Amsterdam Pride – Once Upon a Journey

Author: , September 28th, 2018

Roxanne & Maartje - Amsterdam Pride

There’s no time to rest, as the next Pride celebrations are already here! After a fantastic Pride weekend in Berlin, we fly back to Amsterdam. We rest and work for two days in Eemnes before the exciting new things are happening. Amsterdam Pride is a lot about partying but we also have some meetings coming up. Somehow, now that we are back in the Netherlands we get opportunities to connect with people we couldn’t connect anywhere else before (read: networking!).

The highlight of Amsterdam Pride is the canal parade on the first Saturday of August. This year will be the first time we will go on a boat of the parade. Normally we see all the boats passing by from the streets so it’s going to be a whole different experience this time. Thanks to our new Berlin-slash-gay-friend Haroon Ali we connect with some great people from Amsterdam Marketing and that’s how we get the opportunity to be on the NYC-Amsterdam boat. Why an NYC-Amsterdam boat? Next year, 2019, NYC will host World Pride. Something we are already insanely excited for. Mark June 2019 in your agenda: World Pride time! See you there?!

Amsterdam Pride is a lot different than most Prides worldwide. In Amsterdam, it started as a celebration of freedom and diversity instead of a demonstration. Prides elsewhere are usually inspired by the Stonewall riots, but in the Netherlands, that’s continued by Pink Saturday. In 1996 Amsterdam Pride started. The canal parade grew the past years till a parade of 80 boats and over 500.000 visitors! To make our boat even more special we learn a choreography. Together we will dance on the song Go West from the Pet Shop Boys, the entire boat ride.

By Roxanne & Maartje – Full Story at Once Upon a Journey

Netherlands Gay Travel Resources

Amsterdam in the Morning – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , January 15th, 2018

Amsterdam in the Morning - Keep Calm and Wander

In my previous blog post, I talked about what Amsterdam looks like without the tourists. This is part 2 of the post – and a continuation of my morning stroll. You might not like waking up early in the morning but it’s worth it. You’ll see more of Amsterdam when there are no tourists around.

Though you won’t be able to see museums and art galleries, walking around the city in the morning is far more rewarding than doing it when tourists are everywhere. Don’t worry about getting lost – enjoy being lost. It’s a small city, so you’ll always find a way to get back where you started. You might be surprised what you can find in the city’s little corners.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Amsterdam Gay Travel Resources

Amsterdam Without the Tourists – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , January 8th, 2018

Amsterdam Without Tourists - Keep Calm and Wander

Here are photos of what Amsterdam looks like without the tourists.

It is estimated that there are around 17 million tourists that visit Amsterdam every year. For a tiny city, this number is already insane! Come in summer and you might think you’re in China due to the crowd – everywhere! Your photo will always have people in the background. Unless you’d walk away far from the centre. You can’t even enjoy a very nice, quiet meal in a restaurant. Bicycle? Forget it! Biking downtown is truly a nightmare for someone who doesn’t know the city’s shortcut corners.

Go Around in the Morning. Before tourists are awake, take a stroll along the city’s canals and squares. Though it’s quiet but you’ll appreciate the city’s layout without the crowd. The canals are serene and seem to have a personality of its own. At 7:00, the locals start to go out by riding their bikes to their offices. You’ll be hearing more bike bells anywhere you go and suddenly, you feel that you’re really in Amsterdam. By 9:00 a.m., the city starts to look a lot more like Disney again.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Netherlands Gay Travel Resources

Masterpieces of the RijksMuseum in Amsterdam – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , January 6th, 2018

RijksMuseum Amsterdam - Keep Calm and Wander

When you’re in Netherlands, don’t skip in getting to know all the masterpieces inside Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Boy, until now, I can’t help but remember the goosebumps I had staring at the originals masterpieces of Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Frans Hals, Johannes Vermeer and other Dutch masters.

