Gay Friendly Byron Bay, Australia

Author: , June 27th, 2010
by Chris & Wayne, Revelwood Rainforest Retreat, Binna Burra, NSW, Australia
Email Chris & Wayne | Visit the Revelwood Rainforest Retreat Website

Visit the Purple Roofs Northern Rivers, NSW, Australia page

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Byron Bay Hinterland

Photos by Wayne Penn, Used with Permission

Byron Bay SurfersByron Bay is one of the best loved areas on the gay tourist trail in Australia – and with good reason.

Situated on the sub-tropical New South Wales north coast, Byron is known for its relaxed, easy-going lifestyle and almost perfect climate.

Beautiful beaches, unspoilt rainforest and magnificent scenery make the Byron region a must. But there is more.

Over the last few decades, thousands of gay men and lesbians have left the cities looking for a better lifestyle – and landed up right here!

Kayak in Byron BayNot only is Byron Australia’s most gay-friendly regional area, it actually has the highest per capita gay population in the country. So say g’day to this very friendly part of the world, and you may make a few new gay friends as well.

At Kings Beach (below – they should rename it queens’ beach) you will walk down to the powder-white sand through magnificent littoral rainforest.

King's Beach, Byron BayPark your towel under a Pandanus palm – they’re nature’s umbrellas – and saunter into the surf. Even in winter the water is wonderfully warm.

Belongil Beach is Byron’s official nudist beach: you can shimmy out of your swimwear and stroll the sand for miles in either direction, encountering nothing but friendly smiles.

Not far from Belongil are the Tyagarah tea-tree lakes. As any Aussie will tell you, Australian tea-tree is one of nature’s wonders. Its medicinal properties are legend.

At Tyagarah, the tea-trees grow close to the lakes’ edges, dropping their leaves into the water, turning it into a natural (and free) herbal spa. Strip off, take a plunge and see how smooth your skin feels afterwards.

Byron Bay - Revelwood Rainforest RetreatRevelwood Rainforest Retreat is Byron’s only exclusively gay getaway. The B&B’s owners, Chris and Wayne, will go out of their way to ensure you have a great time – whether it’s whipping up a fabulous cooked breakfast, making sure you have the perfect pillow, pointing you in the right direction – or just letting you do your thing. Revelwood is surrounded by rainforest and beautiful Byron Creek, and is clothing-optional over much of its 15 acres. Yet its close proximity to the picturesque village of Bangalow puts you in easy reach of some of the region’s best restaurants, cafes and shopping.

You’d be crazy not to add Byron to your Aussie itinerary. Check out Revelwood’s website at www.revelwoodretreat.com.au or give the guys a call on +61 2 6687 2614.

Postcards From An Italian Adventure – Venice Again

Author: , June 24th, 2010

Gay Friendly Venice Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Our dear friend, Bella (Dolly Goolsby) is on an extended adventure in Italy. She has graciously agreed to let us republish her travel logs. Enjoy!

Murano, Venice

Saturday, May 29

This morning we went to Murano, which is an island right off the main island of Venice. This island is famous for glass work. After getting off the vaporetto, we went to a glass blowing shop and saw a demonstration of glass blowing.

Glass Horse - Murano, VeniceThe little horse that you see in this blog was one of the things that the glass blower made while we were watching. Fascinating. Then, of course, we had to exit through the shop. There were so many beautiful glass items for sale, and one could special order a piece and have it made, then shipped home. There were many such shops on the island. The island itself is a pretty place, with different colored buildings, and no traffic. It felt much different than Venice, perhaps because it is smaller, and not so many small canals bisecting it.

We had lunch together, then Susan and I went back to Venice, as the others wanted to shop, and I did not. Susan and I got off the vaporetto near the Opsedale. It was interesting to see the ambulanze boats, as well as the fire department boats, and the entrance to the Emergency Room right off the canal.

Glass Maker - Murano, VeniceFrom there we wandered through little neighborhoods, found a small cafe and had a cappucchino. It was amazing how close we really were to our apartment from where we had gotten off the vaporetto, because all these little streets wind around, and pretty soon, there you are, home again!!

