Red Light Diaries
No trip to the Netherlands would be truly complete without a stroll through Amsterdam’s infamous Red Light District. No matter how illicit you want to get, it is a cultural experience that must be enjoyed. Mrs. Sip and I imbibed a little too much while we were in the “Venice of the North” (seriously, every place is the Venice of something!), but I’m itching to go back and try my luck again!
Amsterdam actually has three Red Light Districts, but the most famous of them is the area also known as ‘De Wallen’ in Old Amsterdam. This Red Light Distrcit has existed for hundreds of years. Since the 14th century, brothels have called the region along the city’s numerous canals, home. Once banned, but tolerated if kept underground, houses of ill repute were first allowed in 1811 and were frequented by French soldiers.
Prostitution is legal in the Netherlands and with any time spent in the Red Light District, you will be sure to see an array of women (and on some occasions, even men) advertising themselves through red-light lit windows for various services. If you agree upon a price with one of the workers, you will be ushered into their cabin. It is a big no-no to take any photos of the workers, some of whom are students making money for their studies.
De Wallen is also famous for their Coffee Shops, where locals and tourists alike can eat, smoke, or even drink any number of normally illegal substances. These shops are licensed by the Dutch government. It should be noted that these stores are prohibited from selling alcohol and cigarettes, so you’ll have to get your drink and normal smoking done elsewhere.
There are also live sex shows, sex museums, sex theatres, sex shops (sex, sex, sex, is that all you ever think about!), bars and clubs, museums, and even a department store. In fact, Amsterdam is home to 51 different museums, making it one of the most museum-populated cities in the world. You should enjoy the destination while it lasts, as there are fears it will eventually disappear, given most of the city is already below sea level.
If you want to see the city, but aren’t so interested in the darker activities offered in the Red Light District, there are a number of other attractions definitely worth checking out. This includes: Canal Cruises, Walking Tours, the Heineken Experience, the Vodka Museum, the House of Bols, the Anne Frank House, the Van Gogh Museum, the Rembrandthouse, and the Rijksmuseum, which is described as the Louvre of the Netherlands.
Amsterdam is the bicycle capital of Europe, with one million bikes for a population of 700,000 people. Any travelers spending time around the city or going through the Red Light District, should always be vigilant and keep an eye out for bicyclists and whether or not they’ve accidentally entered onto a bike path. I suppose given all the libations available in the city, intoxicated biking is better than driving!
Some events to keep in mind if planning a trip to Amsterdam are King’s Day in April, providing the perfect excuse for crazy parties and the High Times Cannabis Cup, described as “five days of pure hedonism,” in late-November. Worldwide events, such as Pride and New Year’s Eve, when celebrated in Amsterdam sound quite interesting. For Pride, there’s a naughty boat parade through the canals, while at New Year’s, most bars don’t even open until midnight hits.
- 1.25 oz Jenever
- 0.75 oz Peach Schnapps
- Top with Cranberry Juice
- Garnish with Cranberries
Talk about crazy folks: Adults in the Netherlands like to add sprinkles (like the ones used as an ice cream sundae topping) onto their toast. This is something the Sip Advisor will surely have to try in the future!
Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
Friends of Mrs. Sip and myself visited the House of Bols while they were in the Netherlands and were incredibly kind enough to pick us up a couple treats, while there. This included this wonderful bottle of Bols Jenever that I used for our Around the World stop here, as well as a cocktail recipe booklet, which is hilariously in Dutch (English version does not exist yet) and requires some Google translating! This is one of the drinks that looked fun to make and it certainly hit the spot on the taste scale.