Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Anne Frank House and super-memorable travel moments

I distinctly remember reading "The Diary of Anne Frank" as a child. It was one of those books that really stuck with me, probably because Anne, the narrator, wasn't so different to me - yet her life was extraordinarily different, through no fault of her own.


When I visited Amsterdam I made a beeline for the Anne Frank House because I was thrilled to be able to see the very building in which Anne's story (and life) took place. It's now a few years later but whenever someone asks me about museums it's the first one that pops into my head.


Anne Frank House by Tiger Girl
Yet the Anne Frank House turned out to be much, much more than just the place where Anne and her family hid during the war. It's now an incredibly well-presented museum which I consider as one of my all-time favourites anywhere in the world (and, it should be added, is probably still fascinating to those who haven't read her diary).

This museum held one of those "remember forever" moments that make travelling extra worthwhile. I was already super-impressed with much of what I'd seen in the various exhibits, but then I entered the room where one of Anne Frank's diaries could actually be seen. An original! Her real diary! My mouth hung open from the moment I spotted it from across the room.

Of course, you couldn't touch Anne Frank's diary, set carefully under glass to protect it from people just like me, but just to see that simple diary lying there, not so different in appearance from many of the angst-ridden diaries I kept at the same age, yet knowing that I'd read its shocking contents - well, it's just one of those moments that I can relive in my head as though I was there.

I suspect that having visited places like the eerie concentration camps of Auschwitz and Dachau in the preceding years had heightened my emotional connection to these kind of war stories, but of course the writer and reader part of me also had a thrill at seeing an "original manuscript" of a book I'd loved.

These particularly special moments are not that common on my travels - I guess that's exactly what makes them particularly special. I also can't predict when they're going to occur. But I'm mighty glad they do.

Do you have any of these "super-memorable" travel moments to share?

12 comments:

  1. Sadly I didn't visit Anne Frank's House when I visited Amsterdam. I visited the Dachau concentration camp and it certainly was an emotional visit. My most recent favourite was Musee D'Orsay in Paris, a very different type of Art museum.

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    1. No problem Sami - an excuse to go back to Amsterdam!

      I loved Musee D'Orsay too - easily one of my favourite galleries. Loved the building it's housed in as much as the art (which is to say - a lot!).

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    2. I sadly have only seen Anne Frank's house from a small boat as we cruised on by. One thing I will never forget is visiting Buchenwald concentration camp. They showed us a video of Buchenwald during the war before we entered the camp, and there was a group of German soldiers with us. Every single one of them covered the German Flag on their uniform sleeve with their hand as this movie played. Such shame for something which happened before their time. This shame was something I encountered time and time again in Germany. I will never forget it.

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    3. Wow, I had shivers just reading your comment Simone! That would have been a forever-memorable moment for me too. And I agree about the shame part - it's really sad that so many feel responsibility for something they had nothing to do with.

      Anyway you really have to go back to Amsterdam now!

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  2. I've lived in Amsterdam as an American expat for 3 years, but have never visited Anne's house, even though it's just 1km from my apartment; the lines are too long and I hesitate to pay to enter a house populated with Nazi ghosts. If/when you return to my beautiful, adopted city, you might find more inspiration for another kind of trip here: www.uncloggedblog.com

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    1. Thanks Melissa. I went late in the evening (I think it's open until 10pm?) and didn't have to queue at all. I really do recommend it - it's a truly fascinating experience. And of course the main ghosts belong to good people like Anne Frank and her family. I really think it's worth visiting.

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  3. I read her diary as a child too and will remember it for ever. I can totally relate to now you felt at seeing the original version.

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    1. Thanks Jo! You should really try to get there to see it for yourself, too. Well worth it.

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  4. Ouch, that hurts - I went to Amsterdam and for an easter wkend and dint have the time to brave a thousand-long queue, even though I badly wanted to see the museum! :( But Holland as a whole is so postcard pretty, more than enough reason to go back one day and visit the museum! Nice post as always, Amanda!

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    1. Oh no! Sorry to hear that!! I would have done the same though - you can't fit in everything to a quick trip. I've been to Amsterdam three times now and would still go back again, plenty to see and do and the rest of the Netherlands has lots to offer too.

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  5. Anna Frank was my hero when I was a kid. I love her story. Those days I was so crazy about her and I did some research as well. I love this article.

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  6. There are no furniture in the house as they were taken by the Nazi army. It could have been better if the furniture were retained so we can get a better idea about how the life had been back in the day.

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