The other ladies told us that from Murano they went to the island of Burano, which is noted for its lace making. They did buy some beautiful items. But they told me the houses on Burano are painted bright primary colors, and it is even quieter than Murano. I was sorry I missed that trip, but next time.

Sunday, as we were getting ready to go out, we heard a marching band. We hurriedly dressed and went to find where this was coming from. There is a church right across our little bridge, and the band stopped there. The priest from the church blessed the placque that was dedicated to war casualties, as well as a wreath that was placed there, also. The band played the Italian national anthem (which has such a lovely hummable tune that I simply must learn the words for this song), then they went into the church and played some more, so Susan and I went to Mass, so we could hear the music… well, that is why I went. Susan is a very good Catholic, so goes to Mass with or without music. It was a lovely way to start our Sunday.

Murano, VeniceMonday was our last full day in Venice, so finally we got into St Marks Basilica. I had never gotten into it before, as the lines were always too long, but this time we were there before opening, so we all got in to see this beautiful church.

After the Basilica, we divided into 2 groups: some wanted to do a gondola ride, and some of us wanted to see some more churches. I was in the church group. We took the vaporetto across the canal to the church that is right on the point, Santa Maria della Salute. Then we walked all over that side of Venice, finally getting to our goal of seeing the Frari Church. That was well worth the trouble. It is huge, and beautiful, and we got to hear a young lady playing the organ, for at least a half hour.

The other ladies did their gondola ride, then Kristie went by herself to the Lido, where she went swimming. Now she has been swimming in three seas off Italy: Tyrrhenian, Ligurian and Adriatic.

That night Kristie was in charge of taking us on a pub crawl and a fine job she did, too. We went again across the Canal to some pubs near the Rialto Bridge. That was quite fun. Just snacks and a glass of wine at Cantina do Mori, then more snacks and wine at Antica Ostaria Ruga Rialto, where we did have some dinner, too.

Christine had bought a new cane, with a brass duck head for the handle. Well, it has a secret compartment to hold liquor, so I took the little vial up to the bar and had the bartender fill it with grappa, so if Christine’s broken ankle started hurting too much, she had some pain relief right at hand. The entire bar crowd was watching, and being quite entertained by us.

We had a starry night ride on the vaporetto back to our apartment. What a wonderful 4 days we had in this magical city.

Want to Follow Bella’s Adventure Directly? Check Out Dolly Travels

Click here for gay travel resources in Florence & Tuscany.

Four Days in San Francisco: An Immersion Course in Italian

Author: , June 23rd, 2010

Gay Friendly San Francisco Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Marco and Fabry in San Francisco

Marco and Fabry in San Francisco

Anyone who knows us well knows that Mark and I have been studying Italian for a couple years now. It started out as a practical matter – we were planning a trip in Italia in 2006, and we wanted to be able to ask for a table at a restaurant, ask where the bathroom was, and all the other little joys that make any vacation comfortable.

So we signed up for a travelers course at the local Centro di Italiano (Italian Center) in Sacramento. It went really well, and after this five week course, we found ourselves able to carry on basic conversations in Italian during our three week trip.

Now I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to learn a foreign language after high school. I took Latin during my high school years, and really enjoyed it, but learning a new language as a (lets just say older) person is much more challenging. They say, though, that active learning like this, especially learning a new language, is really good for keeping your brain in good shape.

So as we planned our next Italian adventure in 2008, we decided to go whole-hog and take the full-strength language courses at The Center. The Italian Center uses a textbook called Prego, which covers all the basic grammar, and is used in many colleges as a First Year textbook for Italian students. Each 9 week course covers two of the eighteen chapters, and there are three semesters a year.

We came to our Uno class, sat down, and looked around. There were many older/retired people and couples – not surprising for a Tuesday at 10 AM class, and a few younger faces. Little did we know at the time that many of these folks would become close friends as we navigated this strange lingua (language) together.

