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Last Day in Amsterdam

September 21, 2015

Sunday…our last full day to check things off the to-see list. After breakfast at a great little café called Bagels and Beans, just a few blocks away, we decided to go to the Dutch Resistance Museum, since it too is in our neighborhood. The theme of the exhibits revolves around the choices the Dutch people faced after the Nazis invaded and occupied in 1940: cooperate, collaborate, or resist; and the consequences of each choice as illustrated by dozens of real-life stories. One section focused on Indonesia, which was a Dutch colony before the war. I had never really considered the implications for the Dutch and natives who were oppressed by the Japanese.

The museum is kind of old-fashioned, with lots of artifacts like these Nazi propaganda posters and graffiti from the winter of 1943 (I think) when starvation was rampant.

Propaganda Posters     Hunger in Amsterdam

It was also interesting to learn that the Dutch were the only people who staged huge labor strikes protesting the treatment of the Jews. They also managed to hide 300,000 Jews during the occupation, a remarkable feat given the size of the country and the density of the population in the cities.

When I told people I was going to Amsterdam, some asked me two things: was I going to smoke pot, and would I visit the Red Light District. Given all the other wonderful attractions here, it’s too bad some people associate the city only with these two things. We didn’t smoke any pot or eat any magical brownies, but we did go to the Red Light District this afternoon. I can’t speak for Joanna, but I thought it was depressing. The quarter is pretty seedy, with sex shops galore and the ne plus ultra in tacky souvenirs. Since it was Sunday morning a lot of the prostitutes were probably sleeping in, but we did see a number of them sitting in their underwear in their “red rooms.” My Rick Steves guidebook cautioned against taking pictures, so the camera stayed in the bag! Just as well, as it wouldn’t have seemed right to photograph these women anyway.

Ironically, the anchor of the district is the Oude Kerk (Old Church), dating from the 1300s. It began as a wooden structure in the 1200s on the same site. Intricate bas reliefs mark the crypts of notables buried under the nave; Rembrandt’s wife is one of them, and was apparently one of the few who stayed put. For awhile the church had a real racket going: people would pay to be buried there, then in two years’ time, after their bodies had disintegrated, their bones would be exhumed and buried elsewhere so the space could be sold to the next sucker!

Oude Kerk                Organ

Crypt

This was originally a Catholic church named St. Nicolas; during the Reformation of the 16th century, Protestants smashed its windows and destroyed holy statues, and it became Dutch Reformed, thereafter simply called the Old Church.

I felt like I needed a shower after the Red Light District, but we were also a little hungry, so we high-tailed it over to the museum quarter for a snack at Blushing, the café we’d lunched in a few days ago. Then home for a little rest and to begin packing.

Our last dinner was in Café de Plantage, the restaurant at the zoo where we’d so enjoyed our lunch the day we arrived. We shared a rich pork terrine with radishes, tiny gherkins and cippolini onions, then Jo had sautéed plaice while I opted for risotto with fava beans, asparagus and chanterelles. A truly delectable meal!

Risotto       Jo's Dinner

Café de Plantage                 Jo & Me

It’s late and I have to get up early to catch my flight home, but I’ll post more photos and reflections in a few days. So long from Amsterdam!

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2 Comments
  1. Marlo Quick permalink

    Safe travels! As always, I appreciate your insights and descriptions.

    Like

  2. Amy Thompson permalink

    Diana, loving living vicariously through another Ruddick Adventure! Hope you read some good books on the flights!

    Like

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