On our second day in Amsterdam, we had to move to the Viking boat at the harbor to begin our cruise down the Rhine the next day. We dragged our luggage back down the road toward the harbor by the train station, stored it on the boat, grabbed the free lunch that was offered, and headed back to the city.Most of the shops were open in the morning, and, unlike in France and Belgium, they were even open on time, because the Dutch are committed to selling anything to anyone.
Amsterdam has a number of really good museums, but we only had time for one of them.Plus, after an hour or so, Laura’s ability to attend to museum exhibits declines significantly. So we chose the Rijksmuseum over the Van Gogh museum based on the expert advice of people on the Internet.
Immediately, we were impressed with the Rijksmuseum because it had the best free bathrooms on the continent. Privacy, cleanliness, an ample number of toilets – these restrooms were the total package. In addition to great bathrooms, the museum got high marks from Laura because early modern Dutch paintings tend to be a little lighter in tone and more entertaining than French or Italian paintings.
And there were cool furniture exhibits to see.
The Rijksmuseum has a great collection of Dutch Golden Age paintings, including a number of Rembrandts. After an appropriate amount of high culture, it was almost time for a tour of the Red Light District. We grabbed an early dinner at one of Amsterdam’s amazing canal side restaurants, the Cafe de Jaren.
Following dinner, we made our way to the meeting point for the Red Light tour, which was in the Dam, Amsterdam’s central square. Dodging erratic tourist bike riders and the inexplicably crotch level road barriers pictured below, we reached the Dam.
The tour had an inauspicious start as it actually started raining for the first time since we had been in Europe, in spite of the fact that the weather apps claimed that there was a 0% chance of rain. The European weather models are apparently no better than those in America.
The rain didn’t last long, and we learned many important things about “sex workers” in the Netherlands. If you are easily offended, you –
- Shouldn’t read any further
- Made a terrible mistake in clicking a link with “Red Light” in the title
Since the sex workers have to stand in their little window room waiting for prospective “clients,” they have been known to get bored and use their phones to look at things on the Internet. That’s the same thing I would do. Hurray! I have so much in common with the sex workers! We also learned that a former sex worker has been trying to form an official union for sex workers; if successful, the sex workers will have one-upped the unionless teachers of Virginia.
The Red Light district has a reputation for being shocking, but the district has been so highly publicized in the U.S. that we more or less knew what to expect. Anyone who wanders into the Red Light District at night and is surprised to see scantily clad to naked women in windows has paid even less attention to the world than the typical sophomore in high school. The sex toy shops probably held the biggest surprises, and that was because I’m just not sure how it’s anatomically possible to insert some of those “toys” into a human orifice. The most horrifying thing of all about the tour was that some people bring children under ten into the Red Light District.
Predictably, the Red Light District is party central for the Northern Europeans; in this way, it’s kind of the New Orleans of Europe.
Overall the district fits with the Dutch view of how life should be lived – as long as you are nice and not hurting other people, you can do whatever you want.
Our boat was scheduled to depart at 10:30 (we thought – it actually didn’t leave until closer to midnight). We got back around ten(just as the Red Light District was getting busy in a number of ways) and found that we were the last people to get the keys for our “stateroom.”
Next up – windmills and a river boat cruise.