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it’s all good baby, baby

What was originally supposed to be a long layover turned into one of the funnest, most craziest adventures yet. Amsterdam is known for their gorgeous long canals, beautiful couples strolling the streets by bike, and excellent late-night food joints, but it’s equally as famous for something a little more provocative than you’d might expect: sex shows. Live couples having real-life, juicy, well-choreographed sex in front of a real-life audience. 

The red light district is place that truly lessens in contrast. For a place dripping with sex and suggestive imagery, it’s surprisingly beautiful and unexpectedly clean. Hell, there’s even a church at one end of the street lit with glory. With one of the city’s iconic canals stripped through the middle of the road, it felt both safe

and comfortable — provided you can look past the porcelain-doll looking, lingerie-clad prostitutes eyeing you from their secluded booths. While us ladies didn’t “do as the Romans do” and negotiated an hourly rate with a sultry babe, we did sit in on an infamous sex show — and a show it was. Our gaze firmly pressed the gyrating two-some upon entry, starting in both amazement and bewildered arousal. The couples would pound away at each other against cheeky music, switching positions frequently as the carousel of carnal delights slowly rotated to ensure every person in the room caught a wistful eye. After the initial shock and awe of realizing there are two human beings having literal sex right in front of us… we’d snicker and critique the positions of the couples like a bunch of twitted bandits reviewing a short film. 

It was awesome.

The night felt young and our jet lag persisted, so we pressed forward to a nearby “coffeeshop” hidden in prosed disguise. Such coffeeshops should not be confused with normalized coffee shops or cafes in Amsterdam, which are like American coffee shops that serve soft goods and excellent lattes. These bad boys are, in fact, legal dispensaries for marijuana coated with a kind facade to invite newcomers in for a cup of hot chocolate and a drag. Smoke-filled air would soothe our lungs and fruitful conversations between the three of us were immediately conducted. 

Of course we did more “normal” things, like roam the alleyways, sip on cappuccinos, and eat delicious foods, but that’s all more-or-less the same as we did in Italy and Greece. Amsterdam was special.

Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer

What a privilege it is to explore a foreign country as part of your free time. In my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted. I have often found that there is no sure way to know yourself better than under the pressure of a flight, the miles of distance to walk to breakfast, or the hilarious mishaps that happen at the train station with your girlfriends. Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalks day after day in search of a new destination, we had a long ways to run. But just has Jack Kerouac says, the road is life. And that road is fierce. 

Huddled up against the Serio river and 15k northeast of Lody, Cema retains its late medical and Renaissance core largely intact. The grandiose alleyways lined with colorful textures and vibrant hues are some of the more ideal settings to witness whilst in the Italian countryside. Of course, my favorite part about traveling to Crema was to experience first-hand the town behind “Call Me By Your Name” — one of my most favorite films of all time. It’s a vague hint at a setting — enough to give geographical context for what’s to come, but not enough to take away from the dreamy timelessness of the film’s central romance once it finally arrives. 

We munched on a delicious sausage pizza and kept our fleeces nearby in case the cold front became too unbearable. Streets were near flooded with confetti and decor accruements as part of a holiday celebration that often takes place among Italian residencies three weekends every March. While we were never able to catch the name of what the holiday was called, we’d laugh and celebrate among the crowded masquerade anyways.

Positano is a stunningly situated town at the western end of the scenic Amalfi Coast, just south of Sorrento. Dating from the middle ages, the original role of Positano as a quiet fishing village struggling to makes a living from the sea has been completely transformed by the impact of tourism. The first thing you’ll notice as you explore Positano is the steepness; the town has been crowded into a very sleek slide that bleeds into the sea. If nothing else, you’ll build up a great appetite exploring up and down the hill with endless staircases and streets. The price of our lunch break was well worth the picture perfect postcard imagery, which this gorgeous place certainly encompasses. The vast street sides lined with colorfully painted houses are as pretty as any to be found along the seashore

Our times spent under the Tuscan sun was short-lived, as the weather in March subdues the harsh sunlight with endless cloud cover and a slight rainy forecast. Weather conditions hardly stoped our romping aching hearts, we’d prance the beachfront in our dotted swimsuits anyways (at least I did). ;)

Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
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Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
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Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
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Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer

Greece. An absolute must-see, of course, while roaming Ancient Athens is the Acropolis, a hurdle of famous monuments including the iconic Parthenon and the demure robed maidens (Caryatids) supporting the roof of the Erechtheion temple alongside. Any invitation to Athens should also include the easy walk from the Acropolis down to the Ancient Agora — once the focal point of administrative, commercial, political, and social activity, and the spot where Socrates expounded his philosophy. Us ladies would spend hours under the perfect 60 degree sunlight reading the history and culture of an exciting civilization that once existed many moons ago. We’d tell each other stories that were, too, relatable to Greek Gods of ancient years, probing conversations drenched in sex, drugs, and relationships.

Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
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Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer

‘Till Next Time, Baby