Outdoor Gay Fun in Florida

Author: , April 30th, 2010

After one of the coldest winters on record in Florida, many of us are ready to get out of our homes and into the summer sun. Fortunately, Florida offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor fun. Even our state moniker, “The Sunshine State,” begs us to venture into the great outdoors of our peninsula.

True, we have hurricanes and high humidity in the summer and cooling bills can skyrocket – especially in August and September – but the outdoor offerings in our state range from theme parks to campgrounds and from beaches to state parks.

But exploring the great outdoors isn’t as easy as navigating, say, a block of bars displaying the rainbow flag. Knowing where LGBTs congregate outdoors can be a challenge, so we’re hoping our Outdoor Guide to LGBT Living will motivate you to get off of the couch and find your way to some fun in the sun.

Full Story from Watermark

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Visiting Spectacular Marlborough, New Zealand

Author: , April 30th, 2010
by Lisa Bothma, Marlborough Vintner’s Hotel, Marlborough, New Zealand
Email Lisa | Visit the Marlborough Vintners Hotel Website
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Marlborough, New Zealand

Marlborough, New ZealandMarlborough has spectacular scenery, glistening waterways, fine wines and food, gardens, adventure activities, recreational delights and world-class facilities along with an enjoyable sunny climate. The region encompasses Blenheim, Picton, Havelock, the breathtaking Marlborough Sounds, Wairau Valley, the Awatere Valley and the Pacific Coast.

Wine and food is a key attraction for visitors to Marlborough, and with more than 100 wineries responsible for 60% of New Zealand’s total wine production as well as great restaurants, boutique producers and amazing seafood, it’s easy to see why.

Marlborough, New ZealandThe seeds of the highly successful wine industry were sown in 1973 when Montana planted Marlborough’s first commercial vineyard in the district. Now the region has a reputation for producing some of the finest wines in New Zealand and the world, from its flagship sauvignon blanc variety to chardonnay, pinot noir, pinot gris and methode traditionnelle.

The region is home to more than 100 wineries from well-known international brands to small boutique family producers. More than 50 of these wineries have a ‘cellar door’ open to the public for tasting and direct sales. There is a variety of local wine trail operators providing a popular way to see and sample what Marlborough has to offer, be it by coach or bicycle!

Marlborough, New ZealandMarlborough’s high sunshine hours and unspoiled environment also nurtures produce with the finest flavours, succulent seafood from Marlborough’s crystal clear waterways; scallops, crayfish, famed greenshell mussels, salmon or freshly caught snapper.

The fun doesn’t stop there however, you can forage for fresh garlic, asparagus and other seasonal specialties from the gate or Sunday Farmer’s Market, pick your own stone fruit, apples and berries or find boutique award winning olive oils at local olive groves.

Marlborough, New ZealandYou could also just dine among the vines at one of the many award winning winery restaurants – go on we won’t tell a soul, but we bet you won’t be able to help yourself!

This region abundant in produce is also blessed with spectacular scenery including the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. The Marlborough Sounds has 1500km of coastline, making up 20% of New Zealand’s total coast and is truly a wonderland, with winding waterways, sheltered bays, ancient untouched forest and the famous Queen Charlotte Track.

This iconic trail attracts visitors with its stunning views. From historic Ship Cove through to Anakiwa, the track passes through a wide range of landscapes, from lush forest, historic bays to skyline ridges.

Marlborough, New ZealandThe complete track is 71km with most sections being able to be accessed by water transfer for day or half day walks, or it can be completed as a 3-5 day trip. Local operators also provide packages combining walking, mountain biking and sea kayaking for the track.

A unique feature of the Queen Charlotte Track is the comfort in which it can be completed. Accommodation along the track is plentiful, ranging from backpackers to high end, all transfers and luggage are undertaken by water-taxi, providing easy access and a relaxed experience for the visitor.

Marlborough is also a treasure trove of Maori, colonial, and natural history. The region across the top of the South Island is known in Maori as Te Tau Ihu o te Waka o Maui – the prow of Maui’s canoe.

Marlborough, New ZealandAccording to legend, the Marlborough Sounds were formed when Kupe, a great warrior was chasing a giant octopus and finally caught it in Cook Strait, where it formed the waterways and headlands of the Marlborough Sounds.

