During the last night of a Grand Circle Travel (GCT) river cruise called Holland and Belgium in Bloom, our group of 140 weary travelers was eating a final farewell dinner, paying their bills, and packing their bags aboard the ship River Rhapsody for the long trip home. The tour was very early in the tourist season, a time of drizzly weather, fog, and cold early mornings through Belgium and Holland. Consisting of 95% retirees, the average age of the travelers was probably 70+, with a few more women than men.
Scanning the group with some care reveals a number of individuals or couples with visible impairments. Each impairment may be only one of a cluster of infirmities which tend to accumulate with age. The most visible of the impairments was difficulty walking upstairs or getting up from a sitting position. A number of hearing aids, and a general slowing of the mental faculties are also evident across some of the group.
As a bonus for being alert and responsive (and possibly to coax a generous tip for the GC program directors), an announcement was made during the disembarkation lecture that an optional tour was to be offered, if anyone was interested. It was an evening walking tour of Amsterdam’s red light district. We were immediately cautioned that we would be required to take city transportation to and from the ship, considerable walking would be involved, and the pace would be substantial. Those who were interested were asked to gather in the ship’s lobby at 8:00pm sharp. Given the hour, the age of the target group, and the infirmities known to exist, little response was expected.
At the appointed time, the program directors were shocked to discover a group of 40 oldsters, dressed appropriately, and anxious to add this unusual bonus to their final evening of entertainment on the river cruise. Such a heavy positive response, according to one director, was quite unusual in his experience with such groups.
For those of you who are not familiar with Amsterdam’s red light district, prostitution in the city is legal, monitored with some care, and attracts large collections of mostly young male visitors from throughout the world. Add this enhancement to the legal availability of drugs through the coffee shops on every street in town, and the view of this environment after dark is a sight to behold.
The featured ladies are notorious for their public display, dressed in fetching outfits, and positioned immediately behind full body plate glass windows along the street. Each lady, of course, may display whatever strikes her fancy at the moment through her personal plate glass display case. Each window also shows her personalized work area, a single bed, all the featured paraphernalia required to elicit full customer satisfaction, and of course, the featured lady within each space. When the curtain is pulled across the window, a patron is present, and the lady is currently occupied in the world’s oldest profession.
Considerable attention was given to warning the group that the ladies were not on display for photo opportunities by passing tourists. The ladies are consummate professionals engaged in what is a highly competitive endeavor. With their heavy tourist draw from around the world, they also have the ear (at least) of the city fathers. Taking pictures of the merchandise on display is strictly forbidden, and those caught in this act may be subject to confiscation of their camera. With this stern warning, the group toured the district with eyes wide open and vivid memories of ones more vibrant youth.
The district consists of a series of alleyways, like spokes on a wheel, leading away from the main canal. These alleyways are no more than 8-10 feet wide for pedestrian traffic engaged in window shopping. We traversed possibly a dozen city blocks of such alleyways, snaking back and forth like the voyeurists that we were.
In addition to the gorgeous personal flesh on display behind the windows were the entrapping features also presented by the ladies. One of the most novel work areas I saw was a bed with fresh sheets and pillow on display. On the pillow was what appeared to be a pancake size puddle of chocolate syrup with a topping of whipped cream planted in the middle. Lower down the work area was a second puddle of chocolate syrup and whipped cream. Exactly how these condiments would be administered was not entirely clear from this marketing display of frills and extras.
On passing one of the ladies in the window, one of our group’s foxy females received a wink, a shoulder shrug, and a nod of the head.
“Did you see that?” she commented. “That lady was coming on to me”.
From this it was apparent that the services offered were not generic, but were full service to accommodate the proclivities and preferences of the patrons.
Suddenly an unusual option appeared as we walked along the narrow alleyways. The full-body plate glass windows were fitted with a frame and hinges on one side, so that the working ladies could open the window and greet the customers directly. As we walked along this area, the only separation between us and them was a few inches of air, bringing the other senses and abilities into full play. Now, rather than being separated by a half inch of plate glass, the feminine pulchritude, in all its glory, was within touching and smelling distance.
This shocking proximity overcame the natural barrier of plate glass. Within a very few spaces, I saw a magnificent animal specimen up close and personal those few inches away, and I was overcome by the recollection of my own youth.
As I passed in front of this specimen, in an utterly spontaneously moment I exclaimed aloud:
That was the precise emotion and personal response that arose from the depths of my career as a sailor from 50 years earlier.
My reaction was met by a thoroughly personal and human reply:
She reached through the generous opening, and slapped me on the bottom as I passed by, revealing that she, too, was a fully responsive and spontaneous human, and 100% female.
The tour and river cruise far exceeded my pre-trip expectations, presenting many highlights along the way. Honestly, however, I must admit that this casual bonding between this luscious female and a mature old man passing by her open window is among the more valued highlights of the trip. The young man is still alive and well within my memory.
Did these 40 mature folks enjoy the optional tour in Amsterdam Bawdy District?
You know they did!!!!
Anticipation is half the fun. The other half is a vivid memory. What tickles both halves is on full display in the red light district in Amsterdam. What a great show!!