Bells on a Starry Night

You may be saying yo yourself….”self when does the name of this blog mean?”

If you are familiar with Amsterdam you would know about Anne Frank and Vincent Van Gogh. Both are reflected in the name.

The “bells” are a reference to the Westerkerk (or west church) bells that Anne could here from the secret annex.

Starry night is a reference to Vincent Van Gogh and his paintings; especially the Starry Night series (yes he painted more than one)

Starry Night
Starry Night Over the Rhone

The Van Gogh art is from The Vincent Van Gogh Gallery

Note to self….stop calling yourself “self”

The Domtoren (Dom Tower)

The Dom Tower of Utrecht is the tallest church tower in the Netherlands, at 112 metres (368 feet) in height, and the hallmark of the city. The tower was part of Dom Church, the medieval cathedral of Utrecht, and was built between 1321 and 1382.

Some of the best views of Utrecht are from the top of the tower.

City View

the Dom Church (whats left of it)

My Workout
I walked ALL the way to the top! All 465 steps, every last one of them. They are doing some maintenance work on the tower, so it was easy to imagine what it might have been like in the 14th century Let’s lust say I really like my job

I also spent time walking around Utrecht, exploring the streets, getting lost, learning how to read a map….you really do need to know where you are to be able to figure out where you’re going.

Today was Frites day, I had my first Belgian fries with Mayo for lunch…well….I did walk up all those steps, didn’t I?
Dinner was much Better, health wise, fresh Herring with onions and sweet pickles and a bottle of water. DELICIOUS

A typical Dutch delicacy is raw herring (Hollandse Nieuwe). This is typically eaten with raw onions. Hollandse nieuwe is only available in spring when the first seasonal catch of herring is brought in. This is celebrated in festivals such as the Vlaardingen Herring Festival

A soused herring, Zoute Haring Dutch, or Matjes (German, Swedish), is an especially mild salt herring, which is ripened using enzymes in a salty solution, or brine. In the Netherlands they are called maatjesharing which means maiden herring

If you’re a vegetable….I mean vegetarian…oops….sorry

“Your raiment, O herring, displays the rainbow colors of the setting sun, the patina on old copper, the golden-brown of Cordoba leather, the autumnal tints of sandalwood and saffron. Your head, O herring, flames like a golden helmet, and your eyes, are like black studs in circlets of copper
~Joris Karl Huysmans (1848-1907) French author, as quoted in Larousse Gastronomique (1988)

Anne Frank House

Visiting the Anne Frank House has always been emotional for me. This visit was no different.

I am not old enough to have any first hand memories of the second world war, everything I know has been passed down to me either through books or movies.

I first read the Diary of Anne Frank almost 25 years ago, it was very moving then, especially as I was student teaching at the time and I was working with a grade 6 class. They were all Christian and had no direct knowledge of what persecution based on religion was like.

I knew then that if I had the chance I wanted to see the secret annex in Amsterdam. I wanted first hand knowledge of what it was like during the war; or as close as possible to first hand.

Walking through the secret passage and seeing how small the space was and knowing that there were 8 people living there made the spaces even smaller.

Reading the notes and the information on the walls and tables brought everything to life.

The cramped spaces, lack of food, and the constant fear of being discovered had a major impact on those hiding. Anne makes that clear. It becomes clearer when you are standing in the same room she sat in to write; when you look out the same windows she looked out through and listen to the same bells she listened to.

Anne died a few short weeks of her camp being liberated.

The Anne Frank House forces me to remember that over a million children were part of the 6 million Jews that were killed during the Holocaust.

A generation lost.

A bit of a side note…..The Dutch seem to have a storage way of celebrating….

I was at The Anne frank House today with a school group of 12 year old kids. This was a class trip to celebrate the end of the school year and their “graduation” from elementary school. A celebration…at the Anne Frank House?