Today, the region’s newest attraction brings to life the heroes of World War One aviation with an unparalleled collection and dramatic lifelike scenes.

The Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre plays host to part of Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings director) vast collection. Peter sent in experts from world renowned Weta Workshop and Wingnut Films to create the sets that make this attraction world class and of interest to anyone!

Looking for accommodation amongst the vines in the heart of Marlborough? Then look no further…

Marlborough Vintner's Hotel - New ZealandSituated in the heart of Marlboroughis wine country on Rapaura Road, Marlborough Vintners Hotel offer a totally personalised and tailored service that brings the best of Marlborough together to ensure customers’ needs and expectations are met – or exceeded. There are 16 one-bedroom vineyard accommodation suites at MVH. All are Qualmark rated 5 star serviced and self-contained dwellings with master bedrooms and en suites. The spacious open-plan living areas lead on to private patios which take in the romantic surrounding vineyard vistas.

Recently MVH has developed its “Marlborough Packages”, which offer visits to some of the region’s top tourist operators. All the packages have a clear focus such as ‘Seafood & Sauvignon’, ‘Pamper & Luxury’, and ‘Flora & Fauna on Foot’, to name just a few. There are 13 such packages, taking in every aspect that makes this such a diverse and interesting region. So whether you want adventure, relaxation, or indulgence, Marlborough can oblige. We invite you to kick back and relax, get out and explore, or generally indulge yourself – you’re going to love Marlborough!

Colombia: The New Gay Travel Hot Spot?

Author: , April 25th, 2010

Until recently, the closest I’d come to Colombia was Panama, when just six years ago I asked my guide about the possibility of venturing beyond the nearby Colombian border. “What, are you crazy?” snapped back said guide. “You have a choice: We can do that, or we can stay in Panama and stay alive.”

We stayed in Panama. And for me, as for most people outside its frontiers, Colombia would long remain a rather scary mystery. Thankfully, since the mid-aughts or so, the often dangerous internal struggles that for decades so gripped Colombia have been on the wane. Colombia’s tourism drought has finally eased, revealing surprises and delights for modern visitors.

Among the shockers: a relatively strong gay scene and a downright progressive set of homosexual-rights laws that are helping to lure American LGBT tourists to this warm, gorgeous and culturally rich land in ever-growing numbers. Of course the shopping and beaches help, as do the exploding arts and fashion scenes and the country’s close proximity to the United States (just three hours from Miami).

Full Story from The Miami Herald

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Women’s Travel Company Turns Twenty

Author: , April 24th, 2010

In the 20 years she has owned Wild Women Expeditions, Beth Mairs says she’s seen women adventure trips go from being a niche business and “a bit of a laughingstock” to mainstream – sometimes even more mainstream than she’s comfortable with.

“The term ‘girlfriend getaways’ can make me gag,” says Mairs, 52, a pioneer in the women-only trekking movement. “It conjures up images of gals in their pyjamas, with cups of tea balanced on their knees, giggling about their first kiss.”

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But Mairs says that as companies have tried to jump on the bandwagon of women’s adventure trend, they often trivialize it and miss the mark.

Full Story from the Ottawa Citizen

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From Athens to Singapore Part 3 of 12: Middle East: & Cyprus

Author: , April 23rd, 2010
by Mike Shaughnessy, Traveler
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Purple Roofs is happy to welcome back an old friend. Last time, Mike regaled us with tales of his trip through South America. This time, he brings us details from his two month trip from Greece to Singapore. Enjoy!

Gay Cyprus

Very few Americans take a vacation to the Middle East or travel there, unless they are in the US Military recently and that is not a vacation. The Middle East region is filled with cultures, history and sacred sites.

Gay Cyprus - PotteryMy upcoming stops will be taking me to; Cyprus, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Oman and the United Arab Emirates countries before crossing the Arabian Sea to India, Thailand, Malaysia and finally Singapore.

I will also be cruising by but not stopping in; Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen and Somalia. This very ship I am on was last year attacked and shot at by Somalia pirates. The Captain has advised us not to be on deck or standing at windows when we pass by the Somalia coast, best to lie on the floor. He will be at full speed ahead.

Gay Cyprus - BasketI feel as safe on this trip as being at home. Bad things can happen anywhere and when you think of it, the deadliest terrorist attacks in recent years have occurred in New York, Bali, Spain, Great Britain and now Texas.

