Beautiful, clean and orderly
A boat ride
Coming to Netherlands was such a wonderful experience. On the way I
observed the beauty of mother earth from my vantage point in the plane.
High in the sky I saw the settlements which seemed to be carved into the
earth by man. Lakes and mountains formed by the forces of nature. The
clouds like mushrooms and cotton wool carpeted the skies .The sky was a
shade of deep sea blue. The rays of the sun lit up the clouds creating a
shining blanket of white.
As we crossed over the Middle East to Amman I observed the vast
expanse of desert, the magnificent rock formations and the sandy dunes.
All moulded by the elements of nature since the beginning of time
View from Dom tower
When I landed at Schiphol Airport, what I saw didn't give me a
"culture shock", it was more of a "culture surprise". I was delighted to
see the attractive surroundings. This sense of delight continued all the
way from the airport to my sister's house.
On Saturday the 3rd we went see the City of Utrecht. Utrecht is a
beautiful cosmopolitan city. It was my first urban experience since
landing in the Netherlands. My day in Utrecht was very eventful. We took
a boat ride in the canal. Our tour guide pointed out the many sites. We
sailed under a bridge built in the year 1300 A.D. we passed an ancient
fire department dating back to 1100 A.D. We passed a building erected
when the French occupied Holland during the time of Napoleon.
In Utrecht we visited the Domtower. A magnificent tower consisting of
465 steps, a chapel and a bell room and a view from the top that was
breathtaking. However my heart was in my throat, as we descended from
the top, since the couple of steps leading to the top are extremely
narrow. Descending can be nerve-wracking when you take into
consideration that should the person behind you trip and fall everyone
will cascade down.
Next we visited the beautiful city of Amsterdam. Our tour guide,
Ryan, an Australian took us through the city explaining everything. He
spoke at great length about Napoleon's occupation of Holland. One thing
that really stands out about the Dutch in the Netherlands is that they
are a very vibrant culture and people. On the way to the Van Gogh Museum
I saw a man and woman kissing quite openly. (God bless them!)
We were also taken to the Red Light District. Prostitution in
Netherlands was legalised in the year 2000. The atmosphere here is much
more laid back and less threatening. We were also taken to the town
square where in the past many executions were carried out.
If you visit Amsterdam two places you must visit are the Van Gogh
Museum and the Anne Frank House. In the Van Gogh Museum I saw many
paintings of Van Gogh, his contemporaries, followers and examples.
Van Gogh's paintings are about ordinary things in life. E.g. birds,
flowers, trees and people. However when I looked at those paintings, I
felt I was looking at something extraordinary. His use of colours, the
way he improvises with colour made me feel like there was something
extraordinary in the paintings. They say a painting is worth a thousands
words. Van Gogh is no exception. I have attended many exhibitions and
they were all different. Every painter has his or her own style. Van
Gogh is a master painter. His ability to convey something extraordinary
through the ordinary is something I have never encountered before.
The final destination we went to was the Anne Frank House. I can
still recall the surreal feeling when I looked at the belongings of the
Frank family. I also began appreciate the horror of the holocaust. I
also remember the words etched on the wall;
"Someday this cruel war will be over"
According to the brochure I received, Anne Frank was one of the
millions of victims of the persecution of the Jews during World War II.
She lived in Germany when in 1933; Hitler came to power and installed an
anti Jewish regime there. For their own safety the Jewish Frank family
fled to the Netherlands. In May 1940 the German army occupied the
Netherlands and repressive measures against Jews followed here as well.
The frank family hoped to escape these by going into hiding.
The house reminds us of the fear and persecution that a group of
people were subjected to. It stands as a monument to remind us that we
must never let a holocaust happen again. It tells us that hatred of a
race is a warped and a cruel mentality.
Those of us living can never fully comprehend the horror of genocide.
What a group of human beings had to go through, human beings like us. We
can never fully comprehend the terror, but we know it was terrible and
that it happened. And it should never happen again.
Anne Frank died one month before the liberation. She contracted
Typhus and died in March 1945 in Bergen-Belsen after their hiding place
was betrayed several months prior to her death.. Investigations have not
revealed who betrayed the hiding place.
Holland/Netherlands is a very beautiful country, clean and orderly.
The transportation system is very different from Sri Lanka.
A passenger is given a form containing 45 slots. The city of The
Hague is divided into zones. So if you want to go to a section across
two zones then the driver will add 1+2 and puncture slot number 3.
If you want to go across 3 zones then the driver will add 1+3 and
puncture slot number 4.
The Clingendael Park close to our house is a huge park which we
visited as soon as we got settled in. It was full of lush green trees
and shrubbery with ponds and canals full of ducks and geese.
It was very scenic and serene. I was fortunate enough to have seen a
World War II German Bunker. The enclosure was huge and probably ran