I went to a sex-show in the city of red lights and thin canals: That’s right. 48 hours in Amsterdam!!!

Dutch children in traditional costume.
Dutch children in traditional costume.

At last, the story of my solo weekend in Amsterdam!

Oh yes!

Just a day after the New Year, I started my international travel adventure for 2015, and my very short trip to Holland.

To Amsterdam.

When people think of Amsterdam, their ears immediately prick up, and their eyes bulge intensely at the exotic-ness of that city of sin….

However, people live in Amsterdam. I mean, people people.

Real people. Ordinary people. People who have to get up in the morning and work in an office, take the train, or in this case, ride their bicycles. But you don’t want to hear all about that, you want the other stuff.  The stuff that “decent” people whisper over….

Ah well.

Here goes!

AMSTERDAM.

Cheese Connoissuers in Holland.
Cheese Connoissuers in Holland.

So you think you know Amsterdam. Let’s see.

Amsterdam is a small capital city in Europe. It’s one of those places steeped in history and glory.

Indeed, as a 12th century fishing hamlet, it’s done rather well as a naval trading giant in the 17th century hunting for spoils and riches, before Britain came and took away such treasures as New Amsterdam (from Amsterdam in Holland), that later relegated to New York (from York in England). We also know of the conflicts and tribulations that Amsterdam had to go through in order to keep the water at bay, and the canals safe.

It’s been quite a few years since I’d last been to Amsterdam and I wanted to refresh my memory by going on a historic walking tour. You know how I like alternative walking tours, free walking tours, and walking tours in exotic places!

Cycling around Amsterdam, Holland.
Cycling around Amsterdam, Holland.

I quite fancied being guided through 800 years of history and culture, important events, monuments and curiosities. But it wasn’t to be, as the tour guide didn’t turn up!

Perhaps he had a long night…!

It was rainy and wet so I decided to do a walking tour of my own. After all, I knew some of the city and I was surprised that I could still remember, but did you know that:

  • Only 811,185 people actually live in Amsterdam and more than 3.6 million tourists visit every year!
  • There are 881,000 bicycles
  • 216 trams
  • 165 canals
  • 1,281 bridges
  • 2,500 barges or houseboats
  • 8,863 historical 16th, 17th, and 18th century buildings
  • 22 paintings by Rembrandt
  • 206 paintings by Van Gogh
  • And 8 windmills!
One of the eight (8) windmills in Amsterdam!
One of the eight (8) windmills in Amsterdam!

The last time I was in Amsterdam was in 2006. I didn’t stay the night and only came over for the 400th anniversary of the birth of Rembrandt van Rijn, as I had missed the exhibition in Berlin!

A few years earlier, I had stayed at a very dodgy hostel, in the heart of the red-light district, and not far from the river. I was in a shared bunkroom, and that is all I can remember…!

In the lobby of the NL-Hotel Museumplein, Amsterdam.
In the lobby of the NL-Hotel Museumplein, Amsterdam.

Nine (9) years later, I wanted to stay in a clean calm hotel, within reasonable distance, but safe. I started scouting around and contacting hotels. I couldn’t find any for love or money. Well, actually I could, but I couldn’t afford €355 per night so I started begging! I even went as far as contacting an Amsterdam PR person on Boxing Day!

At last, a lovely boutique hotel found me a double room at a price I could live with, and an included breakfast. With free WIFI!

That small lovely boutique hotel was called NL Hotel Museumplein.

Update 2016: Sadly, the NL Hotel Museumplein is now closed. However, it’s sister hotel nearby  – NL Hotel district Leidseplein – is probably just as good!

Book your hotel here!

There's a farmers' market very close by my hotel in Amsterdam.
There’s a farmers’ market very close by my hotel in Amsterdam.

