Why Gay Tourism is Important

Author: , October 27th, 2012

A report shows that gay Europeans spend up to $65 billion ([euro]50 billion or #41 billion) each year on tourism, roughly the same as the USA although Europe’s population is nearly three times as large. The study comes as the Gay European Tourism Association (GETA) launches Gay Welcome, its new website to help people find gay and gay-friendly hotels, events and destinations throughout Europe.

GETA’s report, Gay Tourism Matters, estimates for the first time the number of people who live open gay lifestyles in western, central and eastern Europe at nearly 26 million, or 2.6% of the total population. This figure ranges from 5% in Western European countries down to just 0.25% in Turkey and the former Soviet states in Eastern Europe.

Drawing on existing research into the tourism spending of gay people from outside Europe, including the USA, Canada, Brazil, Japan and Australia, the report estimates that there is an additional market of $112 billion ([euro]86 billion or #70 billion), much of which is spent in Europe. Community Marketing, the San Francisco based market research agency, reported in its 2011-2012 Annual Gay and Lesbian Tourism Report that London and Paris are the third and fourth favourite destinations for gay Americans, after New York and San Francisco.

See the Full Story at Edge Boston

Click here for gay travel resources.

Otavalo and Cotacachi, Ecuador

Author: , October 27th, 2012

Even though I had only been back from my trip to the States a few weeks, I had the itch to go on a road trip. Several times in the past, I had been in Quito with the intention of taking the extra jaunt north to Otavalo and Cotacachi but something always came up. This time, there was no other agenda.

Friday morning I hit the road, albeit a bit late. The road between Cuenca and Quito has become all too familiar to me, so there was nothing all that exciting and new about it. I arrived in Quito just as it started to get dark. I decided to take a different route that would bypass the most congested area of Quito (as if there’s a less congested area!!). It began to pour rain along with thunder and lightening bolts that appeared to be more vertical than horizontal. Traffic was slow on a 2-lane road. UGH.

I made a few mistakes on directions with one putting me smack dab in the middle of Quito’s rush-hour traffic and a big soccer game that had just let out at the same time. OI VEY. I got out of that mess and back on track only to fall off the track again as I missed a sign (if there was one) at a roundabout that pointed my way to Otavalo. I asked someone in the car next to me at a stoplight and he told me to turnaround and go “DIRECTO!” (straight ahead).

Mind you, at this point I had already driven about 8 hours, through all kinds of zig-zaggy roads, construction zones, and whatnot. Now it was dark. The road was under construction for widening. Fresh blacktop, a winding road up and down and over hills….WITH NO LINES….in pitch black darkness!!! I couldn’t tell WHERE I was supposed to drive. I tried to stay close to the car in front of me, but I think they were clueless, too. Otavalo is only about 90 kms (approx 55 miles) from Quito but it took over 2 hours to get there.

I got there…over 10 hours from the time I left Cuenca. I had an address for my hotel and knew it was within a few blocks of the big Saturday market, but I didn’t know where THAT was, so I drove randomly around downtown. It was Friday night and very active with a lot of young people on the streets. When I didn’t miraculously find my hotel, unlike most men, I asked a policeman for directions. It was just a few blocks away.

I checked in to the Hotel Acoma (I remember the name by either remembering ‘glaucoma’ or ‘a coma’). The hotel was surprisingly nice and full of character. The night attendant informed me they didn’t have my room but would give me a larger room that sleeps 6 for the same price as my original room. The ‘NA’ and the rest of the staff (of 3) ended up being some of the most charming and helpful hosts I’ve ever met. The room was immaculate ,complete with all white linens. Boy, THAT must be a challenge!!!

I found a cool pizza place with a very rustic wooden motif with a nice big fire in the fireplace. I had a personal pizza and a few beers and I was a happy camper.

The next day, Saturday, is THE big day for the market in Otavalo, a town of approximately 50,000. In the wee hours, hundreds of vendors descend on downtown and start setting up their booths and products. What I thought was simply in the ‘market square’ actually spilled out of the market square and stretched several blocks down closed streets. The market is well-known for its wide range of weavings, jewelry, clothes, wood and stone carvings, paintings, hats, and all kind of kitsch from pretty much any corner of Ecuador and neighboring Peru and Colombia.

The following day, I drove to Cotacachi which is only a few miles from Otavalo. Cotacachi is, supposedly, another favorite for expat retirees. It’s a small town of only a few thousand and sits at the base of the huge 16,000+ foot volcano of the same name. In fact the town is flanked by two volcanos…the other one named Imbabura which reaches approximately 15,000 feet.

