Tag Archives: freedom

Sex & Drugs in Amsterdam

Red Light District & the church: The women are viewed as entrepreneurs and not as common prostitutes.  They are self-employed, practice safe sex and are tested regularly just in case of mishaps.  They are even protected by the government.  Pimps are illegal and apparently part of the job of cops in Amsterdam is to question women of the district to try to snuff out any potentials for them being forced to be there.  The women are even paid for their time of questioning (50 Euro for 15 minutes- That’s the going rate).  Every woman is there on her own free will.  Sex is not something to be ashamed of or to be banished behind closed doors and never talked about.  Everything is out in the open.  I adore that kind of freedom and commend the government for being so accepting and ensuring the women are safe instead of turning a blind eye and creating dangerous situations.   The picture below is of a statue of sorts planted in the street in the Red Light District that pays homage to the women of the District.

Embracing Love
Embracing Love

 

The church just outside of the district just made me chuckle:)  Amsterdam was a port town and many of the men who worked abroad the ships had been away from land for a year or more.   So once they landed in Amsterdam and stumbled into the Red Light District, they of course had a lot of pent-up energy to get rid of.  So they would spend their weekend blowing all their money with the women, then stumble out of the district and directly into the church, very conveniently located, to repent all the naughty things they just engaged in… LOL!!!  Love it!

Church outside Red Light District
Church outside Red Light District

 

Coffeeshops & drugs: if you are looking for a cup of coffee while visiting Amsterdam, you won’t find any in any of the coffeshops around town.  For real coffee, go to the Kaffe shops:)  If you would like to partake in smoking a bit of an illegal substance, well then the coffeeshop is for you!  Here again is an example of how the people coexist peacefully.  It is actually ILLEGAL to smoke marijuana in Amsterdam.  Yes, it is.

However the government turns its eye from those smoking in coffee shops.  Because they are just sitting in coffee shops.  They aren’t bothering anyone or doing anything wrong.  They are just hanging out.  In fact, the guide even said that you could walk up to a cop, tell them that there are people smoking marijuana in that shop over there and they would simply say “what are you talking about? They are just having coffee” and walk away.  Again, I love the acceptance and tolerance.  Even though the law is technically being broken they recognize that the people in the shops aren’t bothering anyone.  They are simply enjoying something they enjoy!  Sure does make our view on marijuana in the States seem so petty, especially knowing that people are sitting in jail for smoking/growing/selling/possessing marijuana while murderers are out on parole!!

I wish more countries would take a lesson from the way that the government in Amsterdam views drugs and addicts.  At one point in their history, not that long ago, Amsterdam was plagued by heroin addicts.  They were violent, damaged themselves and others, and even cops were not really willing to deal with them because they were so dangerous.  So the government took on a different view on drugs.  They divided drugs into hard and soft drugs.

People who were addicted to hard drugs (heroin) were viewed as sick people who needed help.  Not as criminals.  They provided places where heroin addicts could go to get their fix and they would allow the addicts to use heroine in these places where they provided clean needles and were under the watchful eye of a medical professional to make sure they didn’t O.D.  The addicts were then allowed to come and go as they pleased.  The addicts always had a safe place where they could go to take their drugs.  If they got in trouble with the law however, after the third strike they would be sent (mandatory) to a rehab center to get them clean.  If they wanted to voluntarily go at any point, they were allowed at no cost to them.  Now that’s the kind of mentality that makes me believe that the government ACTUALLY CARES about their people… Does Amsterdam have a drug problem today with crimes and cartels running rampant?  No they don’t!

Soft drugs (marijuana) on the other hand are allowed a “free” pass.  Or in other words are simply overlooked as long as they are occurring in coffee shops:) Mind you that even though there are probably more drugs and varieties of drugs per square inch in Amsterdam than in any other place, I was never once stopped on the street or harassed in any way about buying drugs as I was when in Costa Rica and Berlin.  I wonder why…???