How much time should I spend there? I was there two hours before is closed. That’s good enough time to explore the whole museum. But if you’re really an art enthusiast, then, you need a half day to scrutinize everything.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Netherlands Gay Travel Resources

The Narrowest House in Amsterdam – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , January 3rd, 2018

Narrowest House in Amsterdam - Alain

This may not be the thinnest house in the world but this certainly is the narrowest house facade in the world. While I’ve seen some pretty small / thin houses on my walks along the canal, this one seems to be the narrowest. I didn’t find it on my own. I joined a free walking tour guided by a friend and he pointed this out as one of the world’s narrowest houses. Obviously, you can’t disagree by the looks of it.

This should not be confused as the “narrowest in the world” because that title is already claimed by the Keret House in Poland. However, this particular house in Amsterdam has the world’s narrowest house facade. It is much bigger inside.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Netherlands Gay Travel Resources

Xaviera’s Happy House – Amsterdam

Author: , March 16th, 2017

Xaviera's Happy House

Periodically we’ll feature one of our properties here to let our readers know about some great gay friendly places to stay:

Xaviera Hollander’s Happy House Bed&Breakfast is a perfect “lovers hideaway”, in other words “A home away from home”… where you are most welcome.

Your hostess is Xaviera Hollander, the well known author of the Happy Hooker and she and her darling husband Philip, who is a terrific chef, will gladly cook you and your friends a delicious meal. Xaviera will even, on request do a workshop on “How to Become a better Lover!”

Xaviera’s Happy House is the ideal bohemian place to stay at in Amsterdam for a few days, no matter why you come here: for a naughty romantic weekend, a congress at the Rai or simply as a tourist with wife and or kids. When looking for the perfect hostess, nobody compares to Xaviera.

This is your opportunity to spend some time at a real diva’s house…one with flair for hospitality. It is located on the South side (gold coast) of Amsterdam, close to Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum, colorful street markets and elegant Beethovenstraat with dozens of great shops and trendy restaurants and … what’s more it is also just around the corner from the famous RAI Congress Center.

In the rooms there is wifi, TV, coffee and tea maker, hairdryer and in Goliath a fridge as well. It is a majestic house with quiet rooms even though we are not that far from the hustle and bustle of the city. A charming host and hostess Xaviera and Philip also offer private meals cooked by Philip who used to be a professional cook. The two of them speak each 5 languages and are most entertaining story tellers.

See the Xaviera’s Happy House Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals in the Netherlands

EATING OUT: Amsterdam

Author: , March 11th, 2017

Amsterdam

Amsterdam’s restaurants have lately grown in quality and creativity, to say nothing of the fact that food prices, now that the euro is friendlier to the dollar (as of this writing), are quite reasonable. For example: Dover Sole is priced around $17 on several menus, whereas the same would cost double or more in New York City. If you’re on a budget, you can eat well in Amsterdam, and if you’re not you’ll be pleasantly surprised at restaurant costs. Here are some wonderful places we visited that you should put on your must-try list the next time you’re in this always-beautiful, exciting, romantic city.

Recently, I had an opportunity to explore an area in Amsterdam new to me with tasty results. Amsterdam-West is a conglomerate of the neighborhoods Oud-West, De Baarsjes, Westerpark, and Bos en Lommer. With over 175 different nationalities among its population, the mostly residential area is now dotted with up-to-date shops, cafés, and restaurants. A great feature of the neighborhood is the daily outdoor market at Ten Kate Market (10 Katestraat 97-99. www.tenkatemarkt.nl) that offers “flowers, cheese, wine, baby items, clothing, fruit, vegetables, and 101 other market items,” according to its website. I slowed down as I passed through every day on my way to the tram stop and invariably picked up a few items that included ribbon, toothpaste, and even a few wool scarves.

One of the more ambitious projects in Amsterdam West is De Hallen, the renovation of seven immense maintenance sheds opened around 1900 when electric trams were introduced. Today, De Hallen includes a hotel, food halls with over 20 different vendors, a movie theater with separate viewing areas, a library, nursery school, dozens of shops, and parking for both cars and bicycles.

