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If you ever wondered how the streets of the Red Light District look like when they are not overtaken by hoards of people, you are lucky: I have the answer for you. I went to take pictures of this part of the city early in the morning, right after the sunrise. I wanted to capture the beauty of the old neighbourhood, a beauty that is usually overlooked, since everyone goes there to see the women in the windows and to party. This is, after all, the oldest part of Amsterdam, one that exists since the Damrak was a harbour, and there is definitely more to it than the red windows. 

My friend and I were almost alone on the streets on that Saturday morning. Here and there we would encounter other people: two guys feeding the pigeons, someone cleaning a store window and other occasional passers-by. We would check each other with curiosity, each of us thinking what on earth is the other person doing at such an early hour in this part of the city. Even the seagulls (who were having a feast on the garbage bags not yet picked up by the cleaning trucks) were looking at us with suspicion.

Seagulls in the Red Light District

I was hoping for some fog that would make the canals look more mysterious, but there was no trace of it. The morning air was clear and as the daylight replaced the orange night lights, the district unveiled itself before us. It felt weird to see those streets so empty, but a good kind of weird. It was as if the old bricked walls and cobbled streets were resting, eyes shut, getting the energy to welcome the crowds once more, in a few hours. There were marks left behind by the people who spent their night partying in the area, all over the place, as some kind of modern art. Or at least that’s how we saw it, and we had fun taking pictures of empty beer cans.

We spent about one hour and when we left, the streets were lively again — people were going about their day, shops were opening and the smell of fresh coffee filled the air. It was a lovely morning, and I’ll certainly go back for some misty canals pictures when I’ll get the chance.

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