So I decided to do some more exploring last night. I’ve been too hyped to stay in my room (which is roughly the size of a small bathroom with bed in place of the tub anyway) but the ear infection is seriously denting my enjoyment of the experience. I’m no longer feeling that tired/weakness that comes with being sick, but the ear hurts constantly and both ears feel stuffed with cotton wadding. Overall I feel sick and cranky, despite (or pehaps in addition to) being in a really fascinating place.This makes it hard to join in any reindeer games.
But I can at least scout out the land some more before I heal up. I mean, if you already know where a good English village is, you can jump right to the fun stuff when you go a-Viking.
So I picked a street that angled towards downtown and started walking. Right now I’m located about 3km from the center of the city. (I think. The maps have no scales. I’m extrapolating from the distance the airport is from the city center, versus my distance from airport and city center.) The interior of the city is laid out like half of a series of rings, or ripples from a center point, but flat on one side. Each ring is a canal, and between the rings are city blocks or the equivalent, many further sub-divided by alleys. I’m staying for the moment just outside the futherest ring from the center, which is still in the downtown area.
This ring/onion analogy only works for about half the distance from the perimiter to the center. As you pass that halfway point everything degenerates into chaos as the canals and streets go everywhich way in wild abandon. But from the halfway point on out, the streets radiate outward like spokes on a wheel.
So I picked a random spoke-street along the perimeter and started heading inward. There is a lot of construction going on as the trolley rails are being rebuilt, but this is low-impact since the inner city streets are brick, and brick streets do not require gigantic machines to fix. The outer half of the city in my area is mostly cafes, pubs, coffee houses, and small shops. They run along every street and alley, on both sides and elbow to elbow, with no discernable pattern whatsoever. So basically, blunder around and hope you find something like what you’re looking for, which you will eventually. But this is the orderly part. As you hit that chaos barrier about half way in things get really weird, with lots of the kinds of upscale shops that one expects in a metropolitan downtown sitting beside hotdog stands, coffee/pot shops and other places I haven’t learned the focus of. And in Dutch fashion they have named all the streets “spootlompgluck” in hopes of confusing German invaders.
Ad I meandered inward amidst the neon, chaos, people and half-heard sounds I had no destination in mind nor any idea where I was. I eventually found myself skirting the edges of a rather busy and particularly neon section of town, looking for something to eat (being sick is turning me into a delivery system for an appitite).
No, I’ve JUST HAD COFFEE!! Nothing else! Yet. Shaddup.
I was trundling down a walkway along a canal in a dimly lit area and looking into the buildings I was seeing, realizing many were borded up, but most of the others appeared to be living space. As I passed one house I noticed that there were deep red lights hanging above the windows.
Now, normally I suspect I would have put the pieeces together and had no suprises, but please do remember that I’m not quite myself at the moment and not running on all memory banks. It should be noted that I have no personal problem with prostitution, any more than I do with drugs. Prostitution is as old as the hills, and my biggest concern with it is that it’s not exactly an ideal long-term career, being somewhat time limited. So I should have blinked, nodded and moved on, thinking that not everyone is as anal as we are….
I took a couple steps before the full impact registered. I saw the room, the chairs, the red curtains, the…
As I fled down the street a rapid pounding on glass behind me announced the determined attempts of the demon within to escape and feed. I was blinking convusively to try to clear the afterimages from my mind, tripping on cobblestones and pointedly ignoring any other red lit ANYTHING, windows, houses, streetlights, flashing afterimages of creatures much larger than I with lace and odd-numbered teeth and ….. (sobs)
I was greatly disillusioned.
Once I could see where I was going again I decided to hide in a Irish Pub (with real Australians!) and get something to eat, only to find that it was after 10pm and Irish people only eat Guiniess after 10pm. So I wandered again (somewhat shocky) until I found a place that served steak, hamburgers and other Americana. I’ve decided that no one can do American food well, including for the most part Americans, but at least it costs as much as my hotel room over here.
On my way back I ended up in a place surrounded by red lights and windows, which almost sent me catatonic untill I looked and noticed that this was not the Hall of Demons I had encountered previously. I’m guessing, but I suspect I simply glanced off the edge of the Red Light district and ran into the equivalent of a downtown Seattle McDonalds.
Regardless, sleep did not come quickly that night….
This is more disjointed than the first bit because I’ve been pretty busy. It’ll be a week or two for the next installment.
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