Monday, April 25, 2005

Mainstream sin tourism

Red Light
Originally uploaded by
Rob Lee.
My hometown is a peculiar place. It is immensely popular among tourists. I live very near to the Central Station and Red Light District, i.e. in the core of tourism. You notice it every single night (and day) from the Brits shouting on the streets and giggling to the prostitutes.

A friend of mine has been here for a few weeks writing a travel guide of Amsterdam for Mondo magazine. That has also meant that I have been looking at the city in a slightly different manner.

As my friend Antti said, you have to write about Amsterdam in a different way because there are no tourist attractions like the Eiffel tower or Big Ben. It is the package.

I was yesterday at the opening of the annual exhibition of the World Press Photo at the Oude Kerk which is in the middle of the Red Light District. When having a pre-drink with a colleague of mine Igor we witnessed the mainstream tourism in Amsterdam. It is slightly tipsy people dropping their beer glasses from the terrace table, losing their balance while walking on the streets, communicating by shouting and walking around the Red Light District with van Gogh Museum plastic bags. This is an odd city. Most of the tourists come here to see the sins: coffee shops, prostitution, bars etc. Odd, odd, odd.

As a local you start ignoring this. You notice it when you get used to the sweet smell of cannabis or choosing your routes and cafes outside the very touristic areas. And the reaction of most of the people living here to all these sins is - boredom. Amsterdam-based people start quite often yawning when people begin talking about joints and prostitutes. Didn´t see that happening in Helsinki.

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