I’m not going to lie. Upon my arrival in Amsterdam, I fell prey to the tourist syndrome. How could I not? There’s just so much to do in the Dutch capital. Although the primary objective of my trip was to see a friend and attend a concert, the tourist fever spares no victims; thus, in no time, I was ticking off lists of museums and tours that are a must-see/do in the city.
And of course Anne Frank House made it to my list. I mean, it features on Google as a top site and Doctor Google is never wrong. Yes, if it appears on the Net, it must be true. Just kidding. Of course it was a personal interest of mine to visit this site. I read the book. I watched the film. I find her story moving and inspiring, and she is a hero to me. But nobody wants to read that. See? You are all yawning.
That is why I freaked out when the receptionist at my hostel told me that you have to book two months in advance because it is a very popular site. Suddenly, I heard a rhythmic mechanical human breathing followed by a rocky voice uttering: “Luke, I’m your father.” I held on to a pole and yelled “NOOOOO!”
“Agh! You just blasted my ear drums!”
It turns out the pole wasn’t a real pole but the receptionist. Oops!
The alternative to being an early bird is queuing. But not just any queue. This is the museum equivalent of queuing to see Madonna on stage in San Francisco during LGTB Pride Month. So perhaps not that long, but it’s an epic queue considering it is not a concert but a museum. The AFH opens to sleepy koala bears (anyone without a pre-purchased ticket – I just made that up) at 3.30pm. If you opt for that alternative, try to get there early (around 3.30pm) and pack some snacks and drinks with you. You can turn queuing into a picnic which might be fun. But let’s face it, it’s not as fun as having some extra time to enjoy the city.
Of course the best option is to purchase online tickets early, but seriously… two months in advance? Who does that? I’m neither British nor German so I can get away with human malfunctions like being disorganised. And yes, I just called everyone a machine. We are just robots with too much hair product on. If you don’t believe me, try to endure a weekend-long techno club experience.
That afternoon I met a British tourist who showed me her itinerary, which included… drumroll please… Anne Frank House. Of course you have it, you are a Brit, you probably booked it ages ago. But then she said something extraordinary. She had booked her ticket only a few days before straight from their official website. But I had been told otherwise. That does not compute. That does not compute. Error. Error. Malicious virus. I went on their website and there were no tickets available for the whole week I would spend there. Bummer!
On the next day, I went on a bike tour in the morning while I had planned a boat tour in the evening. Once we stopped for apple pie during the bike tour, I had an epiphany. What if someone returned a ticket or they had saved tickets for the current day? So I went on the website, checked “today” and there were 4 tickets spread out between 3pm and 3.15pm. While booking my ticket, I listened to some of my fellow tourists asking the tour guide how to get tickets for Anne Frank House and he said the same the hostel receptionist had told me: you have to book them two months in advance. Upon purchasing my ticket, I showed it to my fellow tourists and told them where to buy it from. Unfortunately, by the time they went online, the remaining tickets were already gone.
With my online ticket saved on my phone, I went to the museum at my assigned time and was admitted straight away. I was so happy and excited I just couldn’t believe my luck until I made it to the second room and the harshness of her story started to overwhelm me. Before long, tears were streaming down my eyes and I thought: Damn! This is going to be hard. I should have gone for the boat tour.
Actually, the Anne Frank House was one of my favourite experiences in Amsterdam and one of the cheapest too (tickets are €9 and they include an audio guide). I do recommend you carry tissues on you, though. Some people get emotional and that makes things awkward for the rest of us.
The Anne Frank House was such a rewarding and transforming experience, I left the museum as a new person. There are even before and after photos of me to show the transformation because I’m a millennial and that’s what we do. I would post it here but my iPhone 6 lens is unable to capture interior change. I’ll try again as soon as I buy an iPhone 7.
I exited the premises in a state of elation, grateful for all that I had learnt, all the emotions I harvested and to that little girl who had made something sublime on the heights of despair. Then I turned to look at a bunch of people queuing and voiced out my deepest feelings: “SUCKERS!”
You can purchase tickets from their website here.