New Year's Day

Tuesday - Hello Euro. The dawn of a New Age. 'One Currency; One Future'. And we saw it as it happened.

On this day, most of  Europe now has one currency and despite years of preparation and advance work, glitches occur. By law, change from purchases must be given in Euros whether the customer pays with Guilders or Euros. Calculators are everywhere but most grumbling comes from the small pub owners whose ancient cash registers were never meant to do double duty during the conversion. The second problem was that those cash machines which hadn't run out of cash were dispensing only 50 and 100 Euro bills, quickly exhausting the supply of smaller notes and coins in the few businesses which were open. Since little was open, we decided to explore a part of the city we hadn't had a chance to visit earlier. It was the old Jewish Quarter. There are many monuments scattered throughout the area paying honor to those resisted the Nazi occupation. One stop was the Hollandse Schouwburg, decades ago, it was Amsterdam's Jewish theater.

It was here that Jewish families were ordered to report for transportation to concentration camps. While lined up on the sidewalk, some parents told their children to slip away and wait in the kindergarten across the street. Crossing the school's threshold, those children entered the Underground and through adjacent houses were spirited away. Today, a bronze plaque hangs on that brick school commemorating the heroism which occurred there. At Plantage Kerklaan 36, another  plaque honors resistance fighters who attempted to destroy the city registers to prevent the Jewish residents from being identified by the invading  Nazis. Had they been successful, thousands might have been saved. Instead, the twelve were caught and summarily executed. Our final stop was a statue entitled "The Dockworker".

Erected in 1952, it honors the 1941 February strike of working Amsterdammers protesting the deportation of the Jews. Thousands of workers joined the strike against the Nazi regime. The strike was 'ruthlessly suppressed'. We'd put miles on our walking shoes and our stomachs were complaining. Found a restaurant, the Three Sisters, which offered concoctions like bacon/onion/egg burgers and pineapple cheeseburgers. With cold beers, these strange combinations tasted great.

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