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EXCLUSIVE | Three Gay Days: Amsterdam Part Two

EXCLUSIVE | Three Gay Days: Amsterdam Part Two

DAY ONE: TIPTOE THROUGH THE TULIPS
Breakfast, anyone? Start your day at one of Amsterdam's classic pancake houses for a delicious eye-opener that's unavailable at your local IHOP. t' Singeltje (Singel 494; +31-20-625-3916; 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; 4-9 EUR) serves massive pancakes with rum raisins, chocolate or Gran Mariner -- plus plenty of what makes a real Dutch pancake: black stroop molasses. They also have daily fish and meat specials, and you can eat on the patio to take in the pretty flowers and the prettier passers-by. Then head over to the daily Singel Flower Market, where locals go to shop and people-watch among the kaleidoscopic displays of tulips and roses.

Work off those pancakes by walking or biking east toward the Rembrandt House Museum (Jodenbreestraat 4; +31-20-520-0400, fax +31-20-520-0401; 8 EUR), former residence of the Dutch master, now home to hundreds of his drawings and paintings. Just south is the Waterlooplein, site of a vast daily flea market. Look for samples of exquisite Edam and Gouda cheeses, and hunt for great little baubles, bangles and beads. Recently, though, most merchandise has been aimed toward tourists: heavy on the second-hand goods, smoking paraphernalia and inexpensive clothing. Nearby, on the banks of the Amstel River, is the Stadhuis/Muziektheater. Check for opera and dance performances here. (It's best to buy tickets before leaving home, as the opera season tends to sell out early.)

By now you're ready to cool your heels in a smart little caf?. Just a few steps away on the Amstel River is Caf? De Jaren (Nieuwe Doelenstraat 20; +31-20-625-5771; 10 a.m.-1 a.m.; 5-17 EUR), one of those Paris-inspired, two-story "grand caf?s" with breezy balconies packed with students from the nearby university. They serve sandwiches, great coffee and drinks throughout the day, and reasonable international fare and salads in the evenings.

A little night music? Since this is your first evening, we'll go easy on you. The Amstel Taveerne (Amstel 54; +31-20-623-4254; Sun-Thu 5 p.m.-1 a.m., Fri-Sat 5 p.m.-3 a.m.) is the oldest gay bar in Amsterdam. It packs in Dutch men of all ages for sing-alongs every night of the week; on weekends, they often spill out onto the sidewalks in bawdy reverie along the Amstel River. Around the corner, Montmartre (Halvemaansteeg 17; +31-20-620-7622; Sun -Thu 5 p.m.-1 a.m., Fri-Sat 5 p.m.-3 a.m.) is a popular little brother to the Amstel Taveerne. Expect very young and very old men dancing, drinking and getting giddy to campy Dutch pop standards and recent American dance tunes -- especially on Saturday.

Nearby, the Mix Caf? (Amstel 50; +31-20-420-3388; Sun-Thu 8 p.m.-3 a.m., Fri 6 p.m.-4 a.m., Sat 8 p.m.-4 a.m.) actually lives up to its name, drawing a festive crowd of gay boys, straight girls, gay girls and even a few "straight-but-not-narrow" men. Vive la Vie (Amstelstraat 7; +31-20-624-0114; Sun-Thu 12 noon-1 a.m., Fri-Sat 12 noon-3 a.m.), one of several women's bars that have gone mixed, is packed on weekends with a mob of singing lesbians and a few male friends. All along the Amstel are a number of small, friendly pubs -- pop your head in to see what's up.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three

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