Reacting to Amsterdam’s Red Light District: Amy’s Take

September 29, 2014
netherlands, safety, vacation
red light district

I haven’t seen much of Europe yet, but so far Amsterdam is my favorite city. The beauty of the narrow, tall row houses, interrupted every couple blocks by the blue water of the canals, with flowers and bikes everywhere you look, constantly made me pull out my camera. I loved walking through the city, lapping up the culture and history as I strolled. (Next time, I’ll be brave and rent a bike!) The museums I visited were unlike others in Europe; they contained the perfect amount of material so that I could see everything in one visit, and still leave feeling inspired.

One of the parts of the city I was most excited and nervous to see was the Red Light District. I think I am somewhat adventurous–I started out my mini Eurotrip by traveling alone for a week before I met up with Dana–and yet, I could certainly be described as quite cautious; I work for an insurance company, after all.

I wanted to stay far away from trouble, and spending time close to prostitutes and the people who frequent prostitutes sounded like asking for trouble.

Before the trip, my mom told me about her experience visiting the city alone with her mother back when I was a kid. My grandma lived in Amsterdam for a short time after World War II, and when she went back with my mother for a victory tour, she refused to venture into the Red Light District.

“It’s in the same place as it was after the war,” she told my mother, without going into further detail. For some reason, that comment made me think about my city, Chicago. Obviously Chicago frequently makes the news due to the large numbers of homicides that occur here, luckily far away from anywhere I spend time. If I knew that if Chicago had a Red Light District-type area, I would stay far away from that, too.

Dana and I did recorded walking tours throughout Europe and the rest of Amsterdam, but doing one in the Red Light District made me anxious, since having headphones in your ears means you can’t pay close attention to your surroundings. As part of the tour, I enjoyed learning about the history and legality behind the area, and I really appreciated how practical Amsterdam is with those laws. I agree wholeheartedly that it is better to legalize and regulate a prevalent good or service than make it illegal and force it onto the black market.

But at the same time, the thought of what goes on in that part of the city just felt icky. Maybe it’s my strong connection to my grandmother, but I didn’t want to go near that. I wanted to stay far away from trouble, and spending time close to prostitutes and the people who frequent prostitutes sounded like asking for trouble.

Will I visit the Red Light District again? Perhaps. But I’m much more interested in the rest of the city.

In the end, my curiosity won out over my fear and I walked inside, or, as Dana can tell you, I speed-walked inside. This particular audio tour was difficult to follow because I walked so fast and didn’t really want to turn around or get split up from Dana at any time. I apparently wanted to get out of there ASAP, as proven by my feet.

I can’t wait to go back to Amsterdam. Will I visit the Red Light District again? Perhaps. But I’m much more interested in the rest of the city.

Dana Cohen and Amy Beth Green, two friends from Chicago, set out on an adventure across Europe this past summer.  Each had a very different reaction to Amsterdam’s Red Light District.  Read Dana’s reaction here.

Reacting to Amsterdam’s Red Light District: Amy’s Take

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Have you traveled to Amsterdam? What were your impressions? Email us at editor@pinkpangea.com for information about sharing your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you.

Reacting to Amsterdam’s Red Light District: Amy’s Take photo credit: unsplash.com and Amy Beth Green.

 

Reacting to Amsterdam’s Red Light District: Amy's Take

 

About Amy Beth Green

Amy Beth GreenAmy Beth Green lives in Chicago.

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