Amsterdam when I was a little girl, brought to mind pictures of wooden clogs painted with colourful tulips. The words of the song ‘Windmill in Old Amsterdam’ bringing alive the sound of my Mother singing its verses to me, whilst she cooked dinner. Even now I envision a race full of smiling people, riding pushbikes on very flat roads and remember a bedtime story by American Author Mary Mapes Dodge about ‘The Little Dutch Boy’ poking his finger in a leaking dyke, to stem a flow of water until help arrived.
Yet today the experience had by some British teenagers in Amsterdam, tells a different story than my innocent mental meanderings .
Last week my daughter and her friend Sam, stepped out of English society and spent a long weekend in the Netherlands. The flight from our little town of Southend on Sea, lasted only 40 minutes. It was even quicker to arrive in Amsterdam, in a foreign country, than it is to take a train ride from our seaside location, to our capital city of London – a mere 50 minutes away.
The Red Light District with its sex shows and Coffee Shops selling soft drugs, (Not to be confused with the coffee and tea variety) seem to be a place to visit and experience and a rite of passage for many of our British Youth.
As a Mum, I was impressed when on our daughter’s return, she looked at me and said it would be a “great place for couples.” I was also happy that she endured the 1 hour and a half wait to gain admission to the Anne Frank museum, somewhere she has always wanted to visit and a place many say they want to go, but don’t allow themselves the time away from the other shenanigans and goings on, available in the city.
There are the usual experiences to be had – Madam Tussaud’s a popular visit and the ice bar, an experience in itself.
A story which left me feeling emotional, was when Chloe told me about the american actress Shelley Winter, donating her Oscar for best supporting actress in the 1960 Academy Awards to the Anne Frank museum. 16 years after winning it for her role as ‘Mrs Van Pels,’ in the Hollywood movie. Otto Frank, Anne’s father, visited the set often during the making of the movie and Shelley Winter herself stated in her biography, that he’d said, “I believe that Ms Winter will get the Oscar for this role.”
Culture, History, fun (and a portion of chips with mayo) seem to sum Amsterdam up. Chloe told me, ” There is a little something for everyone, don’t judge it by thinking its coffee shops and prostitutes.”