Top Safety Tips for Gay Travelers

March 3rd, 2014

 

Travel1In early 2013, the US State Department released some safety tips aimed specifically at gay travellers. Most travel safety tips are the same regardless of your sexual orientation, but in certain countries gay and lesbian travelers have to be especially aware of the environment around them. Because of this, here is a reminder of some of those safety tips sanctioned by the US Government, as well as some extra safety tips it would make sense to bear in mind. Much of this is common sense, but if you think ‘safety’ as you travel then you can be sure of an uneventful and thoroughly enjoyable vacation!

Do your Research

Before you book your vacation take a little time to do some research into the country you’re thinking of travelling to. Right now Russia, for example, is not the best country for gay tourists to be visiting. Remember that cultural differences are still relevant, and many countries aren’t as welcoming to same sex couples as others. Last year a bed and breakfast in the UK refused to allow a gay couple to stay in their accomodation: their decision was ultimately overturned by the high court, but by that point the vacation of the couple involved had been ruined. Bearing this in mind, you should always reserve your hotel room with knowledge. Take to the internet to find out how welcoming to gay people the country you’re wishing to visit is. Some hotels won’t allow same-sex guests to stay in a room with one bed: you may find you are put in a room with twin beds or even separate rooms.  It’s best to inquire before booking, to avoid any upset when you arrive at your destination hotel.

Be Drug Aware

Research has shown that drug use is around seven times higher amongst the gay community, and approximately one third of Americans who are imprisoned abroad are imprisoned on drug offences. Because of this it’s important to be drug-aware when you’re travelling abroad. The government advises a zero tolerance policy towards buying and taking drugs abroad. In many countries drug offences carry full life penalties, and the risk just isn’t worth the reward. If you can’t spend two weeks on vacation without taking recreational drugs then you should explore rehab options before you travel. Buying and using drugs abroad can lead to criminal charges, arrest and imprisonment. You should be aware when buying medication abroad too: although your regular medication may be a much lower cost in a different country, they may not be the same quality or have the same safety testing standards as the medication you take back home. It is also illegal to bring medication from foreign soil into the United States. If in doubt, just don’t do it!

Trust Your Instincts

Whenever you’re travelling in a foreign and unfamiliar country you should keep your wits about you. Be aware of what’s going on around you and trust your instincts. If you’re in a situation you don’t feel comfortable with then get out of it, if possible. Always keep enough cash on you to jump into a taxi to your hotel, and carry your hotel’s business card so that you always have the address to hand. In January a pair of gay tourists were attacked in Rome by two Russian tourists. They were subjected to homophobic insults, kicks and punches.  If you do find yourself in a dangerous situation then try to keep as calm as possible. It’s unlikely for any attack to be motivated by homophobia: Often any threatening behavior will ultimately be a simple robbery. Remember that it’s better to lose your wallet or your camera than to risk injury.

Who’s Your Next of Kin?

If you need any emergency hospital treatment whilst you’re abroad then it’s worth carrying a legal document of your wishes that will authorize, on your behalf, any medical treatment you need (if you’re in a situation where you can’t voice your wishes and needs for yourself). You should take this safety precaution because in some less-liberal parts of the world, your same sex partner may not be recognized as your next of kin, and therefore will not be able to speak for you, or make decisions on your behalf if needed.

Get With the Program                                           

Finally if you’re a frequent traveler, or just planning a one-off vacation then you should register for the Government’s Smart Traveler Program. The program is open to everyone, regardless of your color, creed, or sexual orientation. All you do is register your intention to travel on the website, and then the state department will know where you are if a crisis arises. They will also be able to send you emails updating you on the status in the country your visiting, and warning you if a dangerous situation arises.

 

 

 

 

Enjoy a Fantastic Time in Majorca

January 28th, 2014

MajorcaMajorca is a small Spanish island (one of the Balearics) in the Mediterranean sea. It’s a hugely popular holiday destination, with just over 6 million visitors every year. Because Majorca is a relatively small island of just 100 km from east to west and 75 km from north to south, it’s possible to explore all this fascinating island has to offer in the space of a relatively short two week vacation. No doubt because of its huge tourist and ex pat population, Majorca (particularly the capital of Palma de Majorca) is an incredibly gay-friendly resort, offering a host of gay clubs and bars and an annual gay pride event held in June every year. It’s also home to a surprisingly large number of historic artifacts and sights of interest, bearing in mind its relatively small size. Whatever you’re looking for from your annual summer break, you’ll find something to enjoy if you head to Majorca.

