this area were cleared so the street has little historic character. The Raepenhofje is an exception, it’s one of the oldest of Amsterdam’s hofjes that’s still in use.

It was built by Pieter Adriaanszoon Raep using money he inherited from his father. The family name is commemorated on the front of the building. The family’s coat of arms sits above the construction date, and the vegetable is a turnip playing on the family’s name; raep (or raap in modern spelling) means turnip in Dutch. Above the turnip are the founder’s initials.

The hofje was founded as a home for widows and orphans, all of whom were expected to be protestant. There were originally 12 rooms, with some communal areas for cooking and dining. Now there are 9 apartments and they’re still occupied by protestant women, the women are students when they move in but can stay after graduation – but they may not “samenwonen” (bring in their boyfriends permanently). It has always been managed by the family, although the management has descended through daughters so it’s no longer the Raep family.

It’s not open to the public but there are a few pictures in the city council archive.

raepenhofje

 

 

 

Fireworks!

The Dutch celebration of New Years Eve is to set thousands of euros worth of fireworks alight. It’s a lot of fun, but it also gets a bit crazy in the city. Here’s what to do if it gets just too crazy near you.

For Amsterdam the legal time to let off fireworks is 6pm 31 December 2016 to 2am 1 January 2017. But they’ve started early in my neighbourhood. The fireworks can get noisy, annoying or dangerous. You can report any issues with fireworks via the City Council. I’ve translated the instructions from their website;


You can report issues with fireworks in two ways.

    • Online via a form (The form is only in Dutch)
    • by telephone – 14 020

Hotline

The fireworks hotline registers issues with fireworks and takes action. The nuisance issues including fireworks let off outside the legal time: that is on New Years Eve from 6pm to 2am on new year’s day.

You can also report nuisance from fireworks rubbish, feelings of insecurity, smell, noise and vandalism. The reports are picked up as soon as possible.

Where there is serious danger, where lives may be at risk, and where immediate action must be taken by the police please contact the police directly on phone 112.

It’s also forbidden to let off fireworks in the immediate vicinity of fireworks sales depots, zoos, petting zoos, animal shelters and riding schools.

Illegal fireworks
Transport and storage of illegal fireworks is dangerous. Report this by calling the police on 0900-8844 or 0800-7000 Report Crime Anonymously.


You can also report fireworks nuisance online, but this only contributes data to a map – there’s no action taken.

Here’s the map at 5pm on 30 December. (I’ll post the “after” option on Sunday)

fireworks reported

And here’s the map updated at 4.30pm on 1 January, reports have at least doubled.

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-17-20-13

Saturday Market; Pumpkin Soup

Summer stretched to the end of September this year, but I’ve gone from sandals to boots in about a fortnight. It’s suddenly autumn. Today was chilly and a little rainy. Time for soup.

Pumpkin soup. This is a hearty version perfect for this time of year, it uses just four ingredients; butternut pumpkin, red onions, olive oil and sage. Butternut pumpkin works best for a rich creamy soup. I found the pumpkin in the market for a euro each.

butternut pumpkin
I have sage growing on my terrace, the wonderfully pungent purple sage.

purple sageI chopped and de-seeded the pumpkin, peeled and halved two red onions, put them in a roasting dish, and then roughly chopped a handful of sage and sprinkled it over the vegetables. Drizzled the olive oil over.

vegetables ready for roasting to make pumpkin soup
Roast the whole lot at about 150C (in a fan oven) for about 45 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft. Remove from the oven.

Roast vegetables for pumpkin soupAllow to cool, then peel the skin off the pumpkin and put all vegetables into a pot, add about two cups of hot stock and blend. Adjust seasoning.

Warm through and serve – you can add sour cream, croutons, grated cheese – whatever pleases you. A big bowl with thick slabs of toasted bread is a warming, soothing lunch.

Pumpkin soupIt will keep in the fridge for around five days, and freezes well.

Amsterdam’s Airport; 100 Years of Schiphol

This year Schiphol Airport celebrates 100 years. Here’s a bird’s eye view of how it developed over that time created by the Stadsarchief (City Archive). It starts back in 1852 when the area was still a polder.