31.05.2013 - 31.05.2013 15 °C
We took a second stab at Amsterdam today, visiting the world renowned Rijksmuseum and Anne Frank House. We decided against bikes this time, though.
Rijksmuseum is a huge and imposing place. During the two and a half hours we were there, we only saw one and a half floors. Whenever this sort of thing happens, we always say that it's something else to see when we come back. The first painting we saw was "Nightwatch", Rembrandt's most famous work. Even with the hordes of tourists swarming around the canvas, it was still impressive. Like the Mona Lisa, the people surrounding it sort of fade away as you take in the painting. From here, we moved through numerous seventeenth- and eighteenth-century works, pausing to admire them but not for too long, as we knew we had a lot to cover. I was constantly being tapped on the shoulder and told that it was time to move on to the next room, which I resented but accepted. It wasn't going to be like our Louvre visit, where we spent the better part of a day wandering through the galleries.
There were dozens of portraits and still lifes, as well as a number of everyday scenes, like women praying, reading letters, and picking lice out of their children's hair. Among the paintings were beautiful Delfts Blauw pieces and extraordinarily detailed furniture with inlaid wood designs. There was one room with a grand model ship in the centre, and another with delicate glass table pieces once belonging to the wealthiest families of the era.
We left the museum too early in my opinion, but I was outvoted three to one. Perhaps this was better, though, as we found ourselves waiting in line for nearly an hour in front of the Anne Frank House. We had expected this, however, and were willing to wait it out in order to see this incredible piece of history. Most of us had read her diary, and I, for one, had had a lot of trouble picturing the goings on of the Secret Annex. The tour gave us a clearer view of what the families' lives were like, and how the fear of being found behind the blackout paper, of the discovery of the secret staircase behind the bookshelf, would've enveloped them at all times. Every room had a quote or two from her diary written on the walls, and the room that Anne had stayed in was covered in pictures and magazine clippings that she had pasted there over seventy years ago.
At the end of the visit, we saw three of Anne's diaries out on display, including the red and white checked journal that she had first written in on her thirteenth birthday. There was also a section of the museum on Anne's life before she and her family had gone into hiding. Each year was marked with a photo of her, whether sitting in a classroom, posing for her passport or laughing with her family. A video of interviews played, the friends and classmates of Anne. They described her spunk, her bossiness, her charm and her zest for life. She had a boyfriend, a best friend, and many others that remembered her with a smile on their face accompanied with a knowing look in their eye. She was such an ordinary girl, and had all the potential in world. This idea, I think, is what really strikes home with people all around the world, reading her thoughts, anecdotes and perception of the world in more than 70 languages.
We entered into two very different realms of history today.