The NL-Hotel Museumplein in Amsterdam was in a historic, residential trendy part of town and just 5 minutes from the Museumplein or Museum Square where all the greats can be found. The hotel is also in a part of the Amsterdam Fashion District. My hotel was on a quiet side street with upper-middle class families and children strolling around, a small historic church around the corner, and trendy cafe’s and high-class Korean BBQ restaurants not far away, as well as a farmers’ market very close by.

Note: NL Hotel district Leidseplein is in the same area!

Book your hotel here!

Now that was sorted out, I went to the I amsterdam office. Those ladies were amazing! I had hassled, begged, and interrupted their Xmas festivities looking for help to get a hotel within a week, help for information, and generally, help all around. They were lovely. Not only did the press office send me some hotel names to try, but they generously also gave me a complimentary I amsterdam 48 hour city card too.

Thank goodness I had it, as the amount of rushing around that I encountered, and in the rain I might add, would have cost me a fortune!

I amsterdam city card.
I amsterdam city card.

Thank you so much!

Anyway, after picking up the city card, almost next to the Amsterdam Central Train Station, I went for a stroll on the old highstreet called Damrak. It’s right in front of the station, on the opposite side, after the traffic lights, near the fancy hotels. You can’t miss it, and if you do, just follow the crowds. Everyone’s going “that way!”

Not a Dutch breakfast. In Amsterdam!
Not a Dutch breakfast. In Amsterdam!

I had breakfast. I arrived at 04:00 on a Saturday morning you see so I couldn’t really check in.

Oh didn’t I tell you. I came by coach (bus) and then it was too dark to roam around, and I didn’t want to take any transport that early in the morning.

Why?

You know why!!

I was wearing my fancy cashmere coat and had changed into my “nice” clothes so once I got into Amsterdam proper, I picked a random 5-star hotel and had cups of tea in their lobby until about 07:30!

Book your hotel here!

SATURDAY:

So I had breakfast, and then took a 100 Highlights Canal Cruise on the river. I used my I amsterdam city card and got the canal cruise for free (normally €15.50). It highlights the waterside and takes an hour. You can also take the public ferry service that goes to Amsterdam-Noord about every 10 minutes.

The river in Amsterdam.
The river in Amsterdam.

I just so love rivers. The waterside tells you such a lot about a place and it’s people. The buildings, the bridges, and the houseboats. The dykes and the street corners where condemned criminals were once hanged for all to see. The canals are so exquisite that the canals in Amsterdam have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Fancy that!

I’m not the best cyclist but I like places that worship the bike. In Europe, we love our bikes and use them, and you can’t go far wrong if you want to ride your bicycle in Amsterdam! Even Dutch Royalty are known to go about on their very own bicycles as Amsterdam is enormously flat and quite honestly, was designed very much with 17th century horses and carts in mind!

After the river cruise I decided to go for a leisurely stroll down Damrak.

Cheese everywhere. And clogs!
Cheese everywhere. And clogs!

I bumped into cheese.

Dutch cheese is quite famous.

Everywhere you look is cheese.

And waffles.

Brouwerij ‘t - Dutch Hipster Organic Beer!
Brouwerij ‘t – Dutch Hipster Organic Beer!

And beer.

If you love cheese, you can pretty much go into any of the cheese shops and get to know all about the flavours, aroma, and quality of an enormous range of cheese. I went into a place called the Cheese Inn Museum. That’s right. Amsterdam has a museum. For Cheese!

It’s free to go in, and they give you a little tour, info, and a cubes of different cheese and sauces to taste. I was impressed so I bought some Dutch waffles and biscuits, some very, very, very Old Amsterdam Cheese, and for my husband who is a connoisseur – Dutch Farmhouse Cheese with Italian Black Truffle. And let me tell you.

It was worth every penny!

Dutch chips and Mayo. Umm. They're alright. I coped!
Dutch chips and Mayo. Umm. They’re alright. I coped!

After all that, I was rather peckish, so I tried my hand at a batch of Dutch chips or fries with mayo.

First of all, I don’t like chips and mayo, or chips and tartare sauce, so I said “no sauce please.” The chip girl looked quite disgusted, so she encouraged me to try it with “a little sauce” for free. So I did.

