AMSTERDAM: Coffee Anyone...?

September 22, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Photos taken / written by JENNIFER MAHON  |  This post was read 660 times


 

Totally deserving of a separate post, this one will focus on the Red Light District and the Coffee Shops and some helpful hints to navigating through this tricky part of Amsterdam. The city as a whole (you can see in my previous post) is a remarkably laid-back and charming place.....where you can stroll along the picturesque canals, embark on many different themed canal cruises, or just sit outside on a terrace and watch the world go by......and then...there's the Red Light District. Because it was a day trip, we didn't get to see the Red Light District at night, but let me tell you......that it doesn't matter what time of the day you go there! 

 

RED LIGHT DISTRICT
Sure there's churches and completely kosher places in the area, and it's far, far away from the run-down, dirty, slummy place I envisioned - but let's face it, once you get over the beauty of the buildings along the canals in this area, you realize you're not in Kansas anymore. This place is about sex and drugs, so don't go if you're a prude or closed-minded. Day or night, follow these simple rules when walking around this area:

  1. Do not take pictures of the girls in the windows (or risk the wrath of the girls' security; I do have one below thanks to a zoom lense, but blurred the face and tattoos)
  2. Do not walk down small alleys alone during the night (male or female)
  3. Be very wary of pickpockets 
  4. Do not buy weed or any other drugs on the streets (I mean, weed is legal, so why buy some from random pusher on the street when you can just stroll into one of the coffee shops?)
  5. Basically - just use plain old common sense!

LEGAL LADIES OF THE NIGHT
I love that name...Ladies of the Night....it sounds so.....posh. Whether you condone it or not, prostitution is legal in the Netherlands - there's a union and everything. Walking through the streets here, I was amazed at the numerous window displays where these working gals are flaunting their stuff for any takers. Even in broad daylight on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I noticed many...many takers. There's also a Prostitution Information Centre (near the Oude Kerk) where you can find out all about the "oldest profession in the world". Besides these famous red-lit window displays, if you're into this kind of thing, there's all kinds of sex clubs, private-house brothels and escort services.

 

COFFEE SHOPS
So, I'm not an expert on the matter, so what better way to find out more than to sit in one Amsterdam's oldest coffee shop chains (established in 1975) The Bulldog, and quiz the barista. I mean, I know it's legal - a genuinely brilliant way to regulate a relatively harmless drug - but how the hell does it all work? Seems she was used to explaining the whole thing to tourists like me. 

You go in, head to the counter, ask for the menu (they're not allowed to advertise, so the menu may be face down on the tables, or accessed on an electronic tablet) which consists of "energizing smoothies" and creatively named items like: Old Skool Hashish From India, Earthy Taste, A Bite of Cinnamon, Stimulating Happy High, Light & Sunny High, etc. On the menu, you can also buy rolling papers and whatever else is needed to roll one (like I said, I have no idea what this entails!). Don't know how to roll one? No problem, you can get prerolled 4-packs ranging from 12-15 euros. Is that a good price? Not a goddamn clue.

Me: So, is it legal to smoke out on the streets?  Nope, seems you can only smoke these in the coffee shops, but you can't out in the streets or even on their terraces. Cigarette smoking is forbidden in these shops, however you'll find tobacco in jars on all the tables to do what you gotta do with it, and you can smoke cigarettes out on the streets or terraces. If you buy anything, consume it before leaving the Netherlands. When you use anything, take your time to sit and relax and drink plenty of water. If in doubt if the stuff has any effect on you, try to stand up. Then you'll know!

 

Coffee Shops everywhere....

Coffee Shops everywhere....


...with interesting window displays

...with interesting window displays


It's not allowed to advertise drugs, but this does the job

It's not allowed to advertise drugs, but this does the job


All kinds of coffee shops and bars line this canal in the Red Light District

All kinds of coffee shops and bars line this canal in the Red Light District


Like this one....

Like this one....


 

Duck down into the alleyways and you'll find a different type of window display Duck down into the alleyways and you'll find a different type of window display


Tour groups learning all about the history of The Bulldog

Tour groups learning all about the history of The Bulldog


Time to learn about The Bulldog firsthand

Time to learn about The Bulldog firsthand


You can roll your own, or get prerolled

You can roll your own, or get prerolled


Or head to the Flower Market for your very own Cannabis Starter Kit

Or head to the Flower Market for your very own Cannabis Starter Kit


Found pretty much in every stall

Found pretty much in every stall


Or if that's not your thing, pay a visit to the Magic Mushroom

Or if that's not your thing, pay a visit to the Magic Mushroom


And get a variety of seeds to grow your own

And get a variety of seeds to grow your own


Cute spot to recoup after visiting one of the coffee shops
Cute spot to recoup after visiting one of the coffee shops

Cute spot to recoup after visiting one of the coffee shops


Or get your drink on

Or get your drink on


Beer on tap today

Beer on tap today


It was a good day Amsterdam!

It was a good day Amsterdam!


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