September 22, 2014

Corrie ten Boom House

Take a day trip from Amsterdam to Haarlem, and see the Corrie ten Boom House and The Hiding Place + Other Things To Do in Haarlem. #travel #amsterdam #netherlands #europe

This is the home of Corrie ten Boom in Haarlem, just a 15 minute train ride outside of Amsterdam.  On one of our days in Amsterdam, we took a day trip here to explore the beautiful, quiet town of Haarlem and take a tour of this historic home. It amazed me to see that it’s still standing to this day, and the rooms have been kept in almost the exact condition as they were during World War II, when Corrie lived there with her father and sister. Corrie ten Boom’s biography, The Hiding Place, was one of the first books I read that made an impact on my life and left an impression with me I’ll never forget. It was truly an honor and a privilege to get to see her home, to be there in person, and see where so many important events took place.

Take a day trip from Amsterdam to Haarlem, and see the Corrie ten Boom House and The Hiding Place + Other Things To Do in Haarlem. #travel #amsterdam #netherlands #europe

The ten Boom family owned a well-known watch shop on one of the main streets in Haarlem. Corrie’s father Casper was a highly respected jeweler and expert watchmaker. He was known as the best watch repairman in Holland and people came from all over Holland, even Germany, to have him repair their watches. In 1937, with Nazism on the rise, the ten Boom family watch shop was celebrating its 100th year anniversary.

Take a day trip from Amsterdam to Haarlem, and see the Corrie ten Boom House and The Hiding Place + Other Things To Do in Haarlem. #travel #amsterdam #netherlands #europe

Corrie lived with her family in the strangely-built Dutch house above the watch shop, which was originally two separate houses later connected by a staircase. She describes the home in detail, as it would become the main setting of The Hiding Place. This was the side door that the family used, mentioned often in the book.

Take a day trip from Amsterdam to Haarlem, and see the Corrie ten Boom House and The Hiding Place + Other Things To Do in Haarlem. #travel #amsterdam #netherlands #europe

The ten Boom family themselves were not Jewish; they were Christian. However because of their deep religious faith and love for God, they wanted to do whatever they could to help their Jewish friends in any way possible. In a turn of events they would never imagine, their small home and humble watch shop soon became the center for a major anti-Nazi operation, and Corrie, who thought of herself as a middle-aged spinster, started a black market ring, gathering and distributing stolen ration cards, helping Jews escape, and eventually hiding Jews in her own home. A wooden triangular Alpina sign, like this one, was used as a signal to all she was working with that it was safe to enter the house.

Take a day trip from Amsterdam to Haarlem, and see the Corrie ten Boom House and The Hiding Place + Other Things To Do in Haarlem. #travel #amsterdam #netherlands #europe

Corrie’s main effort was to help Jews escape. She would find families who were willing to take Jews in and hide them, or who could transport them further to safety. When she came across someone who no one else would take, like the man who “looked too Jewish” for anyone to take in, or the woman with a loud whooping cough who was too difficult to hide, Corrie started hiding Jews in her own home. She would eventually hide six people in her home. This was their living room, overlooking the main street.

Take a day trip from Amsterdam to Haarlem, and see the Corrie ten Boom House and The Hiding Place + Other Things To Do in Haarlem. #travel #amsterdam #netherlands #europe

A copy of You Are My Hiding Place rests at the family piano.

Take a day trip from Amsterdam to Haarlem, and see the Corrie ten Boom House and The Hiding Place + Other Things To Do in Haarlem. #travel #amsterdam #netherlands #europe

The Jews in Corrie’s home did not actually live in hiding — they lived, slept, and ate in the main part of the house with everyone else. An expert architect Corrie met through her work with the Dutch underground constructed a secret hiding place in Corrie’s bedroom where the Jews could run and hide should they ever be raided. The hiding place was just big enough for the six adults to stand in silence with their back against the wall.

The hole in the wall was added after the war, to show visitors the Hiding Place once the home was turned into a museum. The hole is where the headboard of Corrie’s bed once stood. The secret entrance to the hiding place is in the bottom of Corrie’s closet.