And it was quite tasty!

A little.

SATURDAY NIGHT:

In the Red Light District, Amsterdam.
In the Red Light District, Amsterdam.

After a few hours break in the sanity and quietness of my boutique hotel, I decided to venture out into the night.

Amsterdam by day is delightful, but by night all the sleezeballs come out. This night was no different and I tossed and turned between taking a private tour guide at 22:00 or joining in a group of jolly people at 20:00. I decided to join the group.

I did some research and found a free Red Light District Walk with a company called 360amsterdam. No previous booking was necessary, you just turned up at the starting point which was on the Dam Square at the corner of the Royal Palace, near a local church.

We were about 20 odd people from Britain, Canada, America, Germany, and Singapore and our guide was a tall blond Dutch chap called Karel.

As you can imagine, it’s difficult to take photos in the Red Light District but there’s safety in numbers, and it was perfectly OK to walk around.

The doors and windows of Amsterdam.
The doors and windows of Amsterdam.

The issue of sex for pay, prostitution, and even sex itself is controversial. Europe doesn’t have a problem with sex in itself. Some countries are conservative, but a large number of people are pretty liberal. Unlike the UK (where sex is a dirty word and everyone is deprived and therefore perverted), and the US (where sex and morality are considered to be one and the same thing). Sex in Europe is discussed, prostitution is a regulated profession and taxed, nudity is freedom, and sexuality is private and tolerant. I mean, being straight and not kissing someone of the opposite sex in this town, is considered to be quite boring!

In fact, I once went to a sex show myself.

In Amsterdam.

I saw an article in an expat magazine that I picked up, outside an English-speaking comedy show!

It was about an erotic place called Casa Rosso. I thought it would be a laugh so I decided to go and see for myself. It’s on the riverside and I went for the first show. It was summer and perfectly bright outside. I hung around for quite a while as I was nervous about going in on my own and I would never have gone there with a friend.

Far too embarrassing!

I was about to walk briskly away when a crowd of Japanese tourists turned up. Most of them in their late 50’s and in couples. I mean, if old people were going, it couldn’t be that bad could it?

Could it?

Bright lights outside the sex-show at Casa Rosso. Amsterdam.
Bright lights outside the sex-show at Casa Rosso.
Amsterdam.

I followed a Japanese couple, paid (in those days 50 Deutsche Marks), and got a ticket and two glasses of champagne!

At first, it was rather funny with ping-pong balls and beads, some fake S&M, and strip tease performances that were so lame that a shampoo advertisement were distinctly better. Then a male and female couple came on dressed as James Bond on a twirly board. Then some very distinctive twisting, turning, and grinding which I thought was hilarious as the board kept twirling  around and all you could see were quick snatches of view. And then I saw something.

It looked real.

Naah!

It couldn’t be real.

I turned around.

I had only paid 50 Deutche Marks, the bouncer was in a nice suit, I chatted to some of the Japanese tourists, and for goodness sake, I was drinking champagne!

I turned back.

Gulp!

I was so shocked and utterly unconvinced, that I watched it again. Twice.

It was real!

OMG!

You’re in Amsterdam baby!

Well, after all the excitement of our night-time walk we went to a hipster arcade bar called The TonTon Club for a couple of drinks. it’s slap bang in the middle of the heart of the Red Light District and is a haven for artists and game developers. The drinks weren’t cheap (I paid €4.50 for my Dutch-original-organic-6.5%-hipster beer), and you get a free token to play on the pinball or SEGA arcade games!

SUNDAY:

A Continental breakfast of crosissant, colds cuts, cheese, cherry tomatoes, and a boiled egg at the NL-Hotel Museumplein, Amsterdam.
A Continental breakfast of croissant, colds cuts, cheese, cherry tomatoes, and a boiled egg at the NL-Hotel Museumplein, Amsterdam.

