Postcards From an Italian Adventure – Weekend at the Seacoast

Author: , July 31st, 2010

Gay Friendly Tuscany 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!


Viareggio, Italy

Tuesday, July 13th

Friday night, after an absolutely miserable day for me… (remember the sciopero?) The heat was intense. and no air moving at all. I had done some sightseeing in the afternoon, but it was too hot to do too much. I ended up spending an hour in a bookstore, and another hour in an air conditioned cafe, having a cool drink and reading my new book.

After I got back to the apartment, Amanda came down; she and I went out to dinner, but no energy to do more that that. Sometime later, around 10:00 p.m., I emailed Massimo and Magda, and told them how miserable the heat was here in Florence.

Well, to make a long story short, the next morning they called me, and invited me to come to Viareggio. It didn’t take me long to pack; I caught a train and was at the sea coast by 1:30 p.m.

OrsonWhat a great weekend I had. The Carli’s gave me a bedroom that had belonged to one of the sons, who have since left home. The only condition was, that I had to leave the door open to the balcony, as well as to the hallway to the house, as Orson considered that room his, and would be willing to share it with me, if I met his conditions!! Which, of course, I was happy to do. Orson is the Carli’s big chow, and a wonderful roommate. He never bothered me, just wandered in and out all night, never making a sound. His heavy fur must have been keeping him as warm as I felt in Florence. I slept like a lamb, with the door to the balcony open, hearing occasional noise from the sea, which is 2 blocks away.

Almost as soon as I arrived, we had lunch, then Magda loaned me a bathing suit, and off I went to the beach, while they went to the grocery store. Niccolo, their oldest son, and his wife, were at the beach, so I visited with them for awhile, then I went swimming in the sea. The water was warm, and not deep, so I just enjoyed myself.

Going to the beach in Italy is not the same as going to the beach in the US. The Carli’s have a prime spot right near the surf. This beach spot is rented and is similar to having a slip at the marina for a boat… if one is fortunate enough to have a prime spot, you never give it up… keep it in the family forever!!

That evening, the Carli’s had guests for dinner… 2 very delightful people. The man is called Lele, I believe (I am not sure of the spelling). He is truly a Renaissance man… poet, song writer, actor, flower arranger… I am sure this is just a short list.

He was very funny, too. He did speak English, and tried to include me in the conversations (a lost cause, after a while). Leah, the other special guest, is a restaurant owner, and cook par excellence. Of course, I had to like her!! Both of Carli sons were there, Niccolo with his wife, Elena, and Jacopo, who now lives in Florence.

Massimo cooked up a wonderful sea food stew from one of Leah’s recipes, so of course, I had to have my nose in the kitchen… the stew was similar to Cioppino, but naturally, used all local seafood: white fish, shrimp, calamari, clams, mixed with tomato and herbs.

It was served in bowls over slices of toasted bread… YUMMMMMMM!! There was also Ratatouille, a frittata, many glasses of wine, Prosecco, white wine… and the conversations were just flitting around me like butterflies.

The next morning, Sunday, Massimo and I went to visit his mother. I had met her before, a couple of times. She lives in an apartment adjacent to Massimo and Magda. She has a lady who stays with her, to cook for her, and help her get around. She is pretty healthy, but will celebrate her 105th birthday next month. We had a nice visit. I was so glad I got to see her.

In the afternoon, we all went to the beach again, then later, Massimo, Magda and I went to a birthday party for Leah’s granddaughter, Anna, who had her 5th birthday. After the birthday party, back at the Carli’s apartment, we took the leftovers from the previous night’s dinner, and had dinner al fresco on the roof top terrace. Then, like all weekends, it had to come to an end, and now I am back in Florence… humidity, heat and all.

Last night I went to Fiesole for a jazz concert in the old Roman theater. That was very good, fun, and it was a bit cooler up there.

Today, the only exciting thing that happened was that I saw a pedestrian get hit by a motor scooter. It was the pedestrian’s fault for trying to run against traffic on Via Cavour, a quite busy street. I don’t think he was hurt too badly, but he was complaining of pain in his legs, so the ambulance came and took him away. The scooter driver took a spill, as well, but he had his helmet on, and did not appear to be injured. I knew that the odds of this happening where I would see it, were very high. I am just glad it wasn’t me that was in the incident.

So, for now I will say, buono notte, and try to get some sleep. The air conditioner is working, thank goodness, so perhaps I will sleep through the night tonight.

This adventure is really very fun. In spite of the heat, Florence is still a fabulous city. I haven’t even touched on all there is to do here.

I love and miss all of you, but this is truly the adventure of a lifetime, with more excitement and new things to come.

