Yesterday we returned from a five night trip to Holland. We stayed at the Rho Hotel in Amsterdam, less than a block off Dam Square. It was an amazing location. My only complaint was the jack hammer they cranked up every morning at 7 am for the nearby subway line they're running through the city. The sun is already rising around 6 am, but we're getting pretty good at ignoring that since we moved to England.
Our touring around Amsterdam proper included the usual sights - canals, trams, bicyclists and museums. We didn't make it to the red light district to get a real eyeful of the "live and let live" liberal attitude of laid back Europe, but we caught the smell of it quite often. The first time we smelled marijuana smoke, Annie asked what the awful smell was and I told her. Every time after that when we got another whiff of it, Annie would sigh and say, "I smell weed again."
One of the most memorable sights in Amsterdam was my tour of the Anne Frank house. We were told not to take pictures, but I had Annie snap a quick one for me in front of the bookcase that hid the entry to the secret annexe.
Annie told me to smile in the picture, but it was a bit hard to conjure one up when contemplating what the Franks endured in the long days of occupation during World War II. It is a sad place, with reminders of their time spent trying to escape the notice of Nazis as they continued to decimate the Jewish population. Some of Anne's pictures are still glued to the walls of her little room. Reading Anne's diary as an 8th grader in Mrs. Campbell's English class at Henderson Middle School had a real impact on me. Teaching the diary to 8th graders years later reminded me to appreciate our freedom to worship God and practice Christianity without fear of persecution or reprisal. I can officially cross this off my personal bucket list now.
As we toured the Anne Frank house, I almost lost my cool. There was a family of tourists in front of us, obviously from some part of Asia. They were grinning and chatting loudly, stopping to smile and take pics in every room of the annexe. It took every ounce of willpower at my disposal not to smack them on the back of their ignorant heads and tell them they should be more respectful. Did you really need a picture of mom in front of the toilet in the secret annexe or dad climbing the stairs? This isn't the first time I've seen this sort of behavior. When mother visited us last month and we were touring the city, people from this same part of the world had to be asked multiple times not to take pictures in churches. I don't know... maybe they take pictures in their temples or sacred places. I guess they wouldn't mind if I put rabbit ears on a Buddha statue as I have someone snap a pic of me with a big old toothy grin on my face inside their house of worship. Seriously, it's called respect and you need to get you some before a redneck like me from Texas gives you what-for.
We rented a van for two days while my childhood friend from Sour Lake, Tammie Nolte, drove us all over the surrounding area. We saw field upon field of tulips in bloom. The girls happily hopped out of the auto every time it stopped for yet another round of pics amongst the flowers. The sweet smell of hyacinths was a nice change of pace from the weed.