May 17th, 2013
51 notes ·

The Red Light District. What to say about the red light district? It’s hard to really get a grasp of it until you walk the streets and see it for yourself.

But first, some history - because am I the only person who finds this so fascinating? (below’s source).

  • Amsterdam’s “red light district” began in earnest in the 14th century, according to the country’s official website (Holland.com). By the end of the 17th century, high-class brothels flourished.
  • When Napoleon ruled Holland in the early 19th century, prostitutes had to have health checks twice a week to ensure they didn’t pass syphilis to soldiers.
  • In 1911, the Netherlands banned brothels, but prostitution continued using businesses like massage parlours as “fronts,” according to Amsterdam Red Light (amsterdamredlight.com). Soon after this, it became apparent that laws couldn’t banish prostitution. Local authorities allowed prostitutes to ply their trade as long as they didn’t solicit in doorways. This is how the “window trade” began, as girls now beckoned customers from behind openings in curtained windows.
  • By the 1960s, Amsterdam authorities tolerated red light district prostitution, and the sex trade in the area became a tourist attraction.

But despite having seen it before, I really wasn’t prepared to see the women in the glass windows trying to lure in the men walking by. The women were hardly wearing anything, and standing behind glass windows of fake, little, staged bedrooms, waiting for any man to knock on her door.

And the most shocking thing? Actually seeing men go into the little rooms with the woman. I’m not exactly sure why I was so shocked, as obviously this has happened for centuries… actually, I suppose it was how normal & young the guys were. How guys my age or younger were going in. Guys in big groups of friends who were in Amsterdam to party. I guess I was just naive to this, but it really shocked me - watching regular guys step in, and the curtain being drawn.

I was also stunned (like mouth open stunned) when I found out the women were selling their bodies for a mere $50 for 20 minutes. I don’t want to make a judgement, because there is no way to know why each of those women ended up hardly dressed behind a glass window, but I felt sadness for them, and I felt fortunate and lucky I had never been put in a position where I felt that was my only way out (although, I should note I heard lots of women choose to do it).

So yup. That was Amsterdam. I had a lot of fun with the group I travelled with (hi guys!) and drank & ate a little too much (hushhhh), and slept too little, which of course is the equation for a very good trip.

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May 17th, 2013
101 notes ·

I had never planned to head to Amsterdam, but then somehow, someway, I was convinced (cough tulips cough) when I was walking the streets of Paris with people friends I had met from my hostel. 

I find Amsterdam an interesting city. Visually it is beautiful, and quite unique too as it’s a canal-based city, with a ton of history… but then, of course, marijuana and prostitution are legal.

This was my second time heading to Amsterdam, and I’m so pleased I returned. Why? because I think Amsterdam’s red light district overshadows a lot of really amazing things about the city, and last time I was there (when I was 18), I never really took the time to explore the awesomeness Amsterdam offers outside of it’s city centre. But this time? this time around I went for long walks through parks & down alleyways, and really got to see how amazing Amsterdam is.

Oh! And if you ever find yourself in this city, the Heineken Experience tour, Anne Frank’s House, and the Van Gogh museum are definitely must-dos. As well as a canal tour, and a night walk of the history of the red light district.

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May 17th, 2013
131 notes ·

After Paris, I made my way north to Amsterdam with a bunch of people I had met at my hostel. They were heading to Amsterdam for reasons, umm, unknown (ha), but I wanted to head there for the tulips!

Every world coffee table book shows the spectacular photos of the Netherlands’ tulip fields, so when I realized I would be there during peak bloom time, I just had to detour to go see them. And see them I did!

Keukenhof, also known as the Garden of Europe, is the world’s largest flower garden and according to their official website, they plant over 7 million bulbs each year. The garden was established in 1989 by the mayor of Lisse and the idea was to present a garden exhibit where flower-growers from all over the world could show of their hybrids - and help the Netherlands’ export industry (the Netherlands are the world’s largest exporters of flowers).

The Keukenhof Gardens was well worth the visit, and if you’re in this area of the world during late April, or early May, I highly recommend the detour.

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Welcome! I'm Liz, the girl relieved the Internet has 0 calories. South African by birth; Canadian on paper. A marathoner. CrossFitter. Paleo (somewhat) eater. Traveler. Cheese lover. And I think you're great!



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