Ciao for now.

Dolly

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

Click here for gay travel resources in Florence & Tuscany.

Bisbee, Arizona: Our Own Little Corner of the World

Author: , July 30th, 2010
by Steve Arndt, The Sleepy Tortoise Guesthouse, Bisbee, Arizona
Email Steve | Visit the Sleepy Tortoise Guesthouse

Visit the Purple Roofs Sky Islands, Arizona page

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Bisbee, Arizona

The best vacation spots are those corners of the world that you just can’t get out of your mind. Places so special, or just plain weird, that they take on their own personalities.

Bisbee, ArizonaWelcome to Bisbee, Arizona. Many of our 6,500 or so residents found our community serendipitously, were smitten, and suddenly changed their life plans to relocate here. Others have roots that run deep into our local history, back to when copper was discovered and a mining camp exploded into “The Queen of the Copper Mines”.

This mountain town is still dotted with shaft entrances that lead to over 2,000 miles of tunnels.

There is a massive dormant open pit mine that for many years made Bisbee the leading copper producer in the nation. Inexpensive underground mine tours and a Smithsonian Institute affiliated mining museum are “must sees”.

Historic Bisbee, ArizonaOther signs of our colorful history endure. The oldest ballpark in the nation still hosts baseball games.

Brewery Gulch, a local street once teeming with brothels, opium dens, and over 40 bars in a four block stretch, still echoes its past in the oldest continually operating bar in Arizona.

Some of the “cribs” of our shady ladies – who identified themselves with striped stockings, still stand – as do property fences made entirely of the headboards of their beds.

Even the tamer elements of our past left indelible evidence that makes Bisbee unique: steep mountainside streets populated with a mix of miners shacks and historic homes interconnected with mule trails – many converted into thousands of stairs by the WPA.

The oldest Women’s Club in the state, a large selection of historic churches, the only high school building anywhere with ground level entrances on 3 floors, and the mansions of mine barons with mountains of tailings in their backyards and commanding views of old Mexico from their front yards are amongst many other interesting wrinkles on the face of our town.

Art in Bisbee, ArizonaLocated a mile high in the Mule Mountains, Bisbee is blessed with a climate so mild it consistently surprises visitors who expect oven-like desert temperatures so close to the border. Area hikers report sightings of creatures that most people in our country could not identify: coatimundis, javalinas, ringtail “cats” (related to raccoons), jaguarundis, wind scorpions, vinegarones, and giant centipedes. All these coexist with a multitude of more prosaic western species (mountain lion, bear, deer, skunk, fox, hundreds of bird species, coyote, etc.) and even the occasional, albeit rarely seen, jaguar.

Our most interesting denizens are the good citizens of Bisbee. An interesting and accepting blend of artists, ranchers, old hippies, working class and eccentrics – all peacefully and respectfully live together. The people: that’s the real story of our town.

We have far more festivities and cultural activities than other communities our size. And yes, we struggle with the issues facing life in a modern day border town, but somehow when you travel through the tunnel that heralds your arrival, you find yourself feeling like you’ve traveled back in time… back to a time in our history called the “good old days”.

The Sleepy Tortoise, Bisbee, ArizonaColorful and cozy, warm and welcoming, The Sleepy Tortoise offers a charming slice of the Bisbee experience. Perfectly located in the historic residential district, the guesthouse is a convenient walk to downtown, yet far enough to afford peace and relaxation.

This private accommodation includes: one comfy bedroom; full bath; refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave, coffee and tea; cable television with DVD; central heat and A/C; ceiling fan; free WiFi; a balcony and off-street parking. An incredible value at $85/night, $500/week – cash, Visa or Mastercard. For more, please see our website or call us today.

Featured Property: Naomi’s Inn B&B, Springfield, Massachusetts

Author: , July 30th, 2010

Periodically we’ll feature one of our properties here to let our readers know about some great gay friendly places to stay.

Gay Friendly Connecticut River Valley, Massachusetts Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Naomi's Inn, Springfield, MANaomi’s Inn was built in 1846 and completely renovated and restored in 2006.

The result is a custom blend of old world charm and 21st century luxury. Naomi’s Inn is the only B&B with all en-suite baths and accommodations on the first floor.

The individual suites speak to different ages and spots on the globe. Paired with affordability, exceptional service, and convenient highway access, we offer the authentic Inn experience 5 minutes from Amtrak and within walking distance of pubs and restaurants.

Guests may hike, bicycle or jog in the newly renovated Van Horn park up the street. We are within a five minute drive of the Basketball Hall of Fame and downtown Springfield, the Dr. Seuss Memorial, Springfield Armory, Springfield College, AIC, and Elms College.

