All weekend we've been surrounded by people snacking on cheese (#2 bar snack after falafel) so when the lonely planet guide promises a place which will serve us fondue cheese-addict Elle yanks me onto the sneltram to Nieuwmarket. Once there, we peer suspiciously at the supposedly friendly and fondue-filled café, an unpreposessing venetian-blinded dusty frontage over what looks a heck of a lot like a barely open more-traditional-than-thou browncafé. We opt to try for somewhere else, Chinese maybe, but three doors down I spot "Kaasfondue" listed next to three pasta specials on a chalkboard outside a big-windowed café with at least six different sorts of mood-lighting, including fairy-lights, a chandelier and a mirror ball. A waitress who looks like the blond water-faerie from Orbital's H20 video sits us between the windowsill covered with bead-festooned candlesticks and a big velvet curtain to ward off the spring draught.
We look at the guidebook. We look at the place we are. The name is different, but the Café 't Tuinfest is the place it describes, down to the choice of beer, the pleasant wine, the kind service, the good music, and of course, the wonder that is fondue (damn them! They make a better fondue than me!). One of those small but significant errors.
So we spent all evening there, great except that we end up going back through the red light district and pick up a persistent street dog, who pretty-lady pretty-ladys us (well, Elle) off the straat and back to the gracht to look for a nicer street. And what the fuck is that about? If he wanted drugs, sex, anything he damn well pleased, it was there, for him, two doors away, maximum. But no, he decides he'll harass a couple of tourists instead. Bizarre.
And that's about all I get to see of the red light district.