Archive for June, 2010

Bear Week in Provincetown, July 10-18, 2010

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010
Provincetown Bear Week

Photo courtesy of www.PhotoBearNE.com

Soon after the party boys drift home from Provincetown’s July 4th celebrations, the town will become host to a delightful group of like-minded men from around the world, when the 10th Bear Week kicks off on July 10, with events to suit all ‘fuzzy’ tastes. Since its inception 10 years ago,. Provincetown’s Bear Week has grown in popularity. This year’s schedule of events should keep everyone busy and entertained.

Many of the hotels and guesthouses listed on Pink Choice host members of the group. They include Christopher’s by the Bay, and the Black Pearl Inn.

Gay Travel to Cardiff, Wales, UK.

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

After arriving at Heathrow, most overseas gay and lesbian travelers get to Cardiff by high-speed rail or by braving the M4 Motorway in a rental car. The train definitely takes the strain and you get to relax and watch the countryside glide by. The capital city of Wales, Cardiff is steeped in history, with an ancient castle, but bang up to day in all other respects.

Ty Rosa B & B

Ty Rosa B & B, one of Cardiff's gay lodging options

Gay and gay friendly accommodation in Cardiff is plentiful, ranging from traditional bed and breakfast lodging to international hotels. The Ty Rosa B & B is a gay owned lodging option which is well rated on Pink Choice.

Night life builds to a crescendo at the weekends when the center of Cardiff becomes party central. Charles and Churchill Streets are where the main gay bars are located and all within easy walking distance of each other. Exit, Icon,  and Pulse are local favorites. Another ‘should visit’ street is ‘Chippy Lane’ a real hot spot for weekend revelers who love a good curry.

Pulse, one of Cardiff's gay nightclubs

For gay and lesbian shopaholics Cardiff will not disappoint. The enormous St David’s Mall is a one stop shopping oasis. Surrounding streets brim with trendy boutiques and eclectic knick-knack shops.

A trip to Cardiff Bay, birthplace of Shirley Bassey the gay singing icon of such James Bond theme songs as Goldfinger and Diamonds are Forever, is well worth making. There you’ll discover the Millennium Arts Center and for sci-fi lovers, the ‘Dr Who’ Museum.

Further along the southern coast of Wales is the Gower Peninsula, one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the UK. So, for gay and lesbian travelers looking for history, vibrant local scenery and a distinctly Welsh way of life, Cardiff has plenty to offer, boy-oh!

Blackpool, Engand’s Gay Capital of the North

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

To many in Britain, Blackpool conjurs up visions of fairy lights, bars and clubs, the seafront and of course, the famous tower, all blended into a pleasingly tacky city. However, to the British LGBT community, it is the Gay Capital of the North.

Gay Club Blackpool

The Flamingo Club in Blackpool

Blackpool’s gay scene is thriving with a high sexual temperature in many of the bars and clubs. For the more reserved, many of the bars are quieter during the day, and a number offer live entertainment. Many of the gay guesthouses in Blackpool have their own bars on site where guests can relax and meet others. Gay and lesbian lodging in Blackpool is plentiful. Gay owned Pride Lodge is highly rated by its guests, and received one of the 2009 Pink Choice Awards. One suggestion for lesbian accommodation in Blackpool would be Gabrielle’s. It has yet to be rated on Pink Choice so we would love to hear from you if you have stayed there.

There are no end of choices for evening entertainment. Mardi Gras is a popular gay, cruisy cabaret/disco club. The Flying Handbag is a modern gay pub with a party atmosphere. For the ultimate in clubbing, you should head to the multi-level, state of the art Flamingo Club. Other gay options include the relatively new Boot Camp and Kaos Bar. Of course, no visit  would be complete without taking in Funny Girls, Blackpool’s famous lady-boys show. It is not a gay venue per se, although it attracts a fair number along with all the other Blackpool tourists.

If you’re looking for gay saunas, Blackpool has a choice of three: the Honeycombe Sauna, the Acqua and Wet Wet Wet.

This year Blackpool celebrated its fifth gay pride parade.

Gay Travel – Better safe than sorry

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Keeping personal items safe and secure when traveling might seem obvious to some but it’s not to others. Here are seven things to leave behind when traveling away from home or abroad.

1. Leave valuable or expensive-looking jewelry at home.

2. Leave irreplaceable family objects at home.

3. Leave all unnecessary credit cards at home.

4. Leave your Social Security card, library card and similar items you may routinely carry in your wallet at home in a safe, secure place.

5. Leave a copy of your itinerary with family or a trusted friend in case they need to contact you in an emergency.

6. Make two photocopies of your passport identification page, airline tickets, driver’s license and the credit cards that you plan to bring with you. Leave one photocopy of this data with family or friend; pack the other in a place separate from where you carry the originals.

7. Leave a copy of the serial numbers of your travelers’ checks with a friend or relative at home. Carry your copy with you in a separate place and, as you cash the checks, cross them off the list.

When staying in an hotel, inn or guesthouse, don’t leave valuables, cash or important documents lying around on a bed side table. Use the room safe if there is one, or leave them with the front desk, or make sure they are well hidden.