Flash forward to now – we finished the Sette (seven) class in the spring, and we meet as a group every Tuesday to study, regardless of whether the official classes are in session. While I wouldn’t say we’re anywhere near fluent, we can speak the basics decently, and if you talk really slowly to us, we might understand most of what you’re saying.

In January, in my capacity as Gay Marriage Watch blogger, I came across the story of a gay couple in Italy who was staging a hunger strike for gay marriage, and I posted a note on their Facebook page, hoping to hear from them.

Two of their friends, Marco and Fabry, wrote to us instead, and we struck up an email friendship.

Forlì - Picture Courtesy of Wikipedia

Forlì - Picture Courtesy of Wikipedia

For months, we emailed back and forth, and then we started to skype for an hour la domenica (every Sunday). We learned that Marco and Fabry live in the city of Forlì, a town in Emilia Romagna, about an hour east of Florence. We learned that they both work for the city, and that Fabry’s mother has a fantastic garden. And we learned that they were coming to the US in May.

So we arranged to be their personal tour guides for their four days in San Francisco.

And so began the immersion course in Italian – four solid days speaking practically nothing else besides la bella lingua (the beautiful language).

The boys arrived through SFO, and were detained by Customs for an hour – did you know our Customs departments don’t offer bilingual employees to help visitors through the system?

We got them checked into their hotel, and then took them to the Church of Abercrombie and Fitch. Seriously. What the Catholic Church is to your average Italian, Hollister, Abercrombie, and other American clothing stores are to gay Italians.

Over the next four days, we discovered how many things are the same for Americans and Italians, and how many things are different.

Marco & Fabry

Marco & Fabry

For instance, Italians non piace ghiaccio (don’t like ice) – at least, not unless it’s really really hot. And it’s really hard to get a drink without ice here in the US – even when you ask, they forget half the time.

And similarly, they can’t understand why we are so addicted to air conditioning – for them, going from hot to cold to hot to cold every time you enter or exit a store is really annoying.

They also had no idea what a pretzel was.

Like us, they think their government is often corrupt, and that religion tramples over everything else. They are frustrated at the lack of progress on gay rights.

In the same way we’d love to move to Italy because it’s such a beautiful country, they’d love to move here – we see all the good in each other’s home countries, but not the problems.

We learned that gay men are called simply gay or finochio in Italian, or the more negative frocio – think fag in English.

And we learned that in any good relationship, both partners need to learn to piegare (bend) for each other – and yes, that is both figurative and literal.

San Francisco is truly a walking city, like Rome or Florence, and we made the most of it, caminare a piedi (walking on foot) through parts of North Beach, Union Square, the Castro, and the Waterfront. Of course, they wanted to see all the touristy things – Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, the Golden Gate Bridge – but we also took them to some of our favorites – the Filbert Steps, shopping on Union Street, and the bar at the top of the Marriott Marquis.

What did we learn from our Italian friends?

Parla, parla, parla! (Speak, speak, speak!) It was a little scary at first, but after a few hours, it became easier, and although we made many mistakes, they actually understood what we had to say.

And there were momentary flashes here and there – little strings of words or phrases – where I actually spoke or listened purely in Italian. Marco or Fabry would speak, and it would take me a minute to realize it was in Italian, because I understood the meaning without having to actually translate the words. It was a magical feeling, one I hope comes more and more often as our relationship con Italiano grows.

Marco and Fabry are gone now, off on their whirlwind bus tour of the western United States. But we hear from them daily via text message or email.

And maybe, next year, we’ll get to be the travelers and they can be the guides as we take part two of our Italian Immersion Course – this time in the beautiful city of Forlì!

Making it to Sacramento Pride

Author: , June 22nd, 2010

Gay Friendly Sacramento Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Sacramento Pride

Sacramento PrideSo we made it to Sacramento Pride this year.

I start with this piece of information because we were not quite so lucky in 2009. It wasn’t for lack of trying – last year, we woke up early, took care of our daily work chores, and were on our way from home to Downtown Sac in plenty of time. On Sunday. The day after the parade on Saturday.

:::sigh:::

So this year, we remembered our mistake, and arrived in downtown in plenty of time for the parade and festival that followed.