By Nick Malgieri – Full Story at Passport

Netherlands Gay Travel Resources

Gay Amsterdam – The Scruffy Italian Traveler

Author: , August 17th, 2016

Gay Amsterdam - The Scruffy Italian Traveler

Amsterdam is not a huge city, so I was surprised by the amount of gay bars and clubs of the city: there is something for every taste! Yes Gay Amsterdam has a lot to offer! The city throws one of the best Gay Prides too! Its doesnt run on the streets, but on the canals: it is a procession of boats, really unique! This year, 2016, Amsterdam hosts the Europride, so an even bigger crown than usual is expected!

Most of the gay scene happen in the center of the city. There are a few hot-spots where most of the gay bars are concentrated: the choice is very vast. Amsterdam is the ideal location if you are into bar hopping, like me: as you know Scruffy Gios is a professional gay bars hopper 🙂

This is the Scruffy Guide to the top 5 bars in Gay Amsterdam!

Gay Amsterdam – Taboo

This is the perfect bar where to start your bar hopping! But I recommend you to visit it also a few different times along the way! Taboo is a very relaxed gay bar located on the main Amsterdam gay street, Reguliersdwarsstraat. It has an excellent happy hour in the afternoon ! This is the reason why it gets busy pretty early: plenty of professionals flock to this bar soon after work for a chilled pint or two. In summer, and anyway on a sunny afternoon, its terrace get very crowded: try it on a hot Summer Sunday night! Its relaxed atmosphere makes it the perfect bar to enjoy a chat with a few strangers and some hotties! The place gets also busy at night, during the happy hour at 2 am: of course I took advantage of it, just before heading to other bars!

By Sergio Scardia – Full Story at The Scruffy Italian Traveler

Gay Amsterdam Travel Resources

The 5 Friendliest LGBTQ Vacation Hotspots

Author: , May 28th, 2016

There are fabled destinations with long-standing LGBTQ traditions—just ask Lesbos, Mykonos and New Orleans—where escaping from the confines of every day was never so easy, never so limitless and never so completely carefree. But the modern world has offered up fantastic cultural meccas that always take a keen interest in making everyone feel comfortable, and those who identify LGBTQ will fit right in.

So what are you waiting for—the party’s just ahead!

  1. Berlin, Germany

Berlin - pixabay

With a long standing history that is as intense as it is troubled, Berlin has arisen from the ashes of its past to become one of the most diverse, well-rounded, and respecting cities in the world with multi-ethnicities immigrating and thriving with the German population.

In addition to their incredibly progressive views, Berlin is also the gay capital of Europe with a gay museum, a gay memorial, and an openly gay mayor. While that doesn’t cover all the basis, the open-minded city is equally comfortable with the rest of the queer community. Head for Hafen, one of the most famous gay bars in town, Connection, a dance club that shouldn’t be missed, and Gay Hostel for accommodation—you’ll find plenty of like-minded people here to experience this amazing city with.

  1. Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles - pixabay

While most of Hollywood is constantly under scrutiny of being one or more of the letters in LGBTQ, the truth is that Los Angeles is a great place to be LGBTQ. Between the cultural metropolis and its heavy art, business, and beauty industries, there are plenty of LGBTQ-friendly beaches and nightclubs to frequent, and the weather is always perfect for a stop down by the sea.

Make a stop at The Abbey for the quintessential gay bar-lounge-party time, which includes both an indoor and outdoor areas and the most prominent members of the LGBTQ community as regulars on the busy weekends.

  1. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Marijuana and prostitution aren’t the only things bringing visitors to Amsterdam; it’s also the totally chill vibe of the city of Amsterdam. Between the canals and coffee shops, the city is thoroughly on board with the LGBTQ cause—in fact, the city legalized same-sex marriage in the early 1800s, the first place in the entire world to do so. But enough about the history; time to get to the cool stuff!

When in Amsterdam, do as the Amsterdamians do and hit up Cafe Dubbel D (formerly Cafe Rouge), one of the busiest shops in the entire city. Next, plan your day around Rapido parties, because this is a good time you aren’t going to want to miss. Then hit up Thermos for an excellent spa experience and Hemelse Modder for a perfect European meal and excellent service.

