For lack of a better title… 😛
So if you follow me on Instagram you may have seen I went to Amsterdam a few weeks ago. It was the most beautiful city I’ve ever been to, and I feel really lucky to have had the chance to wander around the streets and the canals for four days. I thought I might make a blog post about what I read while I was there and all the literary things I saw. Plus a slightly less related arty thing, because why not?
A bit of a jumble of a post – but without further ado, here’s all of the literary-related things that happened in Amsterdam.
(I didn’t manage to get many great photos of the outside of Anne Frank’s house sadly – this photo’s mainly the modern building neighbouring it)
We queued from two hours before the house’s opening, just to make sure we could visit, on our last day in Amsterdam. It felt incredibly surreal when we were inside – climbing the stairs Anne Frank and her family did; walking through the rooms they stayed in for so long in hiding. It was so saddening to read about the terrible things that happened to them in the place where they actually had been, years ago.
At the end of the walk around Anne Frank Huis, there’s a room with glass casing in the walls. Inside, there are loose pages from one of Anne Frank’s rewrites of her diaries, mounted on the wall. And in the middle of the room; the famous diary itself, opened on a page crammed with her writing, and a photo of herself.
It didn’t feel real to be seeing it, the original diary that’s been read by so many millions of people, right in front of me. It’s an experience I will never, ever forget: it’s both beautiful and heartbreaking to see Anne Frank’s writing get the fame she always wished for.
Although it wasn’t the original bench Augustus and Hazel sat on in the movie (believe it or not, that got stolen! This one’s the replacement), I dragged my family around the smaller streets of Amsterdam to find it. I figured that because when we went the first time, (yup we went twice) the street would be empty – but both times we were there, and the times we passed the street, there was always a group of people there. Taking photos of themselves on the bench, talking about the book, or writing their names or quotes on the bench. It was pretty incredible, seeing how so many people visit it. It’s like a pilgrimage for John Green fans or something.
Although we didn’t spend long there (more people kept appearing, wanting photos too!) it did feel quite special to watch the view Augustus and Hazel (fictionally) looked over in the most important scene of the film, and to read everyone’s writing on the seat. I love the plaque that’s been put on it.
The queue for this museum was crazy, but I don’t regret waiting such a long time to see so much of Van Gogh’s work at all. Van Gogh is one of those artists I’ve always admired but never fully appreciated, but seeing the brush strokes up close and reading about his life in the Netherlands was really incredible. My favourite part was seeing Sunflowers (not just because of Doctor Who, honestly). I actually didn’t realise it was such a large painting, and it’s ten times better up close.
ONLY EVER YOURS by Louise O’Neill – I finally bought a copy of this at YALC, and after hearing O’Neill talk about it, I couldn’t wait to read it much longer. It was really eerie and unsettling, but it carries a really important message. And if you look at some of the events in this book, they’re not all too different from life today. And that’s terrifying.
COLORLESS TSUKURU TAZAKI AND HIS YEARS OF PILGRIMAGE by Haruki Murakami – After reading many glowing reviews of Murakami’s books, and being pulled in by the spectacular covers, I purchased this one completely at random. Emotionally taut and depressing, yet vaguely optimistic, Murakami’s writing has quickly become a favourite. I’m really looking forward to reading more of his books.
Also, the Best Purchase Ever Made:
Posable William Shakespeare figure with a book of illustrated Shakespeare puns.
Best. Three. Euros. Ever. Spent.