Dateline: 13:19 04 Sep 1996
Location: Amsterdam, Nieuwmarkt 
Har.  I was supposed to be able to live like a king on this, my last day here, but after getting a locker, a (cheap-ass) hot meal, surfing the net, visiting the torture museum and buying postcards, a loaf of bread and a liter of juice (phew!) I am down to -- let's count -- the kingly sum of 45 cents.  I could use one of those "A'dam on 45c a day" guides right now, as it's too chilly for chilling in the park.  Anyway, after some research I located the red-light district and even stumbled through it half by accident -- turns out the hostel was 50m away.  (No wonder it's popular.)  I'll go cruise around again as I have nothing better to do, although so far it looked quite dull, girls in the window and all not withstanding.

So I'll blabber about the Torture Museum.  It was pretty much what I was afraid it would be like, if somewhat bigger and less gruesome.  The focus was entirely on medieval torture and execution, with the usual gear ranging from thumbscrews to the rack and guillotine.  There were a few novel machines, such as the Spanish Horse (idea: straddle person on a high pyramidal version of the gymnastic horse, attach weights to feet, and let gravity do the rest), and also essentially the only non-obvious method, a rod linking head, hands and feet so the victim was wracked by muscle spasms.  But that's it: no "torture around the world", much less those still in use or modern variants -- imagine what you could construct from CIA/KGB archives alone!   The museum was sumptously illustrated with medieval woodcuts and the devices were adequately explained, if in a moralistic tone; unfortunately, the instructive but confusing woodcuts were not commented on, a shame.  Nevertheless, it was an... erm... different! way to start a morning.

5 hours to go.  I'm cold, and tired.  At least the cloud cover's slowly starting to break up...  hurry!  Maybe I should start using up the remains of my Strippenkaart?  It still has 4 hours left on it.

Miserable day or not -- hey, at least it's not raining (finger cross!) -- I decided to continue my tour of A'dam's parks, with me writing this on a bench in the small but nice Oosterpark.
One of the old fellows fishing nearby just caught a magnificent specimen, a truly big mother in fact, perhaps a trout?  I'm not sure, because after hauling it in and netting it, the old guy released it.  Regulation, pity, or just the realization that there ain't too many big fish in this small pond and that he'll have nothing left to do on his days of retirement if he gets too active?  Only he knows.

I passed through the red-light district again, past tittering couples blushing at the rather, if not exactly infantile then at least pubescent displays, inevitably airbrushed paintings of females in various stages of undress with large mammary glands contorting into strange poses while lurid lettering screams "REAL LIVE FUCKING ON STAGE!".  Oddly enough Japanese seems to be in vogue -- is this where all those camera-equipped salarymen sneak at night? -- with every place advertising HOTTO SEKKUSU.  And there were more meat racks, prostitutes in glass boxes munching on falafel and looking bored as tourists panted, slobbered and giggled at them.  "Erotic Discount Center" signs notwithstanding*, at least in my case essentially the only emotion aroused by these ho-in-the-box displays was pity; it must be about as shitty a job as they get, and a dead-end career if there ever was one.  In many cases literally dead, at that.  Then again, how many Thai girls in Bangkok would sell their granny (who probably sold them) to exchange places?  Today's sightseeing has certainly extended my world view in a positive direction...

* "Excuse me, I'd like a 45-cent piece of ass..."

There was a huge gabber rave yesterday and I MISSED IT!  WAAAAAAH!  How nice, the sun sympathizes and peeked out from behind the clouds to show it.  But, after a comfortably numb almost-hour train ride, here I am at the other end of A'dam, in a park so obscure it's off the maps: Haarlempark.  Little resemblance to its NYC descendant, thankfully, but a mite cruder than most parks so far.  Anyway, I just realized that while I've tried to sample local delicacies everywhere, I'm about to leave Amsterdam and I have yet to smoke a spliff (or get
drunk or laid, for that matter) here.  Oh, the tyranny of the 45c dilemma in a world centered on money...  so I shall just sit on my friend the bench and radiate an aura on inner peace, harmony and warmth.  Especially the last one.

I keep running into Finns and things Finnish in the strangest places.  Finns have appeared in Copenhagen (a tourist shop), Praha (the castle) and A'dam (at a local shop buying beer).  As for things Finnish, the most interesting items were a pack of "7 Ruusua" chocolates at a Prahan suburb subway station's little kiosk, and the video I'm watching here at A'dam CS, a documentary about the Finnish football player Jari Litmanen.  What originally clued me in was the introductory footage of snowed-under forest ("Hey! That looks like Finland!"), and sure enough...

The day's budget 
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