This time, I was up first and I showered and then went out for a walk and some breakfast. Amsterdam is a beautiful city and I loved it. It was so quiet. I bought some fresh fruit salad and ate that as I walked along. I then found a cafe and had a coffee and a waffle. I then started to walk back to the hotel because we had to be out of our room by 12.00 and I wanted to make sure Sammy was awake. She met me in the doorway as I was entering the building. We went and got a coffee for her and then went back and packed our bags and left them at the hotel so we could do some final sightseeing without being burdened with heavy bags.
We went to have a coffee in a cafe and sat outside. Sammy had something to eat – a basket of chips – and because she has such a small appetite, I had to help her. While we were sat there, a police car drew up and I felt compelled to take a picture for my husband, as I knew it would be of professional interest to him.
Then we went to a shop we had identified the evening before, where Sammy bought herself a little Buddha. I bought presents for two of my three children there – a cuddly Jesus for my son Harry (he looks a little like a Muppet Jesus and I think he’s great [so for that matter does Harry]) and racing grannies for my older daughter, Charlie. I also got myself a fully poseable action figure of Sigmund Freud – a must for every person in a stressful job (or indeed every psychologist)! I was really taken by the cuddly Vincent Van Gogh with a detachable ear but I am going to leave him until my next visit.
During our perambulations around this beautiful city, (we were en route to the flea market by then), I found a rather wider canal than I had been previously used to. It had this beautiful bridge and I felt compelled to snap.
Next, we came to the Red Light District, this time in daylight. There were still some girls posing in shop windows, one of which was almost certainly a transvestite or lady-boy. We went in a Sex Shop (because it was there) and browsed through the leather, latex and other gear and the large variety of sex toys. One of the men who worked there kept asking if he could help but also seemed to be offering some kind of other service. He did not specify and we did not press him. We left empty-handed.
We then found a shop that sell clogs and lots of them. Here is Sammy sitting in a clog. Now, I know she’s smaller than me but this is ridiculous! It’s a Size 6 and would fit me! Sometime before this I had bought a smaller pair of clogs for my younger daughter, Bobbie. I think they’re about a Size 1. She fits Size 8 so obviously they don’t fit her.
The Flea Market was shut and we then made our way to the Anne Frank House. It started raining on the way and I was glad to get inside. Sammy has been there loads of times and chose to have a coffee at a cafe nearby instead. This was the first time I’d done anything really serious in Amsterdam. I am sort of familiar with the house and characters from the book and television programmes that I have watched but actually being in the house really brought it home to me. The most significant impression I received was how small the Annexe was. It is unfurnished now but the rooms are still claustrophobic. The exhibition that shows the eventual fate of Anne and those who lived with her in the Annexe was truly heart-rending and reading excerpts from letters her father wrote after the war brought a tear to my eye. It was a very sobering experience for me. I went into the Free2choose exhibition at the end and voted on a couple of issues before Sammy texted me and I went to join her.
Eventually, we went back to the hotel, retrieved our bags and set off for the airport. Once there, I bought some tobacco for my long-suffering husband and then we got a drink each. I got a beer and Sammy took a picture of me imbibing – one final souvenir of our visit.
The plane left on time and we actually landed a little ahead of time. Sammy drove me home from Blackpool Airport and that, my dear readers, is the story of my birthday treat in Amsterdam. Roll on next time!