Though most of us can’t physically travel right now, there’s still a wonderful world out there for us to explore together. Traveling In Quarantine spotlights people and places through which we can escape our sequestered realities… and in the process expand our Traveling IQ.
Traveling In Quarantine: Couple of Men in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Karl and Daan are the adorably bearded boys behind Couple of Men.
They met seven years ago in Berlin. Soon after, Karl left his career as a nurse and moved to Amsterdam to start a new adventure with Daan. And the gay travel internet has been fuzzy-wuzzy for them ever since.
Karl has been interested in supporting LGBTQ youth from an early age. He began volunteering and teaching about sexual diversity, HIV and queer life in schools in eastern Germany. His activism led him to work with planning Pride (called Christopher Street Day) in his hometown of Dresden and he became a board member of the local community organization, Gerede – homo, bi und trans e.V.
Daan is a professional actor, art director and theatre maker with experience in musicals, theatrical performances and art festivals. He is passionate about visitor experiences and perfecting his vision, which explains the immaculate Couple of Men look. Could they possibly be any cuter?!? He has been nominated for international art prices and, as an actor, has appeared on several Dutch TV shows and played a leading role in the most successful musical in the Netherlands called Soldier of Orange.
But back to their travel story! Once in Amsterdam, Karl worked as a travel writer for a Dutch company and the two began traveling professionally, while continuing their LGBTQ advocacy work. In 2016, they repurposed Karl’s personal blog as Couple of Men and have been covering Pride, LGBTQ events and gay-friendly destinations ever since. They also go beyond gay epicenters to cover the surrounding regions, hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path natural beauty.
In 2018, Couple of Men was nominated as Best Insta Traveler by Gay Cities and featured as a travel resource on multiple online and print magazines, including German news sites Spiegel and Stern, the Onboard Magazine of Finn Air; gay platforms like PlanetRomeo, Attitude magazine and Gay Star News; and travel sources like Matador Network and the The Gay Passport (All links available here).
In addition to his Couple contributions, Karl writes a regular column for the German-speaking Swiss-German outlet Mannschaft.com and is a copy editor for brands such as Philips and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.
Together, they’ve visited more than 50 countries! They work as freelance photographers, writers, social media managers, and all-around adorable worldly lumberjacks.
Traveling In Quarantine interviews Couple of Men and together we explore Amsterdam:
IQ: Where are you from and where do you live now?
Couple of Men: Daan grew up in The Netherlands in a small village on the outskirts of Amsterdam. Karl grew up in former East Germany in a small mountain village nearby Dresden before he moved to Berlin. We now live together in Amsterdam for almost seven years. Time flies.
How did you meet?
Daan planned a party week for his birthday in Berlin and met Karl on the first night going out in one of the most legendary clubs of Berlin (not Berghain). Can you guess which one? Just a half-year later Karl left Berlin following his heart. Another two years later, our adventure as Couple of Men started.
How did you get involved in travel?
Karl’s dream job was to write about his travels around the globe and so he started his own personal blog in 2015. When people started to reply on posts and showed interest in our travel adventures together as a couple, we changed the name to coupleofmen.com with the idea to professionalize and become a trustworthy travel adviser and inspirational source for the LGBTQ+ community.
I LOVE your photography and you both always look adorable… how much do you pre-plan outfits while you’re packing and how do you bring your vision to life?
A lot of people ask if we have a professional photographer assisting us during our trips. We always say that we have a great friend who helps us out. He is called Mr. Tripod and he is the sturdy twink of our ménage à trois. We do pay attention to our clothing but we simply just pack the stuff we would normally wear and thankfully we sort of have the same taste and style. We also have been lucky with surroundings that matched our clothes perfectly without us bringing anything else. So, let’s just call it an eye for detail and just pure luck! 😉
Do you share outfits? Beard trimmers? Is there a “stylist” from the two of you?
We do share a lot of our stuff although we still have two separate closets/suitcases. Daan might be the one who is more particular about outfits. Especially in the beginning, he hated it whenever we were wearing something too similar. But Karl has a better feeling for colors so we like to shop together and help each other out at the right moments. Since we are traveling a lot we also trim our beards and cut each other’s hair. Over the years we got slightly better at it. Maybe the next time we should give you a proper trim?
What makes Amsterdam unique?
Amsterdam is just gorgeous. Daan appreciates the beauty of his home city now even more since we have seen so much of the rest of the world. The unique 17th-century houses and beautiful canals are just perfect and can be even better appreciated from the water when renting a boat. For such a famous and popular capital city, Amsterdam is rather small which is just perfect when you live here. Instead of having to walk 15 min to the nearest metro station, taking the metro, stepping over and walk even more – like in Berlin – in Amsterdam you can just hop on your bike and be anywhere around the city within 15 min. But be very careful if you are not used to riding a bike in the city traffic. Amsterdam people are not fond of tourists on bikes since they don’t know the rules or have no idea how to behave like a biker and therefore create dangerous situations. We always suggest friends who are coming over to mostly walk and only rent a bike if they are planning a trip outside of the city and into nature. Or when you have us as your guides, of course.