  1. Madrid, Spain

Madrid - pixabay

Madrid is home to perhaps the gayest community around, Chueca, where nightlife reigns supreme, as well as lots of rights and cultural nods to gay culture. Madrid recognizes gay marriages and openly uses LGBTQ lifestyles to influence trendy shops, restaurants, and hotels throughout the city. It’s one of the most progressive cities when it comes to gay rights in the world, and that shows in their laws, party scene, and every other corner of life.

The Cage (a popular fetish bar) is always a perfect place to head for a laugh or even something a tad more serious, but Space of Sound is one of my favorite hangouts for the go-go boys and total party vibe. Park it at Medea for the city’s oldest lesbian bar and don’t forget to leave plenty of time for a sauna experience—the Sauna Octopus is a must for every visitor! For a bonus into the city, I suggest downloading apps such as Grindr and Manhunt if outdoor cruising and sex parties are your thing (grab a Virtual Private Network for your phone to make sure the geolocation functions are working correctly)!

  1. Miami, Florida

Miami - pixabay

Take one look at the hot bods and it’s obvious why Miami is a gay capital of the world—but more than just being a place to get hot and sweaty out in the open, Miami flourishes with culture and happenings that accept all flavors of ice cream (if you pardon my expression).

While I think a stop at the topless-optional South Beach is an excellent way to spend an afternoon, I also suggest Da Leo Trattoria, for an excellent meal. Don’t miss out on Twist either for a run around the dance floor and then a relaxing evening on the roof for a drink and an overlook of the city that likes to party all night long.

Any city is a great place for the LGBTQ community to travel, but these picks are a specific brand of cultural richness that will just hit all the right notes, so enjoy!

Have any suggestions on where to head after finishing this list? Leave a comment or a next trip itinerary, and I will personally take the recommendation around for a ride!

About the Author: Cassie Phillips is an active tech guru, digital nomad, and wordsmith discovering the world as readily as she explores obscure depths of the internet. Curious about anything and everything, she loves her cat, her coffee, and her growing photography collection. Ask her about her famous Birthday Cake Pancakes recipe or her one-time run in with Ben Affleck and JLO—both stories are likely to leave you in disbelief!

All photos from pixabay, provided by Cassie Phillips

​Viking River Cruises – Grand European Tour with Gay Travel Info

Author: , May 13th, 2016

grand European Tour map

Viking River Cruises

Grand European Tour with Gay Travel Info

By Steven Skelley and Thomas Routzong

The Viking River Cruises Grand European Tour is simply one of the best cruises that we have ever experienced. It’s that easy to describe.

Where else can you enjoy a 15-day cruise with 12 guided tours visiting 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, while enjoying 14 breakfasts, 13 lunches, 14 dinners, complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks during onboard dinner and lunch service, concerts ranging from Austrian classics to baroque organ music, lectures on Germany, Holland and the European Union and free Wi-Fi?

Our Viking River Cruises Grand European Tour was the perfect mix of relaxation, education and exploration.
BudapestBUDAPEST, HUNGARY

Budapest is the capital of Hungary. It has been called one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. We arrived after sunset but it’s beauty was still clearly evident.

The night view from the top deck of the ship is simply stunning. The palaces, government building and bridges are all lit at night. Have your camera ready because the reflections in the river make for fantastic vacation photos.

On the morning of our second day, we chose to enjoy the “Hungary’s Graceful and Inspiring Capital” tour.

Budapest is a mix of classical and modern architecture separated down the middle by the Danube river but connected by the Chain Bridge since 1849.

Our tour began in modern Pest where we viewed the beautiful Andrassy Avenue, the Hungarian Opera House, and the Heroe’s Square monuments.

We crossed the Chain Bridge to the historic Buda side of the city. where we strolled the Castle District. At this hilltop castle complex, we explored the turrets of Fishermen’s Bastion, medieval Matthias Church and the spectacular views from Buda Hill.

After our morning tour, we still had plenty of time to explore on our own. We walked from Pest to Buda across the Chain Bridge over the Danube and back again. We walked down to the imposing Parliament Building and also spent time contemplating “The Shoes On The Danube” memorial to the Holocaust victims that were executed here on the banks of the river.

