I suppose you’re expecting a vivid travelogue about the wonders of Amsterdam centrum. Well … not yet.
There’s lots to laugh about so far today. What else can I do? Actually it started last night after I left Pllek.
I was standing at the bus stop for number 35, as patient as a tourist can be. It didn’t take long.
“Oh good. Here comes the 35 … and there goes the 35!”
I was in the correct place and the driver just kept on truckin’. I walked up to a fellow waiting for another bus. “What’s with that?!” > He smiled. “If you don’t wave your hand, they won’t stop.”
All righty then. When in Rome …
Today started inauspiciously. I woke up nauseous. Yuck.
I headed to the bathroom with my utilities bag. I reached in for this and that. And cut the middle finger of my left hand with my razor. I stared in wonder at the blood flowing freely. Years ago, I had a blood clot in my leg. Since then I’ve been on a blood thinner. So if I cut myself, the red stuff comes out easily.
I reached for a tissue and pressed hard. After a few minutes of that, I called out to Harry to see if he had a bandage. No answer. So I kept pressing.
“So, is this going to be my day – stuck in the bathroom?” No chance. I switched to squeezing the tissue with my left thumb. Now liberated, my right hand could perform my usual morning activities.
So … I washed and rung dry my compression stockings, shaved, washed my hair and other necessary places in the sink, put on my clothes.
I was fascinated by what I could do with one hand. The blood flow was easing, Harry had a bandage, and all was right with the world.
And now for Amsterdam centrum …
I went to church … the Basiliek van de Heilige Nicolaas. At the entrance I saw a sign in Dutch which basically said “No tourists”. Once I’d refocused, I saw they meant during Masses, and one was starting in five minutes. I stayed.
Here’s a photo I took after the Mass:
The priest’s voice echoed in the sanctuary. There was a transmission of goodness. Even though I’m not Christian, I felt the spiritual energy … of love, of togetherness.
The Lord be with you … And with your spirit
Let us pray to the Lord … Lord hear our prayer
There were astonishing paintings of Jesus approaching his crucifixion. See the man in white raising his hammer to impale Jesus’ hand with the nail:
Afterwards I talked to Johan, one of the church volunteers. He talked of his years in Thailand working with orphaned children whose parents had died from HIV AIDS. There are heroes everywhere.
Weeks ago I Googled the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and found out that tickets were sold out for the days that I’m here. I was sad.
This afternoon I roamed towards Prinsengracht 263, where Anne and her family hid from the Nazis for two years. The modern Anne Frank tourist destination was two doors down.
I sat on a bench in front of 263 and felt into the terror she must have felt in 1940. I stayed there for almost an hour as hundreds of tourists posed for selfies. It looked like very few people were touched by the enormity of such evil and heartbreak. Maybe I’m wrong about this but I don’t think so.
Anne and her family were just a few folks out of millions who suffered at the hands of Hitler. All this incredible pain … that I’ve never had to live with.
Here are two photos – 1940 and 2023:
Life is so big