Until recently, Amsterdam was under reconstruction. Some of the most famous museums – Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk – were the subject to an ambitious renovation process which is why the attention was temporarily diverted from the rich cultural and artistic heritage to the relaxed, hedonistic activities of the locals and visitors.
Although the Amsterdam clubs, bars and the entire nightlife, together with the famous Red Light District, kept living with the same intensity as before, now when the bandages are taken off the monumental buildings, Amsterdam can again be proud of its status of a city with the most diverse offer, which have been moving boundaries and changing nicknames more often than any other European city. Because of its hundred canals it is called the “Venice of the North”, because of the numerous Jews who lived in the city it is called “Jerusalem of the North”, and it is called the “Rembrandt’s city” because this great painter lived and worked here, and of course, the “City on Water “because it is built on polders with many dams, in order to prevent flooding that threatened this once important commercial town built below the sea level. In addition to the rich history, culture, architecture and famous people who are arguably the greatest magnet for visitors, Amsterdam today, mostly among young people, has been popularly known as “Sin City”. Why? We do not have to look much for the answer – the wind will bring it to us, filling our nostrils with the scent of marijuana, or our eyes with the images of nude female figures on the windowpanes of the typical narrow buildings.
In this city it is easy to recognize devolution of liberalism and civil rights into different types of permissions and decadence. Prostitution is legal – De Wallen, better known as the Red Light District, occupies a central place of the city – it is located just around the corner from Dam Square. This district, however, is not “real” Amsterdam. It is a commercialized version of the city behind the red curtains. If you happen to wander around the side streets, non-tourist ones, and sharpen your senses, you can smell the authentic Amsterdam and its lucrative sex industry. Girls extravagantly dressed in provocative outfit, standing in front of coffee shops, balancing either because of the high heels or the opiates, while their employers, dealers or pimps are negotiating for five hundred, a thousand or several thousand euros. Unfortunately, these girls are just commodities for trade. According to the latest data, in the Netherlands are registered between 20,000 and 25,000 prostitutes. Many of them have not willingly chosen this vocation. The way they got a “job” at one of the Dutch windows is completely banal – they just wanted to keep up with their peers, travel around Europe and experience the famous city of Amsterdam. In one of the clubs they met these good-looking, charming and talkative guys. Exchanging seemingly sweet words with them, they were caught in a trap from which it was hard to get out. These guys, known as “lover boys” are just hooks thrown by big bosses of sex industry, who later recruit the girls with the aim of making profit. Those girls did not know that their chosen destination would become their new home and their life totally different from the one they used to have before.
Unaware of the sad stories of these girls, we, tourists, are hurling towards the Red Light District to satisfy our curiosity as we have been told about this neighborhood in which taking photographs is strictly forbidden. Therefore, with our eyes widely open, we are staring at the windows of these extra small flats – red curtains are hiding what is going on in there, while other girls are still standing at the windowpanes, dimly lit by the red light, inviting the passers-by to get inside and have a bit of fun. For 50 euros you can get a versed sex and after 15 minutes you can be thrown out on the street before you even realize what has happened to you.
For us tourists, it is entertaining to just pass through this part of the city, even the curtains are rolled down. We just have a walk past sex shops, sex theaters, sex museums and “Hash, Marijuana and Hemp” museum and might even pay 9 euros to enter it if we feel like it. Or we just keep walking with a green lollipop in our hand (Cannabis Lollypop) and as real tourists, go straight to the Anne Frank House and Van Gogh Museum, eventually infiltrating into the hordes of tourists that make enormous crowds around the gigantic letters ‘I Amsterdam’, waiting for a good opportunity to grab at least one letter for the sake of having a photo at Museumplein.
* Should you decide to visit Amsterdam, follow this link to find a variety of accommodation and choose the one that would best suit your needs.
* Once you choose the accommodation, we offer you a voucher for discounts. It will certainly come handy, so why not use it?
In the eternal quest to bring order to chaos.