Visiting the Red Light District in Amsterdam is like going to an amusement park: lots of twinkly lights, displays and crazy characters in abundance. Additionally, a Dutch friend once told me that you’ll find a bigger police presence there than in the rest of the city. Consequently, it’s surealistically safe. Indeed, Amsterdam is well-known for the Red Light District and the more tolerant attitude toward drugs and “sin.”
Rotterdam’s vices, on the other hand, are a little less Vegas. It has always seemed a bit more gritty to me. For example, I actually experienced my first sighting of someone smoking crack in a phone booth – in broad daylight on a quiet city street. Of course, Rotterdam is one of the largest port cities in the world – so there’s bound to be a seedy element somewhere in the city.