Take a day trip from Amsterdam to Haarlem, and see the Corrie ten Boom House and The Hiding Place + Other Things To Do in Haarlem. #travel #amsterdam #netherlands #europe

The Jews would crawl into the hiding place from the bottom of the small closet. They practiced daily for the inevitable raid. An alarm system was rigged up, and they held unannounced drills every day, even during the middle of the night. With the push of a small, out-of-the-way button, a very quiet buzz would go off — it couldn’t be too loud for fear the very close neighbors or police would hear. Their goal was to get themselves, and ALL of their belongings into the hiding place in 60 seconds. Not only did they have to run up a very tight spiral staircase and dive into a tiny crawlspace, they had to stop whatever they were doing, gather all of their clothes, toiletries, and belongings, strip the beds, grab the sheets and carry everything upstairs and into the hiding place. There were only supposed to be three people living in house: Corrie, her father, and her sister. In reality, there were NINE people living in the house. They had to make it look like there were only three, in some cases emptying the trash and putting away dishes if the raid occurred during the middle of meal, as they often did, in 60 seconds. With their daily drills and practice, they were able to get it down to 70 seconds.

Eventually the family was betrayed, and the family was arrested and taken to prison. Corrie’s elderly father died in prison 10 days later, and Corrie and her sister Betsie were taken to the concentration camp at Ravensbruck, where Betsie later died. Corrie eventually escaped from Ravensbruck, and lived to be 91. But all six of those hiding in Corrie’s secret room were saved — they were never found.

We were allowed to stand in the hiding place with our backs against the wall, just as the Jews did in when they were raided in 1944. The ten Booms were betrayed — the Nazi’s knew they were hiding Jews. They searched the house top to bottom for a secret room for two straight days, banging on walls and ripping off wallpaper and were never able to find it. As we stood in the dark, shallow hiding place, our guide knocked and scratched on the walls, asking us to imagine we were hiding for our lives, knowing the Nazis were just inches away.

Take a day trip from Amsterdam to Haarlem, and see the Corrie ten Boom House and The Hiding Place + Other Things To Do in Haarlem. #travel #amsterdam #netherlands #europe

Do you see the small button under the Ten Boom Jewelers sign? That’s the button that would sound the alarm, and it is still working to this day. Our tour guide pressed it for us to hear. The blue door is the entrance to the watch shop.

Take a day trip from Amsterdam to Haarlem, and see the Corrie ten Boom House and The Hiding Place + Other Things To Do in Haarlem. #travel #amsterdam #netherlands #europe

We were able to see the entire house, the rooms where the family and Jews lived.

Take a day trip from Amsterdam to Haarlem, and see the Corrie ten Boom House and The Hiding Place + Other Things To Do in Haarlem. #travel #amsterdam #netherlands #europe

This was their original hiding place, before the secret room was constructed. Here the ten Boom family hid their other contraband items like their fine china, silver, and radio. It was the first place the Nazis looked when they raided the house.

Take a day trip from Amsterdam to Haarlem, and see the Corrie ten Boom House and The Hiding Place + Other Things To Do in Haarlem. #travel #amsterdam #netherlands #europe

The room has been set up as a museum of the ten Boom family’s life and efforts.

Take a day trip from Amsterdam to Haarlem, and see the Corrie ten Boom House and The Hiding Place + Other Things To Do in Haarlem. #travel #amsterdam #netherlands #europe

A map of the concentration camps in Europe, with the number of how many people died there in red.

Take a day trip from Amsterdam to Haarlem, and see the Corrie ten Boom House and The Hiding Place + Other Things To Do in Haarlem. #travel #amsterdam #netherlands #europe

Corrie’s suitcase that she used after she escaped Ravensbruck.

Take a day trip from Amsterdam to Haarlem, and see the Corrie ten Boom House and The Hiding Place + Other Things To Do in Haarlem. #travel #amsterdam #netherlands #europe

The family radio that was used and owned illegally during the war.

Take a day trip from Amsterdam to Haarlem, and see the Corrie ten Boom House and The Hiding Place + Other Things To Do in Haarlem. #travel #amsterdam #netherlands #europe

A view down the hallway.

Take a day trip from Amsterdam to Haarlem, and see the Corrie ten Boom House and The Hiding Place + Other Things To Do in Haarlem. #travel #amsterdam #netherlands #europe

The wooden triangular Alpina sign the family used as an “all clear” sign, sitting in the window of the dining room. During the raid, the original sign was knocked off the sill and broken.

Take a day trip from Amsterdam to Haarlem, and see the Corrie ten Boom House and The Hiding Place + Other Things To Do in Haarlem. #travel #amsterdam #netherlands #europe

When you enter the side door, the dining room is on the left. Behind me is the entrance to the watch shop and the alarm button. There’s a staircase by the alarm leading to the living room overlooking the main street, and up one more flight of stairs is Corrie’s bedroom and the hiding place.

