ATM Cards - Are invaluable. They can be
used in a number of machines in the old city area and you get the best
conversion rate. Unlike when you use one of the many currency exchange
businesses where the rate is not only less favorable, you get hit with
a commission on top of that! An added benefit is you can draw cash as needed,
eliminating your dependence on on traveler's checks.
Numbers - Old Amsterdam is made up of 90 islands, separated by 60 miles of canals and unified by 400 stone bridges. 20,000 buildings, which some 7,000 were constructed before 1850, make up the old city. There are thousands of monuments within the city. Some are large structures which memorialize important chapters in Dutch history, but many are small simple monuments to the paragraphs and pages of history. I was moved by one of those small monuments located around the corner from the hotel, this one to a young Dutch lady . Her name was Annick van Hardeveld and she was 21 years old.
The monument was erected on the spot where she was killed on May 4, 1945. She, a courier for the Dutch resistance, was Amsterdam's last casulty of World War II. Shot and killed by a Nazi soldier the day before the the Nazi regime capitulated and Netherlands was liberated. The inscription concludes with "This is an reminder and a tribute to all those who fought against injustice and oppression." May 4th is Holland's National Day of Remembrance. Two minutes of silence are observed at 8:00 P.M. when the entire country pauses to reflect and honor victims of WWII. Rather than hold parades, residents gather at the many memorials throughout the country. I was gratified to learn that a dozen or so people joined to see that in a country's very large history, a small page named Annick was remembered in 2001. May 5th marks the Netherland's day of liberation. As solemn as is the Day of Rememberance, Liberation Day is a joyful nationwide celebration.