Photos taken / written by JENNIFER MAHON | This post was read 660 times
Totally deserving of a separate post, this one will focus on the Red Light District and the Coffee Shops and some helpful hints to navigating through this tricky part of Amsterdam. The city as a whole (you can see in my previous post) is a remarkably laid-back and charming place.....where you can stroll along the picturesque canals, embark on many different themed canal cruises, or just sit outside on a terrace and watch the world go by......and then...there's the Red Light District. Because it was a day trip, we didn't get to see the Red Light District at night, but let me tell you......that it doesn't matter what time of the day you go there!
RED LIGHT DISTRICT
Sure there's churches and completely kosher places in the area, and it's far, far away from the run-down, dirty, slummy place I envisioned - but let's face it, once you get over the beauty of the buildings along the canals in this area, you realize you're not in Kansas anymore. This place is about sex and drugs, so don't go if you're a prude or closed-minded. Day or night, follow these simple rules when walking around this area:
LEGAL LADIES OF THE NIGHT
I love that name...Ladies of the Night....it sounds so.....posh. Whether you condone it or not, prostitution is legal in the Netherlands - there's a union and everything. Walking through the streets here, I was amazed at the numerous window displays where these working gals are flaunting their stuff for any takers. Even in broad daylight on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I noticed many...many takers. There's also a Prostitution Information Centre (near the Oude Kerk) where you can find out all about the "oldest profession in the world". Besides these famous red-lit window displays, if you're into this kind of thing, there's all kinds of sex clubs, private-house brothels and escort services.
So, I'm not an expert on the matter, so what better way to find out more than to sit in one Amsterdam's oldest coffee shop chains (established in 1975) The Bulldog, and quiz the barista. I mean, I know it's legal - a genuinely brilliant way to regulate a relatively harmless drug - but how the hell does it all work? Seems she was used to explaining the whole thing to tourists like me.
You go in, head to the counter, ask for the menu (they're not allowed to advertise, so the menu may be face down on the tables, or accessed on an electronic tablet) which consists of "energizing smoothies" and creatively named items like: Old Skool Hashish From India, Earthy Taste, A Bite of Cinnamon, Stimulating Happy High, Light & Sunny High, etc. On the menu, you can also buy rolling papers and whatever else is needed to roll one (like I said, I have no idea what this entails!). Don't know how to roll one? No problem, you can get prerolled 4-packs ranging from 12-15 euros. Is that a good price? Not a goddamn clue.
Me: So, is it legal to smoke out on the streets? Nope, seems you can only smoke these in the coffee shops, but you can't out in the streets or even on their terraces. Cigarette smoking is forbidden in these shops, however you'll find tobacco in jars on all the tables to do what you gotta do with it, and you can smoke cigarettes out on the streets or terraces. If you buy anything, consume it before leaving the Netherlands. When you use anything, take your time to sit and relax and drink plenty of water. If in doubt if the stuff has any effect on you, try to stand up. Then you'll know!
Coffee Shops everywhere....
...with interesting window displays
It's not allowed to advertise drugs, but this does the job
All kinds of coffee shops and bars line this canal in the Red Light District
Like this one....
Duck down into the alleyways and you'll find a different type of window display Duck down into the alleyways and you'll find a different type of window display
Tour groups learning all about the history of The Bulldog
Time to learn about The Bulldog firsthand
You can roll your own, or get prerolled
Or head to the Flower Market for your very own Cannabis Starter Kit
Found pretty much in every stall
Or if that's not your thing, pay a visit to the Magic Mushroom
And get a variety of seeds to grow your own
Cute spot to recoup after visiting one of the coffee shops
Or get your drink on
Beer on tap today
It was a good day Amsterdam!
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