Red Lights and Coffee Shops - Day 25

Amsterdam Travel Blog

 › entry 15 of 30 › view all entries
The morning of sunday August 17 we awoke shortly before our overnight train arrived in Amsterdam, Holland. First of all, some of you may be wondering why we are jumping up from Switzerland all the way up to Holland. I admit, its not the most sensible route. Originally, we had intended to next go to Italy, followed by France, then Belgium and Holland, finally returning to Germany to fly home. But our attempts at finding Servas hosts in Italy proved to be completely futile. We emailed perhaps 15 hosts between Venice and Rome, and we received  2 replies total and both in the negative. Then one of our hosts in Austria explained to us that virtually the entire country of Italy goes on vacation in August except for those who's business involves tourism. Plus its really hot in Italy in August, so we decided to reverse our route starting from Holland. Therefore Italy will be our last destination before returning to Germany.
So, back to Amsterdam. This is a truly crazy town. We first had to try and find some accomodations, as we had no host here. Our guide book listed several hostels, and so we tried to find one. The first place we stopped at was completely full, but recommended another around the corner. This one had nothing except for a private apartment, which was actually quite reasonable in price, and we took it. So we settled in for a bit, and eventually decided to wander the streets.
Surely almost everybody is aware of Amsterdam's reputation. Well, it lives up to it to say the least. Everywhere you go, there are "coffee shops", which are essentially marijuana-selling bars. Walking by these places (and really the whole city), it seriously reeks of pot. Also there are frequent Magic Mushroom shops, which probably don't require furthur explanation other than they also sell various "soft" drugs, not just tasty fungi. So we walked around for quite some time marveling at all this. In the afternoon we felt compelled to visit the Sex Museum, as there is no better city in which to enjoy such a subject. Lots of erotic art and objects from throughout the centuries here, and of course much pornography (from a historian's viewpoint of course).
Then of course nightime came, at which time the infamous Red Light District is not to be missed. This term comes from the fact that all of these "ladies of the night" stand in the windows dressed in lingerie, and above the window is a red neon light to signify their trade. Very entertaining.
The next day, monday, we did some more wandering, but actually didn't do too much. This was another just plain tired out day for us, so we really took it easy. We did walk along some canals, and to be fair to Amsterdam it really is a nice city. Beautiful buildings and architecture all around, and picturesque canals criss-cross the city. One thing to beware of, however, is the multitude of crazed psychotic bicyclists. Okay, they're not insane, but they are EVERYWHERE! Europe in general has way more bicycles, but Amsterdam is on a whole different level. So as a pedestrian you need to be careful of both cars and bicycles.
Til next time
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photo by: pearcetoyou