See the Naomi’s Inn Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Featured Property: Whispering Winds Retreat Haven Bed & Breakfast, Cambridge, Wisconsin

Author: , July 28th, 2010

Periodically we’ll feature one of our properties here to let our readers know about some great gay friendly places to stay.

Gay Friendly Southern Gateways, Wisconsin Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Craving some peace and quiet? Whispering Winds Retreat Haven may be the place for you. Whispering Winds is a large, renovated farmhouse surrounded by three acres of lawn and gardens. Whispering Winds is both a bed & breakfast for romantic getaways and a spiritual retreat house for small group retreats.

Four spacious guestrooms, each with a private bathroom, are furnished with a queen or full bed, comfortable chairs, and a desk. Each guest room is a peaceful escape, a totally private place to read, sleep, reflect on life, and simply relax.

Our guests are welcome to use the sun room that looks over the lawn and gardens, the living room with a gas fireplace and a piano, dining room, prayer room, and other smaller sitting areas throughout our home.

You’ll also find rocking chairs on the front porch, a fully enclosed gazebo, and paths that wander through the lawn and gardens – smell the roses, listen to the birds, and watch the chipmunks scamper by. This is the place to slow down, relax, and be refreshed.

See Whispering Winds Retreat Haven Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Postcards From An Italian Adventure – Sciopero

Author: , July 28th, 2010

Gay Friendly Tuscany 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!

Friday, July 9th

Sciopero.

I learned this word in “Italians for Travelers”. It means “strike” and it happens all the time in Italia, but today, I was personally inconvenienced, and I had to wonder, why do they do this?

I had a paid reservation to go on a wine tasting tour out of Siena. But today there was a strike, a “sciopero”, and I could not get to Siena…

Of course, there were notices posted yesterday that the strike would be from 0900 to 2100 today. The strike involved all public transportation…

City buses, intercity buses, railroad travel.

Knowing there was going to be a problem, I went early to the bus station. It was almost eerie: no buses, people going to the counter, and being turned away. I then walked across the street to the train station, and saw on the boards, cancelled, cancelled, cancelled. It was amazingly quiet…people with luggage, talking in whispers to each other, no one made a scene, no one questioned why… It was so quiet.

The one bright spot was, that I knew I would not get run over by a bus on my way back home.

Today is miserably hot, so when I did get home, all I wanted to do, was to have a shower. Later, I went out for a bit, and I could see the tourists wilting before my eyes… no one had the energy to do anything, except find an air conditioned bar and have a beer, perhaps.

I came back to the apartment and stayed here, until Amanda came down, and we went out to dinner. The air is so still, just hot and humid and not moving. We only went a few blocks, but fortunately, the ristorante was very good, the place is beautiful, they gave us a complimentary drink and appetizer, then we had a wonderful meal.

I still love Florence, in spite of the heat and the strikes. The heat just makes me get up earlier to do my exploring, and the strikes are part of the culture, so I will learn how to work around them, too.

The heat, well I cannot say I will learn to love it,but fortunately, the sea coast is just a couple hours train ride from here. If there is no strike!

So, no pictures today, sorry. But just an insight to another aspect of Italian culture, but I cannot think of anywhere else I would rather be.

Ciao for now,

Dolly

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

Click here for gay travel resources in Florence & Tuscany.

Mexico City Aims to Become Gay Travel Mecca

Author: , July 28th, 2010

Gay Friendly Mexico City Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Mexico City’s gay community has in recent decades turned the capital into a relative oasis in a strongly Catholic country reknowned for its conservatism and machismo. The authorities in the Mexican capital are now seeking to attract gay tourism, even though there is still widespread discrimination against them.

The city is well placed “to become the first gay friendly destination in Latin America,” said tourism secretary, Alejandro Rojas. In March, the urban sprawl of some 20 million people celebrated the first legal gay and lesbian weddings in Latin America. And this week, authorities said they had opened the first tourism office for homosexuals in the region.

Gay tourists are discerning, respectful and spend 47 percent more than heterosexual tourists, Rojas said. His leftist city government last week offered a free honeymoon here to the first gay couple to wed in Argentina after that country legalized same-sex marriages in the whole country.

Full Story from AFP

New Zealand’s Third Island: Visiting Stewart Island

Author: , July 27th, 2010
by Bruce Morrison, Christchurch Gaystay, Christchurch, New Zealand
Email Bruce | Visit the Christchurch Gaystay

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New Zealand is generally thought of as two islands , the North and the South , but there are many more . The third biggest island, Stewart , is to the south of the South Island.

