Monday, August 4, 2008

Weekend Update: AmsterPride

For the second year running, Mr. Muscato and I have managed to wholly inadvertently* schedule our stopoff in Europe (one of the perks of living la vie expat in the Persian Gulf) at the same time as our destination's gay pride festival. Last year, Paris; this year, Amsterdam.

The first signs of municipal preparation starting appearing Friday morning; at first, I took them for yet more bad Bad Street Art.

By Friday night, the city center was dotted with street parties. We were walking perfectly quietly along the Amstel, turned a corner, and found ourselves in the middle of this:

Which was actually lots of fun. As with such occasions around the world, extremes collided - drag, tourists, and, as here, a little casual hotness:

Saturday morning found us slightly hazy, but game, so we trotted over to a friend of Mr. Muscato's for a divine brunch of vol au vents, salmon sandwiches, and heavenly little pastries from the clever shop around the corner before stationing ourselves canalside for the boat parade.

We found a nice spot and enjoyed the people-watching.

The parade itself was much like those in New York, San Francisco, or elsewhere, with the novelty that the participants were balancing precariously on boats and barges behind boats rather than on teetering floats.

Several local friends grumped that it was All Getting Very Tame, as the public nudity was subdued and the political content minimal.

The overall tone was hot pants, confetti, and a lot more paleness than one generally sees exposed in more southerly climes. I suppose it does rain a lot in Amsterdam.

In the memorable phrase popularized by JoeMyGod, I love my people.

Just before a light rain succeeded the earlier scudding clouds, we were rather entranced by this combined hommage/get well wish to a troubled songbird:

The shower was succeeded by a downpour; we retreated with our companions to the nearest flat, for gin and tonics and a great deal of laughter.

While the street festivals continued and the bars roared, Mr. Muscato and I stole away for a last-night-of-the-journey dinner at a quiet little seafood place behind our hotel. We had mussels and whelks and all kinds of good things, washed down by a cold glass or two of good white. It seemed a good way to say goodbye to a long and lovely trip.

*It really is accidental. I swear. What can i say? Sometimes fortune smiles on the most disorganized of planners.

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