21 February 2010

The Anne Frank House and the jaded backpacker

The Not-So-Grand Tour wasn't all getting lost and overdosing on tourist kitsch.

Case in point: our visit to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam (which I blogged about previously). You can read all about it in my new essay in today's San Francisco Chronicle:

During my first two days in Amsterdam, I walked past the Anne Frank House a half dozen times without going in.
Each time, there was a line down the block and a handful of tourists posing in front of the house with wide grins, casually leaning on the doorway as if it were Cinderella's Castle at Disneyland. My guidebook called the experience of visiting the house "searing, heartbreaking, infuriating beyond belief," but I was beginning to have my doubts. No matter how serious the subject matter, it seemed to be just another crowded, tacky tourist trap.
Still, I felt obligated to visit. So on the third day, I finally joined the line, along with my friend Lee. We braced ourselves for appallingly cheesy displays and loud, distasteful comments from our fellow visitors.
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