Sacramento PrideThe first Sacramento Pride we attended, in 2004 or 2005, was a small community gathering at Southside Park, a pretty little park and pond tucked away on the southwest side of Midtown (for non-Sacramentans, that’s the core of the city, bounded by Highway 50 on the south, 5 on the west, Business 80 on the east, and the railroad on the north).

Sacramento PrideThen a few years ago, the Pride folks decided to revive the Pride Parade, winding from the Capitol down to Southside Park.

This year, in a nod to the important political role Pride plays in California’s capital city, they revered the march, starting from Southside Park and ending at the Capitol Mall.

Sacramento PrideSacramento Pride is still small potatoes compared to San Francisco’s mammoth Pride Event, but this year the parade lasted an hour and a half, boasting almost 40 contingents, including PFlag, MEUSA, several local bars, local cheer organizations, the local gay and lesbian film festival, the sisters of perpetual indulgence, and many more.

It was a good parade, and even better, there was plenty of room along 7th Street to find a good place to watch.

Sacramento PrideA few small beefs – what’s up with letting the trains continue to run along the street, between half of the audience and the parade, during the whole event (see the photo at right)? These three car street trains went by, literally, every five minutes, blocking off the view of the parade for 30 seconds at a sho

And why did the police keep stopping the entire parade to let traffic cross 7th street? It seems like our parade doesn’t get the respect accorded to others – or is this the way it is for every group that wants to hold a parade in Sacrament

Sacramento PrideIn San Francisco, they close down Market Street for the whole parade – no one crosses it, and no busses run down it once the event begins.

In any case, we enjoyed the parade (when we could see it), and chatted with other local couples who came down for the show.

Afterward, we strolled down to the Capitol Mall, where the festival was in full swing. Tickets were $10 each, which seemed reasonable to help keep this event going and growing every yea

And although there was plenty of room to move around, it was great to see so many folks here – literally thousands of LGBT folks gathered on a perfect, comfortable sunny day.

Sacramento PrideSome welcome discoveries among the booths there were the Lavender Library, an LGBT library where you can check out the books and take them home; a local support group for our transgender community members, and a booth for the Sacramento International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.

Bebe Zahara Benet

We even had our picture taken at the Equality California booth (yeah, that’s us at left) – we were gonna skip this offer, but then they told us how they spent DAYS painting the road to 2012 backdrop, and we relented.

We also took in a play at the Lambda Players theater in the gay heart of Sacramento – these guys are good folks, and it’s well worth supporting our only gay/lesbian theater!

Bebe Zahara Benet

We got some close-ups with Ru Paul Drag Race winner Bebe Zahara Benet on the parade route, and we also saw singer Joel Evan on the parade route and later at the Festival.

There was a sweet moment (at left) when a mother approached Benet during the parade with her adorable towheaded son, and Benet was clearly delighted to say hello to the little boy.

We’re thrilled to see our Hometown Pride getting bigger and better each year!

From Athens to Singapore 5 of 12: Middle East – Egypt

Author: , June 20th, 2010

Gay Friendly Egypt Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

by Mike Shaughnessy, Traveler
Email Mike

Visit the Purple Roofs Israel page

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!

Egypt

Egypt is one of the oldest countries in the world. My first stop in Egypt was Alexandria or Alex as the locals say, founded in 332 BC by Alexander the Great, second only to Rome in size and power for 300 years.

It was in Alexandria that Julius Caesar drew up the Julian calendar which became our measurement of time. When Cairo was later founded and became the Egyptian capital Alex declined and shrunk to little more than a fishing village.

Today it has grown back to Egypt’s second largest city with 5 million people (but still much smaller than Cairo’s 25 million people).

The port of Alexandria is pristine clean and beautiful, but step through the gate from the port into the city itself and yuck… so much filth. The streets are full of what looks like hundreds of years of garbage and dirt with no attempt at ever cleaning the streets.

The trams are full of dirt beyond belief. I guess the people are born and raised with this filth in the streets all their life to the point that they never notice it or do not know anything different. The thousands of year old ruins I visited were much cleaner than the ordinary streets of today’s Alexandria.

