The Anne Frank House
By Andy Baker
When I talk to Amsterdammers, or even just regular Dutch people who have lived near Amsterdam their whole lives, I will sometimes ask the question, “Have you ever been to the Anne Frank House?” They generally laugh and give me a definitive, “No.” It’s like the Anne Frank House is something that marks you as a tourist, as a sucker, like going there is akin to being caught wearing superhero underwear. There’s a “but I live here” quality to the Anne Frank House, as if that means anything. I’ve been there twice – and I live here.
During the fourteen years that I lived in New York City, I never went to the Statue of Liberty. I went once, four years before I moved there, when I was a tourist, but I never went there when I actually lived there. I had a friend from out of town visit me in New York and he went. I said, “I’ll meet you afterwards.” I hated the idea of the long lines and the people crowding into the same spot for the same snapshot. Several years before I moved away, I put a kibosh on trips to the World Trade Center. I’d been there several times already and to me it was just one more really great view of New York City. The Empire State Building a much more interesting building and was almost the same view, albeit from the opposite direction, and besides, the World Trade Center would always be there. Where was it going? Who knew?
I’m not suggesting that the Anne Frank House is going anywhere. I’m just saying that it’s an historic place that we’ve all heard about. I think what drives a lot of people crazy is the idea of standing in line for two hours to get into a small apartment that was crowded when it only had eight people living there. In the middle of the day, there are many more people and it’s difficult to get a good shot of anything.
My suggestion is to get there when the doors open, at nine o’clock in the morning. That’s a good suggestion for most attractions in tourist cities that have long lines in the middle of the day – don’t go in the middle of the day. The line just stays long. Take that little piece of advice to the bank.
The beauty of the Anne Frank House is that you get to see the bookcase that hid the door to the apartment. You get to see the postcards on the walls of Anne’s room. And you can buy a copy of The Diary of Anne Frank with a sticker that says you bought it at the Anne Frank house, which makes a great gift.
I wish more Amsterdammmers could just suck it up and go. It’s a very poignant story, and once you’ve been, you will have been, and you never have to even think about standing in that horrible line at two in the afternoon. I can even see myself going another time or two. But I’ll get there early.
Andy Baker grew up in Texas and moved to Amsterdam after living in New York City for fourteen years. Having relocating here four years
ago, he teaches English, writes and enjoys the beauty of the city.
He also keeps a blog at www.andyinamsterdam.com