On to Drug Bust en route to Paris

Back to Europe

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Potential Controversy

Before parting from writing on Berlin, I did want to bring up a potentially controversial opinion of mine… During the tour the guide spoke about some history back in the 1910’s and 20’s when Berlin was The PLACE to be in Europe.  Rock Stars, politicians, celebrities and generally anyone who wanted to live to party flocked to Berlin.

Germany at one point in the 1910’s and 20’s was having financial troubles however , even though the party went on in Berlin!  To help the country out of trouble Germany borrowed or was given money from the U.S. and then it really became good times in Berlin.   But then the Stock market crashed in the U.S. beginning the depression and it also directly affected life in Berlin.  Times got really tough and hard there as well.  No one knew where to look or what to do.  The life that people had become accustomed to was in grave danger.

Then along came a young man who made promises that he could fix the economy and get  Berlin and Germany back to greatness once again.  And with that promise in hand everyone followed.  And Hitler came to power.

Now all of that is history.  What I wonder is whether we have really learned anything from that to prevent it from happening again.  Or are we still trapped by ourselves, in a way, of being so used to life being great that the minute it goes sideways we look to someone to fix things for us, then end up giving our power and lives away to the hands of those whose intentions are not right or good ones?

Some of my German friends have mentioned before that in their opinion Germans in general aren’t proud of their history involving one Adolf Hitler, and I feel the same in that I’m ashamed of parts of the history in the U.S… What I guess I’m getting at is that even though hindsight is 20/20 so much of the World’s negative history was preventable.  And as we are currently living in the present, creating history for the years to come, I just hope that we can look to empower ourselves or others based on what is good or right and not on what is “good enough” and “right now”.

The wrongs in our histories are there to teach us lessons.  I hope we learn from them.  And I’m not speaking here just about the history in Germany.  I’m using it as an example of things going on right now especially in the States with the “powers that be” allowing so many disgusting events to occur (GMO’s in food, scare tactics in the media, vaccinations becoming more mandatory, drones, the governments right to search and seize or even kill without just cause).  How much have we really learned from history and how much of our freedom and the freedom of others are we willing to give away to feel “warm and safe” in our own little lives?

I know the above is very off topic from my regular posts on just traveling and good times, but since it was something I thought of a lot after visiting Berlin and taking the tour, I just had to share it- whether for better or worse.

On to Amsterdam!!!!!

Back to Europe

Munich

Munich is absolutely lovely!!!  I was very shocked on how green the city is!!  Seriously they have so many parks in the heart of the city!!  I figured it would be much like every other city: drowning in nothing but buildings with a token park here and there.  But not so with Munich!  It is individual, full of history, character and very friendly and welcoming people!  There’s the synopsis, now here are the details;)

Before going to Munich, on a whim and on a promise, I shot off an email to Nikki whom I met and traveled with through the San Blas Islands in Panama.  In fact, she was the clever woman who coined “modern day pirates” to describe our sailboat crew:)

I say on a whim because though we had exchanged a few emails, we really hadn’t kept in touch a whole lot (I don’t Facebook) and since it had been so long since I’d emailed her, I wasn’t sure first whether she even had the same email, and second whether she would respond.  I had made her a promise long ago when we parted in Colombia however that if I ever made it to Munich, I would look her up!  So, about a week or so before going to Munich I wrote her an email to let her know I would be in town for the day.

I was humbled to hear back from her and even more tickled that she too had the day off and was able to meet me!!  The good in people never ceases to amaze me and it’s a blessing to know people who, even after years of no contact, extend a hand of friendship!!

I made it to Munich early in the morning and after calling Nikki agreed to meet her at a coffee shop near the Odeonsplatz underground station.  As I made my way out from the underground I could hear the joyous music of Oktoberfest celebrations and once out on the street was greeted by a lovely parade!!  I made my way along the road trying to get somewhere to take some pictures when a very nice group of people offered me a stool to stand on so I could get above the crowd:)  Thankfully one of them spoke a little broken English and I asked where the coffee shop was (all I could see was Starbucks and we weren’t meeting there!!).  Once directed and all the pictures were taken, I headed to meet Nikki.


