travel

Easy Guide to what not to do in Amsterdam – Weed and The Red Light District

Ah Amsterdam, the city of tulips (my favourite flowers), canals, their famous “coffee” shops and of course the red light district. And each one deserves their fame (or notoriety, depending on how one looks at it), equally.

How I ended up in Amsterdam

I was on vacation with Mikes mum, aunt and sister. We were in Bruges and Brussels (another story in another post (coming up soon)). And after a few days in each, Mike and I decided to get away to Amsterdam.

When I realised we were going to Amsterdam, I knew immediately that I needed to see 4 things : their tulips, the canals that you see in every picture of the city, the weed brownies and the famous red light district.

When we got there, we checked into our hotel and left our luggage inside before deciding to take the train into town. The trains are a really quick, easy and cost effective way to get around. There were trains available /running every 15 minutes or so, so if you miss one, the next is not too far away.

Click below and buy your tickets.

We had decided that we would go out later that night and explore the city as I was dying to go check out the red light district and asked Mike to take me there later. We started on a lovely stroll through the city, taking in the people riding there bicycles, shopping, we walked by the beautiful, famous canal and it truly is a picture perfect place. It felt like a scene out of a movie, boy and girl in love, strolling hand in hand through the picturesque, perfect setting until….

Isn’t that how it always goes down in the movies ? There’s always an until hahaha. We continued walking, through cute little streets, wanting to explore every corner of this incredible place. We turned into this strange street. I was busy talking Mikes ear off (as usual), when I looked around and thought hmm, what a strange looking store. The mannequin was so life like. When suddenly..she blinked! I nearly jumped out of my skin, but then they all turned/moved, blinked. It dawned on me…oh my God, this is the Red Light District (RLD)! And these “mannequins” are the famous RLD women. I was fixated. Mike kept saying “stop staring” but how could I not? You read so much about the RLD, the women etc and now I was right there standing if front of them as they were “on display” in these shop windows. If im honest, I probably looked more at these women than most men there were. Not for the reasons they are of course haha, but I was so curious as to how they looked, what they were wearing, were they as “perfect” looking as I assumed. I couldn’t help but stare. If I could take pictures, (its not allowed so I didn’t), I would have taken a million of them. Thats the first thing to know when visiting Amsterdam and the RLD…NO PICTURES & NO STARING! So basically do as I say, not as I did haha. There are always some people trying to sneak pictures in, they do not take kindly to that at all and have security measures in place.

As we walked through the district, I saw a guy knocking on one of the girls “shop” window. She then opened the door and they proceeded to negotiate a price for 15 minutes (50 Euros btw). They both agreed (in Amsterdam, prostitution is legal and these girls have the right/option to negotiate the price as well as turn away any client should they prefer). The guy, probably in his early 20s, goes in and down went the blinds and that was that.

It was quite a bizarre, surreal experience, I must admit. I found it intriguing and fascinating but also a little bit uncomfortable to be honest. And the girls, while all lovely, were also just “normal” women. I don’t know what I was expecting, some ethereal like creatures perhaps? They were all beautiful, but also quite “normal” women. Just like the rest of us mere mortals lol. That genuinely did surprise me.

The next night, we went back to the RLD, but this time because we wanted to try the weed brownies (edibles). Mike has never had them either so off we went to find one of these famous “coffee shops”. We went into a dark little shop. I’d say it looked more like a pub than a coffee shop. There was a menu on the wall like any coffee shop. They do have coffee on the menu…along with weed muffins, cakes and brownies. We had no idea what to order with the edibles, like do we just have a regular coffee with our weed? Is this really happening? We looked around and everybody else had a coffee either with edibles or they were straight up smoking weed. We settled on brownies (1 each) and a coffee each. We sat down, nice and cozy in a booth and took our first bite of weed brownies, together. You could definitely taste the weed. It tasted like a chocolate brownie but very “earthy”, grassy almost. Its not bad considering you would be expecting to taste something weird or different in it. I was convinced that just after the first bite or 2, we would feel something. First bite..nothing, 2nd bite..still nothing. I didn’t know any better so I thought lets keep going until we feel something. So we polished off each of our brownies (with a great cup of coffee I must add:)). Another thing not to do in Amsterdam: polish off entire weed brownies. A few bites or half the brownie is enough). After what seemed to be a disappointing first weed experience, I suggested we go for a walk around the city and then maybe a drink. That brings me to the 3rd thing to know about weed in Amsterdam – DO NOT GO OUT DRINKING AFTER YOUR (FIRST) WEED EXPERIENCE in a strange country! We sat down, ordered our drinks and about half an hour or so after this, it suddenly hit us both. The world around started spinning, everything became really hazy, and I just wanted to get back to the hotel and go to bed. We ordered an Uber and waited on the side of the street to spot our cab. We could barely read the plates but managed to finally get into our car. At this point the paranoia hits as well as nausea. You just have a million thoughts flooding your mind and you can’t control them. I closed my eyes in the car and hoped to get to the hotel and be ok…but then I hear the driver say “you 2 need to get another car. My car has puncture”! I could not believe that this was happening. He pulled off to the side off the road, and I kept asking Mike “is this real or am I high?” hahaha. His answer was a consistent “no, this is actually happening!”. Our backup Uber finally arrived and, hand in hand, we ran to the car.

Safely inside the second car, I think we both felt relief. That was temporary however. The paranoia was back and the Uber driver kept whispering into his phones bluetooth device. In hindsight, of course, he was probably just being polite and having his conversation using his inside voice lol, but in the moment both Mike and I were convinced that we were being kidnapped. Its hilarious to look back at that night, now, but in the moment it felt so real. I eventually fell asleep, Mike stayed awake and when I woke up next, we were in front of our hotel. We got into our room and straight into bed.

Needless to say it was not the best nights sleep iv ever had and the following morning was rough. I woke up with a terrible headache and nausea wishing I could stay in bed for the rest of the day but we had a train to catch back to London. I wished we had more time, although we did also visit the Van Gough Museum (highly recommend), and enjoyed great food alongside the canals, took a boat ride on the canal as well, which is also a great way to see the city.

I will probably go back for another few days as that’s all you really need. It is most definitely an experience you will never forget:) If you’ve been or plan to go, write me and let me know your experience. Would love to hear all about it!

Love

Arita X