Gay San Diego – Getting Around

Author: , December 31st, 2014

Walkable San DiegoGay San Diego also has a great transportation system – if you don’t rent a car and want to avoid taxis, you can ride the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) – a combination light-rail and bus transit system that’s very affordable.

The trolly system runs from El Cajon and Santee on the northeast to San Ysidro and the border in the southwest.

San Diego is also a very walkable city – the great weather means you can use your feet almost year-round to get around, especially downtown. We even walked this last trip from the heart of Downtown San Diego up to Hillcrest, and back. It’s a bit of a hike, but you pass through some great neighborhoods.

San Diego is an all-year city – averaging a high of 77 degrees in the summer to a low of 64 degrees in December.

So bring your bathing suit!

San Diego Gay Travel Resources

Gay San Diego – Solana Beach

Author: , December 30th, 2014

Solana Beach - Cedros Design District

Solana Beach - Cedros Design DistrictWe lucked into the Cedros Design District (Solana Beach, cedrosdesigndistrict.net) by accident – we were attending a wedding reception in Solana Beach and had a few hours to kill before it started, and we wound up here. You’re gonna love this place.

To get here, take the 5 Freeway north from San Diego about half an hour. Exit at Lomas Santa Fe Dr., turning west toward the beach at the base of the exit. About half a mile down, you’ll reach South Cedros Avenue, just before the railroad tracks and Old Highway 101. Turn left and you’re here!

Solana Beach - Cedros Design DistrictThis place is amazing – filled with unique boutiques, galleries, little restaurants and outdoor cafes, and more cool shopping than you can shake a stick at (believe me, we tried, and the stick broke halfway through).

The district was once a cabinet making and woodworking center, filled with industrial buildings, and began its transition to a funky, hip, upscale design, art and shopping center in the ’90’s with the arrival of a West Hollywood developer, Sean MacLeod, who articulated the new vision for the district. He opened the Cedros Trading Company, a consignment mall, which nurtured a number of vendors who eventualy moved into their own shops in the district. Buildings were renovated and painted, and the District continued to grow and thrive.

Solana Beach - Cedros Design DistrictThe Belly Up Tavern (www.bellyup.com), which has brought in a wildly varied group of entertainers since the ’70’s, was renovated, and MacLeod opened up the Wild Note Cafe next door in 1997.

We ate at the Wild Note Cafe (www.bellyupcantina.com/index.html) for lunch – the food was really good, and the funky jazz atmosphere enjoyable.

Menu items for lunch include sandwiches, burgers, seafood, quesadillas, and more, with entrees running from $7-12. Dinner includes seafood, steak and chicken, with entrees running from $15-23.

 style="margin: 6px;"There’s no Starbucks or Peets Coffee here (I know, shocking) – but for a quick drink and snack, check out Zinc Cafe (www.zinccafe.com), a super-cute cafe with an ivy-covered outdoor patio to relax in under the trees and a large umbrella (see below, right)

It’s truly a pleasure to walk down South Cedros – the whole district is just a couple blocks long on a single street, but take a look at a small sample of what’s packed into these blocks – there’s lots of street art and art that happens to be on the street.

Here are a few of our favorite stores and shops along South Cedros:

Solana Beach - Cedros Design DistrictLeaping Lotus (www.leapinglotus.com) – ever been to one of those converted old warehouses that’s been broken up into a bunch of little antique stores, each individually rented by someone to show off their wares, usually dusty old things no one really wants?

Leaping Lotus is like that, but much, much better – think antique mall on steroids – instead of old dusty lamps and soda bottles, it’s filled floor to ceiling (actually, two floors to ceiling) with interesting arts and crafts.

We found all kinds of interesting things here, from oil paintings to masks, from wooden Hawaiian gods to woven baskets and hand-made candles. And yes, there were even lamps here.

Solana Beach - Cedros Design DistrictTimeless Furnishings (www.timelessfurnishingsandpatio.com) was another cool home store (with locations both in Hillcrest and in Solana Beach) with exotic imports – kind of a local Pier 1).

There’s also a Farmer’s Market (www.solanabeachfarmersmarket.com) on Sundays from 1-5 PM.