Things to Do

One of the most popular things to do in Majorca is simply to relax on the many miles of beaches and soak up the sun. That’s why you’ll find the beaches are always busy with tourists. Whilst on the coast you could try your hand at wind surfing or sailing, or even hire a pedalo and paddle close to the shore line. If you’re looking for more strenuous activities then you could try renting a road or mountain bike. Majorca has two mountainous regions that are popular with mountain bikers and hikers and walkers alike. The Tramuntana Mountain range to the west of the island is the larger of the two mountain ranges on the island, and the Serra de Llevant mountains in the east are significantly more modest: if you’re new to mountain biking or hiking then start with a more gentle trail, rather than throwing yourself in at the deep end.

For those with an interest in local history, a visit to Pollensa is a must. In this small Majorcan town you will still find Roman ruins, a beautiful sixteenth century church, and Dionis Bennassar Museum, which is dedicated to the painter’s work. Café culture is still the order of the day, so the pace of life is slow. Why not relax and enjoy a coffee, or visit on a Sunday and join the locals as they shop from pretty market stalls during the weekly Sunday market, which operates every week between 8.30 am and 1 pm..

Where to Stay?

There are many different options for places to stay when you’re in Majorca. If you prefer to enjoy a home away from home atmosphere where you can come and go as you please then you could rent a villa or even opt to purchase your own slice of paradise on the island. The benefits of this are having plenty of space, being able to really make yourself at home and many villas on the island even have their own pool. Alternatively there are a host of gay-friendly hotels on the island, especially in the capital of Palma de Majorca. You’ll find many of these situated conveniently close to the El Trenc beach and a host of bars, clubs, and restaurants. Finally if you’re looking for a cozier and more affordable option then why not consider a B&B? Bed and Breakfasts are an increasingly popular option across Majorca and are a great way to travel in comfort, and with a warm welcome, without breaking the bank. No matter what kind of accommodation you’re looking for (be it a luxury villa, a 5* hotel or even a budget campsite) you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for in Majorca.

It’s Time to Eat!

With the increase in tourism, more food is having to be imported to Majorca from the mainland. However during the quieter seasons you’ll find that much of what you are eating (from your avocados to your tomatoes) have been grown on the island mere miles from where you are dining. You’ll find food from many cuisines and cultures catered for in Majorca, but why not embrace the local culture and eat food that is as locally sourced as possible? The tapas is highly recommended, as are the local mushroom dishes and seasonal fruits.

If you visit Majorca then be sure to post a review of your experience after your trip.

Carnival Week Provincetown – Viva Las Vegas!

August 13th, 2013

Over the next few days Provincetown will be filling to capacity as the start of  Carnival approaches. Running from August 18-24 this year’s theme is ‘Viva Las Vegas’, providing plenty of scope for some wild costumes for the parade on the 22nd! The entire week will be filled with carnival-themed activities. For more information check out the Provincetown Business Guild883789_10151339889701932_1488437438_o.

An all male clothing-optional getaway in Quebec

March 26th, 2013
If you are planning your next summer vacation, you might consider spending one week at The Men’s Guesthouse for $469 per person, including 2 meals a day. This gay clothing optional guesthouse is near Quebec City in the gay friendly Province of Quebec, Canada. Party time in Montreal or Quebec can be combined with a relaxing countryside stay at the Men’s Guesthouse, where you can enjoy the outdoors,  good food and the company of other gay men. The Men’s Guesthouse is a great place to relax and experience the pleasure of living naked and enjoying nature. Visit the Men’s Guesthouse for full details. The hosts can help you plan your gay friendly vacation to Quebec and Canada.
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The ancestral house was built in the mid 19th century, with three bedrooms upstairs, furnished with antiques. The living room, dining room, TV room, reading room, meeting room, kitchen and interior spa are all accessible to visitors with or without clothing. Relax by the fire, listen to music, enjoy a drink, share a meal with your hosts or a romantic meal with your spouse. Outdoor activities are endless: feed the hens, enjoy walking or biking, cross-country-skiing, snow-shoeing, watch nature and birds, cook, laugh or enjoy a jaccuzzi, both indoor and outdoor, swim in the heated pool or simply sunbathe. For more information contact info@giteaumasculin.com.

Pink Pillows in Berlin!

March 16th, 2013

Mainstream hotels in Berlin reach out to LGBT travelers.