Egypt

The next day, continuing my week long trip thru Egypt, I went to Cairo. The smog here was so thick you could not see the city skyline.

We drove over the Nile and went to the Giza Pyramids and the Sphinx which are located on a rise in the shadow of the ever growing Cairo shanty town illegal brick buildings. I was first here 20 years ago when Cairo had 15 million people, today it has 25 million.

The country of Egypt is trying to slow down their growth of population. It was common to have eight or 12 or more children, their efforts are working with an average of now about 3 children per family but the country is still growing at one million people per year.

Egypt

The most impressive part about the famous three Giza Pyramids is their enormous size dominating the Giza Plateau. The last time here I climbed up inside the pyramid thru a very small stairway all the way up inside to the sarcophagus room located inside the top portion of the huge pyramid. This trip I did not do that.

Egypt

Egypt lost the playoff for the soccer game to Algeria last night so the people were somber today… except around the pyramids where they are always extremely aggressive in trying to separate you from your money.

The following day was the transit through the Suez Canal starting from Port Said. After several terminated attempts over more than a thousand years at building a canal here, a lockless canal was finally completed in 1869. It took eleven years to build using 30,000 forced Egyptian slave laborers. Transit in the canal has been stopped at several times do to wars in the area.

EgyptThe canal was originally operated by Britain but in 1954 Egypt’s President Nasser nationalized it to stop Israeli shipping. This caused Britain, France and Israel to invade in 1956 and sink ships which closed the canal for a year. Then the so called Six-Day War in 1967 the canal was again closed until 1975.

The canal has no locks because the sea levels between Red Sea and Mediterranean Sea are not much different. However the salinity of them is very different and the constant flow of saltier water from the Red Sea into the Mediterranean is causing a change in the makeup of sea life there.

EgyptThe canal at some points is only wide enough for one-way traffic so all ships travel in a convoy. There are three convoys per day, two going south and one going north. There is security and pilot boats that keep the ship speed very slow to prevent erosion of the sandy shores.

It takes about 14 hours to transit the 120 mile long canal. The average toll to use the Suez Canal is $250,000 per ship. Over 23,000 ships per year use the canal, providing a significant source of tax revenue to Egypt.

EgyptSomali pirates have reduced the number of ships using it, preferring to take the l

onger, safer route around Africa and hence significantly reducing revenue to Egypt (from over $5 billion to less than $4 billion per year).

The canal is deep enough for all but the largest super tankers but the canal is currently being deepened such that in 2010 even fully loaded super tankers will be able to use it… this may hasten the flow of saltier water into the Mediterranean as well.

I had read last May in the SF Chronicle that pirate attacks increased ten times in the first 3 months of 2009. In 2008 Somali pirates received $80 million in ransom for release of ships. Yesterday I heard on CNN that 13 ships and some 250 crew members are currently being held hostage, plus the two British private sailor couple pleading for their life.

EgyptI just finished reading Dan Brown’s recent book “The Lost Symbol”. I had picked it up at home and brought it along as one of the five books with me on this trip. I had no idea of what it was about until I began reading it.

You may remember his previous popular book “The Da Vinci Code” which took place in Europe about the Holy Grail. This book takes place entirely in Washington DC and is about a pyramid.

EgyptWhat was amazing is that there are frequent references in the book to places in Israel, Egypt, Mt Sinai… many references to places through which I am currently traveling and visiting and how the US Capital Building, the Library of Congress, the National Mall, the Smithsonian and other locations in DC have symbols (even on the US one dollar bill) that all relate back to places here in the Middle East.

The gripping story itself is entirely fiction, takes place in only a 12 hour period, but the places, art, monuments and organizations referred to in the book actually do exist in Washington DC.

EgyptIt is an entertaining read and an interesting surprise to me that it relates to so many places in my current journey. The ending has a surprising twist which I will not reveal as you may wish to read “The Lost Symbol” yourself.

