"" Writer's Wanderings: Sewers and Red-Light Districts--Oh, my!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Sewers and Red-Light Districts--Oh, my!

Two future trips we are putting together involve four days in Paris and four days in Amsterdam. We've been to Paris before on a trip with our church but didn't have much time for sightseeing other than hitting the highlights one day. Amsterdam will be an all new experience. We are looking forward to both and doing a lot of research to plan our exploration of each.

I went over the list Bob was compiling of all that we wanted to see in Paris. Eiffel Tower, yes. We'd been there before but this time we wanted to eat at the restaurant. Cruise the Seine, yes. This time in the evening to see the lights. Visit the inside of the Louve and actually see some artwork like that famous smiling lady. Notre Dame, Napoleon's burial place, Champs Elysee, the sewers--THE SEWERS?!

Yes, there is a tour of the Paris sewers--the old underground. The Paris Sewer Museum takes you through 500 yards of the more than 1300 miles of 400 year old sewers in the city. We're told that if you are a fan of Les Miserables you need to see it.

"Okay," I say. "Hand me the list for Amsterdam."

Top of the list, at my request, is the Anne Frank house. A canal ride is next and a trip to a neighboring town where there are lots of old fashioned windmills. Then the Van Gogh and Rijksmuseum, Rembrandt's house, and the Red Light district. WHAT?!!

Ah, yes, we actually get to tour the area where the ladies of the night (maybe even the day) sit on display for window shopping. These aren't mannequins trying to sell the latest designer clothing. They're trying to sell something else--legally. It's a culture difficult for this gal to understand. Rick Steves has a walking tour in his book all mapped out for the area but we're going to take the group tour. I'll feel a lot more comfortable on a guided tour with a group.

The last time we saw something similar to this, we were in Tokyo. We were walking through what was a very nice area of the city. Lots of little hotels, well-kept, with pictures posted of themed rooms. I thought that was a little unusual. Since I couldn't read the Japanese, I didn't realize the rooms were rented by the hour. We had our grown sons with us and two had their wives. Lori had stayed in our hotel with four-month-old Tyler. Ron looked single and was approached by a man with a small brochure. He took one look, turned beet-red, and grabbed me by the arm.

"Hey," he told the guy, "I"m with my mom!"

Of course, I don't think the guy understood a word. He just smiled and bowed several times.

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