Day 25: Rest day one in Amsterdam

The restaurant for breakfast was really busy and really noisy. The only place to sit was on a stool which I found surprisingly difficult to get up onto and off, as a result of the tumble off the bike yesterday. I am a bit stiff today and have quite a sore hip – so the rest days are well timed as I would not like to be biking today. The hotel has a gift shop and I found a charm of a windmill for my granddaughter Lucy’s charm bracelet.

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A pretty canal (Photo taken from Michele’s Facebook page)

After breakfast we caught a tram into the city, there was a stop right by the hotel.As we are in Amsterdam we thought we should go to a couple of different museums, so we went to the Sex Museum and  Prostitute museum. Both were quite interesting.

 

The Prostitute Museum gave the history of prostitution in the Netherlands and had a prostitute who was currently working. It gave a commentary as you were walking through. There is a wall of remembrance for all the prostitutes who have died while working, it seems too sadly be about one every two years. There is a lot of concern at the moment about girls being lured over here with false promises of work in a restaurant, and then having their passports taken and being told they had to work to pay their fare back.

There are numbers all over the place in the red light district of who to call if you need help, or you think someone else does. Prostitution is legal here like it is in NZ and prostitutes have to pay tax.

There is a book written by twins who worked in Amsterdam as prostitutes for 50 years! They started at 20, they were 70 years old when they retired! Martine and Louise Fokkens – they now run a tour and have published a couple of books.

The working  ladies sit in rooms with windows and a door that opens onto the street. Some sit on a stool and others stand. The rooms cost £50 each for a 10 hour period to rent.IMG_5347In the museum there is a mock booth and I had a photo taking of me sitting on a chair.IMG_5346.jpgThe Sex museum gave a commentary of changing views over the centuries and what was considered ok in different customs and times.

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At the Sex Museum

I also had a photo taken outside the Hospital Bar which is actually a live porno show, which we didn’t go into. IMG_5367.jpgI was interested to see that they have police on both bikes and  on horseback, I guess with the crowds 821,752.00 live in Amsterdam it can be hard to get through the traffic.

We walked around going into cheese shops trying different cheeses, they have purple (lavender), green (pesto) and red (pesto), and some nice aged cheeses. We bought some cheese to take for lunch tomorrow. We are catching up with Adrian who was a TDA staff member on the South American ride, his partner Rosa and her parents Dick and Nellie, who rode a couple of weeks with us, and Adrian and Rosa’ s daughter Zoe who is 15 months old.

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Photo from Michele’s Facebook page

We saw a Truck parked with the back wheel on the left hand side over the canal, hopefully they don’t back when they go to drive out.IMG_5343.jpgWe had been looking for a book shop to buy a book for Zoe but we couldn’t find one and in the end we went into a huge shopping complex to find a present. After wandering around I decided on a denim dress with a pink t-shirt.

 

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Dept Store shopping

The complex was 5 stories high and going into it you could just go from elevator to elevator but coming back down you had to work through each floor. I thought of my Nana as I was walking past a section with ripped jeans. Many years ago when I was a teenager my brother Pete had a pair of ripped jeans, and he stayed at my nanas and when he got up the next morning they had all been patched up – he never had the heart to tell her they were meant to be that way.  Nana would have never understood why people would pay good money for worn, ripped clothes.

We decided to have lunch at De Nieuwe Pilserij, and would you believe it out of all the places in Amsterdam, halfway through a group of TDA riders walked in. The restaurant owner seeing us talk to them decided we must want to sit together and busily organised a table. We traded stories about what we had been doing that morning, they had been to the Rijkss Museum which has over 5,000 paintings including Rembrandt’s Night Watch.

In the photo below, from left to right are Hanns, Mary, Catherine, Ross, Brett and Blythe.  Hanns is from Canada who done numerous TDA tours, Mary is a yoga instructor and is a vegetarian who doesn’t eat any vegetables, she also has done a number of TDA tours. At the end of the table is Catherine, the wife of Hanns. Ross has done the Silk Route twice to fill in bits he missed the first time because he was sick. Blythe is an ex-Army nurse now does hospital accreditation. In the Army you can’t stay more than 30 years unless you reach the rank of Commodore. In the Nursing Corp there is only one Commodore so there was no option for Blythe but to leave. Blythe has done one ride before, the Madagascar ride which is pretty hard.

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Hanns, Mary, Catherine, Ross, Brett and Blythe

We spent the afternoon wandering around and buying a couple of small presents, plus we went to the railway station and sorted out what train we needed to catch the next day out to where Adrian lives.

 

At 6:15pm we had tickets to the Anne Frank House (Haus), we bought the tickets in May. I learned from last year, when I thought you could just rock up that day and get tickets on the spot. I read the Anne Frank diary when I was about the age that Anne was when she wrote it. It’s hard to imagine 8 people living in 4 rooms and having to be quiet all day in case the people in the factory below heard them.

The rooms entrance was hidden behind a book case, so unless you knew it was there you wouldn’t know there were rooms behind it. They were hidden from July 1942 to August 1944. A couple of people from the factory provided food for the families, mainly bought on the black market.

Sadly the two families were discovered by the Gestapo in August and sent initially to a holding camp, and then tragically they were sent on the very last train out of Amsterdam to a concentration camp. They initially went to Auschwitz and were then separated again and Anne and Margot were sent to Bergen-Belsen where they died from typhus in Feb 1945. Two months later the camp was liberated on 15 April 1945. Edith the mother died in Auschwitz in early Jan 1945 from starvation. The dad Otto who stayed in Auschwitz was liberated in Jan 1945 and started to look for his family, tragically out of the 8 who hid in the house he was the only one to survive.

Man’s inhumanity to fellow man is unfathomable and sadly in different parts of the world it continues. I was pleased to have gone to the museum, the four rooms are still the same and I think it is places like this that keep the reality of the horrors visible, so they can’t be glossed over and forgotten.

We had arranged to meet Michele and Tony for dinner at the railway station. It is always helpful that Tony is 6’5 when trying to spot him in a crowd. I was impressed again by the multi level bike park by the railway station, am sure I took a photo last year but took another anyway.

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Multi storey bike park near Amsterdam Central Rail Station
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A closer view (Photo from Michele’s Facebook page)

Interesting fact each year approximately 15,000 cycles are pulled out of the canals.

We went to Fondue restaurant called Cafe Bern. Trip advisor recommended the restaurant in 2015. We couldn’t get through all the fondue, I had a three cheese fondue it was very tasty.

When we were on the tram back to hotel I couldn’t believe it was 10pm as it was still so light. Currently it is light from about 4am to 11pm each day.IMG_5335IMG_5336IMG_5339

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