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The debauchery

19 March 2008

Of course we took part in the more diabolical side of Amsterdam: it’s sex and drugs.

Ok, well, we didn’t really get all that crazy. But, it was definitely an experience learn about this very prevalent part of Dutch culture.

Walking along the streets it is no secret that marijuana smoking is quite popular. You either smell it drifting out of a coffee shop or from the couple walking in front of you smoking ‘cigarettes.’ Coffee shops are just about everywhere advertising that they will sell you marijuana and most times people go in, buy a soda or coffee (no alcohol is served in these places), and then they sit and enjoy. Of course, there are different types of weed with different strengths so if you go only to try something it is best to get a very mild type as the weed in Amsterdam is certainly some of the best and maybe strongest.

Some tips:

1) Don’t take pictures. Although it is common place to smoke in coffee shops, many people aren’t keen on having their picture taken while doing something that is considered illegal in many other places. And, it looks really nerdy to whip out your cameras and start snapping photos.

2) Know your limits. It seems that novices and pros alike can inhale too much and actually pass out cold. And, apparently it is common place for this to happen several times a day in coffee shops. We witnessed and heard several stories of this happening to people throughout the city. While this is an effect of low blood sugar and eating sugar cubes will bring you back to ‘normal,’ moderation seems to be the key. That and maybe its best to just stick to other components of Dutch culture…

…like the Red Light District.

From the moment we entered this part of town I knew it was going to be entertaining. There was scuffle in the street ahead of me that broke out right as we waked up. There was a lovely, (very) voluptuous, Jamaican woman (whom I think lost part of her clothing), who had a skinny white boy by the neck. I thought, “Wow, they do some exhibitionist shows in the street…that is not what I expected.” And, as I reached to get my camera to get a picture of this, I heard the woman yelling at the man “NO PICTURES! NEVER TAKE PICTURES!”

Tip: Whatever you do, do not take pictures of the prostitutes in the Red Light District or you just might find yourself being strangled by a hooker.

I am not exactly sure how large the Red Light District is but I read somewhere that there is a union of some 20,000 prostitutes in Amsterdam. I am not sure how to describe walking through the streets other than it really was sad to see these women doing what they were doing for a living.

Each woman was in a room, scantily clad, trying to lure one of the hundreds of men walking past into their ‘office.’ It is like a weird combination of shopping for Barbie dolls and trying to save abandoned puppies as all these women have hair and make-up done up as they pose with plastered smiles and saddened eyes hoping someone will choose them.

While I think many Dutch want to be known for things other than sex and drugs, it is certainly a unique part of their culture that is worth breezing by. As it may sound seedy or scare some people off, it really isn’t that prevalent to deter you from visiting Amsterdam. This city really does have so much more to offer.

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