Welcome To Amsterdam!
I love to travel, and had the chance to explore a unique area of the world a few years ago…
If you’ve never been to The Netherlands, you are missing out on a beautiful and unique country! It all begins with Amsterdam, a beautiful city of windmills, tulips and lots and lots of canals!
It is a city full of small bridges that cross over canals that encircle the city…
Visit The Tulip Museum!
Yes, there is a tulip museum in the city, where you can see the history of their most iconic flower….
The Anne Frank House!
Amsterdam is also home to the historical Anne Frank house…
You can find out much more about this historically significant site here:
They also are home to an amazing Van Gogh museum…
So you see, Amsterdam is a city with some pretty amazing things….oh, and they also have some fancy lights as well:
RED RED LIGHTS!
Yes, Amsterdam is a fascinating city, full of great people, beautiful history, and yes – a world famous red light district – and hashish cafes too!
Time to explore!
I had the chance to spend two days in Amsterdam, a fascinating journey into a city of extremes…after flying in, you grab a train from the airport, which takes you right to the center of town…
The streets have a very eastern european sensibility – as if you wandered onto the set of “The Bourne Identity”…street trains that you can hop on to grab a short lift…
And yes, you find yourself crossing over A LOT of canals – since they ring the city…take a look at this aerial view:
So, after getting the requisite self-portrait, I got hungry…which led me to a delicious discovery! While wandering the streets and canals, I came across this french fry shop:
They serve NOTHING bur french fries, wrapped up in waxed paper, and topped with some delicious dips. As you can see, they make A LOT of fries, and everything was bubbling up nicely…
Of course, I ordered my fries the traditional way: with mayonaise! I could have done an aioli, with more garlic, but I stuck with straightforward mayonaise, which is, without a doubt, the best way to have a fry!
After this nutritious meal, I continued to walk, finding a stall full of tulip bulbs…apropos i suppose…
As it turns out, they really don’t exist in the city any longer. I came across what I was told was one of only two remaining windmills left in the city – but it was pretty cool:
Obviously there are many other unique things to see and do in Amsterdam as well. However, I headed to the heart of Amsterdam – and the red light district.
NO PICTURES ALLOWED!
Some of these pictures are not as crisp and well-framed as I like. I took these pictures during the day – when the district is quiet, and all of these were taken “undercover”, cautiously edging the camera out of my jacket for a brief moment only…
That’s right: there are very strict rules about NOT taking pictures in the Red Light district. If you are seen flashing your camera around, you will be approached by “serious looking” men – who will make it clear you are not to take pictures.
Prostitution is legal in the Netherlands, just as it is in many other European countries. But particularly in Amsterdam, prostitution is also a tourist attraction – and as a result, the Red Light district is packed most nights with tourists and locals alike.
Here are some “official” pictures found online. There are three separate districts in Amsterdam, but the one simply referred to as “the Red Light District” is the large and world famous one in the historic part of town just across from the Central Train Station.
The Famous “Windows” of the Red Light District!
In the Red Light District you’ll see working girls flirting with people from behind their red-lit windows. There is no shame in walking through this area, as you’ll be joined by men and women of all ages since this is not only a major tourist attraction, but also a crowded hub for local residents.
This is a legal profession in Amsterdam and many prostitutes belong to a union. One thing you notice immediately is that the Red Light District is not only full of guys, but couples and families of all ages as well! The residents of Amsterdam don’t have a hangup about what the district has to offer, which is stuff like this:
Amsterdam’s Moulin Rouge!
Amsterdam has a “Moulin Rouge” club, and inside you can get very expensive drinks, and watch a variety of stage shows, including a live sex show…it is all part of what makes this district so “unique”…
The other unique aspect of Amsterdam is on display at clubs like this:
Cafe Dread Rock!
Yes, they have cafes that sell a wide range of cannabis products…here is an example of a cafe “menu”:
Welcome To The Bulldog!
Another well known cafe in Amsterdam is The Bulldog – interestingly, most do NOT serve alcohol at all if they serve hash and marijuana…
The Dread Rock is another well-known cafe. Over the past several years, there have been attempts to outlaw these cafes for tourists, but the effort fell through:
The mayor of Amsterdam Eberhard van der Laan confirmed that a certificate of residence issued by city municipality will not be required to enter the coffee shops in Amsterdam.
The mayor underlined that while one third of six to eight million tourists arriving to Amsterdam each year visits the coffee shops, these visitors do not create any disturbance in the life of the city, and so they remain open to all.
So you can see it’s a mix of hash bars and clubs that cater to “adult” entertainment, like the “Banana Bar!”
There are several streets with very narrow alleyways – and single guys wander down the street, peering into windows that have “red lights” above them – if they see a woman they want to hire, they go inside…
Here you can see the red lights above the doors…
Here is another alleyway, note the red lights above the doors on the right side…
And yes, there are many options for gay tourists as well, like this club:
I headed out first thing in the morning, when the district was deserted, which allowed me to get a few pictures of the area without people:
Step Right Up!
One of the most unique aspects to Amsterdam’s Red Light district were these:
They are portable street urinals…that’s right, the city has figured out that guys need to be guys, so why not acknowledge it and be done with the whole matter?
As you can see, you can go as high or low-brow as you want in Amsterdam, and in fact, the city is a great celebration of all facets of life….
So go and see it all!