My next stop in Egypt is a town at the southern tip of the Sinai Desert; Sharm El Sheik. This is near Mt. Sinai where Moses was given the Ten Commandments.

I had not even heard of this ‘Sharm’ place until about a week ago when on CNN I heard it reported that the International Internet Domain Naming Committee was meeting in Sharm El Sheik and had decided to allow domain names in alphabets other than our familiar western one.

EgyptThis relatively new upscale resort town has many 4 and 5 star hotels, expensive yachts in the harbor, an international airport, clear clean blue sea waters, and popular deep sea diving to view the colorful and numerous sea creatures.

Unfortunately the nice beaches here are all privately owned by the expensive hotels and to go to the beach the hotel requires you to take a room. Hey, they got to keep the poor Egyptians and other riff raff away from the play space of the rich and famous, too bad.

We were supposed to be docked but a gigantic private yacht had stolen our port location, probably with appropriate payment, so we had to float in the bay and tender ashore.

EgyptThe visit here was to St. Catherine’s Monastery built in the shadow of Mt. Sinai. This is where Moses saw the burning bush and one of the oldest monasteries in the world.

The next port of Safaga was the entrance to our visit of Luxor, the “City of Palaces”. The remains here are most impressive. On the east bank of the Nile is the city of the living, the town, and the Karnak Temple, the largest place of worship ever built. On the west bank of the Nile is the city of the dead, the huge tombs of kings including the famous tomb of Tutankhamun.

I have now completed half of this two month long journey from Athens to Singapore. Tomorrow I will be traveling into Petra and Wadi Rum in Jordan.

Postcards From an Italian Adventure – Venice

Author: , June 20th, 2010

Gay Friendly Venice Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Our dear friend, Bella (Dolly Goolsby) is on an extended adventure in Italy. She has graciously agreed to let us republish her travel logs. Enjoy!

June 2, 2010

Buon giorno, everyone,

VeniceI have fallen in love again…..with a city. Venice….molta bella citta….we arrived here Friday about 11:00 a.m. by train from Florence.

What a wonderful sight!! The sun is shining (Miraculoso!!) Rain had been predicted for all 4 days that we are to be here, but everyone was out, enjoying the lovely sunshine.

We got out vaporetto tickets, and got on the vaporetto to go to our apartment. If you don’t know, Venice has no traffic, except on the water, with the vaporetti (water buses), the water taxis, the cruise ships, along with all emergency vehicles.

VeniceTraffic can get pretty intense on the Grand Canal. But we sat back, and enjoyed our journey to the Arsenale stop, which is near the end of the main island of Venice.

After getting our stuff settled into our apartment, which is a restored Palazzo, presumably dating back to the 14th century. We had to cross a little bridge across a canal, and enter the main hall, and apartments then opened off that.

VeniceOur windows overlook the little canal, which seemed to be quite busy at times, also. In fact, we laughed to ourselves, that we exchanged the scooter noise of Florence for the boat noise in Venice.

We then went to lunch together, but then separated into everyone doing their own thing. Christine had not been to Venice before, so she, Kathy and Kristie went to Harry’s Bar, near Piazza San Marco and had Bellinis, for which they paid 15 Euro each.

VeniceThey were not impressed with Harry’s Bar. They said that only very old rich people were in there, and no one was smiling, and it was quite depressing. They were depressed theirselves, when they learned how much they paid for the Bellinis.

The cruise ship crowds were impacting that area, and that it not what I wanted to see, so I stayed out of the area. Our apartment is very near a residential area, where children were playing, dogs were making friends with each other as their owners carried on conversations.

VeniceOld men were sitting on benches having very antimated conversations. The produce vendor was there with his little shop that I remembered from before. I couldn’t resist. I bought the ingredients for a vegetable soup, completed my shopping at the Coop grocery, then made another trip with Susan to pick up wine and bread for our dinner.

We had our soup, wine and bread, then retired early, as everyone is tired, and we are going to go to Murano in the morning.

Want to Follow Bella’s Adventure Directly? Check Out Dolly Travels

Click here for gay travel resources in Florence & Tuscany.

