I AMSTERDAM – A Little Something Extra!

If you walk down the main street of any city, you will see rows of shops and lots of people window shopping. It is exactly the same in Amsterdam, but the shop signs are preceded by the word “coffee” and the people are window shopping for prostitutes. Amsterdam is a magical place. It can be anything you want it to be depending on what drugs you are willing to take.

We arrived in Amsterdam like we arrived in most other countries. We had no place to stay and no prospects. We walked across the street from the train station and saw at least ten hotels on one block. There were lots of choices and we slowly made our decision. 

The hostel was a five minute walk to the train station and it was a decent place to stay. The man at the front desk was funny and honest.

“Do you have anything available for tonight,” I said.

“Yes. We have a private room with a double bed and breakfast is included. It’s €50. It’s not the nicest hotel in Amsterdam. Here’s the key. You can check it out first and then let me know,” he replied while drinking a beer and dancing behind the bar.

Amsterdam, of all cities, is a place where you want your own private room. People were walking around on mushrooms, coke, acid, pills, weed and everything imaginable; I didn’t really want them sleeping in the bed next to me.

“It’s a private room; we’ll take it,” without hesitation.

After dropping our bags in the room, we decided to check out the Red Light District.

“Um, where is the Red Light District?” I said rather coyly to the front desk clerk/bar tender.

“You just walk outside and go around the building,” he said. “Along the side of the building you will see doors with red, fluorescent lights above them and there you are.”

“Are we staying in the Red Light District?” I asked.

“You got it!”

How am I going to tell my family that I stayed in the Red Light District in Amsterdam? I
didn’t even want to tell them that I was here. 

I had expectations of Amsterdam, but it is truly a sight that you have to see to believe. As we walked around the Red Light District, I saw more signs with titles beginning with “sex” than I saw museums in Italy. There were sex museums, sex stores, sex shows, and everything imaginable with sex.

The Red Light District consists of one long street with many smaller streets and alleys. Each street was lined with businesses with glass doors on the first and second floors. Behind the glass doors are almost naked women posing for all of the men and women that pass by. This pattern of glass doors was broken by the occasional peep show or sex show. Surprisingly, there were other less sexual stores in the same area. It was not unusual to see a pizza shop or a clothing store next to a prostitute in a doorway. What was even more surprising was the massive church that was located in the middle of the Red Light District. I guess people could kill two birds with one stone. They could fulfill their strongest sexual desires and still have time to make it to confession before returning to work.

Amsterdam was not a place for hagglers. The going price was €50 and that got you about 15 minutes with the lady of your choice. We watched men of all ages enter the rooms. From the time the curtain closed, it was only 15 minutes before it was opened again. We also saw a couple propositioning a prostitute for a better group rate. The prostitute did not falter as she replied, “It is €50 each.”

There were hoards of tourists walking around and having a look at what Amsterdam had to offer. Even at 3 o’clock in the morning, we saw men, women, and even families enjoying the night life in the Red Light District.

We strolled down the streets and noticed a pattern in the alleyways. No matter what you’re into, you can find it in the Red Light District. Some alleys must have been the high-end district because the women were young and attractive. Other districts were less prosperous and had much larger, unattractive women. Some areas were for women that had a little something extra; it is called a penis and it was very noticeable in their white, thong underwear.  There were women, and I use the term loosely, of all sizes and all races. They even have old, senior citizen looking women working hard to pay for their windows.

I thought it would be a good idea to take a picture. After all, what prostitute wouldn’t want her picture taken while she’s in her window propositioning men? As soon as I pulled out the camera, curtains started closing and heads started turning. It proved to be not such a great idea as women started telling me off and screaming at me. Needless to say, I didn’t get many pictures in the Red Light District; at least not of the prostitutes.

Amsterdam truly was a mysterious place.

Check out other great articles by adventurous bucket list seekers at Bucket List Publications.  


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369 thoughts on “I AMSTERDAM – A Little Something Extra!

  1. A great post indeed. I happened to be there twice and have similar kind of experience. I also got an opportunity to talk to one of them and found out that they are from all layers of the society. College students, working women..even housewives. They pay tax too as she said. Dont know if there is any other place in this world which has even 50% of what Amsterdam has to offer…

    Like

  2. Great blog! Congrats on your pregnancy! Were the women really screaming at you? My friend went to Amsterdam and had a couple of guys try to sell him drugs. Amsterdam is still a place I want to explore. Glad you had a good time!

    Like

  3. Thanks for checking out my blog btw. I went to Amsterdam as a 19 year on a college trip and this reminds me of what it was like then! Crazy place. I’d love to go back again now that I am older.

    Like

  4. Just got an email telling me that you liked my post and that I should read yours and this is the story that it brought me to. This is awesome! I have three college friends that live in the Netherlands and I went to see them last spring and went through the area that you photographed. Luckily, my friends knew to tell me to leave my camera alone while walking through there. I was like you, I thought “why wouldn’t they want their picture taken?” But my friends told me that it was a no no. I LOVED the Netherlands and can’t wait to go back. Great post! Thanks for sharing and also for visiting my blog too!