Flight to Stewart IslandA Tahitian friend and I recently flew to Stewart Island, just a 10 minute flight in a 6-seater aircraft from Invercargill, the most southerly city on the South Island.

The stretch of water we flew over is known as Foveaux Strait. It is the home to the famous Bluff oyster beds, crayfish and blue cod.

The airstrip was just like a road in the middle of the bush. No terminal, just a strip of tarmac. A bus appeared to drop off the next passengers and to pick up those arriving. Gerard and I had hiked a lot of NZ famous walks but neither of us had been to Stewart Island.

Stewart Island FlightI found non-gay accommodation in Lonnekers Bay, 10 minutes walk from “downtown” Oban. The whole island has a population of 390.

We hiked every day and visited Ulva Island, the predator-free island. New Zealand has no native mammals, just birds, a bat and one reptile. But people have brought rats, mice, stoats, weasels, cats, possums and dogs and all have upset the ecological balance, decimating the native bird population.

The magnificent native forest is alive with the birdsong of the New Zealand of yesteryear; saddle-backs, kereru, tomtit, robin, tui, bellbird, kaka and parakeet.

Foliage, Stewart IslandWe did a kiwi-spotting trip late at night, so we watched kiwi, a most unusual bird, feeding on worms and sand-hoppers on the beach and in the forest.

The kiwi is the only bird in the world without a tail and lays the biggest egg of any bird in relation to body size. It will not survive on the mainland and so efforts are being made now to transfer the kiwi to predator-frree islands. It is the country’s national symbol and New Zealanders are often known as “kiwis”.

Stewart Island PlaneWe flew to Mason Bay in a tiny plane, where the terminal was a log on the beach. A lonely hunter sat on the log waiting to be picked up, while we were dropped off and had a 25 km beach to ourselves. We swam on what must be one of the southern-most beaches in the world.

We walked for 4 hours to a tramping hut and were picked up by a water taxi and endured the roughest boat ride I have ever had back to Oban.

We ate Titi or mutton bird in a restaurant after having watched them flying.

They are unusual in that they burrow underground to form nests and fly to Siberia for the winter. 200,000 to 300,000 are caught by the native people, the Maori, for food every year, so we convinced ourselves they are not endangered.

We ate blue-cod and crayfish in the few eating places. The South Seas Hotel, the only pub, is a reminder of the pubs of yesteryear, and they sell a T-shirt with the logo “Stewart Island – where men are men and fish are nervous”. We bought more conservative ones.

On the Beach, Stewart Island, New ZealandWe hiked every day on well maintained tracks often with board walks across wet areas. There are 3-day or 10-day hikes where you carry your food and sleeping bags and stay in huts provided by a Government department, the Department of Conservation.

Our accommodation was never locked for the 5 nights we were there, and a van was provided for our use. There are a total of 12km of roads on the island. Other forms of transport are mountain bikes, vespas, walking, water taxis and a “tuk tuk”.

We had 5 nights on the island, and we managed to find plenty of hiking tracks to walk and beaches to enjoy. Apart from a couple of restaurants and a pub there is little else to do in the evenings other than a kiwi-spotting night time adventure or DVD watching in your room. But there is daylight till late in the evening, much later than the rest of the country.

I have a B&B in Christchurch , Christchurch Gaystay, catering just to the gay/lesbian community. www.gaystay.co.nz/chchgaystay. Christchurch is the biggest city on the South island of New Zealand, and is famous for its gardens. It is a gateway for people to start their holiday. From here people generally hire a car and spend a week to 10 days driving around the south Island visiting the jewels of the south, Queenstown and Milford Sound. There are glaciers to walk on and be helicoptered onto. Cyclists are catered for with 3 day cycle trips in Central Otago and there are many 3 day hikes, some with full catering and pack-carrying service.

I am happy to help people plan their NZ holiday , and know of a lot of gay B&Bs in NZ. The first ever gay cruise around our shores happened in February 2010 and will be repeated next year with cruisers disembarking at Mardi Gras in Sydney. Wellington, the capital city of NZ will host the OutGames in March 2011 . So a trip “downunder” could combine Mardi Gras, OutGames, and Kiwi-spotting… the feathered variety and the lycra-clad variety.

Postcards From An Italian Adventure – Amanda and Me

Author: , July 26th, 2010

Gay Friendly Tuscany 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!

Florence view

Tuesday, July 6th

Amanda in FlorenceI am happy to have another duckling, since all my others flew home. Amanda is a delightful young lady from La Paz, Mexico. She just graduated from high school, and came over to Florence to take some summer classes. Her parents and her brother will arrive soon, but in the meantime, she and I are having some fun.

