When your hobby is international travel you have to get savvy. Through Travel Zoo we found a great deal. For a cool $1000 you received the following; round trip tickets to Amsterdam and Prague from New York City, 5 hotel nights at 5 star properties that include breakfast. I don’t have to explain how much of a steal this is I hope. After not much thought we purchased through Fleetway Travel. The travel agent searched countless flights for us before we found the perfect combo. We bought mid-August and departed late November.
Before we knew it we were at Newark waiting to take off. A 5pm flight with no meals included (cheers to cheap flights) drops us in Iceland at 1am. The frozen air wakes us up as we board the next flight for a quick 2 hour nap. 4am in New York and 10am in the Netherlands; we have made it.
A quick metro ride away drops us off a bit outside the city at the Corendon Vitality Hotel. The two of us who are normally couch surfing or in a hostel are blown away. We brush our teeth, quick change our clothes and run to catch the #2 tram into the city.
By 1pm we were standing in Dam Square waiting for our free walking tour with Sandemans New Europe. Sam was our guide, and as a past Broadway actor, gave the performance of a lifetime. The 3 hours flew by as he took us around to all the historical sites. I took in the Dutch culture and learned more than any history class taught me (thanks America). We learned specifically about how the Dutch were first businessman. They mostly do not care about what they specifically believe is moral versus wrong. If it does no harm and provides capital they are interested; thus comes coffeeshops and legal prostitution.
When the tour ends we have a couple hours until our Red Light District Tour. We are freezing, hungry and assume we need a drink or two before we see that district. Our guide directs us to this cute bar tucked away. We order bitterballs and mulled wine and try to regain feeling in our toes.
We make our way back to Dam Square for the next tour. On the way we grab a chocolate covered waffle. These little bakeries are on every corner, no idea how no one is 3000 pounds when that is so available. Mars, our fearless tour guide, started off with the nights schedule; a little foreplay, then eases us in slowly and finishes with a smoke. We all nervous laugh and we are off. First stop is at a condom shop that will customize and tailor one for the gents.
He tells us about the history of prostitution, why it was successful specifically in Amsterdam and how the city handled it. We walk down tight streets with gay clubs and S&M shops. We stop in front of a shop filled with sex toys as he explains by 2020 it is supposed to be a 50 billion industry. This store was introduced as the Apple Store of toys, that’d be an interesting Genius Bar.
The next stop he says is a live show, there is a couple waiting for us. My friend and I exchange looks. Um come again. No pun intended. There are sex shows that for 2 euro you can watch in on a live show for a minute or show. When in Rome right?
The tour was not much longer after this because you know… how do you follow that. We end the long day with a search for a coffee shop. Quick education: cafe means coffee, coffee means weed. When we enter the neon lights are bright and the menu is short. 10 euros gets us the joint we want from a guy sitting in front of a Lord of the Rings poster. We bond, he shares the lighter.
After one more waffle and some late night Chinese food munchies and we board the #2 tram home. Utterly exhausted but thoroughly impressed already by this diverse and crazy city.