Whenever you travel, always remember to post a review of your accommodation experiences on Pink Choice.

Gay London

Monday, June 21st, 2010

With the US dollar currently at around $1.47 to the UK pound (it was 2:1 a couple of years ago) London UK is once again an affordable destination for gay and lesbian travelers. A city that is multi-cultural, vibrant, colorful, exciting and gay friendly, London is one of most exciting world capitals today.

Having lived there for many years and returning on a regular basis  over the past 15 years as a visitor, London never ceases to amaze, amuse and entertain. It is a city of lush green parklands, higgledy piggledy streets, history, culture, music, theater, opera, ballet, shows, great shopping and home to some of the world’s finest restaurants, bars and clubs.

Gay LondonEd Salvato has written a great guide to London for San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, that provides great insight to the city and all that it has to offer. His up to date guide covers transportation, where to stay, pubs, clubs, sights to see, museums, galleries and a whole lot more.

Pink Choice has a number of accommodation recommendations in London, but we are always looking to add more, so don’t keep a secret. Please tell us about your own experiences for the benefit of other Pink Choice users.

When in Rome…

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

Is it true? Does Rome really have a gay district? Well, that’s what we hear. Just minutes from the Coliseum in the Celio district, the Viale San Giovanni in Laterano has become the meeting point of the Roman gay community and international gay and lesbian travelers.

In the last 18 months, new restaurants and bars have transformed the area that should shortly become a completely pedestrian zone. The newly opened Bar Eleven brings a touch of London’s Soho to the heart of Rome and the newly renovated and renowned club Coming Out continues to attract the gay scene.

The elegant and contemporary Hotel Capo d’Africa is close by and offers pampered luxury for the discerning gay and lesbian traveler. The hotel has long been a magnet for writers and musicians and houses an exceptional collection of contemporary art. The roof terrace is a perfect place to enjoy an evening cocktail whilst overlooking the historic sights of Rome. The Hotel Capo d’Africa is also linked to cultural events in the city, such as the Massenzio Literature  Festival and the Villa Celimontana Jazz Festival.

Gay friendly Hotel Capo d'Africa in Rome

Gay friendly Hotel Capo d'Africa in Rome

So, if you happen to stay at the Hotel Capo d’Africa or any other gay friendly accommodation in Rome, we would love to receive your review.

Same sex marriage in New Hampshire

Thursday, June 17th, 2010
Lesbian wedding at the Highlands Inn

Wedding at the Highlands Inn, Bethlehem, NH

New Hampshire’s Marriage Equality law went into effect on January 1, 2010, legalizing same-sex marriage in the state of New Hampshire. As expected, some opponents have attempted to undermine the law. However, large majorities of the New Hampshire legislature and towns have responded by strongly supporting marriage equality. Same-sex marriage is definitely the law of the land in New Hampshire!

Lesbian couples who may be thinking about getting legally married will be interested to learn how easy the process is in New Hampshire. For one thing, you don’t have to be residents of New Hampshire or planning to become residents. Legal marriage is available to all adults who are not party to another marriage.

Basically, you will need just two things: 1) a marriage license and 2) a JP (Justice of the Peace) or clergy member to perform the ceremony.

Obtaining your marriage license: Same-gendered couples can now apply for a marriage license at any New Hampshire town or city clerk’s office. All couples whether same-gendered or differently-gendered will use the same application form.

Both members of the couple must appear in person. They must bring photo IDs and proof of age. If either or both are divorced or widowed, they must also bring a copy of their final divorce decree and/or spouse’s death record. When the application is complete, the clerk will prepare the license, which is valid for not more than 90 days. Unlike some other jurisdictions, there is no waiting period to receive your license. The license fee is $45, payable to the town clerk when you apply for the license.

Planning your wedding ceremony: After obtaining the license, you will need to have the marriage certified in a ceremony performed by either a New Hampshire Justice of the Peace (JP) or clergy member. You will need to make arrangements with a JP or clergy member to perform the ceremony, and you may want to spend some time talking with this person about what you would like your ceremony to include.

One of the most romantic places for lesbians to celebrate their commitment is at the Highlands Inn in Bethlehem, NH.

From a recently married couple:

“We wanted to thank you and your staff for such a memorable and amazing Valentine’s Day weekend…. it was such a pleasure to get married at such a romantic place… the ceremony was everything I ever dreamed it would be. Thank you for giving us memories to last a lifetime! We look forward to seeing y’all again in the future. Thanks again!” Belinda & Veronica, Texas

The Highlands Inn is one of very few inns or resorts dedicated to serving the lesbian community, and is located in a state where lesbian couples can be legally married. The inn held its first commitment ceremony in 1985. Since then, hundreds of couples have had civil union and commitment ceremonies at the Inn. And now that marriage is legal in New Hampshire, the inn is hosting several marriage ceremonies each month. Of course most couples stay on for their honeymoon!

For more information, contact The Highlands Inn, Box 118, Bethlehem, NH 03574; vacation@highlandsinn-nh.com;  877-LES-B-INN (537-2466).