Take a day trip from Amsterdam to Haarlem, and see the Corrie ten Boom House and The Hiding Place + Other Things To Do in Haarlem. #travel #amsterdam #netherlands #europe

Another view of the dining room, where the family ate every day.

Take a day trip from Amsterdam to Haarlem, and see the Corrie ten Boom House and The Hiding Place + Other Things To Do in Haarlem. #travel #amsterdam #netherlands #europe

A close up of some of Corrie’s embroidery.

I am so incredibly grateful to have had this opportunity, to see the setting where a book that meant so much to me took place. I will treasure it always. The entire story of Corrie’s experience can be read in The Hiding Place.

Thank you so much for looking. I’m so grateful for you all.

XOXO,
Amanda


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September 18, 2014

A New Adventure…

9 Day Danube River Cruise on the MS Sound of Music with Gate 1 Travel

So excited to be heading back to Europe this week for another fun adventure! Earlier this week I hopped back on a plane for a ten and a half hour flight to Budapest, Hungary. Yes, Budapest!! I am spending a few days in Budapest with my fearless travel buddy, Stephanie from Plain Chicken. This weekend we embark on a 9-day cruise along the Danube River with Gate 1 Travel.

I’ve been keeping a Pinterest board of some of the fun things we get to see and do on the cruise here:
Danube River Cruise Pinterest Board.

We will be taking tours of Vienna, Salzburg, Munich, and more. And at the end of the cruise, we will be spending a few days in Munich for Oktoberfest!!

I have never been to ANY of these places before, and I’ve never even been on a CRUISE before, so if you have any advice for me, I’d love to hear it!!

 

We just arrived in Budapest yesterday for the beginning of our adventure. Be sure to follow along with us over the next couple of weeks on Instagram and Twitter!! Here’s where you can find me:

Amanda Green Bottoms @kevinandamanda on Instagram

Amanda Green Bottoms @kevinandamanda on Twitter

 

Thanks so much for looking! Keep in touch!! :)


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September 15, 2014

Amsterdam

Amsterdam! #travel #amsterdam www.kevinandamanda.com

After a wonderful week in Sweden, Stephanie and I thought it would be fun to add a few extra days to our trip to run around Amsterdam. Neither of us had ever been before, and it was right on the way since our flight had a layover there. We were so excited to check it out and explore this historic city.

Amsterdam! #travel #amsterdam www.kevinandamanda.com Photo via Stephanie

Amsterdam is a city of canals lined with beautiful Dutch architecture.

Amsterdam! #travel #amsterdam www.kevinandamanda.com Photo via Stephanie

We loved exploring the quiet, neighborhood streets filled with shops, homes, bakeries, and restaurants.

Amsterdam! #travel #amsterdam www.kevinandamanda.com

I could not get over the architecture! Amsterdam is famous for its historic canal houses with unique gabled facades.

Amsterdam! #travel #amsterdam www.kevinandamanda.com

Loved all the red shutters!

Amsterdam! #travel #amsterdam www.kevinandamanda.com

The city of Amsterdam grew around a dam in the Amstel river, which is where Amsterdam gets its name. The land where Amsterdam thrives today was originally just marsh and swamplands, but was made inhabitable by draining the swamps and building an intricate system of canals.

Amsterdam! #travel #amsterdam www.kevinandamanda.com

Today there are 165 canals and over 1,200 bridges in Amsterdam!

Amsterdam! #travel #amsterdam www.kevinandamanda.com

These are called the “Dancing Houses” on the Amstel river. The soil was so swampy that homes along the canals had to be built on stilts. Over the years they have settled and sunk into the mud, so now many of the canal houses in Amsterdam are tilted and leaning forward!

Amsterdam! #travel #amsterdam www.kevinandamanda.com

Although another reason many of the houses in Amsterdam lean forward is because staircases in the skinny canal homes are too narrow to move furniture or goods. The houses were built with a pulley system on the outside, and a slight tilt forward to prevent anything from damaging the building’s facade on the way up or down.

Amsterdam! #travel #amsterdam www.kevinandamanda.com

These are the famous dancing houses at Damrak. Damrak is right across from the main Amsterdam train station, so this is your first view of Amsterdam if you arrive by train. This is also where many of the canal cruises embark.