After a refreshing breakfast at my boutique hotel, it was time for some culture, and this is where the I amsterdam city card came into it’s own. I had a list of places that I wanted to go to:

  1. The Van Gogh Museum.
  2. The Tassenmuseum Hendrikje or The Museum of Bags and Purses.
  3. The Museum Willet-Holthuysen.
  4. Het Grachtenhuis or The Museum of the Canals
  5. The Woonbootmuseum or the Houseboat Museum.
  6. Micropia.
  7. The Heineken Experience.
  8. And the Amsterdam Light Festival.

I actually went to:

A Van Gogh self-potrait in Amsterdam.
A Van Gogh self-potrait in Amsterdam.
  1. The Van Gogh Museum. (Normally €15:00). Loved it. An anguished talented man. I spent over 3 hours there. I even bought a sunflower mug!
  2. The House of Bols Cocktails & Genever Experience. It’s just across the road from the Van Gogh Museum and you can do a cocktail and liqueurs tours for about €30.00 (10% discount with the city card). You must be over 18.
  3. Micropia. (Normally (€14.00). It’s a museum about miocrobes and germs and the first (1st) of it’s kind in the world! I first heard about it on the BBC Travel Show. Disturbing, but absolutely fantastic. So much fun. I spent another 3 hours here too. Kids will love it!
  4. And the Amsterdam Light Festival. This festival is a winter fest for fifty days starting from 27.11.14 to 18.01.15 and celebrating art that illuminates the historical city center. Located in the Plantage neighbourhood and all around the river, young and established artists pay tribute to life in Amsterdam. Amazing stuff, especially in the light of night!
At Micropia in the arms of a germ, Amsterdam.
At Micropia in the arms of a germ, Amsterdam.

By 21:00, it was time to leave. It was clear that I had a fascinating time.

My blog is not about what’s right and what’s wrong. If you look deep enough you’ll see that it’s all about what’s different, the other, the edge. It’s also all rather tongue-in-cheek!

And Amsterdam is a perfect example. It’s a lovely quaint city with an exposed diverse edge. It’s cosmopolitan, and at the same time Dutch in style. It’s romantic and beautiful, but tolerant and diverse. It’s rich and lively, but quiet and authentic. It’s charming and also like any other capital city, beautifully flawed.

Go see for yourself.

I amsterdam city cards are €49.00 for 24 hours, €59.00 for 48 hours, and €69.00 for 72 hours. If you intend to go to museums, attractions, canal cruises, and use a lot of the local public transport like I did whilst in Amsterdam, then well worth the price.

For more information about the city cards please contact: I amsterdam.

For more information about the hotel, please contact: NL Hotel district Leidseplein.

Book your hotel here!

One of the 1,281 bridges in Amsterdam!
One of the 1,281 bridges in Amsterdam!

This article is not sponsored and even though I received a complimentary 48 I amsterdam city card, and a discount from my hotel, all opinions and the delicious Dutch cheese, and tasty Dutch organic beer that I happily consumed, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you, so next week it’s the glamour and suspense of THE WYLD in Berlin!

It’s January. It’s amazing!

More National Theatre Live productions can be seen at the Cinestar Berlin – Original such as

On January 29th, I will be at the Wintergarten Varieté where illusion replaces reality – for their latest production THE MAGICAL MYSTERY SHOW otherwise known as “The Show of the Magician.

If you’re a blogger and you’re in town, then come and meet us at the Berlin Travel Massive January MeetUp on January 21st.

Berlin Fashion Week is here and will take place between January 19th and January 23rd, 2015. I’m accredited and raring to go. Save the Date!

If you’re not in Berlin in January, you’re totally mad!

January is going to be alive and kicking!

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

Windmills in Holland.
Windmills in Holland.

Have you ever been to Amsterdam? Would you go to a sex-show?

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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60 thoughts on “I went to a sex-show in the city of red lights and thin canals: That’s right. 48 hours in Amsterdam!!!