New Gay Travel Site Offers Berlin Getaway Contest

Author: , June 18th, 2010

Gay Friendly Germany Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

A new gay travel website is offering users a chance to win a luxury weekend in Berlin to celebrate the launch of its guide to the city. The site – 60by80 – aims to be a city-by-city guide to some of the world’s top destinations, aimed at stylish gay male professionals.

“Of course I’m interested in knowing where to find the cutest-looking men on a Friday night but I also need to eat and sleep” says founder Michael Fuchs.

To celebrate the addition of Berlin to the site’s “60 Hours Guides” which take readers from midday on Friday until midnight on Sunday, two lucky winners will win a five star weekend staying at five star Brandenburger Hof Hotel.

Full Story from the Pink Paper

Click here for gay travel resources in Germany.

Google “Gay” Searches Underlined By the Rainbow

Author: , June 18th, 2010

Hey all,

Just noticed this morning that certain searches with the word gay, including “gay travel”, “gay marriage”, and “gay pride” now result in a little rainbow bar appearing under the search box:

Not sure what this means – and it does not appear for all “gay” searches, including “gay sex”, “gay love”, and “gay bananas” (I know, I know, but it was the first thing that came to mind,

Anyone have any thoughts about this?

–Scott, Purple Roofs

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD: Complaints From Readers

Author: , June 17th, 2010
Email Don & Ray | Visit the Gay Travel Guys Website

Our readers have a lot of thoughts on their own and rightly so. We are not the only ones who complain sometimes. We receive dozens of emails a month from readers who complain or ask if we can help with the travel problems.

Airlines and rental cars rank as the two that most readers complain about. The airlines are almost too big to fight. Flying has always been a hassle and in today’s world, it just keeps getting worse and worse and unfortunately there is almost nothing that a consumer can do about poor service. Sometimes, you just have to grin and bear it.

Auto car rentals is another story. As long as you pay with your credit card, you have at least some recourse. Always take a photo of all four sides of your auto rental BEFORE leaving the agency and then after you return the auto, ALWAYS have the clerk do a walk around with you to see that there are not dings are dents and have them sign that portion of your rental contract saying so.

Is this a hassle? Sure, it is but it might possibly prevent a much larger hassle should you get a bill for several hundreds of dollars down the road. This has happened to dozens of our readers from all of the major auto rental companies.

Hotels, motels and resorts and another major complaint area. When you book an accommodations you expect to pay exactly what it says when you are booking, except of course for the taxes which are added on.

But what happens when you get to your destination and they want to add a resort fee, a phone fee, a safe fee, etc. ALWAYS make a copy of your reservations and present that to the manager and explain that nowhere on the reservation does it say that there is a charge for anything extra! Be polite but firm!

We love what they will then usually say, “Well, this time we will make an exception just for you.” Oh sure!

Unclean room, noisy neighbors and TVs or air-conditions that don’t work are yet another complaint. Simply call the front desk and explain your problem. The problem is in their court.

Some hotel/motel chains now offer a one nights stay if there is a problem. Take them up on that, but be sure that any and all problems are taken care of.

And of course ALWAYS double check you bill when checking out. Whether you are paying $49 for a room or $490 for a room, you still deserve a clean, quiet, comfortable room. Sad to say but now the burden is on the consumer to check everything before staying anywhere. Go to either tripadvisors.com or gaycities.com to get reviews from other guests who have stayed at the place where you are thinking about staying.

A big factor in determining which section of an accommodation where you are staying is the bar or swimming pool area. Both of these areas tend to be quite noisy especially at night with music and a lot of people around the area. If you are in a party mood, this is fine, but if you came to rest and get some sleep then be sure and choose a location away from those areas.

Many of our readers email us about problems they have had at restaurants. We have a solid rule that if there are two problems when we go to a restaurant, then we walk. It’s just that simple. There are dozens and dozens of other restaurants to dine at. And if we do go to the second restaurant, we usually tell the host/manager that we just left another restaurant because of problems and hopefully their restaurant knows how to take better care of their paying customers. Nine times out of ten, we then get wonderful service.