Amsterdam! #travel #amsterdam www.kevinandamanda.com

Buildings in Amsterdam are reputably narrow because they used to be taxed on how wide they were, inspiring people to build long, narrow houses to avoid high taxes.

Amsterdam! #travel #amsterdam www.kevinandamanda.com

Amsterdam is also famous for its houseboats! There are over 2,500 houseboats that line the canals of Amsterdam. We saw everything from small, simple structures to custom-built, multi-story floating homes. We were surprised to see even brick and concrete homes floating on the canals!

Amsterdam! #travel #amsterdam www.kevinandamanda.com

Most of the houseboats are residential, but there are also fully equipped houseboat hotels, vacation rentals, and even a Houseboat Museum if you just want to see what it’s like on one!

Amsterdam! #travel #amsterdam www.kevinandamanda.com Photo via Stephanie

We saw boats of all kinds in Amsterdam. How fun is this floating car boat?? :) It looks like a car is just cruising along the canal, lol!

Amsterdam! #travel #amsterdam www.kevinandamanda.com

For our weekend in Amsterdam, we got an I Amsterdam City Card which gave us free entrance to most museums, unlimited public transportation, and also a free canal cruise.

Amsterdam! #travel #amsterdam www.kevinandamanda.com

A canal cruise along the picturesque Amsterdam Canals is by far one of the most popular attractions in Amsterdam, and a great introduction to the city.

Amsterdam! #travel #amsterdam www.kevinandamanda.com

On the canal cruise we learned what the XXX symbol we’d been seeing everywhere in Amsterdam meant. The three white X’s displayed on a black stripe and a red background is Amsterdam’s coat of arms. The X’s are commonly known as St. Andrew’s Crosses. St. Andrew, a fisherman, was an apostle of Jesus and was said to have been martyred by crucifixion on an X-shaped cross. The unorthodox shape was supposedly at his own request, as he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus had been. In the 1500s, when the city was a fishing village, this coat of arms was established as the symbol for the city and and it flew as a flag on all ships registered in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam! #travel #amsterdam www.kevinandamanda.com Photo via Stephanie

One popular theory is that the X’s stand for the three chief perils that the city of Amsterdam once faced: floods, fire, and the Black Plague.

Amsterdam! #travel #amsterdam www.kevinandamanda.com

There are bikes everywhere in Amsterdam!! Almost as many bikes as people!

Amsterdam! #travel #amsterdam www.kevinandamanda.com

Amsterdam is a very bike-friendly city. They had their own lanes and traffic lights. Bikes seemed to have the right-of-way in Amsterdam. We definitely saw more bikes than cars!

Amsterdam! #travel #amsterdam www.kevinandamanda.com

Getting around Amsterdam was a breeze. It was so nice being able to hop on and off the streetcars in Amsterdam with our I Amsterdam City Card. Public transportation in Amsterdam was very easy to use and figure out, especially with the Google Maps app. With the app, you just type in where you want to go, and it tells you exactly what bus or streetcar to get on, where the bus stop is, how many stops you’ll make, and when to get off. The GPS will show you your route and where you are so you can make sure you’re going in the right direction.

Amsterdam! #travel #amsterdam www.kevinandamanda.com

We always felt very safe in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam! #travel #amsterdam www.kevinandamanda.com

A view of Amsterdam’s Zuiderkerk (South Church) from the Staalstraat Bridge.

Amsterdam! #travel #amsterdam www.kevinandamanda.com

This unique bridge has become a famous “Love Lock” bridge in Amsterdam. Whether or not you bring a lock, this view and this bridge are definitely worth seeing.

Amsterdam! #travel #amsterdam www.kevinandamanda.com

Nearby is the 800-year-old Oude Kerk. Founded circa 1213, The “Old Church” is Amsterdam’s oldest building and oldest church.

Amsterdam! #travel #amsterdam www.kevinandamanda.com

If you are looking for a place to stay in Amsterdam, we recommend the Mercure Arthur Frommer. It’s in a quiet neighborhood with a great central location in the Amsterdam canal ring. You’re close to public transportation and within walking distance to the city’s most famous museums and attractions.

Amsterdam! #travel #amsterdam www.kevinandamanda.com

Loved our clean, bright room! There were even easily-accessible outlets right by the bed, on both sides.

On one of our days in Amsterdam, we took a day trip to Haarlem, which is the home of Corrie ten Boom. We got to see her house and the actual Hiding Place from her biography, The Hiding Place. I can’t wait to tell you all about it in the next post.

Thanks so much for looking!


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