Gay travel tagged posts

Two and a Half Days in Johannesburg – Apartheid Museum, Neighbourgoods Market, Soweto Township Tour

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This is part 17 of my series exploring my March 2017 trip to South Africa and Namibia, which started here.

I really had no idea what to expect of Johannesburg. Lots of folks had suggested it was skippable, or the kind of city you can breeze through in a day.  I ended up having three nights and two full days there, but I actually wish I’d had a day or two more — especially since one of my days was a Sunday.   Overall, the city is completely different from Cape Town.  Whereas Cape Town feels like a touristy version of San Francisco, Johannesburg is more like L.A., with an urban core, extremely spread out, and not walkable at all.  It also was far more racially integrated than Cape Town.

My hotel stays, as covered in other posts, were split between Sandton and Rosebank, two of the mor...

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Exploring Cape Town: Part 2: District 6 Museum, Castle of Good Hope, Greenmarket Square and Cape Town Pride

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This is part 7 of my series exploring my March 2017 trip to South Africa and Namibia, which started here.

After the disaster of my Cape of Good Hope day and early bedtime, I was committed to make the most of my two days left in Cape Town – which I think I did.  By total coincidence, the weekend ended up being scheduled as Cape Town Pride, which is much smaller than other prides I’ve to in cities like Vienna or Sydney Mardi Gras, Although the whole week was Pride week, the only real big events were on Saturday – which worked out great for me, as it allowed me to explore the other aspects of the city without feeling I was missing out.

District Six Museum


I got an early start and took an Uber to the District Six Museum...

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Trip Report: Three Days in Wellington

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This is part 5 in a series about my November 2016 trip to New Zealand, booked off a $215 mistake fare.

Wellington bills itself as “the coolest little capital in the world.”  Although the urban area has a population of 400,000, it feels a lot smaller.  The feel to me was like a smaller San Francisco or Vancouver.  The whole downtown is very walkable, and it is extremely safe.  Consistently ranked one of the world’s most livable cities, it’s easy to see why.   I had gotten different advice on how much of my time to spend in Wellington, but I knew the first day wouldn’t be very full, so I decided on 3 days, which was a good amount, though I could have done longer if I ventured farther outside the city.

Wellington Harbour

Wellington Harbour

I resisted the urge to go right to sleep upon checking into my hotel.  The Intercontinental is right on the waterfront, and it was a beautiful day – sunny in the mid-60s — so I wandered in that direction.   One thing that I loved that afternoon was seeing so many people out on what seemed to be lunch or afternoon breaks, sitting on the many plazas and reading or chatting or taking a coffee.  The weather in Wellington stayed beautiful my whole time there, so I was really fortunate.

Queen's Wharf, with Wellington Museum on the right

Queen’s Wharf, with Wellington Museum on the right

Right across...

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A Little Report from Berlin

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My report from Berlin is going to be fairly brief. Not only was I just in Berlin two years ago, but I stayed in the exact same two hotels as I did last time: the Intercontinental and the Grand Hyatt.  Both were excellent last time, both were excellent this time.  The only difference was cash rates at the Intercontinental were nearly three times as much as they had been 2 years ago on the same weekend, so I spent two nights there using points.  I then used my Hyatt Category 1-5 annual Visa cardholder certificate at the Grand Hyatt Berlin for my last night again.  I’m not going to do a full review of the properties again as there was nothing appreciably different.  Check out my review of the Intercontinental Berlin here and my review of the Grand Hyatt Berlin here.  If you’re interested in more of what to see and do in Berlin, I’d recommend this post as a supplement to my 2014 report, available here.

