losing another [loved one]

We woke up (not even excessively early) and had breakfast at our hostel which was amazing – a huge buffet with all sorts of food… totally the opposite of our last hostel in Poland, where they don’t seem too into the breakfast thing. It was kindof like eating in a mini dining hall, less personal, but the food made up for it.

After breakfast, we headed off to Nemo, which is the science center in Amsterdam. It’s, of course, aimed at young folks but it looked pretty high tech and exciting to us. We had to take a tram and then go over a zigzagging floating walkway, but it was well worth it. Nemo was over four floors of high tech interactive fun (with a café on the roof where people hang out when it’s sunny!) Amy and I got to make little digital versions of ourselves that went floating across a huge panoramic screen, plus there was even an interview in the psychology bit that was filmed in Santa Cruz! It looked like a funky ugly metal hunk-of-a-building on the outside, but definitely trumped Carnegie Science Center (in Pittsburgh) on the inside, which is a big statement coming from me since I have always regarded it as the kingdom of science centers.

We next walked a bit to get to the Foam Photo Museum which was pretty cool as well. They had a set of prints that were positives and negatives printed layered atop one another, which made everything appear to have a surreal aura. On the top floor, they had a funny little collection of prints of a woman sticking various parts of herself in and out of shrubbery which was cute (she was in a city and missed the forest!) In the middle of those two exhibits, there was an expansive one called “Mijn Amsterdam” (“My Amsterdam”) where a photographer had spent loads of time photographing (in black&white as well as color) the city and its people. He had a particular fascination with adolescents and their vibrant rebellious spirits, which he captured in many of his photos.

Finally, we were starving and had to find food. Of course, we got distracted on the way by a gargantuan five-story English bookstore (they had an entire floor devoted to sci-fi and fantasy novels!) At the bookstore, I also got this free DVD being distributed (actually made in Santa Barbara, California, strangely enough) about 9/11 and re-opening the case… should be interesting to watch, they really want people here to see all sides of things politically which is really cool.

After a lengthy detour in the direction of the bookstore, we had lunch at the Replay Café nearby. It was our first real sit-down type meal on the trip, since we generally opt for take-away because it’s cheaper… and we didn’t realize what we were in for. We wandered in and figured out we had to seat ourselves. Awhile later, a waitress comes and takes our drink orders. She brings back out drinks and then immediately scurries off despite the fact that we’re closing the menu and have been waiting to order. It took us what seemed like ages to get her to come by again and take our order, and when we were finished we couldn’t even get our check from her so we had to pay at the counter. Everyone definitely takes a little more time than we’re used to when they dine out in Europe! Regardless, the food was really good and we had the cutest little glasses of Heineken with our meals.

In the afternoon, we got the tram situation sorted out and successfully made it to the Anne Frank house (giving directions to other tourists along the way!) When we got there, we were even able to skip the huge queue because our pre-purchased tickets that we got at our hostel allowed us to go straight in through a side door. We walked through the office, the storerooms of the warehouse, and finally up the stairs behind the bookcase… at which point things became much more cramped as everyone walked through the hiding place of the families – it is so difficult to imagine that many people living there for so long, and how they were able to remain so silent and undetected. All of the rooms were unfurnished (something Otto had wanted) but there was a miniature model of the entire house as well as screens in many of the rooms that showed what the rooms would have looked like. The walk from entrance to hiding place is also linked together by quotes from Anne’s diary and interviews with those who were involved. The interviews were so sad to watch and to hear about how Anne had died only one month before her camp was liberated - and how even before her death she never knew her father was still alive. While we were there, I bought a new copy of her diary (the copy I originally read was an old library edition) to reread having visited its actual setting… the new copy apparently had a few pages and extra notes added to it around 1998. They had her diary on display in every language imaginable which was really a sight to see, and it’s sad she will never know the effect she’s had on so many readers of all ages.

After our long day out we came back to the hostel and I was really excited to call home for the first time in awhile… though unfortunately my call was met with really sad news. My dog, Sam, had a massive stroke this morning and my family had to let him go… I feel like this whole voyage I knew it was going to happen and I was so afraid of when I would get the news. I guess I am glad that at least it happened on a day when I coincidentally called home, it would have been so hard to find out any other way or several days afterward… I just can’t believe it; I’m so upset about it but at the same time too much in shock to know how to deal with it. I’m thousands of miles away from home, on the other side of the world and haven’t even really dealt with Lucky passing away last fall (since I wasn’t there when she passed away either)… and the worst part is knowing that for the first time in as long as I can remember (over fifteen years?) I don’t have a dog… my family doesn’t have a dog. I’ve been greeted every time I walk in the door with the unconditional love of Sam and Lucky, always missed them so much at school, and had them to lean on when I was home… and now they’re both gone and I can’t even begin to accept it yet. I talked to my brother, Sean, for awhile which was really nice since he was home… but I know this is going to be really hard for all of us. I’m so weary of losing things that I love.

I eventually got off the phone and checked my e-mail… my dad sent me a really cute picture of Sam in a bomber jacket titled “Samuel the Mamuel: A Prince Among Dogs” that I’m going to fix up (doggy case of red-eye). Meanwhile, my mum e-mailed saying she wasn’t sure if he went to dog heaven to be with Lucky, or if he was hiding out from her there – but either way I like to think they’re together somewhere now.

a boat-hotel (“botel”) near nemo...
we thought this was nuts until we remembered
we live on a floating uni campus.

bridge to nemo

“nemo” = “omen” when the wind blows the wrong way

there were swans everywhere in holland!


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