Friday, July 2, 2010

Thank you Fund for Teachers!!

Thank you Fund for Teachers for letting me decide. I could have taken a tour. I could have let someone else plan this itinerary. There would have been some advantages. Having most of the connections and directions taken care of between exhibits, having a tour guide interpret everything, and knowing where my next meal would come from would have been an easy way to experience European travel for the first time, but I wanted more.
I wanted to not only search for answers to my questions about the causes and consequences of the Holocaust, but also to have time for some reflection and to write this blog as I traveled. I also wanted to be a part of the culture of each of these cities. Museum Island in Berlin and Rijks Museum and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam offer some of the most famous art collections in the world. I had to make time to see them while I was there. I was not disappointed. This trip was wonderful, challenging, empowering, educational, and worth every minute of time and energy that it took to get there. Fund for Teachers made it possible, but I made it happen by following a dream.
Now to help my students find theirs.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"

Today is the last day of museums, the last day of sightseeing, the last day of dodging bicycles, motorcycles, trams, and cars while trying to find the pedestrian walkways. Sometimes the bicycles take liberties with the rules, but so do the tourists.
I have learned a lot. I have learned I can travel to new place, and I like it. I will continue learning as I look for ways to use what I have learned to encourage my students to want to know more about this world they live in and as I look for ways to encourage them to be active participants in taking care of it.

The garden of the Rijks Museum. In many of the museums no photography is allowed because it will damage the paintings. So I have a picture from the beautiful garden.

This is the theatre that was used as a deportation center in Amsterdam during German occupation of The Netherlands. Jews were required to report to the Hollandsche Schouwburg for deportation to labor or concentration camps.

This street that has been renamed for Anne Frank in the city of Amsterdam.

The Dutch Resistance Museum is the Verzetsmuseum in Dutch. Good thing to know if you are looking for it. The guidebooks may list the English name for a museum or site and the map another. I knew what to look for because for every museum I learned about in guide books and on the Internet, I also searched for the website for that particular museum where I learned more current information about opening and closing times, the price of admission, elements to look for in each exhibition, directions, and what the museum was actually called.
The Verzetsmuseum museum was a good place to learn about the difficult choices that the people of the Netherlands faced during the German occupation. Many parts of the exhibit are like looking in a window at the lives individuals during the occupation.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How to find the windmills

At breakfast Mary, our hostess suggested that we go to see the windmills. I have 3 more museums to see, but I couldn't put a plan together today so maybe a break was in order. The museums will happen tomorrow.
Mary's daughter gave us the instructions:
1. Buy a train ticket to Koog Zandijk.
(A "Day Ticket" to be used only today looked like the best option. 3.50 Euro each. The machine at the train station would not take our credit or debit card so we found one that took coins.)

2. Catch the train at track 7a for the train to Lligeest.

(Don't take the intercity train that showed up on the same track first. No pride, just ask or risk getting on the wrong train, and then having to get off, and then get on another, and wasting time, and maybe money. Anyone will do, but a train attendent is probably better than asking another tourist-I did both just to be safe.)
(Wait a minute, my instrustions looked like the end destination was "Lligeest," but if the train attendent and the sign says "Uigeest" is the correct train, have faith and get on, and then look at list of stops posted in the train also.)

Someone has to wait without worry.
3. Koog Zaandijk was the 4th stop, and it took about 15 minutes and a fast zip through a really dark tunnel.
(Nice local who explained to Chad and I and 10 other tourists where to go when we got off of the train. The windmills were past the chocolate factory, across the bridge, and to the left.)

4. Believe the local when he says a 10 minute walk, and just get going.
5. Take pictures of the windmills
(The windmills were across the bridge just like the local man told us. The other group of tourists still weren't sure because their instructions said to take bus 189 to the windmills. So they decided the man was wrong, and that they would wait for the bus that was mentioned of their instructions.)
6. Stop so the bridge can open up and let a boat pass.
6. Take more pictures of the cute town opposite the windmills.

7. Follow the signs to Aaanse Schans-Wormer because we can see the windmills.
8. Take pictures of cute shops on the way to the windmills.
(Stop for coffee and buttery cookies. I forgot to mention the chocolate factory. It wasn't pretty, but the whole town smelled like a kitchen where something chocolatey was being simmered.)

8. Take a nice walk along the lake past each windmill and take more photos.

9. Pass the group of tourists who decided to wait for the bus on our way back to the train.
10. Go back to the train station in the rain.
(Next time take the rain gear and the umbrellas when there are clouds in the sky. We got a little wet on the way back to the train. The trains come every 30 minutes, but we got to the station and a train was waiting. Asked 3 people if it was the correct train since the end destination was listed as Rotterdam and then a man said with authority, "Yes, it is going to Amsterdam Central," So we got on. Many time we have felt uncertain about what to do. Sometimes we figure it out; sometimes someone helps us. It good to remember that we don't always have to do it alone. Somehow, we muddle through.)

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Anne Frank House

I came to Amsterdam to see The Anne Frank House. So today I finally have accomplished the quest which I began 4 years ago. I began working on plans to visit the Anne Frank House and visit other WWII and Holocaust related sites four years ago. Today I climbed the stairs that Anne climbed and let me tell you they are even steeper than the ones I climb to my room each day and those take my breath away. I was very moved to read Anne's words, to imagine how hard it was to be quiet all day, to see how small the space was that two families shared for a little more than two years. But what was worse was that they almost made it-they were so close.

The Westerkirk was right next door to the secret annex. Anne mentions it several times in her diary. From the attic window skylight she could see it.
This is the museum and secret annex from across the Prinsengracht Canel.

Beautiful canal scene on the way home from The Anne Frank House.

We must learn from the past as Otto Frank says, “I think it is not only important that people go to the Anne Frank House to see the secret annex, but also that they are helped to realize that people are also persecuted today because of their race, religion or political convictions.” Otto Frank, 3 August 1970.

We must learn from the past and make a better future.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hotel Keizershof

Wow, the stairs are steep! But the room is lovely, and tomorrow I will get to meet some of the other guests in the garden where breakfast will be served. I have taken today off to rest and recover from a very busy schedule. I will still have 3 days to acomplish my goals for Amsterdam. It is filled with tourists, bikes, motorcycles, and very few cars with mostly frustrated drivers. I have found a good area to get some meals, and I will spend this evening with the map and tour book so I will be ready for tomorrow.

The garden is beautiful, but the picture is bad through the screen. It will keep out the mosquitos though.

Night train

The train left Berlin at 00:52 which is 12:52AM. Waiting was the hard part. Then we got on our car and found our assignment. I had to back into to some other person's room to get out of the way for someone who knew what they were doing, but the German train system is pretty logical for even a green tourist once I learned how to read the ticket.

Chad's bunk

My nest

Everything you need is crammed in one very tiny space.

Move the sink bowl out of the way to take a shower.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Futuristic City

The Hauptbahnhof, or main train station. Five floors, but signs are helpful. I think we have it figured out.

Memorial for the many Berlin Wall victims (Maueropfer) killed by East German border guards