Amsterdam-Evolving Sexuality in Holland (Part 2)

Amsterdam-Evolving Sexuality in Holland (Part 2)

Twin Septuagenerian Prostitutes, A clinic dedicated to sex workers and the Red Light District.

Why Amsterdam?

Amsterdam was our second stop on an 11-day adventure to three countries; Latvia, Holland and Nigeria. My brother and I were filming three episodes of our video travel blog, The Globe on Call.  As physicians by day and travel junkies by night, The Globe on Call is our attempt to marry the worlds of travel and medicine. Our first episode in Latvia examined alternative Latvian medicine ranging from traditional Latvian sauna therapy to the burgeoning rapid alcohol and heroin detox industry that is drawing people from the world over because of it’s use of cutting edge implanted medications. In Holland we documented the changing Dutch perception of sex and sex workers and we even had a chance to interview the world famous Folken twins. Our last stop was Nigeria where we visited the village of Igbo-Ora which has the worlds densest  population of twins. So yeah, it was a whirlwind week and now it was time to head to Amsterdam.

-If you are an aerophile like us, you will want to check out part 1 of our Latvian adventure, The Journey to Latvia, right HERE. 

-If you want to check out our episode of The Globe on Call in Latvia, you can right HERE.

-If you want to check out part 2 of our Latvian adventure detailing our time in Latvia, you can check it our right HERE. I think the blog is pretty cool but if you don’t want to take my word for it, click the link just to see the two headed dog!

-If you want to see how we got to Amsterdam, check-out Part 1 of our Amsterdam series featuring the airBaltic flight from Riga right HERE

 

With only 24 hours in Amsterdam, time was of the essence. After dropping our bags off at the Hampton Inn Schiphol airport, we were off to our first stop, P&G292, a clinic dedicated exclusively to providing medical care for Amsterdam’s sex workers.

 

P&G292 is housed in a nondescript building in a quiet Amsterdam neighborhood. While the outside of the building was muted, the outside…..

 

was anything but with colorful themed artwork lining all of the words. The topic matter of the artwork left very little question where we were.

 

I really wish I could read Dutch because I’m dying to know what exactly this woman was saying. Is it just me, but looking a little closer to this picture, I really don’t think thats his leg.

 

Checking out the artwork definitely kept us occupied while…

 

we waited for Annelies, one of P&G292’s public health nurses. We had a great discussion about Dutch attitudes towards sex and sex workers as well as the healthcare concerns unique to sex workers.

 

Be sure to check out our episode of The Globe on Call here where we discuss the work of P&G292 with Annelies.

 

I’m not sure why this poster was in Spanish but atleast I could read it. The woman kicking this creep in the family jewels clearly took the basic self defense class that P&G292 offers to sex workers.

 

No matter what your opinion is of sex work and sex workers, the unique services and education provided at P&G292 are important to keep both sex workers and the public at large healthy.

 

Outreach is a big part of what P&G292 does. According to Annelies getting sex workers to take advantage of P&G292’s service can be challenging. They use these cards to help their current clients reach out to other sex workers who are either unfamiliar with or wary of  who the services provided at P&G292.

 

P&G292 even created the only magazine exclusively for sex workers.

 

After leaving P&G292, out next stop was Dam square. As we waited for our taxi I couldn’t help but capture this very Amsterdam shot with the classic Dutch architecture and the man riding his bike. They don’t call Amsterdam the bicycle capitol of the world for nothing.

 

Damn, damn, damn! One of the benefits of being abroad is the ability to disconnect from national news stories. Apparently even the Dutch were interested in the upcoming US presidential election. Bit of context, we were in Amsterdam the day before the 2016 US presidential election (don’t judge, we all early voted).

 

A quick taxi ride and we were at Dam square checking out the sites and waiting to meet the world famous Folken twins.

 

Dam square is the historical center of the city and it is frequented by locals and tourists alike. Anywhere that you have tourist, you’re going to have street performers like this woman whom I affectionately called Bubble woman.

 

Apparently Dam square is amongst other things known for it’s damn friendly pigeons. Friendly or not, as long as pigeons still move their bowels indiscriminately, there is no way that you will ever catch me posing for a picture like this…

 

or this but I’m glad these two took one for the team.

 

Okay, I consider myself a pretty smart guy, but I have absolutely no idea how this man is doing what he’s doing.

 

Heres a closeup for you. If you know how Yoda is levitating, please let me know because even now I still can’t figure this one out.

 

Amsterdam wasn’t as cold as Riga, but it was still chilly so I definitely had to get one of those damn good cups of Dam Good Coffee.

