The Minefield of Amsterdam 6

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Watch Your Step!

by Mark H. Bloom with Jason Scholder

Amsterdam, Holland, is a city every international traveler should know intimately. With its drug dealers and tourist traps, if you don’t know the city, rest assured it will know you. In the biblical sense. But perhaps you could say that about any major city.


What sets Amsterdam apart is the diversity of its charms. An action-packed day could easily include: a visit to the expansive Van Gogh museum, your choice of marijuana cigarettes ordered off a coffeehouse menu, a five-star meal at Yamazato, and a psychedelic experience at an all-night rave.


Given your state of mind and sexual proclivities, your day might culminate in a victory walk home from the city’s infamous Red Light District, known by the Dutch as Rosse Buurt. It’s the place where dreams — and nightmares — can come true.


Amsterdam, you see, isn’t just one city; it’s two. There’s Daytime Amsterdam, full of the sights, sounds, smells, and feel of authentic Europe.


Then there’s Nighttime Amsterdam, where appetites of all kinds go to be sated. Gluttons, connoisseurs, and taste-testers all turn out to sample the wares. Nighttime Amsterdam is New York City time, Las Vegas crime, and Bangkok grime all rolled into one Dutch cigarette, smoked bleary-eyed at two in the morning. And at the center of Nighttime Amsterdam lies the Red Light District.

The District’s narrow streets bring a whole new meaning to the term “window-shopping.” Ladies of all colors, shapes, and sizes display themselves behind large panes of glass, like menu items at a Japanese diner. Some are as appealing as the dessert tray at Yamazato, while others resemble the upside-down pigs you find hanging in authentic Chinese restaurants. Selecting a meal is as simple as point and chick. There’s truly something for every taste.


Both Nighttime Amsterdam and Daytime Amsterdam have their charms, but confusing the two could ruin your vacation. While the tranquility of a stroll though Daytime Amsterdam on a Sunday morning can bring you to your knees with its sheer beauty, the same morning walk through Nighttime Amsterdam may bring you to your knees for an entirely different reason.


If there ever was a time to avoid the Red Light District, it has to be Sunday morning. Despite what you may have been smoking, the women still working at this hour won’t elicit visions of Dutch apple pie … or any dessert this side of Hawaiian poi.


photo of scary girl

One beer too many in Amsterdam’s Red Light District and you might wake up married to this girl.

You’ll likely see plenty of empty windows, leaving you to your perverse imagination. But you may also see one of the upside-down pigs throw a beckoning glance your way. While trying to avert your eyes, you’ll inevitably glance toward the ground — a decision you will instantly regret. Glancing around, you’ll be forced to notice that the sidewalks are littered with shrapnel, the discarded remains of a hard day’s night.


Dutch hookers, like their government, employ the motto “Safety First.” The hours following a busy shift in the Prostitution Capital of the World evidence a minefield more treacherous than that of a cow pasture in the Great Plains of rural Kansas.


Have you ever been walking along the street and had the sole of your shoe stick to the sidewalk? You’re not in Kansas anymore, and that’s not gum you just stepped in.


Little Known Fact: The Dutch use condoms more often than their American counterparts. As a result, they have a much lower abortion rate due to unwanted pregnancy. Then again, the Dutch — not exactly known for their military — just might be shooting blanks.


Lessons Learned: Watch your step, especially when you’re abroad. Even in a well-traveled section of Amsterdam — about as popular a tourist destination as exists — you can still find yourself in a minefield of trouble. Take my advice: no matter how hard up you might be, stay out of the Red Light District on a Sunday morning.

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Mark H. Bloom is a published writer and editor originally from Salem, MA, aka The Witch City. He now keeps his head down when he walks … and finds all kinds of loose change. He entertains himself writing creatively and professionally while editing books and coaching writers. Get in touch with Mark a and read his full bio below.

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Mark Bloom

About Mark Bloom

I am a published writer and the editor of published books -- not self-published, but published by real publishing houses. I work on a variety of projects, fiction and nonfiction, large and small, including novels, websites, blog posts, and video projects. (I've produced, written, and edited short films and video projects -- see for yourself at Contact me for estimates or advice. Like a spider, I work alone but have a large web of resources. I will recommend a colleague if I can't handle your project. Honesty, hard work, and creativity are my calling cards. For more information, check out and

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6 thoughts on “The Minefield of Amsterdam

  • Riley Banks

    While I will eventually see Amsterdam one day, it’s never been high on my list of Must See places. I know there are probably reasons one would want to go to Amsterdam that don’t involve sex and drugs but I can’t think of any strong enough to entice me there instead of other destinations.

    • Mark Bloom
      Mark Bloom

      There ARE better destinations. Like Bruge in Belgium or Florence in Italy, like Austin in Texas or Vancouver in Canada. But that’s the point. I’ve gone to these places so you don’t have to. I’m the travel martyr. I’m the guinea pig. In the end, when all my stories are published, you will thank me for having saved you from the enticement of places such as Amsterdam.

      Travel well. Travel safe. Travel far.

  • Riley Banks

    LOL – thanks Mark. Always happy to read your Guinea Pig trials. One tourist Mecca I have no desire to visit (beyond the obvious ones such as Yemen, Iraq, Mogadishu, Afghanistan, etc) is Bali. It’s a rite of passage in Australia, which is even more reason I want to avoid it like the plague.

  • Deepak Menon

    Amsterdam only for one day – arrived in the morning and left in the evening and had a wonderful and memorable cruise on the canals of Amsterdam and walked through the city for the rest of the day including a visit to the Van Gogh museum and ate at the cafe too – I think it is one of the most spectacular cities of Europe and well worth a visit. And in addition to it’s charms, every one there was very friendly and almost every one spoke English too unlike Paris, Berlin, Venice and other cities of Austria, Germany Italy and Switzerland we visited – where hardly anyone spoke English,

    • Mark Bloom
      Mark Bloom

      Thank you for sharing. It’s true: Daytime Amsterdam is a beautiful place to spend a day or a week. The Van Gogh Museum, like you said, is spectacular. All those famous paintings right there “in the flesh,” as it were. There’s lots to like about Daytime Amsterdam. My story was about Nighttime Amsterdam, however: the sordid, creepy underworld that caters to the base human urges. Be glad you didn’t stay for the night. Hmmm, maybe that should be Amsterdam’s new slogan. “Be glad you didn’t stay for the night.” I think I’ll write to them.