I remember seeing an episode on House Hunters International that featured a couple who bought a nice adobe house there. The architecture reminded me of Santa Fe, New Mexcio…which I love…the architecture, that is. Anyway, everything I found when googling Cotacachi seemed to portray the same image. They also boast their leather market and ‘leather street’ which is lined with shops featuring almost nothing else but leather products.

Welllllll….I couldn’t find ANY housing development that resembled what I’d seen on TV and online. Believe me, I searched high and low, up, down, over, and around and backtracked just in case I missed something. NADA. Well, I DID see one or two houses. But, the overall feel and look of Cotacachi was a disappointment. ONE street was alive and it was the ‘leather street’ but go one block either side and ‘zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz’. So, maybe those developments were out there somewhere, but if they are THAT hard to find and not representative of the town and surrounding area….then, I wasn’t interested. Cotacachi was a ‘bust’.

Next, I drove up to Lake Cuicocha, nestled in the flanks of the volcano Cotacachi. It’s a deep volcanic crater that’s 4km long and 3km wide. In the center of the lake are three domes of volcanic rock that form two islands covered with vegetation and separated by a water channel.

After that, in an attempt to explore, I picked a road and followed it. It was one of those roads made out of firmly packed, fist-size rock as the roadbed. It was rattling my car (and my nerves) but I figured it would come to an end soon. Not so. There’s a point which you decide to keep going because to turn around means enduring what you just endured and maybe, just maybe, it will come to an end soon anyway. So, I kept going. I finally figured out the faster I drove, the smoother…..wait…..the less rattly it was because my tires would fly over the tops of the rocks versus my suspension dropping into every crag if I drove slower. If there was anything lose on my car, it’s probably gone now.

I was headed for Ibarra, a city of about 150,000 inhabitants. Finally, this rickety road spilled into a small village. I asked a security guard the way to Ibarra. He told me to go down 1 block and turn left and follow it. Okie Dokie!!! Wellllllll…..it was more rickety road that, at times, narrowed down to one lane as I went down, down, down into a huge ravine and up, up, up the other side. At points, the road was nothing more than dirt with a LOT of dust. I thought it seemed like a very crude road given the fact it was the only route from this village to a large city and I questioned the validity of the route. But, I soon encountered a BUS headed the same way, so I figured I must be on the right track and not headed for the city dump somewhere in oblivion. I swear, busses go EVERYWHERE in Ecuador. Long story short, I finally spilled into Ibarra and explored a bit there.

I decided to depart Otavalo early in the morning on Monday so I could avoid some of the traffic and also allow me time for a quick side-trip to the Equator (no, not Ecuador…read it again) otherwise known as Mitad del Mundo (middle of the world) just outside Quito. Even though breakfast normally doesn’t start until 8am at the hotel, the NA happily prepared my eggs, bread, coffee, and juice at 7am just for lil ol’ me.
I arrived at Mitad del Mundo right at opening time at 9am. The sun was out and beating down hard. It felt hot already. I did the requisite straddle of the line splitting the earth in two and took photos to substantiate the fact one of my feet was in the northern hemisphere and my other foot in the southern.

Maybe that’s why I began to feel woozie. My brain was doing the same thing to me that occured at the Miami airport a few weeks before. My eyes couldn’t focus on multiple things without electronic-like flashes wiggin me out. I quickly grabbed some juice, water, and candy bar and headed for the AC of my car and gulped them down.

After awhile, I was back to normal and hit the road again. This time, there were no mistakes on my drive back as I whizzed past Quito in onward to Cuenca. A few stops on the way back to eat, stretch my legs, and give my eyes and brain a rest and I made it home before it was dark.

4 days, 1300 kms (780 miles). Lots of photos of which “only” 40+ made the cut for this blog. ENJOY!!!

Dano

Find that little line in the upper third of the photo….that’s the highway I traveled.
Otavalo with a volcano as its backdrop.
Hotel Acoma in Otavalo
The vendors used these crude carts made out of welded re-bar, to move their products from their trucks to the location of their stall in the market.
Colorful yarn!! (Pherecia & Chris…calm down!!)
Embroidered neckpieces.
Whimsical hats.
Sno-cone cart.
Area rugs/wall hangings.
Artistic touch to downtown streetlamps.
Artistic touch to downtown streetlamps.
Ice cream cart….25 cents.
Kids jumpers.
Geetars. Actually, they’re about ukelele size.
I always think it’s funny/odd to see technology and indigenous at the same time. She is shielding her head from the intense sun.
Otavalo
Otavalo
Nice landscape treatment in Otavalo park.
Entertainment in front of the church where a wedding was about to commence.
Hope they don’t mind me snapping a photo of the wedding procession (bride in front…the one in white).
Mural in the Otavalo church.
Otavalo farmers market.

