Summer in the Cities of Europe & and all the way up into the Alps – What a great working title for this year’s first trip around Europe, but not by car or plane! Together with Eurail (for non-EU residents) and Interrail (for European residents), we went on a three-week sustainable pride and book journey. During this trip from France and the Netherlands to Switzerland and Germany, we learned about important diverse European cultures, explored local cuisine, were highlighting LGBTQ+ travel tour operators, and attended two pride events (called CSD in Germany). And on the side, we introduced our book to other German-speaking LGBTQ+ travelers at the Homochrom Litfest in Cologne and did a reading in Munich. Excited? Then join us on our Gay Interrail Europe Trip and see some new European destinations through a Couple of Men‘s eyes!
#1 Dunkirk – Northern France
It all began in Northern France, in Dunkerque, to be precise. The name of Dunkirk or Dunkerque derives from West Flemish dun(e) ‘dune’ or ‘dun’ and kerk ‘church’, thus ‘church in the dunes’! It was an unexpectedly interesting place to start our gay Interrail Europe trip. It seemed we visited a sleepy little town on the coast of France, just a short few minutes drive from the Belgian border.
Historically closely linked to maritime traffic and shipping, Dunkerque has always played an important role as a port city on the southern North Sea coast and the Channel coast, and not only since the Second World War. If you are interested in learning more about Dunkirk, we suggest visiting the Dunkerque Port Museum and the FRAC, the museum of the Foundation of contemporary art. And don’t miss the art nouveau villas in the streets of Malo les Bains!
Did you know there was a movie made about Dunkirk? Yes, Dunkerque is the place, where in 1940 allied forces could escape in the thousands (official numbers are talking about 338,000 in nine days) from Nazi Germany by little fisher boats coming from the UK. Today, it’s also known as the Miracle of Dunkirk. Later on, Nazi Germany build many bunkers along the coastline as they were expecting “D-Day” to be happening at the beaches around Dunkirk.
These historic war monuments are still there at the nature reserve Leffrinckoucke, though they are used by Graffiti artists to express their personal stories. Definitely, a place to visit, and remember that peace does not come automatically.
#2 Rotterdam – The Netherlands
The next day, we left Northern France by train towards the Netherlands, but not Amsterdam. We only had to step over once in the beautiful train station of Antwerp in Belgium and arrived a couple of hours later in Rotterdam. We’ve been in Rotterdam for our blog already some years ago. Therefore, we wanted to see some parts of the Dutch harbor city that we did not see before.
The popular harbor city of Rotterdam, where large, industrial hangars that transform into new bold and brave breweries, among others, is known for its brave and trendsetting architecture. Did you know that Rotterdam is the city with the biggest rooftop vegetable garden? But not just that, as sustainable initiatives inspire and provide fertile ground for innovations. We visited the first publicly accessible art depository in the world, the Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen. For us, the special thing about it is its spectacular architecture, like a big round tea glass made of mirrors with trees and flowers on the roof.
Our Rotterdam adventure continues by water cab. On the other side of the river Nieuwe Maas we get out of the small yellow boat cab and find ourselves in the middle of a whole new side of the city: surrounded by modern skyscrapers, we walked to the Putaine Restaurant & Bar. Here we experienced a true fine-dining taste experience in a hip, modern ambiance, a perfect ending to a day in modern Rotterdam. The next morning, we experienced breakfast/brunch at a rooftop garden restaurant, Teds Rotterdam – All Day Brunch. Ready for our next leg of the train trip.
#3 Düsseldorf – Germany
So close, but still so far away… We have to admit: Together, we’ve never been to Düsseldorf or Cologne. But we are about to change that, at least for a day. After arriving in Düsseldorf, we will check in at our hotel and will immediately continue our travel to Cologne. There, we are invited to the first reading of our book during the Litfest Homochrom. We hope to see you there! The next day, before departing for Switzerland, we planned some time in Düsseldorf. Rest assured, it won’t be our last time in the two German cities!
Trip Planning: Hotel 25hours Düsseldorf | Restaurants will be added later
Actually, we are making a stop in Düsseldorf on our train journey. But we received the invitation from the literature festival homochrom in Cologne to present our book. Of course, we couldn’t say no to that! Naturally, we are super excited about this, since it will be the first reading of book and at the same time we will be competing for the audience award of the queer literature festival in the Chromie category “newcomers”.
#4 Bern & Interlaken – Switzerland
We love the mountains, be it the Canadian Rocky Mountains in Alberta, the Alps in Austria, or the mountain range of the Erzgebirge where Karl was born and raised. Though, the Swiss Alps will be a different experience, for sure. We cannot wait to visit Bern, the capital city of Switzerland and the hosting city of the EuroGames 2023. Together with Swiss Tourism and the LGBTQ+ tour operator Pink Alpin, we are planning to explore the cities of Bern, Interlaken, and Zermatt. Additionally, we are set for a paragliding experience, canoeing on the Thunersee as well as some photo and video shootings with the famous Matterhorn. Excited? We definitely are!
#5 Munich – Germany
This year’s motto of the CSD in Munich “Less me, more we” stands for togetherness and solidarity in the community – and beyond. It is about living diversity, creating visibility, and breaking down prejudices. We couldn’t be more excited to come back to the Bavarian capital after our #staycation road trip in 2020. And this time, we will finally attend the colorful LGBTQ+ pride event in Munich. It will be a half-day trip from Interlaken by train before we will be joining Munich’s diverse queer community in their fight for equality, love, and acceptance. If everything works out as planned, we might even have our second reading over the rooftops of Munich at the Deutsche Eiche. Stay tuned, we will update you here and on our Instagram account.
Beer, bratwursts, traditional costumes, and sporting ambitions – the Bavarian capital Munich as the third-largest German city has many characteristics for which Germany is famous. Everything you need to know for a Munich gay city trip to the Bavarian capital can be found in this Munich travel guide!
#6 Berlin – Germany
Our last stop in Germany – at least for this trip – will be a week-long visit to Berlin to meet Karl’s friends, get the Berlin summer feeling AND join the huge Berlin Pride celebration! After Cologne just recently broke all records for the first CSD after 2019, we expect no less from Germany’s capital city. It’ll all start on the River Spree with CSD on the Spree boat parade. On Saturday, it’s time to be back on the street with our rainbow flags. After a party night, we will soak in the summer before heading back home by train. “Berlin, Berlin – du hast uns bald endlich wieder in deinen Armen!”
Berlin is one of the most international cities in Germany and is, at the same time, considered to be one of the gay-friendlies European cities for LGBTQ+ travelers from all over the world. The gay scene and the LGBTQ+ community are considered to be very diverse, welcoming, truly hipster, and rainbow proudly queer.
From Europe with Love: SUSTAINABLE gay traveling!
If the past couple of years has taught us anything, then it definitely is the fact that we need to change our behavior in how we treat the environment and nature. The newfound urge to travel again after months of isolation can be the beginning of a new way of traveling: responsibly, sustainably, and by choosing quality over quantity. Especially for short distances, the choice of transportation can make a big difference, short-term. We hope our trip around Europe by train inspires you to experience for yourself how wonderful it can be to travel through a country instead of flying over it.
Do you want to know more about our gay travels around the world? Stay tuned on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram. See you again in Spain, Portugal, Europe, and somewhere around the world!
Karl & Daan.