Leaving on a big train…

I’m writing this quite literally from somewhere between the Dutch and Belgian borders. Thalys trains provide free wifi in their first class section– and somehow I lucked into last-minute tickets. We’re on our way to Paris through Friday.

I’m still not sure why folks in the US are anti-rail. The tram system in Amsterdam (we might call them streetcars) was super-modern, easy and inexpensive. Instead of hopping on a plane or into a car to go to Paris, we’re on a high-speed train that was fairly inexpensive (90 euro each) and incredibly comfortable and convenient. I much prefer trains to driving!

So food favorites from the trip (so far):

Apple & bacon pancakes– light and spongy with fresh apples and slices of bacon (Canadian-style).

Frites oor lag: Fries with “war sauce”– a combination of frites sauce (mayonnaise, essentially), peanut sauce and lots of onions. I’m not sure why it’s called “war sauce”, except perhaps that the onions are certain to keep just about anyone a peaceful distance away from you.

We found a favorite place– L’Opera on Rembrandplein, where we spent a good portion of our time sipping cafe au lait and people-watching.  With Christmas being on a Friday, then the 26th of December (a day observed as the second day of Christmas), and then a Sunday, there wasn’t a whole lot open for our few days there.

We did manage to go to the Anne Frank Huis (House), which was very moving– a few years ago, Terry and I performed in “The Diary of Anne Frank” and I had taught the book (and did a lot of Holocaust studies in college and grad school) so it was interesting actually being in a place we both had read about and with which we felt intimately familiar. It was very different than Dachau, which we (and many Holocaust historians) feel is impersonal and a bit sanitized.  The house, and the purpose it serves to unite people and promote tolerance (initially under the guidance of Otto Frank), tells a story.  Hearing the bells of Westerkerk, in particular, which are a focal point of the play, is very moving and I’d highly recommend it if you are in Amsterdam.

Now, off to Paris!

11 thoughts on “Leaving on a big train…”

  • Wow – what an appropriate commentary on the Anne Frank House versus Dachau. I’d never really thought of those two places as such, rather, I was emotional at both sites and almost overcome by the magnitude of the history/hallowed ground. But now that you mention it, you’re spot on. Preservationists have worked painstakingly to maintain AFH as it was. Dachau was, in many ways, dismantled and destroyed – what with only one barrack standing and the rest torn down to their foundations.

    I am glad you got a chance to see a place that is so important to me, too! Now, enjoy Paris and light a candle at Notre Dame for me.
    .-= Kate´s last blog ..My Life In Pictures =-.

  • Joe and I both love Amsterdam for different reasons. I really enjoyed the Van Gogh museum too when I was able to go with my aunt.

    The trains in Europe seem to be a lot different than in some places in the US. They are more organized and rarely late in my experiences there. I love them and think they make a lot of sense. The Europeans, are an older and wiser culture. Perhaps one day we will find our way.

    I am so excited that first of all, my birthday is considered a second day of Christmas and that you will be in Paris for New Years Eve? I thought that you would be anyway. When ever you come back, be safe and have loads of fun.
    .-= Christina baita´s last blog ..New Years Resolutions: Do They Work? =-.

    • You’ll love this– we were in first class (it was cheaper than second!) and were to get a meal. Since the train was late to begin with, they didn’t have a chance to stock meals. We can actually choose to go to Thalys’ website for a refund! Does that ever happen on an airline? If your delay is longer than two hours, you get half your fare back. Mindblowing.

  • I love train travel as well, but the fact is that the only area of the US which is geographically suitable for high speed rail – the Philly/NYC/Boston/DC corridor – already has it.

    The American misconception that Europe gas a “wiser” outlook is based upon the notion that an entire continent can share a single perspective. Not possible.

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