photo of dam square
  photo of typical dutch houses and reflection on canal


1st Trip to Amsterdam

Saturday 20 March 2004

The name Amsterdam is said to derive from "Amstelledamme" which means "Dam across the river". Amsterdam is also said to be rescued from the water. By the way, New York in the USA was once called "New Amsterdam" it was renamed New York in 1664 when captured by the English.


Sunday 21 March

photo of bearsac in front of photo of anne frank
photo of bearsac on statue of anne frank

Anne Frank House; It was really weird and everything, going through the bookcase up the very narrow steep creeky stairs to the hide away.
Try to avoid going at the weekend as the queue will be long

Anne Frank was a German Jewish girl who with her family ran away to live in hiding in Amsterdam during the second world war. Annes Dad was Managing Director of a company that made products for jam making, the factory and office building at 263 Prinsenegracht had a secret annex at the back. This annex over some months was prepared and furnished with the family's furniture as a hideaway; they took residence on 6th July 1942. A large bookcase was erected covering the doorway to the annex.

photo of anne frank's diary

Anne is famous for the diary she kept which starts on 12 June 1942 on her 13th birthday; in it she talks of her feelings about her self, her family, friends and Peter. She sometimes mentions the struggle she has being under the imprisonment of hiding and of war but the resilience of a child and their ability to lead a normal life whatever the predicament shines through the very eloquent writing about the usual teenagers feelings of everyday life.

The Frank family was Anne, her older sister Margot, Mum Edith and Dad Otto pet named Pim. There were also 4 others staying in the secret annex called Hermann van Pels and his wife Auguste and son Peter and a dentist called Fritz Pfeffer. The people that helped were Miep Gies-Santrouschitz, Victor Krugler, Bep Voskuijl and Jo Kleiman they were employees of Otto.

The last entry in the diary was on 1 August 1944; on the 4th August of the same year they, on being betrayed, were arrested when SS security services officers and detectives stormed into the no longer secret annex and were taken to a prison. On the 8th August 1944 they were taken to Westerbork Transit Camp before being transferred to Auschwitz concentration camp and finally between end of October 44 to beginning of November 1944 transferred to Bergen-Besel Concentration camp where Anne died in March 1945. Had she survived a few weeks more she would have seen the day on April 15th 1945 when the English Army gave the survivors back their freedom from the camp and the restrictions they had faced for what must have seem like an eternity.

Of the eight secret annex inhabitants only Otto Frank survived and on his return to the secret annex he was given Anne's diary, by Miep which taught him of the daughter he realised, he barely knew as an individual. He worked on getting the diary published and it was so in 1947.


photo of bikes against railings of canal
photo of bikes against railings

Bicycles are everywhere in Amsterdam and are all old. Lots of the bikes are not padlocked and mostly all look the same.



Monday 22 March

photo of bearsac in yellow plastic mac looking out of canal boat

Did a boat trip on the canals we did; in my plastic yellow sailor coat I was dressed the part. We went passed the Mayors gaff, I swear I saw a face peering through the window and a hand wave at me. We also went past the clock tower called "Crazy Jack! as it always tells the wrong time.


photo bearsac with a spliff in coffee house

Later we tried the coffee house opposite the room which I think might be the oldest one, only since 1985 though!


Tuesday 23rd March - Day of departure

We smelt our way through a small flower market and popped into a little shop to buy fridge magnets. I'm a bit upset I didn't tip furry toe through the tulips but in all I had a good time as did Debra, Alan and Choc-Ice. My closing bit of advice is try the Anne Frank museum but don't' try space cake!




2nd trip to Amsterdam


24 July 2004

photo bearsac outside a coffee house

Just a day trip this time. Alan moaned and groaned all day long all over the gaff, so the day was not as good as it could have been. Debra and I wanted to go to the Van Gogh museum, it was out of the question with moany Al in tow though.

Did lunch in a Spanish tapas bar we at eat on our first trip to Amsterdam.

photo of candle-stick by window with police officers outside between branches

A couple of police women stopped, assisting a member of the public, and I tried to frame them within a 3 branched candle stick thing on the table by the window, I'd been taking a few photos of different people like this as a sort of time whatever they call it things!

Lots of duty frees were got at the airport which persuaded Alan it was worth the trek after all.



3rd trip to Amsterdam

Saturday 10 September 2005 - Day 1

To help relieve Alan of his fear of flying we chose to take a 3rd trip to Amsterdam as it is a short flight. The only thing is was that he chickened out before getting the train at Borehamwood station. He had no need to have worried as the flight was fine.

