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Published: April 12th 2007
Amsterdam is an overwhelming, amazing city, with so much happening at once that its hard to catch a breath. The saying 'anything goes' certainly applies here, and it results in an absolute bizarre mix of cuilture and people. This was certainly higlighted when we did Randy Roys Red Light Tour- along with a mother and her two -20 year old sons, a young couple and a photographer from Canada. At one stage of the tour I was standing in the doorway of a child care centre, looking at a big old church, right nothing too funny about that. BUT! if i faced the other way i was looking directly into a window at the start of the African Corner, red lights blaring and skantily clad women opening and closing their doors hoping to entice a male visitor (they have most success with British tourists). If I walked 10 metres down the road I could buy as many magic mushrooms as i wanted, and (apparently) the most potent pot in the world. Chez and I were shocked, but apparently the children are oblivious to the 'extra curricular activities' going on literally next door. When interviewed for a documentary the children said
The view from our hostel
And the closest picture we could get of the red lights- apparently if you take photos of the girls in the window you could get your camera taken.
they thought the girls were 'selling kisses' or 'waiting for a train to the beach'!!! Ah the innocence of kids! The oldest 'girl' stilll working in the district is 85- and doing a roaring trade apparently!!
It is interesting to note that cannibis is not actually legal in Holland, it has merely been decriminalised, a decision made by the government when the heroin problem got out of hand, they decided that there was no harm in people smoking, but chose to crack down on the heroin market instead. They succeeded, cleaning up the streets of Amsterdam, and making plenty of money (all coffee shops (places to smoke) need to be registered and pay taxes) selling pot to tourists. The red light industry also brings a lot of money in to Holland, and so a blind eye is also turned to the 'uncouth' aspects of the businesses, which also all have to be registered and accountable.
We did and saw so much in Amsterdam but the shining lights for me were............
1. Meeting Laura and Willimijn (cousin Barbs sister and friend) and having a leisurely lunch on a canal, before having more leisurely beers on Willimijns' roof top
The leaning houses of Amsterdam
Apparently they lean because the whole city is built on a river.
garden. It was great to chill out and chat with such lovely company in lovely surroundings.
2. The gob-smacking in your face ness of the sex industry- all the red light windows, all the live sex shows and yet it really doesnt feel that sleazy- in fact its all run very professionally! Even the audience participation section (relax it was a bit of fully clothed nowhere near erotic dancing and some fun with fruit) was very tasteful!
3. The pub crawl- just a great time and good laughs.
4. Sitting in Dam Square listening to a busker sing and watching the wacky Amsterdam world pass by!
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