Today was a lovely day in Amsterdam. The weather was perfect and we were looking forward to getting out again to explore the city.
After a little breakfast in the hotel, we went out for a walk before arriving at the Anne Frank House. They say the wait to get in could be 90 min to two hours, but since we followed Rick Steves' advice and bought our tickets online in advance, we walked right in, past the 50-60 people waiting.
The Anne Frank House is fantastic and so well designed. They lead you through the story in Anne's own words, and as you walk from the bottom to the top stores, you learn more about the secret apartment they had at the rear top of the building. You finally walk through the actual secret bookcase door and into the rooms the Frank family lived in. They have photos in each room of how the room was set up, and they've rehung some of the actual photos and items that were on the walls. Other than that, and a few quotes from Anne, they've left the rooms pretty empty. At the end of the tour you see some of the actual diaries and a video of Otto Frank about reading them for the first time.
After the museum, we jumped on a one hour canal boat cruise. There were only about 6 people on the boat and it was a beautiful, sunny day, so it was a really pleasant, relaxing experience.
Then we went to try Indonesian food for lunch. The Netherlands colonized Indonesia at some point so somehow Indonesian food became popular in Amsterdam. It was OK but fun to try. Kind of like Thai food.
We spent some time walking through the touristy main shopping street where we saw chain stores for the first time in Amsterdam: Lush, Nike, Clarks, etc., along with many European chain stores, restaurants and lots of tourists. We walked until the reached the Dam where the Palace is, and then headed back to the more interesting Nine Streets shopping area, full of local shops, cafes and restaurants.
We stopped in a coffeeshop, sat and relaxed on a bench by a canal for a little while to take in our last views of the city, and then headed back to our hotel to relax for a while. We had already checked out of our room but we sat outside in the garden for a while and then in the "great room". A taxi picked us up and we boarded our train to Paris at 7 PM. We arrive there around 10:30 PM tonight.
Amsterdam was a ton of fun and a really fun 2 day excursion from Paris. It was completely unlike any other city we've ever been to... even more different in some ways than larger cities like Paris and Rome. The big cities seem to be similar to US big cities in some ways, but it seems that a smaller city like Amsterdam is able to keep much of the character that makes it unique.
We're at our second hotel in Paris: Hotel l'Empereur. It's in a completely different part of town from our last hotel - this one is between the Eiffel Tower and the Latin Quarter on the Left Bank. The lobby and elevator made us worry a bit but the room is actually fine - small but clean and pretty modern. Everything was recently renovated and the bathroom looks brand new. We're used to staying in big fancy hotels for site visit trips but this is actually a more typical Paris hotel room and I think it'll be perfect for us for the next 5 nights.
Tomorrow - another full day in Paris!