I just returned from a weekend in Amsterdam and I feel I need to share something important: Amsterdam is damn pretty. I’ve said it before but it calls for another shout-out. I spent pretty much all day of Saturday on a boat during Amsterdam’s annual gay pride (which takes place on the canals), and I can unequivocally declare Amsterdam to be oh-so-pretty.
The annual canal parade (probably my first ever parade on water) goes through the center of Amsterdam along some of the city’s prettiest canals—notably Prinsengracht where I’ve previously photographed approximately one million pretty buildings. But the parade also goes down the Amstel river and ends into the harbor. And along the entire route, the scene from the canals was nothing short of beautiful. From crowds of people wearing pink to the brownstone buildings draped in rainbow flags, Amsterdam’s gay pride parade didn’t just convince me that the city can be fun — but that it’s also stunningly beautiful.
And not just the buildings, but the people, too. Besides the tall, blond-haired babes, I found the Dutch people so warm and welcoming over the weekend. From the bartender at a trendy cocktail bar to the strangers I met during the pride parade, I don’t think I met a single person in Amsterdam who didn’t manage to make me smile. Of course it helps that they’re a bit easy on the eyes, too.
But it was my Saturday afternoon spent on the canals of Amsterdam during pride which left my face etched with a smile for the next two days. I spent nearly the entire time of the gay pride (about 4 hours) on a press boat during which I photographed the city, the people and the parade. Being on boat with a fancy-looking camera and a giant sign that said “PRESS,” I’m sure we got a lot more looks than otherwise. Onlookers from the docked boats along the canals, and the people standing, sitting and hanging onto the bridges were perhaps all friendly and happily trying to get the attention of my camera. It seemed that everyone wanted their picture taken. And with over 1,500 photos from the parade, I just might’ve gotten photos of all of them!
The backdrop of beautiful buildings, Amsterdam’s UNESCO World Heritage listed canals and countless bridges full of cheering & colorful crowds — Amsterdam’s pride is without a doubt one of the most scenic I’ve seen. Below are a small selection of my thousands of photos from the canal parade. More can be found on Flickr if you’re interested.
And one of my favorite photos…
When our boat passed by the Freedom to Marry float, I was at first happy to spot lots of American flags. Knowing that the Netherlands was the first country to pass a freedom to marry law for same-sex couples, and knowing that the USA is getting increasingly close to the same, I couldn’t help but smile and scream some cheers. But then I spotted a woman pointing at her hand. And that’s when I saw it: a wedding ring. Such a simple and small thing, but so symbolic. I couldn’t help but smile.