24 gay hours in Amsterdam.
By Sebastián Sáenz @sebastiaenz
Welcome to one of the major gay capitals of the world. The Netherlands have shown for decades that this country is not only broadminded, but a true trendsetter when it comes to cultural, social and political progress. Historic, beautiful and a tad rainy, Amsterdam has much more to offer than wooden shoes, tulips and windmills.
Any tourist with a little self respect must cover a few basics. The Palace at the city center is an imperial masterpiece. The Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh’s museum are musts for art connoisseurs and lovers. Not visiting Anne Frank’s mouse hole is unforgivable. Misbehaving in one of those famous coffee shops and satisfying your thirst of curiosity at the Red Light district is expected. A nice boat tour in the canals should not be missed. Buying a good (and necessary) trench coat and exquisite cheese is mandatory. And yes, a tour at the Heineken headquarters will set almost anyone in an excellent mood. But what can an LGBTQ tourist do in one day in Amsterdam?
Ironically, facing the Westerkerk Church in the city center, people can find the Homomonument: three pink granite triangles that combined form a massive one (36 meters on each side), honoring the homosexual victims of WWII. One of these triangles is floor level, another one is as high as most people’s knees, and the last one forms stairs that go down the Keizersgracht canal (usually displaying flowers). This piece of the artist Karin Daan reads “Commemorates all women and men ever oppressed and persecuted because of their homosexuality. Supports the international lesbian and gay movement in their struggle against contempt, discrimination and oppression. Demonstrates that we are not alone. Calls for permanent vigilance. Past, present, and future are represented by the three triangles on this square.”
Tourists can also buy a few rainbow themed souvenirs in the little kiosk next to the monument. If, however, a little kiosk is not enough, shopaholics can walk along Warmoesstraat, where LGBTQ boutiques and leather shops such as Condomerie, Mr. B and RoB are almost one next to the other (don’t forget a porcelain couple of boys kissing). Regarding scandalous museums, Amsterdam has one dedicated exclusively to sex, and even though it mostly talks about straight sex, there are a few same-sex displays.
To grab a bite, the popular Bistro Bij Ons is owned by two lesbians who offer great traditional food, La Margatirta on Reguliersdwarsstraat is in the heart of the gay scene for those craving for Caribbean food, and on that same street, Saturnino, for Italian. Let’s talk about drinks, dancing and flirting. Fun choices for barhopping are Getto, The Queen’s Head and Taboo (don’t forget to ask the cute bartender for a tasty Limoncello Prosecco). But for those who enjoy NC-17 Rated experiences (gloryholes and leather for instance), Eagle is the best choice.
This is the marvelous capital of the first country to extend marriage laws to include same-sex couples, so expectations are quite high. Amsterdam has one of the biggest Pride parties in the world, where instead of cars and streets, attendees see people “march” on boats in the canals. So enjoy the Netherlands, and careful with the bikes!
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