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Swans, the pigeons of Amsterdam

So I did get out last night. Bus downtown, and walking down the nearest main street, Dam Rak. Restaurants, Sex Museum, and "coffeehouses" -- I wonder where they go for actual coffee. Had utterly unremarkable bolognese followed by good but exotic Dutch apple pie: the apple pieces were light, almost fluffy, ditto for whatever filled the gaps, vs. American glop. No special flavoring on top which I thought was Dutch. Veered left a bit, down a few twists, and suddenly, window girls! The red light district, or one of them. And the women are indeed red-lit.

It's actually a rather mixed district, which is probably good for all concerned: the district isn't pure seediness, the locals have other things to do, and visitors have other excuses to be there. Zeedijk street, for example, is full of restaurants: multiple Argentinian, Brazilian grill, dim sum, Malaysian, Vietnamese... And various shops; today I passed one where burly males were modeling underwear for the street. No prostitution windows, they're in the side alleys, or the parallel walkways by the canal, mixed in with bars and stuff.

Because also suddenly, canals! And what I thought at first in the dark were plastic model swans floating around, until one started rocking a bit, and then moving its head. Later I saw 7 swans all once, getting fed by tourists. They're not really like pigeons if they're not out on land like pigeons or seagulls, but still.

Times Square had a similar mixed nature: strip clubs, bars, theatres, and grocery stores all mixed together randomly.

I looked for food in one of those European "supermarkets" that I find as depressing as the worst of the window prostitutes, but they didn't have bread, just some pre-packaged croissants. Later got some bread and croissants at a bakery sandwich place.

I'm back at the Brazilian this afternoon, having the 7-meat specialty of the churrascaria. May not be my best decision, all the meats seem too salty, not sure if that's te place or Brazilian cooking.

Sausage: greasy and salty
roast chicken: fairly good but salty
medium? Slightly red roast beef: quite salty
rarer beef: better
juicier beef: I insisted on tasting the first slice before having more or dismissing him; much better! Might also help if I got more meat from the interior of the joints, the surface is basically all salt rub.
Much rarer beef: tasted, then asked for a second slice from the interior. I have power!
Some more-cooked and lighter meat, wonder if it's pork.
Oh god something else, though little nuggets on a plate rather than meat on a spit. Maybe I do need to use the Stop coaster, I thought they'd stop at 7. And seriously, I've had bacon less salty than the surfaces of these meats. Must eat cleansing melon.

At least there's a vegetable buffet, I'll pack my gaps with tomatoes and green beans. I'm also having cassava fries, which are subtly different from potatoes.

I'm still phoneless; I found SIM cards for sale, but got told they didn't do data prepaid so I waited to do research. Which suggests so far that the UK may be a world oasis of pre-paid plans, and I'm back in the desert. For navigation I'm back at paper maps, though those don't help me stop my bus in time at night.

Buses seem to run every 10 or 15 minutes, which is usable but a downer compared with 2-4 minute metros in London and Paris. I don't know about the trams yet. There's a Metro here but mostly for leaving Amsterdam.

Tap water comes in single glasses, though my second glass here came with a carafe.

Halfwat through Quicksilver now, and by a stroke of coincidence he's talking about the growth of Amsterdam, concentric U's of walls and the canals that were the moats that the dirt for the walls came from. This matches the map... Now I wonder how many of these old city maps would make more sense if I knew their history.

Walked much of the U later, from east ouf Nieuenmarkt to the south and back up Singel. Got turned around but a map, lunar navigation, and a friendly bicyclist kept me on track.

Found a real supermarket near my hotel! Fruit! Looked at truffle type thingies but all the ingredient list looked too complicated.

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Phoenix
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Damien Sullivan
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