Fun weekends away seem to be a little like buses. You wait for ages and then two come along at once!
One of my friends moved to Amsterdam almost eight years ago. So I have been lucky enough to visit on several occasions and experience the city more like a local and less like a tourist. Amsterdam does seem to have a reputation for hen and stag parties. But it really is the most beautiful city and great for a grown-up weekend away, or with families.
My other friend and I decided to visit for the weekend of Pride. We had been before a few years ago and watched the parade that takes place along Amsterdam’s famous canals. This year was to be a little different as my friend’s husband had been asked to DJ on one of the 80 boats that take part. A huge honour for an amateur DJ and we were to be a part of this amazing parade!
Fun weekends away seem to be a little like buses, you wait for ages and then two come along at once
We arrived at Schiphol mid-morning, after a 40-minute flight from Luton, which cost around £140 return. There is a great bus service that gets you into the city centre in around 30 minutes. It costs 10 Euros return, or an Uber is about 25 Euros. My friend lives near the Museumplien. So we took the bus and hopped off at the Rijksmuseum, which is a museum dedicated to arts and history in Amsterdam. We met our friend and headed to a pretty street near her house, and a cafe called Locals. We sat on comfy benches outside in the shade of the trees, drank coffee and ate truffled scrambled eggs with bacon.
Friday night was the 14th International Drag Olympics. This takes place at the Homomonument, it was the first tribute in the world to the many gay and lesbian people who lost their lives during World War II. It also commemorates all those oppressed and persecuted because of their sexuality outside of wartime. The monument is close to Anne Frank’s House, which is a ‘must’ on a visit to Amsterdam. I recommend booking tickets online before you visit, as it gets very busy. And if you haven’t pre- booked, you can wait in line for a very long time!
The Drag Olympics starts at 6pm with events including the Stiletto Sprint and Handbag Toss. After the winner is crowned, DJs play until midnight. It’s a free event, like many taking place across Pride.
Pride runs between two weekends, and the second Saturday really is the highlight. Most Pride parades around the world use trucks whilst Amsterdam uses boats! The boats enter the canal at 12.30pm and travel along the famous Prisengracht. They go all the way round to the Westerdok, where they finish at 4pm, having covered more than 5.5km. All the boats are decked out in rainbow colours with huge sound systems. The girl on the boat behind ours was dancing high on a podium for the duration of the parade, with confetti cannons firing into the air.
It really is quite the spectacle with the most amazing atmosphere. As we entered the canals we really began to realise the scale of the whole event. People were 8-10 deep on the streets and bridges, with many others sat in small boats along the canal. To see so many people cheering and dancing on and alongside the canals was a truly unique experience! When the parade had finished and we had returned the boat, we headed off to one of the many street parties that take place from 4pm.
…a truly unique experience !
On Sunday we strolled along the canals for a restorative lunch at The Harbour Club. This is in the heart of the Old-South, and where the five Amsterdam canals come together. We sat outside and watched the boats go by and tucked into delicious oysters and a huge platter of sushi. After lunch, and with a three year old to entertain, we headed to one of the city’s many parks (which was looking very lush and green compared to ours back at home). We had ice-cream and a splash in a giant paddling pool. Apparently there are places like this all over the city and so much to do outside. This makes it a great place to visit with young children.
All too soon it was time to say our goodbyes and go home. It had been another fantastic weekend in Amsterdam.