This morning is my last in the big EU. I do not want to leave, yet I am missing home more than ever. Yesterday was a great final day, though. We went to several local markets in the morning. Later, mom and I were able to visit the Van Gogh museum (no pictures in there either) which has the largest collection of his paintings. It did a very nice job, giving plenty of context to his work. The current exhibit actually focuses on Van Gogh's struggle with mental illness, which I really appreciated considering it isn't really acknowledged in the rest of the museum. As always, it was wonderful to see original pieces by another one of my favorite artists. Later in the night, we decided to explore the red light district because, well, ya gotta. It was an experience, to say the least. I was amazed to see families with young children taking tours of the area, but it is all very touristy now. It was still fun in a strange sort of way. Now, I sit in the airport about to board a flight back home. I don't think I have ever understood the term "bittersweet" more than I do now. See ya in 10 hours, Portland!
This morning we woke up fairly early to visit the famous floating flower markets (Bloemenmarkt) before our reservation at the Anne Frank House. I am sad to admit it was very disappointing, especially after the French markets. While you would probably expect to find flowers at a flower market, there are hardly any. Instead, room after room of tourist shops with keychains, clogs, wooden tulips (which are admittedly adorable), etc. So, we cut our loses and ordered a Heineken and mini Dutch pancakes across the street. Soon after, we headed to the Anne Frank House by canal boat. No pictures were allowed in the house but it was a sobering experience to be inside the annex where the families lived and where Anne's diary was written. I had to continually remind myself where I was because it truly did not feel real. Years after reading her story for the first time, I am in awe once again. Anne was so eloquent and wise beyond her years. What a timeless and chilling reminder of the past.
We arrived in Amsterdam this afternoon by train. The walk from the station to our hotel was a wet one. It is POURING here, so we waited in the little restaurant underneath our room with a pint before venturing out. Dutch is a bit harder to master than French or Italian, so we are lucky that English seems to be widely used here. Everyone is so nice, and the city is charming even in the rain. We will be here only two days before heading back to Portland. Early bedtime tonight and the Anne Frank House tomorrow, very excited!