Yesterday Mark and I went out for a rijsttafel dinner at one of the many Indonesian restaurants you can find in Amsterdam. Sixteen mini-courses served in small rectangular bowls plus an Indonesian beer to go along with it. Afterwards we went to the red light district, which has to be seen to be believed. It really is like you read about it: barely-nude women standing behind glass doors, smiling at all the men and tapping their rings against the glass to grab your attention. Not a pair of lips or breasts that any of the women were born with. Red lights are of course everywhere, even lining the canal tunnels in the area. There were several alleys with these window-women, yet the main drag of the red light district flanks both sides of a canal. Live sex shows, private “cabines” and marijuana “coffeeshops” were also on site, as well as the obligatory foreign (read British) stag parties.
The sun has been beating down on us for the past two days and I got sunburnt because I didn’t put on any sunscreen yesterday, but I made sure to slather it on today. I walked to the bookstores, both Dutch and English, and got books on the Amsterdam “boat people” (those who live year-round in canal houseboats) and the history of the Netherlands claiming land from the sea. I also spent far too long in a map store called À La Carte. I bought a 1:50.000-scale map of the Netherlands-Belgium border region showing Baarle-Hertog/Baarle-Nassau and its cookie-cutter international frontier.
Tonight Mark and I are going out for dinner at a Surinamese restaurant. All these cuisines you can only dream about; tell me, where can you find such a restaurant in Toronto? Tomorrow at 11.00 we leave by train for Luxembourg.