Firstly a disclaimer: What follows is not for the faint hearted! Are you still here?… good! Welcome to Disneyland for Adults!! Yes, Amsterdam boasts of Van Gogh, provides psychedelic highs in its coffee shops and has lovely winding canals but we suspect that when most of us think of this Dutch city we are picturing more primal pursuits. So we decided… why not give you a virtual tour of the Red Light District of Amsterdam? Well then… sit back and …ummmm… enjoy ;)
There are actually three red-light areas in Amsterdam, Singelgebied, Ruydaelkade and the much more pronounceable De Wallen. Of the three De Wallen is the oldest and the most touristy so to speak. Apparently Amsterdam takes the term ‘window’ shopping to another level. A jaunt through De Wallen in the night reveals dazzling neon lit windows filled with raunchy underwear-clad women of varied sizes, ages and races showing you their… ahem.. ‘goods’. Most of them are quite friendly, but of course anything more than a chat is definitely going to cost you!
Warning: It is strictly forbidden to take pictures of the ladies here…be careful ‘cause it might earn you a dunk into the canals!
No Grandma… this is not Shakespeare!
For people with stronger carnal appetites De Wallen has many strip joints and even live sex show theatres! And by that we don’t mean some coy performances… be ready to see the performers going at it on stage (albeit tastefully) until the very climax… and yes the pun is Very intended. The most famous of these is the Theatre Cassa Rosso which is apparently a must-see in De Wallen.
The interesting thing about Amsterdam is that not only are they really open about sexuality but they want other people to be uninhibited about it too. A step towards that is a visit to the world-famous Sex Museum of Amsterdam, locally called ‘Venustempel’. The tag line of the museum ‘The most natural thing in the world’ is designed to put people at ease about the content within. What follows is literally a documentation of sex through the ages including pictures, videos, paintings and even life size dummies! If you are still feeling a little shy, you could visit … what else? The Prostitution Information Center!! Located in De Wallen this center offers pamphlets, books and help regarding safety concerns and the history of the locality. Also, you can buy some T-shirts and postcards to send back home (if you dare).
Other Spiritual Pursuits – Things to do around the Red-light Area
Had enough of the sinful life? Of course there are other things to do… step into one of the many ‘coffee shops’ in this area… but be aware they are not serving coffee alone… Amsterdam’s permissive attitude towards marijuana has conceived a number of these coffee shops which help their patrons to achieve ‘nirvana’ in their own unconventional way. But be careful…The stuff is pretty strong and we don’t want you walking into walls or canals on the way out! Other places you could go to are the famous Oude Kerk (Old Church) and Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (“Our Lord in the Attic” Museum) which are just a hop away from De Wallen.
So shrug off your old notions and enjoy Amsterdam’s take on pleasure. Sure it will be a sensory overload but it will be unforgettable nonetheless.