We arrived in Amsterdam and after we found our hotel the first sight we were off to visit was the Anne Franke House. The writer lived in a building located on a canal in central Amsterdam. It was incredible to walk in the rooms where she decorated the walls with pictures from magazines to bring a little life to their dismal existence. It became much more imaginable to realize the constant fear they lived with every day.
We toured the Rossebuurt (Dutch for pink or red) neighborhood. Better known as the red-light district. On the corner as you enter the area with ribbon thin cobble stone streets sits a lovely 14th century gothic church. The collision of prostitutes and tourist looking at prostitutes felt like one big circus freak show. That’s about all I have to say about it.
Amsterdam is a beautiful city. The focus by Americans these days is often on it’s tolerance of marijuana and the red light district. Even though we admired the Netherland’s experiment with deregulation, the unexpected consequence is an area in the most central part of Amsterdam that is more like an ugly scar on a pretty face. It is obviously so much more. Amsterdam is beautiful and historic, with wonderful museums, the greatest flower market anywhere, and the sobering and poignant Anne Franke House. They should treat themselves better. An interesting paradox is being played out there as this is written. This country of tolerance, one that suffered so much from repressive invaders, is also at this very moment prosecuting one of it’s leading political leaders for a hate speech crime because it dared criticize fundamentalist Muslims. The trial is dividing the country, there was already significant tensions between the Dutch and the 30 percent Muslim minority. When we departed Amsterdam we were ready to move on to more inspiring environs.