Top Tourist Attraction Is A Big Part Of The Party In Europe’s ‘Sin City’
The city of Amsterdam – the Sin City of Europe as I like to call it – might be on the verge of doing something so hard to believe it may shake the canals from their very foundations.
It is considering shutting down its famous Red Light District in the current tourist location to relocate it elsewhere, as well as closing its iconic coffeeshops. This seems akin to Paris shutting down the Eiffel Tower and moving it to Reims, Sydney putting the Opera House out by Cronulla and Los Angeles tearing down the Hollywood sign to put it in Burbank.
The Red Light District is an iconic area of the city and, along with the coffeeshops that really don’t sell coffee, are the city’s top tourist attractions. After all, this part of town has been serving sailors and gents since the 15th century and even has a Museum of Prostitution and the Cannabis College.
It’s as much a part of Amsterdam’s culture and identity as the beirhalls are to Munich and the beaches are to the Greek Islands.
Upon learning of this possibility I immediately contacted Mr. Amsterdam. I thought he would be flabbergasted. After all, he is the one who introduced me to Amsterdam and the Red Light District.
And he was. At first.
“OMG!,” he texted.
But a few minutes later he followed up by stating he was not all that surprised, considering how things had changed among the tourists the past few years.
“It’s sad because it will change the character of the city, but I don’t blame them,” he messaged. “The last time I was there about three years ago it was ten thousand assholes disrespecting the city. They threw trash everywhere, pissed on the walls, were loud and were being jerks.
“I guess if you live there it gets old.”
Now when Mr. Amsterdam is sympathetic to something so dramatically different from the city’s culture, it speaks volumes about the current situation.
After all, when a friend and I first went to visit Amsterdam with Mr. Amsterdam as our personal tour guide, our first stop was the Red Light District. It was bustling with people going up and down its pedestrian streets, looking at (and lining up for) the girls in the windows.
For us, this was merely a unique pre-party experience to fun nights at the great Amsterdam bars and pubs found in the Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein. We did no partake in the offerings but Mr. Amsterdam just loved walking the streets.
He especially enjoying going down one street (located by one of the oldest churches in Amsterdam, by the way) with the unattractive girls. This is because they would ring a buzzer to invite in men they found suitable. Us being rather decent looking guys, the girls would ring their buzzers in quick succession – buzz, buzz, buzz – as we passed them.
That was a nice ego boost before we tried our luck with regular girls later in the Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein.
Still, my friend and I preferred looking at the gorgeous girls, which we noticed were all in the windows on the upper floors of buildings.
The area also presented us with several entertainment options besides the working girls: book and video shops, live shows (our friend wondered by anyone would watch people going at it when you could simply go a block away and actually do it) and a general scene that let’s just say one doesn’t get anywhere else in the world.
At least anywhere I am aware of, anyway.
As such, Amsterdam without its Red Light District and coffeeshops is difficult to imagine. Personally, I hope it never happens.
But what I do hope takes place is that tourists start to respect the place and for those who don’t, well, they should be immediately escorted out of town with orders to never return until they improve their behavior.