Berlin and the River Spree

Berlin and the River Spree

As I did last time, I took the public bus from the airport to the Zoo Garden station and walked about 10 minutes to the Intercontinental.  The stay was really just lovely, and reminded me why I’ve stayed at about 20 different  Intercontinental properties (with return visits to several) over the years: the consistently good service and treatment of elites.  (And I generally find Holiday Inns and Crowne Plazas underrated too!).  This stay was no exception.  At check-in, I was asked how my trip was, and told “Welcome Back.” While this should be a no-brainer at any hotel, I’m rarely asked these questions as a Hilton Diamond.  Although I was on an award stay, I received the same upgrade I had two years ago, and was proactively offered a 4pm checkout.  Just after I checked out, I realized I had left my passport wallet in the room, and the front desk clerk profusely apologized to me, as if *they* had done something wrong.  Good job, Intercontinental Berlin.  It makes me excited for my upcoming stay at the Intercontinental Wellington.  (And note, I did not have a free breakfast or lounge access, yet still came away feeling like a valued guest of the hotel.

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Trip Report: A Quick Stay in Copenhagen

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I hadn’t realized how late I would actually get into Copenhagen after connecting through Helsinki, so I really only had a day and a half there.  The city, and the greater Copenhagen-Malmo area, have a lot to see, but thankfully I had seen much of it before, so I focused on a few things and a relatively leisurely time.  So I didn’t do the Little Mermaid (a waste of time anyway), Rundtarn, Tivoli, or any of the sights in Roskilde or Helsingor, which tend to be on most tourists’ lists. So this post should in no way be indicative of how a first-time visitor should spend 36 hours or so in Copenhagen.

Tivoli Gardens

Tivoli Gardens

When I was in Spain in July, I met a fellow solo traveler who lived in Copenhagen, and we had made plans to meet up when I was in town.  On my way to meet him, I wandered around some of my old haunts, and it was weird to feel the memories flooding back as I passed some of the places I’d spent a lot of time.  A lot of the city has changed, with a ton of new construction, and the turnover in shops and restaurants you’d expect in 12 years.  But the KFC where we got our fried chicken on July 4th was still there right on the Radhuspladsen – City Hall Square.

Radhuspladsen

Radhuspladsen

Radhuspladsen KFC

Radhuspladsen KFC

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2 Days in San Sebastian and the Hotel Astoria7

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This is part eight in my trip report series from my July 2016 trip to Spain.  For an introduction, see this post.

(Note: Beware of food porn.)

Lots of times when people tell me a tourist destination is beautiful, I take it with a grain of salt.  It’s not that I usually disagree, but there are enough times I have, and having been fortunate to see so many different places in the world, there are fewer and fewer unique ones.  But as soon as I started walking from the bus station in San Sebastian, I knew exactly what people meant.  The city is beautiful and charming, and unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been – with a slight Spanish flavor but more like a German or French city.  It reminded me a lot of Salzburg, Austria, except with better food and on a beach.

Arriving in San Sebastian

Arriving in San Sebastian

There aren’t a lot of large hotel chains in San Sebastian.  The main big chain property is the Hotel Maria Christina, a Starwood Luxury Collection property.  But rates there were going for about 600 Euros a night, so, yeah, not my price range.  There are a lot of other well-reviewed mid-price options in the city, though it is definitely an expensive hotel city in the summer.  The hotel I selected, the Astoria7, was an independent property on one end of town, away from the beach and the old town.  I was initially worried about the distance, but it ended up being fine.  It took about 25 minutes to walk from one end of the town to the other, and I took one of the frequent, easy buses at night.

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Exploring Sitges and the Avenida Sofia Hotel

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This is part three in my trip report series from my July 2016 trip to Spain.  For an introduction, see this post.

Sitges is a beach town in Catalonia, about 20 miles to the southwest of Barcelona.  It has a bit of an artsy vibe, but its main industry is tourists.  It’s developed a particularly large gay crowd, with multiple gay beaches, bars, clubs, and other businesses.  I’d never been, and don’t know a ton of people who have.  There were not many Americans there, but loads of Brits, Scandinavians, and other Europeans.

One of the draws of Sitges is how easy it is to get there.  There is a bus that runs directly from Barcelona’s El Prat airport, and then a cheaper train option.  Since I was in no rush, I went with the train, which involved taking a short bus to the other terminal at BCN, which is where the Renfe commuter rail stops, then taking the train from there one stop to El Prat Llobregat, before changing to the direct train to Sitges.  It was a really pretty ride, though even more so on the way back.  All in, including ticket purchase, transfers, and walking the 10 minutes from the train station to my hotel, it took me an hour from the time I left the airport til my arrival at the Avenida Sofia Hotel.