 

As I sipped my coffee, I spotted two women who looked like mirror images of one another dressed in red with American flag scarfs. Yep, that had to be the Folken twins.

 

As we walked the Red Light district chatting with Louise and Martine about their 40+ years working in the sex industry, people frequently stopped them to ask for pictures. I can only imagine what a picture of yen and yang my brother and I looked walking arm-in-arm with Louise and Martine.  This particular lovely lady taking a picture with the Fokkens is my mother.

 

Our interview with the Fokken twins was eye opening to say the least. We discussed everything from how the married sisters got into the sex trade, how their husbands became more like their pimps, what lessons they learned working in the industry for over 40 years and what advise they have for young people in love. You can check out our episode of The Globe on Call here:

 

There is no place quite like Amsterdam and the Red Light district are unique. Where else can you enjoy cannabis ice cream while…

 

shopping at the world’s first condom specialty shop?

 

The assortment of condoms was dizzying even for two OB/GYN’s. After finishing our interview with the Fokkens we made our way back to the hotel for a quick nap before doubling back to the Red Light district for a night-time tour.

 

Okay, I know, it’s not the best shot but give me a bit of a break, I snapped this from a moving car. None-the-less, I had to post the pic, its just too Dutch not to.

 

Despite being a cold, drizzly night, there was just something beautiful about the canals of Amsterdam, especially at night.

 

You know you are either in Vegas or Amsterdam when you have an entire center dedicated to hangovers and information about hangovers.

 

For those who have never been, the Red Light District is called the Red Light district because you have, well, red lights. To be more specific, you have sex workers standing in windows offering their services and if a red light is on, it means the worker is there and available.

 

You might also see blue lights and these tend to indicate male or trans-sexual sex workers. I know what you are thinking, why did you take a picture of a sign saying “No Photos!!”? It is consider a no-no to take pictures of the sex workers when they are in the windows, you can however take pictures of the windows (like this one) when they are not occupied.

 

Just another Amsterdam canal in the Red Light district.

 

Again, this is one of those only in Amsterdam kind of things. Where else would you find a museum of prostitution? or…

 

a radio station called Red Light Radio that had a breast in it’s logo?

 

Now there was no way that we could leave the Red Light District without visiting The Bulldog. The Bulldog is part of a chain of cannabis bars throughout the Netherlands

 

Photography in the Bulldog and other cannabis bars is prohibited, so I had to take this pic on the sly. Interestingly it is legal for establishments to sell marijuana and for consumers to buy and use marijuana in the Netherlands, but it is illegal to grow or sell it on a large scale. So that means the people selling cannabis to the coffee shops are actually breaking the law.

 

No, we didn’t indulge in any of Amsterdam’s best known coffee shop products, but if we had, this completely automated restaurant across the street would likely have come in handy.

 

I can only imagine how many people come here stoned out of their minds with the munchies trying to figure out how exactly to purchase food. Ain’t automation amazing? Welp, having explored the Red Light district it was now time to head back to the hotel for a good nights sleep. Tomorrow we were leaving for Lagos, Nigeria and we had an early flight to Frankfurt. Little did I know that not much sleep would be had that night! It was election night in the US and being in Europe election returns were coming in well into the wee hours of the morning.

 

I managed to get a couple of hours sleep before my brother woke me to tell me that it looked like Trump was actually going to win the electoral college. Honestly, he could have kept that piece of information to himself but now that I was awake (about two hours before my alarm clock was set, thanks!) and I couldn’t help but watch the absolute train wreck of a campaign season end in an absolute train wreck of an election. By the time 5AM rolled around, I was already up, showered and ready to head to Schipol airport for our 7:20AM flight to Frankfurt.

 

As a person of color, a muslim and an uncle to nieces and nephews of half Mexican heritage, to say that the world felt surreal at that moment was an understatement. Having to try to explain when in the hell just happened to everyone we came across who figured out that we were American didn’t help.

 

After a quick check-in and immigration clearance, we made our way to gate B-17 where D-AIPM, a Lufthansa Airbus A320 was waiting to fly us the 227 miles to Frankfurt Main airport.

 

 

-Aerophiles like us will want to check out part 1 of our Latvian adventure, The Journey to Latvia, right HERE. 

-You check out our episode of The Globe on Call in Latvia, you can right here

-If you want to check out part 2 of our Latvian adventure detailing our time in Latvia, you can check it our right HERE. I think the blog is pretty cool but if you don’t want to take my word for it, click the link just to see the two headed dog!

-Want to know how we got to Amsterdam, check-out Part 1 of our Amsterdam series featuring the airBaltic flight from Riga right HERE

-Here is our episode of The Globe win Call in Amsterdam, you can right here