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Artistic touch to downtown streetlamps.

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Artistic touch to a ceiling fixture.
Otavalo
Eggs anyone?
Otavalo
Otavalo
Ibarra
Ibarra
Inside Ibarra church.
Ibarra
Ibarra. In the middle of a roundabout.
Just your everyday view of a volcano while driving down a street in Ibarra.
Resort on the shores of Lake San Pablo outside Otavalo.
Chandelier inside restaurant on Lake San Pablo.
A crater on the flanks of volcano Cotacachi formed Lake Cuicocha.
Another church in Ibarra.
Interior of that church….oddly modern.
This is not a wide street. I drove out onto the runway of the (inactive) Ibarra airport and took this shot down the centerline looking directly at volcano Imbabura.
Mitad del Mundo…the Equator
Thems my feet.
Me and my shadow straddling the middle of the Earth.
How artistic of me!!

Angelina Maison – Debauchery of Chocolat

Author: , October 27th, 2012

Gay Travel: Angelina Maison - Debauchery of ChocolatAre you a chocolate lover… well if the answer is yes, and you do not mind to put on some wait, ANGELINA is a must stop during your visit to Paris. Multiple locations in Paris, Lyon and Versailles, but today I came to see the one located over Rue Rivoli 226. Literally this place should be consider the No 1 enemy of keeping your waist line.

The chocolate is so think and reach that you cannot even deep your spoon on it. Be prepared to cue on line for at least 10 minutes, since it is very popular among locals and tourists, but it is 100% worth it. And be also ready to feel guilty afterwards for all the great calories you will put on.

Authored By Carlos Melia – See the Full Story at The Carlos Melia Blog

Click here for gay travel resources in Paris.

 

Featured Gay Friendly Accommodations: Casa San Francisco, Granada, Nicaragua

Author: , October 26th, 2012

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

Casa San Francisco, Granada, NicaraguaOpened at the beginning of 2004, The Casa San Francisco has welcomed visitors from all over the world, and has built its clientele from those who have returned for the gracious ambience, tasteful decoration, and personal service offered by the bilingual staff, and of course, the delicious cuisine.

Each of the rooms at Casa San Francisco was designed with loving care by Nancy Bergman with help from her co-owner and sister, Terry Leary. Nancy has given each room a unique theme with decorative features from the four corners of the world, many provided by Terry Leary, who travels extensively and sends back decorator lamps from such exotic destinations as Turkey and the Far East.

Creature comforts begin with the best mattresses and 100% fine cotton bed linen, as can be expected at a first quality establishment. Each room features a balcony or private patio, air conditioning, full bath with hot water and a sumptuous view of gardens, pools or fountains. Nine luxury rooms overlook the beautiful pool, which is located in the back of the property to offer guests privacy.

See the Casa San Francisco Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals in Nicaragua

Passport’s Halloween Party in New York

Author: , October 26th, 2012

Attention all you swingers, hipsters, scenesters, and lounge lizards: it’s time to get ready for Passport Magazine’s and The Ali Forney Center’s Hollyween 2 “Return of the Rat Pack” on October 31st at Eventi–A Kimpton Hotel.

This bacchanal combines the best of everything. Class it up and come dressed as ‘Ol Blue Eyes or trash it up as Barbarella. It’s up to you to interpret our theme this year (we hear even Jane Austen and Cher are coming).

So join us for the hottest Halloween party in New York, where you can enjoy great wine by Fetzer and cocktails by 42Below, kitschy costumes, luxury raffles prizes, photo ops, dancing boys–and it’s all for a good cause!

Authored By Andrew Villagomez – See the Full Story at Passport Magazine

Click here for gay travel resources in New York.

A Culinary Adventure in Quebec

Author: , October 26th, 2012

gay travel, quebec city, culinary tour, trainCharlevoix, Canada, a picturesque landscape on the shores of the St. Lawrence River, is destined to become the next “hot” foodie destination. Located east of Quebec City, Charlevoix is in a 350 million year old meteorite crater designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It is one of only three inhabited craters in North America, peopled with more than 1000 artists, great chefs, and some of the finest producers of artisanal foods.