Since she is in school until 5:00 pm every day, she had not gotten to see much of Florence. We took an evening walk one day, but on the week end, I became her travel guide. I took her across Ponte Vecchio on Saturday, wwandered around the Oltrano area for awhile, had lunch near San Spirito church, then back across the river, to the San Lorenzo street market. We stopped briefly at our apartment, then caught the bus to Fiesole, where she could look down on our “bella citta”, Firenze.

Firenze, ItaliaAmanda is taking film studies classes, so she wanted to get some pictures, and that she did. We had a cool drink in Fiesole, then we caught the bus back home.

After we had a few hours to rest, we went out again, this time to dinner in Piazza Signoria. We were seated at an outdoor cafe, so she was able to do some people watching. After dinner, we heard music, so we followed the sound to Piazza Repubblica, where we also were entertained by a Charlie Chaplin look-alike, who really was pretty funny with his routine. We just had to have a gelato, then slowly made our way home.

The next morning, we walked up to Piazzale Michelangelo, up to San Miniato church, then down the hill again, to Santa Croce, stopped at a grocery store, then headed home.

The weather is quite warm and humid, so we called it a day, after that. We had a lot of fun, but we were both ready for a siesta.

Enoteca in Florence, ItalyLater, I took off by myself, stopped at a wine bar that Massimo had told me about, but I had not been there yet. It is an amazing place, called the Enoteca Intelligente. It is a wine tasting bar. One buys a card, for whatever denomination you want (similar to buying a Starbuck’s card). The bar had 64 wines available for tasting, each wine is priced differently, according to the value of the wine.

The card is inserted into a slot, one grabs a wine glass, places it under the appropriate spigot, then press a button for a taste, or half a glass, or a full measure. The price of what was purchased is deducted from the card.

Enoteca Intelligente, Florence, ItalyWhen the card gets close to being depleted, and you wanted to taste a 5 euro wine, for instance, and only had 2 euro left on your card, the machine would give you 2 euro worth. The white wines are kept chilled, and the pricier red wines are in a temperature-controlled cabinet. Other reds are at room temperature, but it was similar to a cellar there.

I, of course, had a great time. But Consuela, the hostess, warned me that it could be a dangerous place!! It certainly was a fun place. I will go back, though. I still have some euro left on my card. Any visitors I get here will get a tour of Enoteca Intelligente, also.

This evening, Amanda and I are going for another walk, then hopefully, find a place to watch the World Cup semi-finals. I have never been big on watching sports on TV, except for the old Raiders football team in the 1970′s, but it is easy to get caught up in the World Cup fever over here, even if Italy is not playing. Amanda likes soccer and has been able to educate me on some of the rules of the game.

There is always something to do here in Florence. I will say Arrivederci and write again, after some more adventures.

Ciao for now,

Dolly

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

Click here for gay travel resources in Florence & Tuscany.

Featured Property: Simpsons of Potts Point – Sydney, Australia

Author: , July 25th, 2010

Periodically we’ll feature one of our properties here to let our readers know about some great gay friendly places to stay.

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

Simpsons of Potts Point - Sydney, AustraliaSimpsons of Potts Point the first choice of luxury boutique hotels in Sydney! This small and exclusive bed and breakfast luxury accommodation secret is waiting to be discovered for your stay in Sydney Australia!

This gracious and elegant small bed and breakfast boutique hotel in the historic Potts Point art deco district combines arts & crafts architectural heritage with a luxury bed & breakfast experience.

Located within walking distance of the Sydney CBD, Darlinghurst and Rushcutters Bay, Simpsons of Potts Point Boutique Hotel offers a superior level of personal service than the usual chain hotels, serviced apartments and other short term accommodation options. So sit back, relax and enjoy your time with us…

Simpsons of Potts Point boutique hotel offers a range of services to make your stay with us as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.

See The Simpsons of Potts Point Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Israel: Tel Aviv Becoming a Gay Travel Destination

Author: , July 24th, 2010

Gay Friendly Tel Aviv Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Gay Tel Aviv, IsraelTel Aviv’s Tourism Association has begun a drive to rebrand the Israeli city as a popular gay destination. The association launched a six-month initiative this week called Tel Aviv Gay Vibe, which aims to encourage gay people from all over the world to visit the city, although it will primarily target gays and lesbians in France and Germany.

Etti Gargir, chief executive of the tourism association, said the project was designed to welcome gay people to Tel Aviv. She said: “The gay market, they have money to spend and they love very much the stylised life of Tel Aviv. They like the good life.”

The NIS 340,000 (£57,000) campaign will offer discounted travel and flights, plus free city tours and restaurant vouchers.

Full Story from Pink News