is no doubt the most easy-going city in Europe. The Dutch
have traditionally always been a laid back tolerant race
indeed they actually legalized homosexuality as long a go
as 1811 and Amsterdam epitomizes this Dutch spirit. Blessed
with a circular layout which means that getting from place
to place can either be reasonably quick or relatively leisurely
if you go the scenic route following the arcs of the canals.
A trip on the canals is a must.
If you are interested in art and museums
then Amsterdam has a wealth of goodies to offer you from
the world-famous museums Van Gogh, Rijks , Stedelijk Museums
to the Sex Museum, Rembrandt’s House (a must see),
the Heineken Museum, the Anne Frank House, and the Frans
Hals Museum in nearby Haarlem (about twenty minutes by train).
main claim to fame of the city, like Venice, is its network
of canals. Whilst unlike Venice Amsterdam has roads, the
canals and the cute little (and not so little) houses and
house-boats give the city a wonderful charm that on a fine
spring day as the many trees begin to blossom is unbearably
Apart from the museums, there are other things to attract
the visitor. The two main parks are big, the Vondel Park
next to the Rijks Museum is long and wide and can be very
noisy at weekends with bongo players, chanting hippies,
rollerbladers and skateboarders but on some days when all
is quiet it is a haven with its lakes and weeping willows
and fishermen puffin on their pipes. This park also has
music festivals, pop concerts and film screenings. The Oosterpark
is smaller but is a very pretty open space with a sinuous
lake. There are a number of offbeat museums here –
Children’s Museum, WW2 Museum, Boat Museum, Science
Museum and so on.
by international city standards Amsterdam center is compact
there are four gay villages loosely connected. The first
is around the area in front of the station very close to
the second an intense concentration of pubs, bars , shops
and clubs in the heart of the old town, also known as the
red light district, centred on the Oude Kerk. Most of the
leather shops and clubs are in this area. About twenty minutes
walk south from this area, after crossing the main canal,
The Amstel, (tempting to take a few mouthfuls with that
name – best not to), you arrive at the historic Rembrandtplein.
There are many little streets around here with bars and
pubs to suit every taste and Reguliersdwarsstraat is a good
bet for a daytime drink or discoing until four at Exit.
The fourth gaggle of gaiety is on the left off Spiegelgracht
as you face the Rijks Museum.
The range and number of gay places are
enormous. Whatever you are looking for you can find and
since the place is so easy going (you could get married
there) life can be really lovely. The Dutch themselves are
also very pleasant. Go there as soon as possible!
Further Reading: Highly recommended is
Out Around – Amsterdam by Ryan Levitt, published by
Thomas Cook Publishing at 7.99. At a manageable 160 pages
the guide is crammed full with up to date info plus lots
of maps and colour piccies. It also has a “My Top…”
feature where the author nominates his favourite bar club,
sauna and so on. It is compact so easy to carry around.
Check it out. www.outabout.com