En route to Sitges on Renfe

En route to Sitges on Renfe

There are a lot of hotels in Sitges.  Some of the big resorts are located on the ends of town, farther from the main beaches and nightlife, and some are deeper in town.  I was generally happy with my choice, which was one of the nicer and newer boutique hotels in town, the Avenida Sofia.  The hotel was a block from the beach and a few blocks from the gay beach.  There are no oceanfront rooms due to its location, if that matters to you.  I paid about $160 a night after a 20% off Cheaptickets coupon.

Avenida Sofia Hotel, Sitges

Avenida Sofia Hotel, Sitges

I arr...

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Exploring Mykonos, the Geranium Hotel, and Scooter Shenanigans

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And then I was in Mykonos and the vacation could truly begin!

There’s a whole range of hotels in Mykonos. There are many beachside resorts on the island, which can go for upwards of a thousand dollars a night. There are also hostels and small inns in Mykonos Town. The resorts are not convenient if you want to spend the evenings taking advantage of Mykonos’s night life. When I went to Mykonos in 2011, I had decided to stay at Geranium, one of two gay hotels about a 15 minute walk up a hill from the town. The other one is Elysium, which is more expensive and more of a party hotel, which hosts a nightly drag show and sunset happy hour. Geranium is a short walk up the hill from Elysium, so it makes for a good alternative.

Poolside at the Geranium

Poolside at the Geranium

Geranium is not a luxury hotel, but the staff is super friendly and, most importantly, the pool is phenomenal. There is a range of rooms, including more apartment-style rooms, and I went with a mid-level room for150 Euros a night, which included all taxes, a welcome drink, and transfers to and from the airport.

It was a super short ride from the airport to the hotel, and I checked into my room on the second floor. The room was basic, but clean, with a double bed, chair, and a small private balcony facing away from the ocean. There was also a shared balcony in front of the room, which had spectacular views of the water – particularly at sunset! And of all the hotels I’ve stayed in, this was one where I spent the least amount of time in the room. If I wasn’t sleeping, I was out and about, or at the pool.

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Croatia Trip Report: Rovinj: The Disappointment Capital of Croatia

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Rovinj Sunset

Rovinj Sunset

Putting aside my horrific hotel stay, Rovinj was disappointing overall, and I ended up regretting making the schlep to that part of Croatia as opposed to just going to Split or Slovenia.  It started out poorly when I arrived at the airport, and my pre-arranged transfer was nowhere to be found.  I went with the 40-minute, 40 dollar ride, as opposed to a bus into downtown Pula, followed by a second bus to Rovinj.  I waited about ten minutes and was about to hire a new transfer when a disheveled man came running over to me, “Mr. Adam!” He explained there was terrible traffic, oh, and he couldn’t help me with my luggage into the car because he was all bandaged on his face and hands from a fall. He was actually quite entertaining in his messiness...

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Trip Report: Exploring Vienna and Vienna Pride: Regenbogenparade!

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Exploring Vienna

(Yes, there’s more to travel than hotels, airplanes, and airplane lounges; and unlike some other bloggers,  I’ll share LGBT attractions of  interest I’ve seen from the road.)

It was a gorgeous day in Vienna when we arrived, and we figured we’d wander and explore the neighborhood around our hotel.   As we approached the Hofburg Palace, the Habsburgs’ Winter Residence, we learned that not only was it Pride Weekend,  but it was Fashion Night Out in Vienna, and the Hofburg was actually serving as the home of a runway show, which was an interesting sight.  We didn’t actually go into any of the museums of the Hofburg, but the complex itself was majestic and beautiful.

Hofburg entrance

Hofburg entrance

Vienna Fashion Night Out Runway Show

Vienna Fashion Night Ou...

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