Sunday, February 23, 2014

Boutiques, brothels and a pie

This was a non museum day. First we headed to the Nine Little Streets. Three major canals, Herengracht, Keizersgracht, and Prinsengracht divide the Central Canal district into nine little streets that are big on personality. This is a perfect spot for window shopping. There are all kinds of unique boutiques, art galleries and eateries. All the lanes have a Dutch flavour to them. For us it was a pleasure finding some interesting card shops and stocking up on our supply.

Now it was time to visit the red light district. I must admit that Monday lunchtime wasn't the  optimum time to visit but we had already seen the ladies selling their wares in the red-lit windows behind our hotel, which wasn't in the Red Light district. We passed several cannabis seed shops and the air certainly smelled of marijuana in many places. Just wandering around the area it was certainly the seediest part of Amsterdam we visited.

From brothels to sex shops to museums, the Red Light District leaves nothing to the imagination. The Rossebuurt, as the locals know it, is unlike any other place. The Red Light District that everyone knows about is the one where women, of all nationalities, parade their wares in red-fringed window parlours, ready to offer more than a school boy peep-show in a private cabin. We overheard a woman propositioning a group of five but they weren't buying. Brothels are legal in The Netherlands and it keeps the pimps at bay. We'd seen enough. It was lunch time.

We wandered about looking for lunch but not really finding anything that piqued our fancy. Finally, we passed a pie shop. We looked at each other and knew we had hit pay dirt. They had all kinds of pies but who can resist a steak and kidney pie served with mashed potatoes, mushy peas with mint and gravy, and worse, sprinkled with a little cheese? The pie totally lived up to our expectations and we left not a scrap on our plates. So good. Just in case you think we have a bad diet all the time we don't. I would guess that I haven't had gravy in twenty years before this. It was worth the wait.

Late in the afternoon, fortified by a cup of popular mint tea -- hot water full of mint leaves -- we made our way to the cinema to enjoy another movie in English, this time The Monuments Men. Afterwards we went to a very busy local restaurant for dinner. After a long wait, and feeling dwarfed among all the very tall Dutch people, we finally sat down to a salad, penance for our steak and kidney pie!

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