Originally posted 04/08/2013
Amsterdam was pretty friggin interesting, the drug/sex culture was fascinating.
- So in Amsterdam, weed is legal. Well, not really. It's decriminalised, but otherwise illegal. It's just that nobody cares. There are three golden rules in Amsterdam, if its:
- Good for business
- Doesn't hurt anybody
- And is discreet
Then it's allowed. The discreet part is why you will never see a 'marijuana shop' or 'joint cafe' in Amsterdam. Instead, you have 'cafes' which are like regular cafes, and 'coffee shops' which is code for 'Weed inside here'.
The menu at one of the coffee shops I went to:
On Warmdestraat, the main coffee shop street, there are LOTS of little fast food and snack places catering to people with the munchies. It's very very easy to spend a crapload of money on munchie food there.
The Red Light District
The RLD is pretty interesting too. I actually did a 2 hour tour of the RLD and our guide had heaps to say about it, apart from just showing us the 'elite streets' where the most gorgeous girls are (If you must know, you're looking for the narrowest lanes), the two streets of transexual hookers (Bloedstraat and Barndesteeg) and the little zone of gay and BDSM places (On the same street as all the coffee shops, down one end.)
This is the only real photo I could get of the RLD. As the guide put it, the girls are allergic to cameras and if they see you taking a photo of them, they WILL chase you down, (in heels), punch you in the face and throw your camera in the canal.
The way the RLD works, is that the girls are all freelancers (they even register with the gov. and pay tax), they pay somewhere around 150 Euro to hire a window for 8 hours, and then basically stand in the window doing their thing and trying to entice customers. No nudity allowed, at least not unless you pay for it. The going price is around 50 Euro for 15 minutes. It doesn't sound like long but apparently the average time spent inside by clients is 6 minutes (including undressing, showering your bits, and re-dressing afterwards). I thought that was pretty insane but hey, I guess the girls are good at their jobs.
There is a condomerie in the red light district too. They have something like 64 different sizes. I don't think it's like bra fitting though, they don't let you try on different ones... for some strange reason... But if you go in with your measurements they'll find you 'the perfect fit'. Judging by the shop window that can be anywhere from very pessimistic to stupidly optimistic.
The most vibrating shop! Their most popular vibrator is one called the 'ohmypod'. You plug it into your ipod and it vibrates in time to the music.
I did wander into a sex shop for a look. Yep, thats a wall of dildos on the left. Bottom left picture... it's pretty much exactly what it looks like. And on the right, again pretty much what it looks like.
One thing you'll notice about the RLD is that it is situated next to a huge church. That isn't coincidence, as the story goes, Amsterdam used to be a catholic city and in those days when the sailors came and went to the prostitutes, they would feel guilty afterwards. With the church so convenient they could duck in, pay a 'donation', say their hail mary's and be absolved of their sins. Pretty interesting business relationship.
If you've seen eurotrip you might be wondering if there is really a club vandersexx. There isn't, but there IS a gay club called 'club fuxx'. According to the tour guide, if you're over 21cm you get in free. Those bouncers sure have an interesting job.
Finally, there are a range of 'sex shows' in the RLD. The 'best' is at a place called casa rosso. It's 40 Euro to get in and there are ten different acts that repeat each hour or so. It's surprisingly classy and a bit like a theatre. Except with more vaginas and ping pong balls. On the low end, there is the 2 Euro 'sex palace' which is just a peep show. You get a little room to yourself, put 2 Euro in the machine, and a panel slides open to see the stage where there are two people having sex. Our guide said that he doesn't recommend it - the people on display in the sex palace are those that were rejected from all the classier establishments.