If we had just had a little more time, we would have loved to have visited the famous thermal baths that were once enjoyed by ancient Romans.

For gay traveler information, visit http://www.budapest.com/city_guide/gay_budapest.en.html

ViennaVIENNA, AUSTRIA

Vienna is the capital of Austria. Musical icons including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Joseph Haydn, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert and Johannes Brahms worked in Vienna. It has been called the “City of Dreams” because it was the home of the world’s first psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud.

Ornate is the key word for Vienna architecture. The historic structures, monuments, churches, palaces, homes and government buildings are works of art to be studied and enjoyed.

Retail stores from the most chic to the obligatory souvenir shops near the Vienna State Opera all fit the theme of historic and fashionable.

The Giant Ferris Wheel, erected to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Emperor Franz Josef I in 1897, offers a wonderful view of the city and an excellent photo opportunity.

We chose to explore Vienna by the “Essential Overview of the City of Waltzes” tour. We drove into the city by bus and then walked to various highlights including:

* The Ringtrasse grand boulevard lined with elegant palaces, private homes and public buildings * The Hofburg Palace winter residence of the powerful Hapsburg dynasty * The Spanish Riding School with world famous Lipzzaner horses * The gothic St. Stephen’s Cathedral * The Vienna State Opera Hall with Mozart inspired frescoes

There is a two level, paved walking path along the river. Be sure to watch for the black rabbits, brown rabbits and swans. Neither the rabbits nor the swans appear afraid of humans and almost seem to pose to have their pictures taken.

Just a short walk from the Danube docking site is The Grow Shop: a marijuana store. It is a great place to take a silly photo to show family and friends back home.

For gay traveler information, visit https://www.wien.info/en/vienna-for/gay-lesbian

Wachau ValleyWACHAU VALLEY

We spent the morning cruising the Wachau Valley that is filled with beautiful hillside vineyards and castle ruins including Duerrstein castle where Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned by Leopold V.

With abbeys, monasteries, churches, castles and the terraced vineyards with their stone wall supports all along the river, it is a photographer’s dream come true.

Find a comfortable spot on the top deck, sip a refreshing beverage and enjoy the beauty passing slowly by on both sides of the ship.

Floating down the river through the Wachau Valley is like slowly strolling through a museum containing some of the most beautiful scenic paintings in the world. Enjoy!
MelkMELK, AUSTRIA

Once the ship docked, we toured the 900 year old Benedictine abbey at Melk.

Melk Abbey has 365 windows (one for each day of the year), imperial rooms, ceiling frescoes and a library that is filled with floor to ceiling shelves holding priceless hand-copied ancient books.

The abbey also contains a strange artifact: a human jawbone in a golden stand. It is meant to honor an innocent man that was unjustly executed.

There are also extravagantly dressed mummified human bodies in the church itself.

Melk Abbey is a strange and wonderful mixture of imposing fortress, extravagant palace and sacred religious site.

SalzburgSALZBURG, AUSTRIA / PASSAU, GERMANY

Located in the beautiful Austrian Alps, Salzburg is one of Austria’s most picturesque Alpine cities.

Salzburg was once a world power dealing in salt. The word Salzburg means “salt fortress.” Later it became the birthplace of the musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It received international recognition again as the setting for the film “The Sound of Music.”

We chose the optional “Salzburg Highlights” tour. We enjoyed a walking tour of the old town which was designed and built by imported Italian artisans.

We visited Mozart’s home where throngs of people stand to have their photo taken.

We explored Mirabell Gardens where the opening scenes from the “The Sound of Music” were filmed and the cemetery where the family hid from the Nazis during their escape.

We could have spent hours in the gardens and streets photographing the statues, fountains and artistic landscaping.

For gay traveler information, visit http://www.salzburg.info/en/service/salzburg_for/gays_and_friends

Regensburg

Regensburg

REGENSBURG, GERMANY

Regensburg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The medieval city was somehow untouched by bombing in World War II. It is considered one of Germany’s best preserved cities with Roman city walls erected by Marcus Aurelias.

