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Drive-through brothels

Rick Steves, the American guidebook author and TV travel host, admits that he's never seen a prostitute in his home town but is fascinated by the "drama of well-worn women in a male-dominated world humiliating lonely men in grotty little rooms by charging them a day's wage for ten minutes of sexual fun." 

book coverIn his memoir, Rick Steves' Postcards from Europe, Steves points out that "Prostitution is everywhere in Europe. It always has been." As an example, he describes a daytime visit with a Dutch friend to a drive-through brothel in the polder country of tulips and windmills near Haarlem:

Hans then turns sharply, stopping at the gate of a large, fenced-in parking lot. There's a circular drive lined with covered bus-stop benches painted pink. From there a lane leads to what looks like a twenty-stall drive-through car wash. The sign reads "Tippelzone. Geopend van 21:00 tot 3:00."

The author's friend Hans explains: 

"This is a drive-in red-light district. Prostitutes. You say, 'Everything's so Dutch.' This is Dutch, too." 

Steves continues wistfully: 

I imagine a busy Saturday night with women stationed at each pink bench, a bumper-to-bumper parade of shoppers, and cars privately rocking in the drive-through stalls. I cling to memories of a time when morning rush hour in Holland featured intersections clogged with bikers--wooden shoes lashed to their handlebars--heading for the fields. Although wooden shoes still keep some feet dry in the boggy fields, these days a tourist will more likely see them used as flower pots nailed to souvenir shop windowsills. That Dutch boy of my travel dreams is off smoking somewhere with the Swiss Miss...or waiting for a 21:00 Tippel.

(TIP: Read my Rick Steves' Postcards in Europe review with excerpts and my interview with Rick Steves.)

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