Amsterdam: Coffeeshops, Naughty Shops and the Red Light District


There's no way around it.  If you go to Amsterdam you must take a stroll through the Red Light District and visit some Coffeeshops!  Come on, you can't miss out on some of the things that the city is most popular for, I assure you - it is an unforgettable experience.  Coffeeshops are distinctly different from a Cafe, where coffee and food is sold.  A Coffeeshop sells a variety of pot alongside coffee and beverages.  The whole smoking thing is harmless in my eyes, it's only something that is novel in Amsterdam because of the open atmosphere and tourist industry that powers the coffeeshop culture.  Smoking in public, in the heart of the city, over a cup of coffee and some good conversation is pretty great though.  Add in where you are and the incredibly diverse people watching opportunity and it's a very unique mix.  That's what everyone in Coffeeshops seem to do, hang out and talk, people watch and enjoy the moment.  It's very relaxed and low key, not out of control, at least not from what I've experienced during my many visits to this great city.  



On the other hand, walking through the Red Light District at night on the weekend is a different story!  It's definitely shocking at first, but then shock becomes amusement.  Throngs of rowdy men giddily stumbling around the streets talking and laughing like school boys over the endless female options, who are lounging in the windows wooing and enticing them with blown kisses and sexy gestures.  Yes, there were discreet men too, and lots of curious tourists in general, many curious women included - like me!  Pure debauchery in the streets I tell you, you've gotta see it all go down one day!  Just remember not to take pictures of the prostitutes, they really don't like that!  So yes, this is an inextricable part of Amsterdam, it intertwines and overlaps with all the major parts of the city, it's something you have to see if you ever visit. I support a person's right to do whatever they want with their body, so for me it's not a big deal, though I can't imagine how one does it.  From a practical standpoint, at least the profession is controlled with regular drug and STD testing and taxation, though the Dutch government apparently didn't start taxing the income from prostitution until 2011.  It seems that the crime that arises from prostitution and drug sales has been curbed through legalization, and the city benefits financially from its leniency.  The whole issue surrounding these legalized activities is much more complex, however my personal experience in Amsterdam did not estimate it to be a poor decision.

Moving on.  I didn't take many pictures during our time in this area, but I have a few decent ones.  Also, I have a video that will give you a bit of a feel for what it's like to walk through the super crowded Red Light District along one of the many canals.  The red lights are glowing all around and there is a cacophony of sound vibrating up from all the chatty people crowding the streets.  Unfortunately, I've tried to upload it into this post many times and it never works, I'll have to figure it out and post it separately.

During the day, when you walk through the area of town where the Red Light District heats up at night and the Coffeeshops litter every corner, you're bound to see a lot of of other wicked and naughty establishments that are fun to explore..and for a good laugh.  See for yourself...



There are lots of Magic Mushroom shops, which sell a variety of Truffles. The Magic Mushroom itself is illegal, but a loophole in the law allows the sale of Magic Truffles to go on since a Truffle is a different type of growth below ground.  Something like that.  This sticker in one of the shops made me laugh:


This one too, hehe…


Types of truffles and their level of effects:


Hey, some places even had fresh San Pedro Cacti for sale! That's where the psychedelic drug Mescaline comes from:


And then there were the naughty shops…  Oodles of tourist shops packed to the gills with raunchy souvenirs, but this unique establishment is the only one I felt compelled to document:


Yes, this place exists.  Why? I can't imagine…  How do they stay afloat?  HAHAHAHA!  Do people tourists really buy these condoms?  Wow.  Are they functional?  I wouldn't know because I didn't venture inside to ask.  Must be a novelty...


Or maybe not… Hehehe...


Well hello David, you're looking ermmm, stylish?


There is also a chain of novelty gift shops (smoke "head" shop meets Spencers gifts type place) called The Magic Mushroom Gallery.  So many cool little things in there to examine, pretty expensive, but fun to roam through for a while...


Melting clocks, in case you want to give your living space that Salvador Dali touch...


Vaporizers for the diva in all of us...


For the rich diva in all of us… Yikes, 199.95 Euro is like $271 dollars!!  I won't get into the sore subject of the conversion rate issue, it's the worst.


And there was also a cat! Don't ask me why, but she was just strolling around the shop, eventually making her way up to the counter to watch customers.  I guess you could say security was tight at this place...


All the Coffeeshops were very unique, like this one with a tree made from overlapping 5 cent euro coins.  The fish scale/tree bark look was really awesome!  They used framing/moulding to create the bubbly outline of the leaves on the wall, with a painting to enhance it.  The chandelier and little gold cupids on the ceiling added to the overall ambiance...

    

There were places that sold seeds alongside the main selection as well...


Behold!  A giant specimen on display...

    
Coffeeshops in Amsterdam sell coffee and drinks, some places serve food and alcoholic beverages, and even rent water pipes for the serious smoker...

    

One of the Coffeeshops had a funny little puppet of George Washington hanging off the tip cup, it was made from a cleverly folded up dollar bill:  


I spotted some of my favorite artists hanging in another place...


My man Jimi Hendrix in particular.  Oooh how I love me some Hendrix!!



This is in the night scene in Rembrandtplein (Rembrandt Square), Coffeeshops close around 10pm, but the clubs and bars are open late:


I have a whole other post lined up detailing our clubbing experience in Amsterdam.  Now, for the Red Light District.  This part of town is called De Wallen, it is the best know and largest red light district in Amsterdam...


Sex workers in all their glory...


I did get scolded for taking some of these pictures, but I did it anyway.  Everyone was doing it!  Muhahaha...






Let these blurry photos represent the madness that was transpiring in the streets, I was jostled left and right.  Gotta be careful for pickpocketers in any tourist city area, but particularly when it's jam packed like this at night.  It wasn't easy to get clear photos with my phone...

    

People watching was fun...  All walks of life funneled through there that night!





Lots of interesting things to see everywhere.  Don't take any part of Amsterdam for granted, it is all beautiful and unique...


I'll be back tomorrow with one of my last posts on Amsterdam, I hope you'll come back to check it out!

My other posts on Amsterdam:
Amsterdam: Life Along the Singel
Amsterdam: A Day in the Life of Vondelpark
Amsterdam Flower Market 
Amsterdam Flower Market Part II


~ Catherine ~


(All images in this post are the original photographs of the author of this blog. Do not copy or reuse any images on this site without written consent from www.InspireBohemia.com)

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