Amsterdam, Netherlands

 In Honeymoon Planning
    Goede avond (good evening in Dutch)!  This week’s adventure takes us to Europe’s most promiscuous city: Amsterdam.  Cassandra and I had both visited this city in our younger days, and we looked forward to sharing this latest Dutch expedition together.  Amsterdam is known for windmills, canals,  tulips, the Ann Frank House and the Van Gogh museum.  Wonderful as these sights are, its Amsterdam’s unique “Red Light District” that keeps tourists coming back for more.  Recent films such as “Euro Trip” have vaulted this city’s popularity with today’s youth.  Amid the gorgeous tree-lined canals and beautifully architechtured buildings lies the seedy underbelly of the notorious Red Light District.  It is located in the heart of the oldest part of Amsterdam, covering several blocks south of the church Oude Kerk and crossed by several canals. De Wallen is a network of alleys containing approximately three hundred tiny one-room cabins rented by female prostitutes (and some ladyboys ) who offer their services from behind a window or glass door, typically illuminated with red lights. The area also has a number of sex shops, sex theatres, peep shows, a sex museum, a cannabis museum, and a number of coffee shops that sell marijuana, mushrooms, space cake and other drugs that are illegal in most of the known world.  Prostitution is legal in the Netherlands, with the exception of streetwalking. However, only EU citizens can work legally in the sex industry, since no working permits are given for prostitution.  Despite all of this potential for chaos, the city seems to run in an orderly fashion.
What happens in Amsterdam, definitely stays in Amsterdam.  That being said, the city has a lot to offer outside the RLD.  We dined at some pretty amazing restaurants in town.  Gauchos Grill (an authentic Argentinian spot) was one of my favorites. We found plenty of theraputic Thai massage parlors. We took a cruise through the canals of the city.  It was cool to see how many people lived on houseboats.  It seemed like a fun carefree way to live – ride around on a bike all day and sleep on a boat every night.  Hardly anyone drives a car in the city.  We saw some fantastic street theatre.  Local artisans put on shows throughout the day and pass their hat around to earn a living.  We took in a show at the “Moulin Rouge” and enjoyed all this exotic city had to offer.
Amsterdam is home to about 7 million people.  It has a temperate year-round climate, similiar to Seattle or London.  Originally a small fishing village in the 12th century, this bustling port is the most popular destination on the North Sea.  It is the financial and cultural capital of the Netherlands and is the home of seven of the world’s top 500 companies including Phillips and ING.
Our most recent trip to Amsterdam was in September of 2008.  The weather was spectacular and the people were friendly and in high spirits.  We arrived in Amserdam via an eight-hour flight from Washington to London.  From there we caught the Eurostar through the Chunnel and up into Brussels. We trained through Antwerpen and Rotterdam.  The whole ride through the Netherlands took about 4 hours.  Amsterdam is 6 hours ahead of Ocean City.  Everyone speaks English.  We always have a blast in that neck of the woods and encourage you to paint the town as well.  Vaarwel!The Rox

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