Netherlands – Amsterdammertje

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.

Hot Chicks RLD

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.

What's a RLD

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.

Netherlands: Amsterdammertje

Amsterdammertje Cocktail

  • 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.

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May 31 – A Brisk Walk through the Red Light District

The Tales We’ll Tell

This drink has, by far, the longest name I’ve ever seen in my years of cocktail experiences. That makes it all the more intriguing to try. It also harkens back to memories of the Red Light Districts this Sip Advisor has traversed. Some of those remembrances are foggier than others, so let’s tip-toe our way together through the seedy underbelly of some of the world’s most famous cities!

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Okay, so this visit was a little messed up… and that’s probably putting it lightly. Amsterdam is home to many pot cafes and such and whether you’re a regular user of the drug or not, it’s all part of the experience. Our night started out innocently enough at one of the district’s classic sex shows, where we received a grab bag of little treats and watched performers do much more than bump and grind. The weirdest part, aside from the “smoking scene” was all the Asian business dudes sitting quietly in the back and taking the show quite seriously.

Next, we were off to the Sex Museum, free entry with our sex show ticket stub, with a quick stop to sample some of the city’s famous delicacies. Mrs. Sip and I agreed to split a “special” brownie and wait a little while before trying anything else (as suggested on a health advisory slip that came with the product we chose). After only waiting about 20 minutes, we threw caution to the wind and try something else because “we didn’t feel anything”. Famous last words…

HashBrownies

The brownie finally kicked in at the top floor of the Sex Museum, where you could sit on a giant toadstool (at least I hope they were toadstools) and watch an animated Snow White parody porno. Did I mention that there was a giant 7 foot phallus in the room, too… oh, and some creepy dude who seemed to be in there all by his lonesome watching the Snow White cartoon a tad to seriously.

Somehow, we made it back to our hostel that night, a little worse for wear. We returned to the district on our own the next night, still feeling a little foggy from the activities of the evening before, and hoping to experience the area in a different mood.

New Orleans, U.S.A.

Ah, sweet Bourbon Street. Home to Mardi Gras and by extension, beads and boobies. When I was just a little sipper, the Sip Family stopped in N’Orleans along our cross country train trip. Although myself and Broski Sip weren’t of legal age yet, we were allowed to walk the famous boulevard and get a glimpse of its partying ways. With jazz music bellowing out of many establishments and posters advertising strip shows at nearly every corner, I thought I’d found heaven. I have pledged to return to the area and do it properly, although Mrs. Sip might have to think twice about wearing those low-cut tops!

red-light-district-chicks

Paris, France

Home to the infamous Moulin Rouge cabaret, Mrs. Sip and I wandered the district briefly and waited for our tour bus to pick us up. Sadly, it never came and we had to figure out our own way back to our campsite far outside of town… stupid budget tours! We weren’t there for too long, but one of the highlights of being in the area was just watching all the different people and traffic, as it filled the streets. What an eclectic gathering of humanity!

Hamburg, Germany

While visiting family, we were treated to a tour of the world famous Reeperbahn (which sounds like the site of a serial killer’s stalking ground… and it probably was at some point). The area is full of history and not just of a sexual nature. Did you know The Beatles first gained fame outside of Liverpool there? It’s also where they met Ringo Starr, who would eventually replace Pete Best as the band’s drummer.

queen reeperbahn

Even the Queen goes to the Reeperbahn to get blitzed!

You might think it a little awkward to be exploring streets lined with sex shops, legal prostitution and other sinful recreational activities with your family, but it’s more funny than anything else. Pa Sip joined myself and Broski Sip for a walk down the alley where ladies try to sell their wares… and if you give them a tough time, legend has it you could be on the receiving end of a bucket of water… or, at least you hope it’s water.

During the evening, we stopped in this tiny little pizza joint for a quick bite. The place had the most disgusting bathrooms I’ve ever seen, but some of the most delicious pizza I’ve ever tried. The mathematical formula I’ve come up with is pizza > bathroom + drunk = who the hell cares!

Drink #151: A Brisk Walk through the Red Light District

May 31

  • Rim glass with Lemon Sugar
  • 1.5 oz Whiskey (I used Crown Royal)
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • Top with Iced Tea
  • Garnish with a Lemon Wedge

It’s funny how much these notorious Red Light Districts are now must-hit tourist attractions for all ages. If a city you’re travelling to has one, I’d say you have to visit it and take in all it has to offer (well, maybe not everything), for better or worse!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (2.5 Sips out of 5):
I didn’t really like the way this cocktail came together. The Sweet Vermouth, despite only being a splash dominated the drink when I wanted to taste the Iced Tea. Oh well…