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Published: August 29th 2010
Amsterdam! Not one other city can come close to the open city. For some reason it has taken us a long time to finally visit here but good things come to those who wait. Gee where to start.. Well guess should kick of with the red light district. Right in the smack bang middle of the city 5 minute walk from the train station when arriving. Is it busy? Yes, all day you can see guys sneaking out of the little ’shops’ and bolting right up an alley was to avoid the cheers of the tourists. And of course the coffee shops.. Scattered all through the city but our favorite one would have to be the ‘old church’ coffee shop which is in the heart of the red light district and of course next to a church. Amsterdam is such a tolerant city and everything seems possible.
Of course most people go to visit the Venice of the north because of this area but as we found out so much more is on offer in this city. The people are the friendliest people we have come across and of course the tallest! Everyone is massive! The rest of the city
seems to be floating on the canals and bikes are absolutely everywhere. Our hosts in the city were able to lend us their bikes for a day so got to experience the chaos of riding around the city with only one accident! Big bonus!!
But it is a green city (talking about parks here) and escaping the tourist is simple, walk five minutes away from the red light district and it seems you have the whole city to yourself.
Luckily for Amsterdam the city was pretty not touched during the war (except the Jewish area which students redeveloped in the 70’s and it seems after spending waayyyyyy to much time in a coffee shop before hand) so everything is old style. So with the city on water and old building they are now leaning in all directions. But as we found out it is just not because of the ground sinking, the following story was very funny to hear.
Ok so Amsterdam was a trading area with to much water and with damp areas come the rats. Storing the trade used to be underground in the basement so the rats would go and destory it. Then they
decided to put the bags of food or whatever up in the attock away from the rats and to do this they place a hook on a pole above the top window (still see everywhere) to hoist it up from outside (the stairs are way to narrow inside to climb with to much stock). So from time to time when hoisting up the wind would blow and make the bag move and smash into the window and after some time this got a little to much replacing all these windows. So smart Dutch guy number 1: He decided to build the new houses on an angle so that the top of the house is further out from the bottom of the house meaning more space for the bags to sway and not reaching the windows (see pictures) and everyone thought this was a great idea! One hundred years latter and new houses built all over the city smart Dutch guy number 2 comes along: Why don’t we just make the pole further away from the window at the top and have a straight house......
Other interesting things we found out.. The houses use to be taxed be the amount
os space on the front of the building so it is why the houses look so small from front be once inside they seem to go on forever at the back (and why the stairs are insanely steep). One house front is 1.8 meters across!
Anyone heard of the flying Dutchman? This was quite cool.. During the golden age of Holland Germany, France, Uk and some Swedes teamed up against this tiny little county. Should be an easy victory right? Well on the march to start the battle the Dutch open up a couple of dikes and flooded pretty much everything so the army could not reach the major cities. Ok fair enough they though and we will wait to winter to when the water is frozen and cross over then. Exactly what the Dutch wanted then to do. The Dutch are pretty handy with ice skating and the Dutch soldiers on ice skates carved everyone up as they were three times faster on the ice, you have the flying Dutchman...
So about the soft drugs... Not legal, just tolerated.. They have three rules 1. Must make money for the city.. 2. Not harm anyone (debatable) and 3.
Not noticeable (why in a coffee shop)
Red light district is legal.. The prostitutes pay tax and go on shifts for eight hours at a time.. Made legal so can be controlled and get rid of the pimps as a great walking tour told us. Window rent range from I think 50-80 Euro a day.. And it is a busy area! And do not take photos whilst indise the area.. Outside looking in ok like the one we have but we heard some disturbing stoires of tourists who had an interesting time..
Well it is a fantastic city and our hosts there we so wonderful to us and we would love to go back one day for another visit. A very livable city..
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