  1. You packed in a lot! 👍 I would love to go to Amsterdam to eat-I never met a cheese or waffle I didn’t like!, go bike riding, visit the museums and yes-see what all this red light district is about! I would go in one but probably wouldn’t stay too long 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It was certainly a jam packed weekend you had there! The one thing we didn’t have there was a waffle. I will save that for Brussels. As you know, l thought Amsterdam was just okay, but I am glad you had fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It certainly was. I was exhausted, but I made it work LOL! Yeah, Amsterdam is an “experience” for many. Some love it. Some hate it. You’re going to leave it a changed person LOL!

      When are you going to Brussels?

      Like

  3. I had so much fun in Amsterdam despite it raining non-stop the whole time! There’s so much to do and it’s pretty easy to avoid the sleazy stuff if you’re not into that. Luckily, I quite like a bit of sleaze with my culture so it was right up my street 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know. I thought I was right back in England for a moment! And with all the English voices I could hear all over the place, I might as well be LOL! Totally! I think we all want to experience just that little bit of sleaze, before we go back to our “normal” lives. But who are we kidding. Right?
      Right?!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You just love disturbing me, don’t you? Those Dutch wooden shoes looked SO weird, and then that weird monster creature you’re so cozy with??? The sex show is the most tame thing in this post 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I lived in Amsterdam for four years, it’s a charming city..very much alive with a lot of fun stuff to do. Most foreigners think of Amsterdam only with regard to the Red Light district and drugs, but there’s a whole lot of things to enjoy apart from those..I’m glad you had a lovely time!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I whole-heartedly agree with you. Such a pretty place with a dark fore and historical substance, but sometimes you’ve got to give the people what they want LOL! I still had a great time though and ‘hope not to leave it so long next time. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I passed through the Red Light District a few years ago and I found it quite depressing. Seeing the girls ‘displayed’ in the windows made me wonder whether they were all really there of their own accord. I know some may have joined the profession on their own, but I could not help but wonder….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Zambian Lady! Admittedly, it’s difficult to know which is which but I believe that those in “the open” are legal however, there’s no doubt that there would be some underground activity and these are the ones who need protecting. The young and the vulnerable.

      Like

  7. Bwahaha! I did a summer Art History course abroad in Amsterdam when I was in college, so I spent some quality time with the city. While most of my time was taken by visiting art museums, diligently sketching from master paintings and recording historical details, I spent a good deal of time exploring the city as well and I’ve got to say, it’s one of my favorites.

    You’re right about the cheese…it’s the best. I made very good friends with a cheese shop owner while I was there and if I close my eyes, I can still remember the taste of the “Farmer’s Cheese”. Yummmm.

    As for the seedier parts of Amsterdam, my mom told me her colleagues and friends were shocked when she told them her 19 year old daughter would be going off to study in Amsterdam, but she wasn’t worried, and she shouldn’t be…I was afraid of those areas, haha. I walked through the red light district once (during the daytime) just to see it and ran away after a few minutes. I also went to the museum of sex where I took a hilarious photo hugging a 6 foot tall statue of a penis, but that was about it for my time in Amsterdam’s underworld. I didn’t even go into any “coffee shops” for the whacky tabacky while I was there.

    So…apparently 19 year old Heather was way more of a prude than 33 year old Heather is today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Ho! Heather! Believe you me, shy teenage Victoria is nothing like stylish Victoria of today! And let me tell you, it took me a lot of courage to go into that show. A lot! And I only went because there were loads of middle-aged Japanese couples going in and out, so I followed them. Ha! If only I had known…!

      I’m a curious soul, but I only do things that make sense. And hanging out in dodgy areas, don’t make sense, although cheese and quirky museums do. We used to have a Sex Museum in Berlin too, but it was pulled down! Mind you, the Sex Museum in Amsterdam is always one for a laugh if you go into the dark room, or the room with the amimals. Poor things. 😦 Although I liked the black and white photographs of 200 odd years ago. I couldn’t believe what they got up to in those days….!

      Like

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