 

PinkPillowsA number of Berlin hotels have joined forces and named themselves the Pink Pillow Berlin Collection. Their operating charter contains the following:

All guests are treated with the same courtesy, dignity and respect – regardless of gender, race, ethnicity,  sexual orientation or sexual identity, citizenship, religion, disability or age.

All hotels are committed to contributing actively in the community and to being a supporting member in a network/project/association in the Berlin LGBT scene.

The hotels will create a work environment of respect and tolerance towards all members of staff.

The hotels offer target-group packages specifically for the LGBT scene.

It remains to be seen whether these hotels live up to their charter, or whether they are just being lured by the ‘Pink Euro’. A full list of the participating hotels can be found at Pink Pillow Berlin.

Pink Choice would be interested to hear from travelers who have stayed in any of these hotels, so please make sure you leave a review after your trip to Berlin.

 

 

Embarking on a Spanish Road Trip

December 23rd, 2012

Spain is one of the world’s most popular tourist countries. It is also home to a huge expat community, which makes up over a tenth of the population. The problem is that holidaymakers have a tendency to go back to the same destinations every time they visit and expats usually stay in one location, meaning that few visitors to the nation get to experience the full extent of its beauty and diversity. Embarking upon a Spanish road trip is the perfect means of doing this. Spain is an ideal road trip destination for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual travelers, as it is an increasingly progressive nation where gay marriage has been legal since 2005. It is also home to snow-capped mountaintops, fascinating sights of historical importance and beautiful sunny beaches, making it an exciting country to explore.

Getting a Set of Wheels

If you are one of the many people who have moved to Spain in search of warmer weather then you might already have your own vehicle. If you live in the country but have not got your own set of wheels then a road trip is the perfect excuse to get one. However, if you are travelling to the country for a holiday or if you would rather not do anything as drastic as splash out on buying a car for the sake of a road trip then renting will be your best option. Spain is home to many well-known car rental companies and some Spanish ones that you won’t have heard of. It is best to go with a company that is aimed at tourists in order to ensure that the staff will speak English and no misunderstandings can arise.

Barcelona

One of the best routes for road trips takes you from Barcelona to Malaga over the course of a fortnight. Barcelona is the perfect place to spend the first few days of your holiday, as it contains a plethora of different gay clubs and bars, including the Axel Sky Bar, which featured in Out magazine’s fifty greatest gay bars in the world. The downside to the city is the fact that it contains a lot of pickpockets, some of which specialise in stealing from tourists in the gay clubs. As with any other large city, it is important to be on the lookout for thieves.

 

 

 

 

Madrid and Valencia

From Barcelona, you can travel southwest to the capital city of Madrid, which is home to more gay friendly nightspots, along with a number of world-class museums, historic churches and theatres. Dance enthusiasts might also want to check out a flamenco performance whilst they are there. They take place at various different restaurants, bars and clubs. Once you have had your fill of the capital, it is time to head on to Valencia, which boasts luxurious beaches, palm trees and a sea so blue that you will hardly be able to take your eyes off it. It is the perfect place to unwind after partying it up during the first few days of your vacation.

 

 

A Ninth Century Castle, an Arabic Fortress and a Gay Safe Haven

From Valencia, turn down the Costa Blanca to Alicante and spend some time marvelling at the impressive Santa Barbara Castle, which dates back to the 9th Century and towers above the city. Next follow the sea through the relatively bland resort of Torrevieja and cut inland and up through the breathtaking Sierra Nevada mountains to reach the city of Granada, where you can explore an ancient Arabic fortress called Alhambra. After gazing in awe at the ornate architecture, continue west through the Andalusian countryside to Seville, which is reputed to be the most romantic city in Spain. Spend some time soaking up the atmosphere and then carry on to gay tourist hotspot Torremolinos. This town has played an important part in Spain’s gay history, as it has acted as a safe haven for LGBT individuals ever since the 1950s. Even during Franco’s regime when gay people were brutalised and persecuted elsewhere in Spain, the fact that gay holidaymakers brought so much money into Torremolinos made it somewhere that those who did not identify themselves as heterosexual were free to be themselves without fear of attack.

The Final Destination

Finally it is time to press on to Malaga, which is a popular tourist city containing a multitude of gay establishments. Here you can spend the day sipping cocktails on the beach before embarking upon the journey back to Barcelona. Spain is hardly an unusual country to visit but the majority of people who go on a vacation there only see a fraction of what it has to offer. Going on a road trip enables you to experience everything from the excitement of the big city to the exquisite scenery of the countryside and creates an air of adventure. Alongside cruising the Spanish coasts, it is the ideal way to explore and enjoy the delights this great nation has to offer.