Seriously it was as if no time at all had ever passed between us!  She looked just the same as she did before: fabulous!  And we had a great time catching up in each other’s lives and reminiscing on the good times we had during the San Blas trip:)  We hung out for a little catching up, then she proceeded to give me the VIP walking tour of Munich!!

First stop was just nearby, a place called Feldherrnhalle, which is where Hitler began the plotting of his Nazi regime before setting up in Berlin.  What is amazing is that as he began to take on more popularity and power, it was mandatory that people walking in front of this building had to salute to the soldiers standing in front to show that they were with Hitler.  If you walked in front without saluting you would get in serious trouble!!  So, for those who opposed Hitler, they would bypass walking in front of the Feldherrnhalle by walking down the street just behind called Viscardigasse.  Down this street today you will find a golden path laid out in bronze bricks symbolizing the path of freedom.  This path was walked by all who opposed Hitler.  It was their way of rebelling Hitler and what he stood for.

Across from this building is the Residence of Munich (Residenz Munchen) where the Royal Family lives and the lions statues guarding the entrance are rubbed by passersby for good luck!

The Residence of Munich leads onto the Hofgarten where there is a lovely little building topped off with a little monument.  Here they have many musicians who come to practice their skills and even monthly they put on a formal waltz dance event!!

From there we headed past the Art Museum and headed to probably the most interesting or at least shocking part of Munich… Surfers!!!  Yes, I typed correctly: surfers!  Apparently some very clever surfers wanted a way to continue to practice their skills and keep in shape year round without “chasing the waves” so they made their own!!  In the Eisbach river, just at the start of it where it flows under a bridge, several stones were dropped to the river bottom and eventually enough were planted in to create a wave!!  And due to the natural fast current through the river, the wave is large enough to basically simulate an ocean wave!  So darn clever!!!

This little surf spot is in a way the beginning of the English Garden (Englischen Garten).  The English Garden is the largest garden in Munich and it is even LARGER than Central Park in New York City!!

We made our way past the Japanese Teahouse (Japanisches Teehaus Kanshoan)

to an area where if you choose you could sit out nude

English Garden Nude Area
English Garden Nude Area

finally to the Monopteros.  This monument was once overrun by drug addicts but thanks to an increased presence of cops wandering the streets, the momument was abandoned by the addicts and spruced up for locals and tourists to enjoy:)

From the Monopteros it was on to the Chinese Temple (Chinesischer Turm) where a little beer garden was conveniently located, so of course we had to stop for a BEER!!!!!  It was here during a bit of a passing thunderstorm where I learned the history of beer gardens… Long ago when there weren’t any refrigerators, companies cleverly decided to put kegs of produced beer under trees that provided lots of shade (hence natural refrigeration).  So much beer was being made that companies would invite people out to these “gardens “with kegs of beer under each tree to drink the beer while it was fresh and cold!  All they asked was people paid for the beer, but otherwise you could bring your own food, etc.  So these beer gardens began to gain popularity as almost a social or fun day in the park so to speak with cheap, delicious beer, your own picnic and tons of other people to socialize with:)

After a few pints we walked our way to the Siegestor, a triumphal arch that has a statue of Bavaria on top leading 4 lions!  It was originally dedicated to the glory of the Bavarian army but today it is a monument and reminder for peace.  Absolutely love it!!

On we went past the University to perhaps my favorite building of all I had seen that day: St. Peter’s Church (Peterskirche)!!  Just absolutely stunning in my opinion and so playful!!  Notice the dragon climbing up the church and the timekeeper…

I could have spent hours looking at the church just discovering new things about it but alas we were getting a bit hungry, so we headed to a great restaurant, had some delicious local food then headed to Nikki’s where she graciously allowed me to crash for the night:)  However, NOT before helping her to fix her anklet!!  We had both purchased one in the San Blas Islands from the Kuna Indigenous tribe but sadly hers had fallen off.  She kept the beads and the strand however so I helped to affix it back on:)  Good times!!!

Repaired San Blas Anklet, yay!!
Repaired San Blas Anklet, yay!!

 

On to Berlin

Back to Europe