So I met my brother Rhys and his best friend Bowie in Amsterdam. It was so weird seeing Rhys. I hadn't seen him in nearly a year and yet, as he walked down the stairs to meet me in the lobby of our hotel, it felt like it'd only been a few days since I'd seen him last.
I hadn't cared for Amsterdam when I first visited it last year with Koen. I mean, I liked it - lots of history, beautiful architecture and such - but I didn't love it. It was just so obviously crammed with tourists, mainly north American college students spending their summer vacation getting baked in Amsterdam. This time around, I liked it a lot more. I love travelling in the low season.
We did a walking tour of the city, led by a great Australian girl. She took us through the red light district and to various buildings of religious and civic interest. After the tour, we visited the Anne Frank House, a museum set up in the building where Anne Frank and her family had hid. I'd been hoping to see it for a long time, but couldn't find it on my last visit. It was just wonderful and heart-breaking. I was very teary by the end. Her diary made a great impression on me when I read it as a child, and it was...really, being in those rooms was quite indescribable. Like my visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau, it was so very sad, but so very worthwhile.
Rhys and Bowie did a pub crawl but, in case you hadn't noticed by now, I'm not very cool, and so I stayed in and read.
We then researched a few different options for getting ourselves to Paris, and ended up booking a seven-hour bus trip. AIEEE. It was quite fun, though - you rarely see borders when travelling by train, but we saw a big sign by the road announcing our arrival in France. We also went via Antwerp, and drove past a few places I had been hanging out in just weeks before. I couldn't believe nostalgia could develop so quickly, as I pointed out to Rhys places I walked and bought things at and drank coffee at.