For the love of Amsterdam

Reasonably familiar with the city after our emotion charged adventures yesterday we’ve tallied up a bit of a bucket list of things to get done today, sadly this is our final night in Amsterdam.

Photos in the city of Amsterdam

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First off is the Anne Frank house, thank the heavens we pre booked these tickets months back as the line to enter is about 300 deep. Crazy!! It’s one of those flashback moments that if we were two kids in primary school, we could turn to the queue just before entering the house- poke our tongue out, shake our hips, put thumb to nose and wiggle our fingers while saying “nah, nah, nah, nah, nah” ~ but we aren’t that immature #OrAreWe.

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Anne Frank house and the famous door

We enter the museum of Anne Frank’s house that is located at the top of her fathers business. Learning an incredible story of a family through the eyes of a young Jewish girl in hiding with fear of being captured by the Nazis during their occupation of Holland during World War II.

It’s such a sad story and devastating to walk the same floors, behind the secret bookshelf and up into the dark, enclosed, secret home of Anne Frank and her family. We learnt first hand the difficulties life in hiding was and how disturbing life was for the Jews.

Visiting the home where Anne penned her incredible diaries brought real life to her story. Peeping out the same covered windows she did, walking into her tiny shared bedroom and standing in the same dining room the family gathered for meals that were barely scraped together.

It was only thanks to the food brought to them by their loyal helpers. The family spent two years in hiding, tip toeing around a two storey hideaway without any sunlight or contact with the outside world.

It was on the 4 August 1944 that the family were arrested and betrayed after the Gustapo received an anonymous tip off of Anne Frank and her families hiding. It would be so interesting to know who betrayed them, no wonder this is one of the world’s greatest mysteries.

We changed the tempo with a cruise around Amsterdam’s canals. It’s different to see the quirky city of Amsterdam from the water and to get a better insight of the city by our tour guide.

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This canal is the only one that has six road bridges across it
This also gave us the opportunity to see many of the sloping houses, its bizarre how these properties manage to slope in many different directions but remain livable.

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The cruise took us North side from the harbour, the locals tell us this is the Hipsterville of Amsterdam and is meant to be the place to be seen. On the same harbour we view the worlds biggest bike lot – housing 4000 bikes!!

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We leave the waters and walk the pavement attempting to not get hit by the heavy, vintage style bikes that are frequenting the roads and walkways. I’m keen for a bit of shop since it’s been a few days and Anton decides he wants to head off to the coffee shop and enjoy a couple of beers in the Amsterdam sunshine.

We meet at the coffee shop and tram it home to get rugged up for a night at the Red Light District. I’d received some good tips from a colleague that spent many years living in Amsterdam so on recommendation we pre booked a table at Tokyo Cafe in Spui, a Japanese all you can eat and it was absolutely tops.

We fill our selves up on some seriously amazing Japanesse, it’s an all you can eat arrangement but the food is fresh as you order from the menu an unlimited amount of times within two hours, therefore nothing is sitting in a warmer or open in a cooler for the germs to flock.

We roll our way to the Victoria hotel where we meet Kimberley a local lady who does walking tours of the red light district. She has lived in Amsterdam for 26 years and is well versed on the ins and outs of the district and tips us off on many of the local hang outs.

We imagine the red light district to be more seedy than it is, sure it’s confronting seeing numerous men walk in and out of the window spaces but it is reassuring to know that these women are safer selling themselves in this environment than what they could be if illegally on the streets.

There are three hundred window spaces for rent and the minimum age of the sex worker is 21. It costs 150E (approx 220$AUD) to rent a window for eight hours and it is said to be the average client is in the room for approximately eight minutes with each client paying a minimum of 50E. You can do the math.

The red light district caters for all desires, there are young, middle aged and older women in all shapes and sizes, many of them extremely attractive. There are separate quarters that house, African, Eastern European and transvestites.

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We learnt that xxx originated in Amsterdam from its coat of arms which contains the Saint Andrews crosses which we are told were very fashionable around the twelfth century.

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We went to the world’s first legal porno shop and also the first ever coffee shop called Baba, we hung out in here for a laugh, who wouldn’t when this is where Eminem hangs!! Apparently, Mike Tyson has been here too, legend has it that he passed out in this shop. So the rumor mill goes according to our knowledgeable guide.

At the end of the very informative and highly recommended tour (Randy Roy) we joined our guide for a local beer in the side lane ways of the red light district, it was a quaint bar with all the local brews, that we would have never of found ourselves.

By chance we met another Aussie chic in our floats around the red light district and before we could even think about it, we all found ourselves sitting in the middle rows of Casa Rosso, realising we are about to watch a live sex show.

There’s a mixture of eight different acts that perform overall for about an hour and a half, this is just repeated throughout the whole night. Not sure how much detail you want but if you are grossed out we went along then skip to the next paragraph – if not well the acts include some pretty explicit stuff including; bondage, three is a crowd, same gender, ladies smoking cigars in weird places.

The experience was somewhat weird but we felt safe in a controlled environment watching a bunch of people getting paid to do what they enjoy…hopefully! (Women being pimped does take me to a completely different view though).

After the show we hung out at the red light district and people watched like all the other tourists.

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This picture was taken earlier on our tour of the Red Light district. It is a statue of “Belle” in honour of prostitutes all around the world. It was built in 2007 by PIC which is the union for local sex workers. It’s the only official monument in respect of sex workers fighting for their rights. The rights that you and I may take for granted in our professions.

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The first legal porno shop

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This photo was taken on our tour. If you look closely the detailing inside the railing represents a woman. Many of the railings are created like this. It’s the finer details that are told on tours that would otherwise be missed.

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This lady bug tile marks the place where somebody was killed as a result of violence. Whenever this occurs in the city a lady bug tile is put in place.

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This is the Bulldog Cafe that has served us well over the last few days.

The cabby on the way home rips us off; we are fairly crap at mastering this cab system in Europe, they are all piss takers!! Today we had the true Amsterdam experience. Very Rad. Sad to leave tomorrow.. X

Anna Owens is the founder of ownsit! A mama working in Community Development and Partnerships Education. Anna is a colour crazy, creativity enthusiast who loves to design, collect shoes, eat & travel.. x

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