Another topic that we get lots of emails from our readers about are travel scams and complaints According to the National Fraud Information Center, the average loss to fraud in 2008 was $803 per incident – up from $468 two years before. While travel is not at the top of the fraud list (that is reserved for online auctions), it is number two in frequency of complaints. Be sure to steer clear of the folks who are only out to separate you from your travel money.

Don’t be a victim of these 5 top travel scams:

1. Discount travel clubs are usually a very bad idea. If your travel club is asking for more than a few dollars for membership, they are probably scamming you. They will offer a discounted menu of trips (of course it is discounted – they said so didn’t they?), only available to members. For this membership, you get the privilege of booking the trip, probably a substandard product and a newsletter. They get your money plus the commission paid by the travel supplier. It’s a great asset to anyone’s cash flow. Travel clubs should be geared towards social engagement and any dues or membership paid should be reasonable and cover only the true costs.

2. Become a travel agent. This is a scam that is running rampant now. Once you pay a fee to a company, it will issue “credentials” allowing you access to travel agent freebies and discounts and commissions on selling travel. First off, the days of freebies and discounts are done — trust us, they are few and far between. Secondly, in order to sell travel and be recognized by a supplier, you need to be affiliated with either a travel agency or be registered as an independent seller of travel with either the Cruise Lines International Association or the Airlines Reporting Corporation. Believe us, this is a perfect example of the old axiom, “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

3. Deceptive Pricing: Know the real price. Know the final price. Look at any major airline ad and you will see their too good to be true fares. The problem is the fine print. The ads are for a one way fare based on round trip purchases. Presto, your cost has doubled. It seems the airlines are more adept at creative pricing than flying their own planes. From frequent flier redemption to unavailable seats, to bogus two-for-one offers, they know all the tricks. But be careful, while the airlines are masters of this scam, they do not have a patent on the practice. Be sure you read all of the fine print before you hand over the credit card or click on the “buy” button.

4. TimeShares: People marketing timeshares are slick. They are not afraid to lie, cheat, or steal to make a sale. Most timeshare offers are made while you are already on vacation and your guard is down, but many are from contest entry forms where you fill out a form while waiting for your Chinese take-out. Very simply, never agree to a meeting or a presentation. Ask that any information be sent to you. Once in a presentation, you have put yourself in physical and fiscal danger. A friend of ours just returned from Mexico where he thought he agreed to extend his stay to try out a timeshare. When he returned, he found that his credit card had been charged $37,000 and he was a proud new owner of a timeshare — Spanish contracts tend to be confusing if you are not fluent in the language.

5. Out of business: If you want to make a donation, do it to a charity for Tsunami Aid and not some corrupt or failing business. Cruise lines, tour operators, airlines, and yes, even travel agencies have all gone under and left the consumer holding the bag.

The best piece of advice is to ALWAYS pay with a credit card. That way you have the paperwork and a good recourse to take if something does go wrong.

We always appreciate readers emailing us with the complaints, praises or any other questions.

Don & ray - Gay TravelersAlways remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married). Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at gaytravelers@aol.com and visit their website at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/

Huge New Gay Resort Planned for Wilton Manors

Author: , June 17th, 2010

New Gay Resort in Wilton ManorsWilton Manors, the very gay small town just north of Fort Lauderdale, is slated to get a massive new resort.

New York-based G Worldwide plans to break ground on a 700,000 square-foot resort at an estimated cost of $80 million in Wilton Manors. The luxury resort, scheduled for completion in 2011, will bring over 500 new jobs to the area and is the first in a series of projects for the company catering to the LGBT community. David Holzapfel, COO of G Worldwide, is enthusiastic about the project.

“The reason we chose Wilton Manors for our first project is because we felt that South Florida is a wonderful location.” Holzapfel likes the community of Wilton Manors, stating that the company has already garnered a great deal of support for the project. The resort will feature numerous lavish amenities. “We will have a fitness center, spa, nightclub, and a variety of dining options, all on property,” Holzapfel says.

Full Story from Joe.My.God

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