Actually, there are good people everywhere too. Many western people unfortunately look at the Middle East as one big scary place when really it is about 20 different countries and the biggest danger is in not knowing, understanding and respecting each other.

Gay CyprusCyprus

Another island, Cyprus, a strategic stepping stone between three continents of Europe, Asia and Africa over the centuries has been stepped on/controlled by just about any country you can name.

Gay CyprusGreek, Phoenician, Assyrian, Persian, Egyptian, Roman, Byzantine, Venetian, Ottoman and British have therefore all left some of their cultures behind. For example, they drive on the left side of the road here.

Gay CyprusIt looked like a pleasant place with friendly people and a nice climate but not any public transportation, so you must own a car to go anywhere on this big island. Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean after Sardinia and Sicily with both Greek and Turkish as official languages but English also is spoken. It was the home of the Greek Goddess Aphrodite.

Today the Republic of Cyprus is a melting pot of cultures. I visited some of the old Roman ruins in the Kourion area (a Greek Theater built in 200BC) plus a small wine growing village in the foothills of the mountains.

Gay Cyprus - MosaicCyprus was always controlled by some other country for thousands of years until 1960 when it finally became the independent Republic of Cyprus. Today the Republic of Cyprus is a member nation of the European Union and uses the Euro currency…I did not know this.

You would think all would remain peaceful but again in 1974 the Turkish Army invaded Cyprus and now controls the Northern part of the island. The capital city of Nicosia in the island center has a line going through it with passport check points. It is, after a united Berlin, a remaining divided city with half under Turkish control and half under Republic of Cyprus control.

Nepal Invites Gay/Lesbian Couples to Marry on Everest

Author: , April 23rd, 2010

Everest could become the new Brokeback Mountain with Nepal promoting gay weddings on the famous mountain. Nepal Tourism Minister Sharat Singh Bhandari said the country wants to re-establish tourism and hopes to become the first nation in Asia to allow same-sex marriages, Timesonline reports.

Mr Bhandari said he has already written to the International Conference on Gay & Lesbian Tourism in Boston. “As the world knows, Nepal is the land of Mount Everest, world’s highest peak and the birth place of Lord Buddha, light of Asia,” the message said.

“I, therefore, would like to take this opportunity to invite and welcome all the sexual and gender minorities from around the world.”

Full Story from The Australian

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Jet Blue Plans Gay Pride Flight from SF to Long Beach

Author: , April 22nd, 2010

While San Francisco’s Gay Pride Celebration in June is like the mecca of Pridefests, one airline is getting the pre-partying started in mid-May by encouraging San Franciscans to come onboard JetPRIDE and head down to Long Beach, CA for Long Beach pride.

Unlike previous themed flights, Jetblue’s Flight 1969 from SFO to LGB (interesting airport code) is open to the public, and it’ll be packed with plenty of entertainment, gift bags, games and pink cocktails.

The flight departs SFO on May 14 at 12:30pm and arrives to LGB two hours later, but we dare say that you won’t want to leave after hearing that Australian comedian Pam Ann will be the flight’s honorary purser.

Full Story from Jaunted

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Fiji Welcomes Gay Tourists

Author: , April 21st, 2010

Tourism Fiji says it doesn’t have any problem with Fiji being described as a ‘gay-friendly’ destination. Fiji was described as such by a US travel agent in a San Diego Gay and Lesbian News website.

Sylvie Eidson who has been to Fiji three times, writes on the website that she’s been thrilled to find how open and gay-friendly Fiji continues to be.

Tourism Fiji Chairman Patrick Wong says Fiji is open to anyone who wants to come to our shores.

Full Story from Radio Fiji

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Gay FAM Trip Planned for Beruit, Lebanon

Author: , April 10th, 2010

San Francisco, Barcelona, Sydney and … Beirut? As surprising as it sounds, the buzz is building around Beirut, Lebanon, as a gay destination.

The New York Times dubbed Lebanon’s capital “the Provincetown of the Middle East” in a 2009 article and the winter 2010 edition of Netherlands-based Winq magazine devoted eight pages to the city, citing its emergence as “the (gay) party capital of the Middle East.”

Bertho Makso, the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) ambassador to Lebanon, is coordinating the first familiarization tour and symposium to Lebanon for travel professionals who work in the gay and lesbian market.