Valley Forge Visitors Bureau Offers Gay Travel Sensitivity Training to Area Hotels

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

In Valley Forge, being gay-friendly means more than just being friendly

For gay and lesbian couples checking into a hotel it can sometimes be a very awkward situation. To help alleviate some of that uneasiness the Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania offered gay travel sensitivity training recently to 50-plus area hotel employees via two live skits at one of their member hotels. The training was coordinated by the Philadelphia Gay Tourism Caucus in partnership with Temple University’s School of Hospitalityand Tourism.

The training involved a series of short sketches of real-time dialogues between actors and participants designed to simulate situations they might experience involving LGBT guests.

Actor Carly Bodner (left) plays a front desk clerk, as fellow performers Tyrone Holt (center), and Eric Singel portray a gay couple checking into a hotel.

Tom Haberland, director of tourism and sales for Valley Forge CVB, said the organization sponsored the program to foster understanding of the growing LGBT tourism market.

“Most of the participants were from hotels. We had housekeeping, engineering, sales, all across the board. You can have them geared to restaurants and attractions. I find that we have some people out there that could be interested. It took a little urging of people to come to this. But when they were all there, they participated,” said Haberland.

Nine of the CVB’s member hotels have become “TAG (Travel Alternatives Group) approved” as gay friendly, as certified by Community Marketing, Inc., a global leader in gay and lesbian marketing.

According to Tami Sortman, president of the Philadelphia Gay Tourism Caucus (PGTC), using actors, the gay sensitivity training program aims to show firsthand how service industry professionals can act in ways that are damaging and hurtful not only to visitors, but to the businesses in which they serve.

“We started gay sensitivity training back in 2006 and Valley Forge was the first visitors bureau to participate,” said Sortman.

Biking at Valley Forge National Historical Park in King of Prussia, Pa.

Sortman contends that there’s a change happening. “More and more hotels and attractions are jumping on board. You can see it in the TAG approved hotels along with the increase in “GAY DAYS” at ball parks and amusement parks, as well as zoos.

“The training identifies and builds the necessary skills to actively manage diversity of all types in the service industry and teach techniques that will enable participants to gain a better understanding of how hurtful biases negatively impact the LGBT consumer,” she said.

Haberland added that the training also deepened participants’ understanding of what being “gay-friendly” means for the hospitality industry.

More information is available at www.valleyforge.org/gay

Now that the hotels in Valley Forge have received training on how to welcome gay and lesbian travelers, it will be interested to hear about our members’ experiences, if they happen to visit the area.

TIPPY TOE THROUGH THE TULIPS IN GAY AMSTERDAM

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Amsterdam is a must for gay and lesbian travelers to visit at least once. But be warned, once visited, you’ll want to return again and again. Amsterdam is one of Europe’s smallest cities and is built around concentric rings of canals. The architecture is truly distinctive and dates back many centuries. Life revolves around the canals. Canal side fruit and flower markets, open air cafés and street performers create a unique atmosphere. Everyone seems to cycle so you need your wits about you when crossing the narrow streets. And everyone seems to own a dog so watch where you step!

Amsterdam offers plenty of accommodation options for the gay and lesbian traveler. Bed and brunch has become a trendy way to stay, similar to traditional bed and breakfast accommodation in the UK and USA. Gay travelers stay in canal side homes of local people so it’s an easy way to settle into the Dutch way of living. Alternatively, there are any number of hotels to meet all budgets and tastes. They range from the very one of a kind Black Tulip to The Golden Bear Hotel, the first gay hotel in Amsterdam to the B&B Barangay. And that’s not counting the variety of international hotels and hostels the dot the city.

Gay and lesbian travelers will find plenty to do, day and night. Museums, galleries, gardens, concert halls and boutique stores are world class. The same goes for the wide range of restaurant and café’s. The night life is equally vibrant with choices to satisfy the most eclectic tastes.  Reguiliersdwarsstraat and Kerkstraat is the popular gay center of town as is Rembrandtplein Square, both great places to check out the local scene. Many travelers seek out the Gay Memorial near Westerkerk, where the Anne Frank House is also located.

Amsterdam is a gay and lesbian destination like no other. If you are planning a visit, check out our recommendations, and once you’ve visited be sure to update us with your accommodation review, or general travel stories on the Pink Choice Gay Travel Forum.

Invite over 1 million people to your wedding!

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Gay marriageOn July 4, 2010 Toronto’s annual Pride Parade celebrates 30 years. It is one of the longest running Pride celebrations, and North America’s largest. For the first time ever, ManCrunch.com has sponsored a ceremonial float, featuring 10 couples who will be married by an officient as the float progresses through the parade, witnessed by 1.3 million spectators.

If you and your partner would like to be considered as one of the 10 couples who will marry during the parade, send an email to marriage@mancrunch.com, and provide the following information:

  • A photo of you and your partner, or a link to a video including all the information below
  • Your contact information, including your telephone number
  • A summary of your relationship, including how, when and where you met
  • Why you think you should be one of the couples getting married at this great event

Submissions are welcomed from couples from around the world. Transportation and hotel accommodations will be provided.

If you are one of the lucky couples, or just happen to be at Toronto Pride, please tell us about your experience on the Pink Choice Gay Travel Forum.