We chose to enjoy the “Regensburg Walking Tour.” From the ancient Roman city walls to the 12th century Old Stone Bridge to the Old Sausage Kitchen (the oldest restaurant in Germany), we walked the cobblestone streets of this Medieval city.

Our hearts were touched when we viewed the memorial to the Jewish synagogue that had been destroyed and by the Stumbling Blocks memorials in the cobblestone streets remembering those killed by Nazis.

For gay traveler information, visit http://www.gay-regensburg.de/index_ci.php

NuremburgNUREMBURG, GERMANY

Nuremburg is Bavaria’s second largest city. It is filled with beautiful half-timber homes and Gothic churches. Unfortunately, it was chosen by Adolph Hitler as the site for some of his most aggressive propaganda.

We chose to see the city on the “Nuremburg City Tour.” We viewed Nuremburg’s medieval city walls which stretch almost three miles and still have 80 original watchtowers. We passed the Imperial Palace fortress. We visited Market Square with it’s craft and vegetable stalls and enjoyed lunch at a local bratwurst restaurant.

For lovers of history, be sure to visit Zeppelin Field (the Nazi parade grounds), Hitler’s Congress Hall Colosseum (modeled on the one in Rome) and the Palace of Justice where the Nazis finally faced justice in the Nuremberg Trials.

For gay traveler information, visit http://nuremberg123.com/where-to/nuremberg-gay-guide/

Bamberg

BAMBERG, GERMANY

Medieval Bamberg is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was founded in 902 A.D.

We toured the city on the “Bamberg Walking Tour.” For almost 5 hours, our guide walked us through the streets, along the canal and up to the hilltop cathedral which was home to Emperor Henrich II and Pope Clement II. The cathedral museum claims to have splinters from the actual cross of Jesus as well as the mounted skulls of Heinrich and his wife Kunigunde!

Beside the Bamberg Cathedral, the Neue Residenz resembles a palace. It was the home of prince-electors and prince-bishops who held both religious and secular authority. The panoramic view from the Rosengarten (Rose Garden) is fantastic.

For gay traveler information, visit http://en.bamberg.info/uferlos/

Wurzburg 2

WURZBURG, GERMANY

We decided that we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to follow Bavaria’s Romantic Road to one of Germany’s last remaining medieval walled towns. Rothenburg ob der Tauber means Red Fortress above the Tauber.

Rothenburg is everything you hope a medieval city would be. It is a medieval town that still functions in modern society. Make sure that you have lots of space on your camera memory card because this place is filled with amazing photo opportunities.

We walked the city’s defensive walls from top to bottom. We climbed the dark winding stairways of the towers. We photographed beautiful gardens and stunning panoramic views of the river and valley below. We enjoyed every moment of our Rothenburg visit.

After our Rothenburg adventure, we spent a few hours exploring the Bishop’s Residenz Palace and Garden in Wurzburg. The large and ornately decorated palace features a 2000 square foot frescoe titled “Four Continents” by Venetian artist Giovanni Tiepolo. Some of the scenes are quite humorous as the artist had never seen some of the desired animals in person so he used his imagination to fill in the blanks. Some of the paintings are remarkably three dimensional and the gardens are incredible.

For gay traveler information, visit http://www.gayscout.com/en/city138/Wuerzburg

WurtheimWERTHEIM, GERMANY

The view as the ship approaches Wertheim is simply phenomenal. The colorful and historic buildings along the river reflect in the waters as the 1000 year old castle watches over from the imposing hillside.

We walked the narrow streets of Franconian style homes along the Main and Tauber rivers and viewed the 800 year old Pointed Tower which leans amusingly to one side.

The walk up to Wertheim Castle is challenging. The cobblestone street is steep, uneven and sometimes slick.

There is a turnstile at the top charging one Euro to enter the actual castle but you can still roam the outer walls and get a beautiful panoramic view of the city and the two rivers below.