Full Story from SDGLN

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Tying the Knot in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Author: , April 9th, 2010
by Evan Penner, West End Guest House, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Email Evan | Visit the West End Guest House Website
Visit the Purple Roofs Vancouver, BC Page
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Vancouver, BC

Gay WeddingVancouver has been well publicized for many years. The city has been the start place for the Alaskan Cruises since the 1980s but it wasn’t until 2003 when Gay Marriage was allowed in British Columbia that the city could provide an inexpensive, legal and nurturing ceremony to unite same sex couples.

Vancouver ArtYou couldn’t get a much more simplified marriage arrangement than in British Columbia. It is a simple process and rivals the quickie marriage (and divorce) of Reno or Las Vegas for expediency.

The finesse is up to you! It could wild and wacky with blue velvet tuxedos or an Antebellum white wedding dress or normal everyday clothes. The choice is yours.

Vancouver AerialSince 2003 the province of British Columbia along with the rest of Canada in 2005 have sanctioned same sex marriages as a right of the citizenry. Everywhere in Canada the Marriage Commissioner or Preacher is required by law to perform a marriage ceremony no matter the genders involved. A preacher in the more conservative prairie provinces was sued for refusing to marry two lesbians. He lost.

From personal experience I know the Marriage Commissioners in Vancouver are very adept at performing marriage ceremonies – note marriage rather than civil union or partnerships.

Vancouver Aerial 2Vancouver is perhaps the most liberal of all cities in Canada and the idea of the same sex marriage does not faze here. It is as blasé as our rain forest weather but it can be as exciting and exhilarating as the now-completed 2010 Winter Olympics. Marriage Commissioners can be chosen from the provinces vital statistics website, www.vs.gov.bc.ca they charge a simple $75 plus mileage fee for their ceremony and they will happily work with the betrothed to write and perform a meaningful ceremony.

Vancouver MallThe only other requirement is an “application” form http://www.vs.gov.bc.ca/marriage/howto.html#apply (for locations) along with a small charge – $25.00. Two witnesses are required as well.

Vancouver ViewAfter the ceremony there is Vancouver to visit. Lots to do and see, dine and dance, cycle and surf, sail and kayak and whale watch, hike and reflect on a big step….just taken.

Because Vancouver is a liberal stronghold you will find the Innkeepers of Vancouver and most areas of the province very gay friendly and often will be honoured to allow the marriage ceremony to take place in the B&B or Inn. (As what the policy is when booking accommodation.) If you are thinking of an outside ceremony the beaches, public and private gardens and Parks of Vancouver make a lovely backdrop to a ceremony that is the right of Canadians and should be the right of anyone.

Put Proposition 8 and Project 1138 on the back burner for the moment – come to Vancouver as two people to be united and leave a married couple!

Vancouver, BC - West End Guest HouseThe West End Guest House is situated in the heart of the city – the noisy pulse is near but not too near. Ours is a quiet side street, not being a thoroughfare and location is it is still central to the high lights of the city. The house lends itself to being a perfect location for a small and intimate wedding venue. The Innkeepers – Evan and Ron – married themselves in 2004 – help with creating a small and intimate wedding ceremony for their guests. The ceremony is mostly specific to the needs and requests of the couples, but usually we leave the choice of the Marriage Commissioner up to them to select. However, we do have our favourites and will be happy to offer our take on the Marriage Commissioners in our area. Ceremonies are most often done in our Victorian styled front room with refreshments in the dining room. But the courtyard garden has also been the location of larger weddings – one complete with a cellist playing the nuptial music. Even providing witnesses for the tiniest of weddings isn’t too much to be asked (often other guests offer to witness). Catering a small reception or a grander lunch is possible. We are always looking to make the experience perfect for the happy couple.

The West End Guest House has 7 rooms and can accommodate up to 13 and 15 people. Whether the wedding is small – only one room or bigger and they need the whole house we are happy to accommodate Brides, Grooms and their parties. The house welcomes all guests. Straight guests almost always have someone in their family or among their friends who is gay or lesbian. Everyone always seems to be on-side for the to-be-weds or newlyweds… there is an inexplicable camaraderie. It is easy to assume this little bit of support and encouragement translates into a stronger couple leaving the house. As well as a new commitment to each other we believe there is also a new strength in themselves. Ron and I welcome guests year round – for any occasion.