A month ago today I returned home to Sydney, Australia from a whirlwind 26-day sojourn in Europe (you may start with Day One here). I lament that an entire month has lapsed since my last post, and in all honesty, I have been battling hard about the destination for my first post. In the end, it was my unforgettable experience in Amsterdam which topped the list.
If you followed my live feed in July, you would have heard my shock awakening to the city of (not only) canals and gables. As the scent of weed attacked my conservative senses, I realised my rookie mistake of staying tantalisingly close to central Amsterdam and a certain international drawcard. My initial ambivalence about Amsterdam aside, I remembered that it is my love for Hollywood romance The Fault in Our Stars which enticed me here in the first place. When I took a day to retrace the footsteps of Hazel and Augustus, little did I know that falling in love again would be so inevitable, and oh-so-effortless…
1. The Residence of Peter van Houten
Boasting one of the most expensive (non-waterfront) addresses in Amsterdam, the chic residences along Vondelstraat set the scene for an idyllic walking tour of the city. In fact, it is here on Vondelstraat 162 where you will find Peter van Houten’s house, where the young couple keenly awaits a meet-and-greet with Hazel’s favourite author. It is here where I started my day – one of the most memorable days of my life.
2. The Rijksmuseum
A short stroll through the popular Vondelpark led me to the Rijksmuseum, the Dutch national museum for the arts and history centrally located in the Museum Square. In the film, the couple takes an evening stroll through the museum underpass, giddy in the sound of street music serenading their romance. Whilst street musicians may not be an everyday occurrence here, I was fortunate enough to be treated to a rare sighting and it was every bit a delight for the soul as the film portrayed.
3. Anne Frank House
Bitter with disappointment following their disastrous meeting with Peter van Houten, his assistant kindly offers a tour of one of Amsterdam’s must-visit sites, the Anne Frank House. Arriving breathlessly at the Anne Frank room, it is here that Hazel and Augustus seal their love with a kiss. Located at Prinsengracht (Prince Canal) 263-267, the museum remains a major tourist attraction, however, due to the sensitive nature of the site, photography inside is strictly prohibited.
4. Amsterdam’s Canal Belt
The Canal Belt surrounding Amsterdam’s Jordaan neighbourhood provides the backdrop for some of the most picturesque location shots in the film and helps to cement the city’s status as one of the most photogenic. Intrinsically Amsterdam, the Jordaan neighbourhood is UNESCO World Heritage listed and is never one to disappoint.
5. The Iconic Bench
A walking tour of Amsterdam would be incomplete without a visit to The Bench. Positioned in front of a typical Amsterdam house on the corner of Herengracht and Leidsegraht, The Bench represents the location for the film’s most monumental scene. Revealing that he “lit up like a Christmas tree”, Hazel appears visibly crushed, before composing herself to comfort him with “I don’t think you are dying Augustus, you’ve just got a touch of cancer”. The original bench disappeared under mysterious circumstances once the film aired, but thankfully it has since been restored. Don’t expect The Bench to be unoccupied though, as many faithfuls make the pilgrimage to share in the special moment.