The Amsterdam police department began distributing an English-language etiquette and safety guide for tourists who visit the (in)famous red-light district.

"The police of the Red Light District welcome you," it begins. "Amsterdam is a beautiful and free city. But not everything is allowed; there are rules."

The pamphlet's 10 topics of advice include the nuisance issues of "normal behavior," "screaming and shouting" and "urinating in public."

Also covered are parking; how to avoid getting ripped off by the "balletje, balletje" street game; hard- and soft-drug laws; reporting muggings to police; public consumption of alcohol, and prostitution.

The pamphlet provides a map of the red light district and the disclaimer: Note: This leaflet is not a promotion of any of the things mentioned above.

The guide's author, Wim Schild, is a 12-year veteran of the district beat as well as a resident of the neighborhood.

He offers these words of wisdom from the police:

  • On marijuana: "When you feel sick after smoking or eating space cake, drink lots of water with sugar. Something sweet will put you right again."
  • On prostitution: "If you visit one of the women, we would like to remind you they are not always women. Don't take pictures of the women. It might get you in trouble. Outside on the streets, don't shout or use bad language towards these women. SHOW SOME RESPECT [sic]. In case you have any problem with a girl or a pimp, don't hesitate to ask a policeman/woman. We know why you're here and you hardly can surprise us anymore."
  • A spokeswoman from the Netherlands Board of Tourism, which does not actively promote the district or consider it a tourist attraction, said, "If people are interested, they can pick up the pamphlet in Amsterdam at the police department. Neither the Amsterdam tourist office nor the Netherlands Board of Tourism is distributing the folder."

    She said she'd be "surprised if the bigger hotels carry it," except "maybe the hotels in the red light district or near it."

    Bizarre bazaar

    While visiting the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, where some 4,000 merchants vie for the attentions of many fewer tourists, an entrepreneur approached Insider and said: "Hey lady, may I have the honor to hassle you? I have the best carpets. Please come to look." To this Insider replied that she already had spent her carpet money (about double what was budgeted, actually), but thanked him all the same.

    Buying American

    The Naples, Fla.-based Coral Collection of Fine Hotels & Resorts was looking to offer something different in turndowns -- not just another fancy, imported chocolate.

    Joe Freni Jr., president of Coral Collection, thought of a "hugs and kisses" theme and implemented it during May.

    Hershey's Chocolate Kisses and Hershey's lesser-known Hugs (similar to Kisses, but swirled with white chocolate) were selected for placement upon the pillows of the firm's five Florida boutique hotels.

    "It just suddenly occurred to us," a spokeswoman for Coral Collection said, "what about a good, old and simple American kiss? And then how about a hug and a kiss?"

    It's too early for comment card evaluation reports, but Beth Preddy, Coral Collection's Naples, Fla.-based public relations counsel, said that she rejected the suggestion to inform the candymaker in Hershey, Pa., about how its product was being used.

    "No way. If we call [Hershey] and it thinks it's a good idea, its going to call Marriott and all the big [hotel chains] and suggest they all do the same thing."

    Insider's comment: Hershey thought of this idea years ago. After all, it is also in the hotel business!

    At this time, Hershey chocolates are left on the nightstand when the turndown service is performed at both the Hotel Hershey and Hershey Lodge and Convention Center, both in Hershey, Pa.

    But Insider thinks that Coral Collection's Freni should be rewarded for his decision.

    In fact, we may have the connections to swing a VIP tour for him of the Hershey chocolate factory and perhaps a HersheyPark discount.

    Sweet dreams.

    JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI