Today was probably the quickest and easiest I’ve gotten out of bed early in the entire trip. One reason really…we were going to see the Secret Annexe, which is where Anne Frank’s family hid among others in Amsterdam. We woke up around 8am and quickly packed up our luggage since we were leaving for Cologne at 12:30pm. We went down and enjoyed the lovely buffet breakfast, brought our luggage to the hotel’s storage facility and checked out. We caught the tram once more to Anne Frank’s house and I just prayed there wasn’t a long queue like yesterday. Sure enough, there was a line, but it was only half as long as the day before so that was okay. We stood in line for about 20 minutes maybe, it moved pretty fast, but if you ever think of going… definitely book online and well in advance!
We finally got inside and walked into warehouse area where we watched a short video on what Amsterdam was like back then and Anne’s family. Up the stairs we walked into the offices where people had worked everyday without any clue that two families were living only a level above them. There were more videos and heaps of excerpts from Anne’s diary, there was some cool house models of the two levels that the family hid in as well. After this point, a line formed and it was a slow process walking through the rest of the house, but I liked that because it meant you could really look at everything and appreciate where you were standing. As the line slowly moved, we turned a corner and there was the big bookcase that hid the door to their hideout. That was probably the most amazing part of the whole house, just seeing the bookcase, it was like woah! Sounds silly, but since reading the book and everything, to see it in person was just amazing. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take any photos inside the house so we don’t have any to show.
Once you were through the hidden doorway behind the bookcase we saw Otto, Edith and Margot Frank’s room, there was no furniture but the windows were forced shut and covered thoroughly so that no one could see that somebody was inside. The next room was Anne’s. There were newspaper and magazine clippings glued to the walls of princess’ of royal families, celebrities and other people I didn’t recognize. It was surreal thinking that this was the room where she wrote her diary and all the events she wrote about happened in. There was a bathroom next to her room and then a very steep staircase going up to a second level. The second level was where the second family lived, parents and son. Again, as I went room to room I kept remembering what I’d recently read and what had happened in each room. It was really amazing. We also saw the secret staircase which the families used to sneak downstairs at night or which the people who were helping them hide would sneak up to give them their food rations or tell them information.
So after seeing all the main rooms where they hid, we went through a very modern walkway to more little exhibition rooms that had pages and pages of Anne’s diary all around and excerpts, it was great seeing the actual pages of her diary. There were heaps of videos around too, some particularly interesting ones about Anne from the viewpoint of her school friends who are now pretty old as well as people who knew her at the concentration camp and survived. Most interestingly, was the short video of her father Otto Frank (the only survivor of the residents of the Annexe). He only spoke in it for two minutes, but he talked about how he was very close to Anne and it took him a long time to read her diary, and after reading it he was shocked because he knew nothing of her self-criticism or any of her feelings, as she was such a different person on the outside than what he read in the diary. He finished by concluding that parents don’t really know their children even if they think they do! It was just really interesting how he’d formed that viewpoint and the way he spoke about it.
Anyways, after the house we caught the tram back to the hotel. We had an hour to kill so we sat in the hotel’s bar and just got a coffee – vanilla latte ☺ Even though we had so much time to kill before our train, we still somehow managed to leave only 20 minutes before the train was due to leave, making it a mad rush. We got on all fine, found some seats and waited for the train to reach Cologne. It was meant to be a 2 hour 45 minute train, but with the usual delays it turned into three and a half hours, which might not seem like much longer but it makes such a huge difference, it’s such a drainer. I’m so sick of trains!!
We arrived at Cologne (Köln) at about 5pm, caught a taxi to the hotel as it was too far to walk and have just settled in. Harry’s already gone off to the gym and when he comes back we’ll get some dinner and just look into what we’re going to do tomorrow. We have a full day tomorrow here, Harry’s annoyed cause he thinks there’s nothing to do here but we’ll find something. I’m looking forward to goulash soup with dinner, yum yum, we’ve missed the soups from the eastern European countries, nice to be back in Germany for the third time!
Despite arriving just after opening
the line was still fairly long
trying to use up all our coins
No photos were allowed inside
Coffee time before leaving Amsterdam
Rushing to the train station
On the way to Cologne, Germany