Where else can you board a Food Train for a relaxing ride along the St. Lawrence River shore while personable servers place beautifully prepared dish after dish in front of you? It is difficult to tear your eyes from the view to eat, and equally difficult to look away from your plate back through the huge picture windows of the converted double-decker train car. Add cocktails and you won’t want the ride to end.

But, end it does, right in the middle of a booming new resort known as “The Farm”. More accurately, it is Le Massif de Charlevoix’s Hotel La Ferme, a 500-room hotel catering to all tastes and socio-economic levels.

Authored By Richard Frisbie – See the Full Story at Edge Boston

Click here for gay travel resources in Quebec.

 

Fifty Great iPhone/Android Apps for Student Travelers

Author: , October 26th, 2012

Gay Travel: Fifty Great iPhone/Android Apps for Student TravelersFor some students, the most exciting opportunities in higher education happen when they get a chance to travel — oftentimes without their parents for once! Whether visiting an old friend in another city, participating in a study abroad program, getting some research done, or “finding themselves” during breaks, even the most seasoned of adventurers need a little help along the way. Enter smartphones. They are amazing, and students in possession of one might want to download some of the following apps to make the trip flow as pleasantly as possible.

Getting Around

Google Maps: Available on both the iPhone and the Android — though obviously a little more fancy on the latter — the ubiquitous map tool makes it (comparatively) easy to find your way around an unfamiliar city, especially when driving, walking, or taking public transportation.

TripIt: This one-stop shop for flights, hotels, rentals, reservations, and itineraries should be considered an essential download for all travelers, not just students!

See the Full Story at Bachelors Degree Online

Click here for gay travel resources.

 

Take a Naked Vacation in Ontario

Author: , October 26th, 2012

Come to Ontario and get naked. We’ve got two great resorts to share with you today – swimming, camping, nature hikes, outdoor activities, a massage in the woods, rooms to rent, dancing at night, volleyball, music festivals. And it’s all done naked in true naturist (nudist) style. The freedom of a textile-free vacation meeting friendly people from around the world has its naked appeal.

Ms GoGirlfriend and I annually explore a new naturist resort or facility as we travel. Here’s a summary of our two favorites in Ontario.

Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park

Bare Oaks Naturist Resort
Travel about 45 minutes north of Toronto and you’ll discover a large resort with natural wilderness, camping facilities, guest rooms to rent, bistro, pool, hot tub and spring-fed lake and lots of trails to stroll au naturel. Bare Oaks promotes a pure naturist philosophy and requires complete nudity (to the weather conditions) over a clothing-optional facility. Their “First visit”, onboarding experience offers a comprehensive intro video and orientation to the facility to ensure your naturist experience begins as comfortable and relaxed as possible.

Authored By Stacy Rosien – See the Full Story at Go Girlfriend

Click here for gay travel resources.

Exploring Gay Santa Fe

Author: , October 26th, 2012

Gay Travel: Exploring Gay Santa FeForty-five minutes to the north of Albuquerque, Santa Fe easily holds claim to New Mexico’s gayest and gay-friendliest city. Although it has no exclusively gay restaurants and bars, this high-elevation arts enclave (it jokingly “looks down on” Denver) is a haven for travelers who are both outdoorsy and artsy.

The tourist office in Santa Fe claims that the percentage of same-sex couples is second only to San Francisco. With many Santa Fe shops dedicated to home decor — gay decorators will not be far away.

What’s more fun than LGBT couples doing what we do best: shopping. With 250 galleries in the LGBT-popular Guadalupe District and on Canyon Road, you’ll be astounded by the variety of items you’ll want to take home. Whether it’s contemporary paintings, photography, pottery, sculpture or locally woven textiles, you’ll find something that opens your wallet. Santa Fe’s Native American and Spanish colonial roots and other global cultures’ influences are on display.

See the Full Story at the Dallas Voice

Click here for gay travel resources in Santa Fe.

 

Featured Gay Friendly Accommodations: Chateau de Vie, Calistoga, California

Author: , October 26th, 2012

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

Chateau de Vie, Calustoga, CaliforniaChateau de Vie Bed & Breakfast, in Calistoga in the heart of California’s Napa Valley Wine Country, features omfortable king and queen size beds in each room, with lush towels, oversized robes, and the finest in linens.

Spend an afternoon napping under an old walnut tree, or snuggle up by the fire with a good book. Or enjoy a garden massage – reflect… relax… unwind.

Soak in the vineyard spa, take a dip in the pool, and end the day dreaming about re-entering the world with a renewed sense of being.

See the Chateau de Vie Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals in Napa County, California