    Like

  5. Pingback: I AMSTERDAM – A Little Something Extra! « AnnoZijlstra Blog

  6. Awesome. Reminds me of a visit to Nuremberg, Germany (summer of 1989!). Husband and I stayed in a B&B in a highrise just outside the “Frauen Tor” (Women’s Gate). When we went out for dinner, going through the gate, the origin of the name became very obvious…open windows with prostitutes leaning out and offering their services, and young men walking along by the wall, checking them out and trying to figure out which one they wanted to “try out”. Keeping our composure as best we could, we made our way to the nearest corner to turn and walk downtown. And of course, there were all the sex shops around the corner. But, we had a good laugh, for all these shops were closed, since it was past 6 pm. Now that’s funny…of all the stores to close at the usual early evening closing time, sex shops, one would think, wouldn’t be one of them. Sorry, don’t have any pictures of this evening trek!

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  7. Nice post, Lesley! As a part-time Amsterdam resident for the past ten years, I can assure everyone that there are nicer parts of the city, and better experiences too. Unfortunately the Red Light District and the coffee shops are high on the list (pun not intended) of priorities for many weekend trippers.

    http://richardtulloch.wordpress.com/2011/08/11/alternative-amsterdam-my-hip-take-on-the-town/

    Keep up the great work anyway.

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  8. Hi Leslie,
    THX for stopping by WWWW. I especially liked your post because we visited here this summer, during the afternoon when the streets and windows are awash in sun and give off a different vibe.
    The locals gave me some insights, like that it used to be a place for housewives to pick up a little extra cash to help the family through a rough patch, and today it’s a hot spot promoted on city maps. It’s an incredible place, tho, thx for your take on it. Mine is centered around me and my taste buds. 🙂
    http://wordswewomenwrite.wordpress.com/2011/07/21/from-happy-meals-to-hotchpotch/
    Toni

    Like

    • I was surprised to see that the streets of the Red Light District are still buzzing during the day. It appeared that men would stop by at lunch for a quick “snack” and then return to work, but we’re talking about a different kind of apatite then the amazing foods in your blog 😉

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment; it’s appreciated.

      Lesley

      Like

  9. I went to Amsterdam right after college… a completely different experience then that it would be now. We stayed at the Flying Pig and regrettably not in a private room. Would have been worth the extra $ in retrospect!

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    • The Red Light District was only a couple of nights of my amazing experiences in the Netherlands and only a glimpse of my 11 week European journey, but I can only create moments in time through writing and this was an adventure I will not soon forget.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment; it’s appreciated.

      Lesley

      Like

  10. Great blog post Lesley. I visited Amsterdam this year for the first time; my husband was unsure when I asked to walk through the red light district! You just have to see it to experience Amsterdam….you were brave to get your camera out! LOL I’m going to live in Holland soon so will no doubt visit Amsterdam again!

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  11. I absolutely loved Amsterdam!!! I went there back in 2006 and have told everyone since that the city is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been to – during the day….and one of the most craziest cities I’ve ever been to – at night! That being said however, I must admit, the people are very nice…even the drug dealers! I was approached by a gentleman for some cocaine, and believe me, i’ve been asked for drugs in numerous cities including Montego Bay, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Montreal, New York City…and have been fearful for my life. With this guy it was like, “Would you like some coke? No? Ok, enjoy your evening!” in your favorite Amsterdam accent. We toured the Heineken brewery…absolutely amazing and so much fun! Loved reading about your experiences!!!

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  12. I enjoyed your post on Amsterdam! I’ve been there 4 years in a row – yea, that’s how much I love that city. A beautiful multicultural city with people who are very laid back and accepting. I never get bored there and am always looking forward to the next trip.

    And yes, there is an unwritten rule that you never take pictures in the Red Light District. You’re lucky you didn’t get your camera taken away from you! 🙂

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    • I heard of others losing their cameras; I would have been heart-broken to lose mine with 1000s of pictures from other countries and no back-up. Luckily, that was not the case. I’d maybe advise against snapping off photos in the area just in case.

      Will you be returning to Amsterdam soon? Do you have any trips planned?

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment; it’s appreciated.

      Lesley

      Like

  13. Ahh the red light, yes took my daughter and her friend their junior year of college to that same spot, didn’t realize our hostel was so close, but it was fine. We had a good time. The women are indeed mothers and wives who do not wish to be “blogged”. 😉
    The sex museum was really eye opening at how old some of the photos were. Did you see the snow white video?? LOL

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    • That had to be one of the absolute coolest museums I have ever been to. We also went to a museum in Heidelburg that same summer that was for ancient tools of torture and interogation. Just makes me glad to live in modern times 🙂 Thanks for letting me remember that museum though.