We stayed at a camping site in a hut with a bunk bed. Thanks to Alan not coming I had my own bed and I took the top bunk whilst Debra was in the bottom.

To find out more about Camping Zeeburg see their website but don't forget to come back here! What is real cool about the campsite is that it has a small animal farm with goats, a brown sheep hens and a turkey. I said hello to a few went and Debra emailed Alan to say we had arrived safely.


Sunday 11 September - Day 2

Took a stroll around Flevo Park speaking to some of the joggers before getting tram 14 to Dam Square.

photo of bearsac sitting on tram-driver's seat

The tram in front must have broke down and we were stuck for ages. Still it gave me a chance to sit in the drivers seat for a photo.


photo of bearsac outside Volendammer Vishahandel haring shop

We came upon Volendammer Vishahandel haring shop (herring) and shared a lovely fresh raw herring roll with mild pickled onion and gherkins in wholemeal with poppy seeds, it was yummy yum yum.

Spent t wo hours at the History of Amsterdam Museum. Normally 6 euros for adults, today it was a special free day, so Debra was happy.
Here we learnt about how Amsterdam was rescued from the sea by being drained by diking. We saw the development from early to present day and population rise to its present time. We also saw examples of culture and living changes trough time on computers.

photo of bearsac laying under beer tap

There was a set up of an old pub in which I tried to get a drink form the bar laying under a beer tap, but nothing came out; you can't get the service these days even if you try to serve yourself.



blurred photo of bearsac with glass of wine

After the museum we came upon a small art gallery that had a artists sales event and everything. We didn't know if it was a public event or invited guests only but no-one asked to see an invitation and we got a glass of wine as we looked at the art and spoke to a few people.

More walking around taking photos of bikes ridden by adults with babies, small kids and dogs strapped on in various fashions. We had more herring too, this time from a street stand, it was not as good as from the shop earlier but still good.

photo of bearsac at febo with glass cabinets of food

A popular fast food joint in Amsterdam is Febo, as well as buying from the counter you can self serve from coin slot glass cabinets that get replenished soon after.


photo of bearsac drinking beer through a straw from a sherry glass

We took a well needed break for a beer in a Dutch pub Cafe Otten where I was welcomed and even had my own small glass of beer with a straw. I drank most of Debra's Amstel Malt too and had a fuss made of me by people especially when leaving when a group of men sang a song to me in football fan style. It was well cool; but then, I'm such a cool dude teddy bear. Hi to everyone we met in there.


photo of stuntman juggling on ladder

We came across a young man doing a stunt of juggling with a very large knife, flamed torch and apple of which he was to take 3 bites whilst juggling with the lethal weapons on top of a free standing ladder.

We then went to that district with the same colour light as as a ripe tomato. There I spoke to a lovely young lady standing in a doorway with a crowd of men around her. She had in her hand a black leather swishing type of implement which went with what she was wearing. I asked her to swish me with it and laughing she obliged. Happy, I thanked and kissed her.



Monday 12 September - Day 3


photo of bearsac on bridge with windmills in background
photo of bearsac by windmill

We got a train from Central station to Zaanse Schans where there are windmills and pretty green painted wooden buildings along the River Zaan. The nearest train station is Koog-Zaandijk which is 4 stops (20 minutes) by train from Amsterdam Central Station. Take the stop train direction Alkmaar to Koog-Zaandijk (4.90 euros return). From the station follow the green signs to the Zaanse Schans. It is about a 15-minute walk from the station to the Zaanse Schans. Take a photo or video from the bridge over the River Zaan of the windmills before carrying on to the Zaanse Schans.

photo of bearsac sitting in giant clog
photo of bearsac wearing clogs

As well as the windmills which there are workshops. You get free entry to the
Klompenmakerij Woodenshoe Workshop and also the Catharina Hoeve Cheese Workshop where we sampled some decent Gouda.

The costume museum (1 euro) was closed so we missed out there. We met the nice owner of a toy and wooded puppet shop and he had a look at my website on his laptop. Hi.


Tuesday 13 September - Day of departure

We left the campsite about 10.30am had some more herring at Volendammer Vishahandel haring shop. A quick look around the shops before heading for the airport where Debra got a bottle of Drysack sherry which doesn't seem to be sold any more in the UK and a bottle of Boomsma Jeneva (Dutch Gin).











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