KOBLENZ, GERMANY

Our morning began with a scenic and tranquil cruise through one of Germany’s most scenic regions called The Romantic Rhine. We cruised past endless vineyards ascending the hillsides and castles, castles and even more castles!

We sailed around the massive Lorelei Rock and heard the local myth of a beautiful woman named Lorelei who lured sailors to crash against the rocks.

We docked in Koblenz beside the massive statue of Kaiser Wilhelm I on his horse. Cable cars taking tourists across the river glided over our heads.

We strolled the paved walkways in both directions along the waterfront enjoying the gardens and statues.

For gay traveler information, visit http://gayguide.net/Europe/Germany/Koblenz/

Cologne 1

COLOGNE, GERMANY

Cologne is a 2000 year old city that is an interesting mixture of the cherished ancient and the progressively modern. It is where the perfume “cologne” originated that soon became greatly desired by all of Europe’s royal families.

We chose to try the “Bruhl UNESCO Palaces” tour of the Augustusburg castle. Unfortunately, you can’t win them all. The castle and grounds just could not match the previous palaces we had visited. It was less than impressive and we could not wait for our tour to end.

On the bright side, once we returned to Cologne, we enjoyed walking the waterfront promenade where locals relax, talk and exercise. A leisurely walk along the river brought us past churches, love locks on the bridge, parks with ice cream shops and restaurants, statues and a theater that resembles a circus tent. Our riverfront walk was the highlight of our Cologne visit.

For gay traveler information, visit http://www.cologne-tourism.com/city-experience/gays-lesbians.html

KinderdijkKINDERDIJK, NETHERLANDS

Kinderdijk is the kind of place that photographers dream about!

Just steps from where the ship docked, there were 19 remarkably preserved windmills. Many of them are 200 to 300 years old!

Viking offers a free tour that shares why the windmills were built, how they work and a chance to step inside a working windmill.

We chose to explore on our own rather than joining the free tour.

The blue skies and ancient windmills reflected into the dark water of the canals in a picture-perfect scene again and again.

Kinderdijk, the largest concentration of windmills in the Netherlands, offers an iconic view of the Dutch landscape.

AmsterdamAMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS

Our amazing Viking River Cruise came to an end in Amsterdam. Our only view of the city was from the ship’s deck just before we boarded a bus for the Amsterdam airport for our flight home.

We hope to return and explore Amsterdam one day as well.

For gay traveler information, visit http://www.amsterdam.info/gay/

SHIP & CREW INFO

Our ship had 95 outside staterooms, a sun deck with 360-degree views and shaded sitting areas, an organic herb garden, a putting green, a walking track, a lounge and bar with floor-to-ceiling glass doors, a restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows, optional al fresco dining, and 40″ flat-panel Sony TV’s.

We spoke with Captain Peter Sevcik and Hotel Manager Katja Geyersbach about the Viking River Cruise ships.

“We use Swiss Radar and GPS. We have an automatic transponder system that shows the location of our ship and every other ship on the river. The ship has eight propellers and four propulsion systems. Our engines are all electric. For low bridges, we can lower the wheelhouse but we must wait our turn in the locks,” Katja told us.

“Katja Geyersbach is the best Hotel Manager in the company,” added Captain Sevcik.

We found the crew and staff to be just as friendly and complimentary as their captain. Everyone excelled in serving their guests onboard. Program Manager Violeta Crisan was a dynamo of organization, problem solving, customer service and upbeat energy. We couldn’t have asked for better service.

VIKING CONTACT INFO

Visit the Viking Cruises website at http://www.vikingcruises.com

You can reach them by phone at 1-800-706-1483.

Visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VikingRiverCruises

The Viking River Cruises Grand European Tour is simply one of the best cruises that we have ever experienced. It was the perfect mix of relaxation, education and exploration. We are ready to go again!

Steven Skelley and Thomas RoutzongArticle and photos by Steven Skelley and Thomas Routzong. Copyright 2016 Sunny Harbor Publishing.

Contact Us: Sunny Harbor Publishing, PO Box 560318, Rockledge, FL 32956.

Phone: 321-446-7552.

Email: SunnyHarborPublishing@yahoo.com