What makes Amsterdam a place for LGBTQ travelers?
Amsterdam has been a diverse city for many centuries. The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage already in 2001. On April 1st, back then mayor of Amsterdam, Job Cohen, married four same-sex couples right in the middle of our city. One of the biggest events in the Netherlands must be the Canal Parade during Pride Amsterdam. It is still one of our favorite pride parades in the world and definitely one that you should put on your bucket list. We had the luck of being on the Amsterdam – New York float of the Pride Amsterdam 2018 parade to promote WorldPride NYC and it was amazing to see how so many people were celebrating love together. The rest of the week is filled with important events and great parties. Also outside of Pride month, there are enough things to do for the LGBTQ traveler. From some of the best museums in the world and the cutest Instagrammable cafes to the kinkiest parties with elaborate (fetish) themes.
What are the three spots that you love in Amsterdam and why?
Westerpark: A lesser-known public urban park on the west side of the city. The former gas plant area of the park is being used as a cultural hub with a cinema, hotel, television studio, several restaurants and spaces for creative companies. You might recognize the park as the backdrop on lots of sexy queer pictures that are taken during the annual Milkshake Festival.
City center: Most tourists never step outside of Amsterdam’s city center which is a shame since the city has much more to offer than just coffee-shops and the red light district. As a local, we don’t necessarily like to go into the cities heart since it is always crammed up with tourists but, if you know where to go, there are some awesome spots that are quiet and beautiful and just for you. We could describe some of these spots but we rather let you find them yourself. Go and explore! 😉
Amsterdamse Bos: When the weather is good and you do want to go biking, we would definitely suggest biking to and through “het Amsterdamse bos” which means the forest of Amsterdam. Compared to German forests it is a small park but for Dutch people, it is a proper forest with lush green open spaces and lanes accompanied by thick old trees. Bring your homemade lunch for a picnic or go to “Pannenkoeken Boerderij Meerzicht” where they serve great Dutch pancakes (just don’t go over the weekend since it will be packed). If you are in need of more relaxation then we absolutely recommend ending your day at Spa Zuiver which is a great wellness center with lots of saunas, a big swimming pool and right next to the forest entrance.
What are LGBTQ highlights in your destination?
Bar Prik: One of the best gay bars in the Netherlands. Yes, it is very gay with pink walls, a disco ball, and typical gay bar music but we love it there. The handsome bartenders are lovely and the crowd is nicely mixed (although you will have an extra good evening when you are into handsome bold but bearded guys above 35). Bar Prik is an institution for the LGBTQ community in Amsterdam and it is the perfect place to start your evening with a few cocktails (Daan would suggest ordering a Dirty Ginger: Tequila gold, ginger beer, and a slice of lime).
Club Church: If you like to go sexy in Amsterdam then you definitely need to check out this house of prayer. The great thing about Club Church is that although the place is mainly made for cruising, there is still a big dancefloor where people actually dance and enjoy their night out. Every day of the week has its own kinky theme – including underwear or naked parties – but also with some gender natural nights which is refreshing for a gay male sex club. Almost every night the place is filled with cute guys. Make sure to play safe!
If Coronavirus is magically cured overnight and quarantine ends abruptly, where will you choose to celebrate?
We probably would rent a small boat with our best friends and have an evening picnic on the water with lost of beers, bears, and hugs! And let’s see where we would end up… It would be a huge party because Dutch people know how to enjoy themselves!
If you could choose anywhere in the world to Quarantine, where would it be and why?
Well, we both wouldn’t mind staying in quarantine on Iceland in one of those wooden cabins right in the middle of mountains, moss, and mist. As long as we can drive up and down to a local supermarket we would be fine… oh, and we would need a nearby natural hot spring for two-person skinny dipping every morning and evening. We traveled to this magnificent island in Northern Europe six years ago but it still remains to be one of the most precious adventures we did together.
What’s in store for you guys over the next year?
Definitely, we want to see more of the world whenever we are free to travel again in a safe way but also making sure to spend enough quality time at home with our cat. And continue to keep an eye on how we travel. We feel it is a perfect moment to focus on sustainability rather than to go back to “business as usual”.
How are you dealing with the current crisis?
Well, we are just about to launch our own campaign to support LGBT (travel) businesses operated by LGBT couples like accommodations, photographers, writers, bars, events, and more. These lesbian and gay couples are telling their love story but also more about how it is to work together as a team. While they share their tips on how to beat the crisis and on how they face the quarantine time together, they will also show how they can be supported during and after these difficult times.
Tour the canals of Amsterdam with Karl & Daan below:
To check out other Couple of Men adventures…
- VISIT the Couple of Men website
- SUBSCRIBE to the Couple of Men YouTube Channel
- FOLLOW Couple of Men on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Follow the Traveling IQ (In Quarantine) series, highlighting people and places through which we can escape our sequestered realities.