Gay Skiathos

December 12th, 2012

The gods must have been smiling when they created Skiathos, gifting it with a dazzling number of beaches vastly out of proportion with its modest size. The island’s sheltered turquoise waters and abundant stretches of golden sand attract a large number of tourists each year, taking advantage of the hot, dry summer weather and opportunities for sunbathing, watersports, socialising and all-round relaxation.

Skiathos Island is one of the most gay friendly Greek islands, and this is obvious to anyone who visits. Last year the association of hotels and businesses arranged the 1st International Gay Culture Festival in order to officially open its ”doors” to the gay community and break with taboos. Next year the event is taking place  from 19-21 July as the Skiathos Seduction Festival.

When you visit Skiathos  you will find that a great part of the islands’s tourism is foreign with a large number coming from the U.K., Scandinavia, Cyprus, Italy and Germany. When arrive on the island of Skiathos come with an open mind, for this spectacular green island surpasses all descriptions.

Skiathos is the most cosmopolitan island in the Sporades. It has its own airport with international and local flights. With constant arrivals of domestic and international celebrities Skiathos Island has become one of the most loved destinations in Greece. The sense of hospitality (as well as in most Greek islands) is characteristic. The island is well- organized, clean and with all amenities and accommodations at very reasonable prices.

The main center of the island, also called Skiathos, is located on the eastern side of the island. The city is surrounded by the port which is the center of tourism throughout the summer. Here you will find many taverns, bars, restaurants, cafes and the shops which are open till late. The main street of Papadiamantis is famous for its strolling shoppers, and is a hub for tourists from all over the world.  The city center has many pictuersque narrow streets with photo opportunities round every corner! Coffee and ouzo can be enjoyed at one of of the many cafes or taverns, along with incredible harbor views. This island will certainly make you feel at home.

Skiathos is well served with roads but some transportation will be necessary if you want to enjoy the best of the island. Cars and bikes can be rented everywhere.  For  lovers of local cuisine, there are many picturesque taverns & restaurants even for the most demanding palates … In the Old or new port of the town, you will find the so-called ‘Bar Street’ where you will spend unforgettable moments  - guaranteed! Skiathos has some of the best clubs and bars in Europe, and many are British owned.  Whatever  your taste, you are likely to find it here. The island boasts some of the most beautiful and cleanest beaches in the Aegean and in fact, seven of them have been awarded Blue Flags.  The “Little Banana” is a famous nudist and gay beach, and was recongnised as being one of the most  popular beaches in Greece by travelers in 2012.

If you visit Skiathos, be sure to post a review of your experience after your trip.

Gay Iceland

August 19th, 2012

Think gay vacations and you might not think of Iceland as a destinaton, but just take a look at what the country has to offer gay and lesbian travelers. With the first openly lesbian prime minister, Icelanders have endorsed the LGBT community, and welcome diverse visitors.

Iceland celebrates a number of LGBT events throughout the year including Reykjavik Gay Pride in August, Bears on Ice in September, Pinkmas in December/January and Rainbow Reykjavick in January/February. Details of these events can be found at Pink Iceland.

Pink Choice would welcome reviews of gay and gay-friendly hotels in Iceland, so if you head there, please tell us about your experience.

Carnival Time in Provincetown

August 8th, 2012

August is here and so is Carnival time in Provincetown. The events kick off on Sunday August 12 and run through August 17, with the eagerly anticipated parade taking to Commercial Street on Thursday 16th. With this year’s carnival theme being ‘A Space Odyssey’ there will be plenty of scope for many elaborate floats!

Provincetown will be packed for the events, so if you’re heading to the Cape, you would be advised to make sure you have secured your accommodation, as rooms will be hard to find. Remember, we want to hear about your lodging experience, so please don’t forget to post your hotel reviews.

A full schedule of Carnival events can be found at the Provincetown Business Guild’s website.

Heading to London for the Olympics?

July 18th, 2012

The London Olympic Games begin on Friday July 27 and run until Sunday August 12. After weeks of rain and questions over sufficient security being in place, the Games will kick off in just over a week. Olympic competitors are starting to arrive at Heathrow along with the thousands of spectators who have secured tickets for one or more of the events.

Hotels in and around London are booked to capacity, so if you happen to be a guest at one of them, please send your reviews to Pink Choice. With London offering so many choices in gay and gay-friendly hotels we would love to see loads of reviews. Oh, and while you’re there, enjoy the Games!