I’ve always heard tales from young backpacking travelers about the wonderful freedoms that Amsterdam offers to you. They usually go something like this: “It’s the city where you can get away with anything!” or “coffee shops in Amsterdam are the best.”
For the most part I’ve always just laughed the stories off as exaggerations of the truth. I was definitely wrong about that—it’s very likely that everything you may have heard about Amsterdam’s lively culture is true.
This city really is that crazy. Well, at least in the famous Red Light District (which is situated directly across from the oldest church in the city, go figure).
Usually I’m pretty difficult to make blush. I really didn’t think that the Red Light District wouldn’t be anything that I’d be shocked by. Well, Surprise! My jaw was dropped and dragging along the ground a few times during my little adventure around the area.
I’m fairly certain that I saw more provocative behavior in five minutes in the District than I had my entire 21 years, combined. Afterward I kind of felt the urge to take a shower. Immediately.
It’s not that I partook in any “activities” that the district has to offer, but the area is definitely scandalous and not for the faint of heart. Just know that if you visit, you will see prostitutes, you will see various aspects of sex tourism and also the legalized drug industry. With that being said, here’s some advice:
1.) Don’t bring children anywhere near the Red Light District unless you want them to be possibly scarred for life. If you have teenage sons it may be proper precaution to bring a blindfold.
2.) Never take a picture of one of the sex workers in the windows. They try to remain anonymous, and if you photograph them, you run the risk of having liquid (and it isn’t water, folks) thrown at you, or your camera may be destroyed.
3.) Don’t buy anything from a small coffee shop in this town without asking what it is first. A “coffee” shop is a place where legalized marijuana is sold and baked into goods. If you don’t want an unexpected surprise, stick with a chain like Starbucks.
Amsterdam obviously has much more to offer than just the Red Light District, but if you want to experience Amsterdam for what it’s most famous for, it’s the place to go. If you aren’t into seeing scantily clad people and brushing shoulders with stoned individuals, the city also offers beautiful canals, churches and historical points of interest like the Anne Frank house to see as well.
If for some crazy reason Amsterdam doesn’t trip your trigger, there’s a variety of day-trips from the city offered by various companies. Today I will be joining in a group to visit the Dutch countryside to see the tulip fields before harvest and also to visit the famous Keukenhof gardens.