      Like

  14. I remember my time in Amsterdam, very interesting and eye opening. Hope to be back someday. The Netherlands is actually quite a beautiful country. Cheers for sharing!

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  15. Interesting post. As many other people here, I remember going to Amsterdam maaanyy years ago, when I was a student and had taken a summer job as a tour guide. I was living in London at the time, and was flown to Amsterdam to pick up the (Alaskan) tour group who were flying there as the first leg of their European tour, which I was to guide them through.

    Well, I had NEVER been to Amsterdam and felt in something of a pickle when I found the hostel I was to stay in was not only in the red light district, and not only was I to share a room with another tour guide, but a bed too!! `(we were both women). In the event, all worked out ok, though we both felt a bit disconcerted about the situation. (Hi mum, am staying in the red light district in Amsterdam, oh yes, and I am sharing a bed with a stranger….)

    As if that were not awkward enough, the following day, once I picked up ‘my’ group and we were driving through Amsterdam before getting onto the motorway for Paris, I had to keep turning to the Dutch coach driver to tell me the main sites we were going past to be able to report it to the group. All I remember is that according to my narrative we went by at least two American embassies… I got better as we moved through countries in Europe I had actually been to !

    So, yes, Amsterdam was pretty memorable for me too:)

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  16. I love Amsterdam. I went for New Years in 2002 while I was in Germany for a month because my husband at the time was injured in the military. He told me to take a military tour to any place before I left and I picked Amsterdam. Amazing! You described everything perfectly.

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  17. Intereting post. A couple of months ago, while in Bangkok, I pulled out my camera, ready to take a pic of a few very attractive prostitutes standing on the side of the road. The first one that noticed immediately started to cover her instantly apalled face. I retracted and assured them that I wouldn’t take the picture. The more I travel the bolder I tend to get with the camera; but, that experience was a reality check: It helped enhance my understanding that it’s best to have respect and ask first. Reading your experience in Amsterdam has just reinforced the concept that flesh proprieters don’t like having their photos randomly taken. 🙂

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  18. Amsterdam is absolutely wonderful! I stayed for only 5 days, but during all that time i felt i was in a movie! on the weekends, whores and weed on the streets. During the week, calm and nice people walking around, having coffee and a beer. Loved it!

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  19. I love Amsterdam, I love, love travel, but I also really loved having kids too! Now my kids are 19, 14 and 7…I traveled quite a bit with the first one, a little less with the second – not quite so much with the third! But I plan to travel with my husband, back to India? when we are in the ’empty nest’ period (give me about 10 years…) Look forward to following your blog, Having a baby is the biggest adventure of all!
    Cheers, Meg – from Painfullyaboutme.wordpress.com

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  20. This was a fun story to read, I really enjoyed it. Also I admire your bravery, I wish I was that adventurous. Thank you for liking my last posts. If you tried the recipes, feel free to comment if you liked it.

    have a nice day 🙂

    Like

  21. You tell it well!
    I may soon be heading to the city to work… I guess I’ll have to stay well away from all those ‘shops’ and the wares they sell… 😉
    PS: Thanks for visiting my blog…

    Like

  22. Funny post 🙂
    But I hope you also saw the other side of Amsterdam, which is an amazing city, lively, cosy, one of the most beautiful and friendly place I’ve seen, and after leaving there 4 years now, I still can’t stop being amazed every time I’m walking down the streets and canals.
    Amsterdam is one of the kind, i’ll be happy to show you this hidden side of Amsterdam if you come back one day, far way from the coffee shops and red light district 🙂

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  23. Sounds like an interesting time. I would love to go someday! Fun things to do, people wildly high on god-knows-what (people-watching is entertaining on it’s own, but when it’s people-who-think-they’re-alligators-watching it’s even more fun), and prostitutes (does that fit in the “fun things to do” category?).

    I obviously am forgetting how to cut loose, because as I read through, I just kept thinking, “but how was the food?” Egads, I think I’m getting old.

    Michelle F
    Low Amine Recipes
    http://aminerecipes.com

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  24. One day when I grow up I will travel to distant lands the host a red light and district all in one, until then I will continue to think that Amensterdam is a dam built by hamsters

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  25. Hey, Lesley, you “liked” my soup post so I checked out your blog. How fun that you went to Amsterdam. I stopped there to visit my two exchange daughters. I missed the “red light district” this trip. Saw it once before, though. Nothing like it. Fun post reading.

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  26. Hi Lesley, thanks for the Like over on The Vibes, I used to live in Amsterdam for a couple of years, and your post captured the strangeness of the place perfectly. Incidentally, you’re lucky to have experienced the Red Light District, because they say it’s going to be closed soon, because of people trafficking – probably why they don’t like cameras. And the coffee shops will be closed to all tourists from Christmas! The end of an era.

    Like

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