The Cedros Design District in Solana Beach was far and away the best shopping place we found during our recent visits to San Diego – a great place to spend an afternoon.

San Diego Gay Travel Resources

Featured Gay Accommodations: Topside Inn, Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Author: , December 30th, 2014

Topside Inn - Boothbay Harbor, Maine

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

Best View in Maine: Sea Captain’s home overlooking harbor and ocean. Deluxe rooms, private baths. Summer guesthouse rooms available. All rooms have views. Full breakfast.

See the Topside Inn Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Finding Fjord Norway from Stavanger to Bergen

Author: , December 30th, 2014

Norway Fjords Apple Maps

My bare feet are trying to solidly cling to a cold wooden dock. The snowcapped-mountain wind whips through the fjord as if the mountains are collectively sighing, and the gale hits my pale skin turning it cheek-pinched pink. I clutch the hand of my friend, Laura, creating such pressure it’s as if we’re gripping a knuckleball. Moody dark skies serve as the backdrop to floating ghost-like clouds that shield the mountaintops as their shadows dance against the uneven terrain. “We can do this,” Laura utters. A circus-crowd gasp is heard from a group of onlookers. “Ready?” I ask looking out at the foreboding scene as we take a step toward the ice-cold water. Another collective gasp gives us that extra push off the dock.

Like taking a terrible tumble, time slows down: I see the sun burst through layers of cloud coverage and light up the choppy waters that begin to glisten like a tear. And then, I hit the water and a sharp, needle-like cold shoots through my body faster than panic. Underwater quiet is quickly interrupted by above-water fighting for breath. It’s as if I’ve stepped into a million too cold showers. “Ahhh,” we yell as tourists snap photos from their balconies at the Hotel Ullensvang in Lofthus. After moments of prickly numbness, a beautiful calm overcomes us both. It’s no longer panic, it’s no longer fear, it’s no longer just a silly I-bet-you-can’t-jump-in-the-water dare; it’s a connection and a sense of belonging. The wind gusts bob the waves that gently rock my warming body, and I admire the soft clouds that hug the mountains and blanket their rough edges. We dove in and became part of the Hardangerfjord, part of Lofthus, and part of Norway. Like the creation myth, we’re every bit as much a part of the world as the world is a part of us.

It’s a symbiosis that Norwegians have with the earth, with one another, with their towns, and with their country that creates a balance and beauty seen in the preservation of its nature, in day-to-day interactions, in its collectivism, and in the perpetuation of its unique heritage. Because of this, finding a sense of place and belonging is easy throughout its cities and throughout the countryside. And as I learn journeying Fjord Norway in the southwestern part of the country from Stavanger to Bergen, finding this sense of place sometimes just takes a small dive.

By Joseph pedro – Full Story at Passport Magazine | Norway Gay Travel Resources

Image via Apple Maps

The State of the Lesbian Bar

Author: , December 30th, 2014

Lesbian SymbolNobody I knew, from the Bay Area or not, loved the Lexington over any other bar. But when we heard it was closing last month a collective sigh weaved its way through the queer internet and the feeling of sadness permeated the west coast. Conflicted as we may be, we really feel the loss of our lesbian bars as they continue to be picked off one by one due to gentrification, domestication, assimilation etc.

It happened here in stages, a half-hearted semi-loss that happens while you aren’t really looking until it becomes just one more thing that has changed Portland to the point of unrecognizability.

The Egyptian Club, affectionately known as the E Room, opened in 1995 at the corner of 37th and Division. There were no monthly dance parties bursting at the seams and taking up prime real estate at a major club on a Saturday night like there are today. Owner Kim Davis recalled this time when “people threw eggs at the building and assaulted the women bouncers outside the door.” I wasn’t old enough to go to bars yet but I was here and going to a gay dance club for the all ages set called The City, which was fraught with its own perils.

By Alley Hector – Full Story at Autostraddle

Gay San Diego – Old Town

Author: , December 29th, 2014

Old Town - Apple Maps

Old Town San DiegoJust over the hill from Hillcrest, on the far side of the Mission Hills District and just north of the airport, Old Town San Diego exudes an unexpected charm – what could have been just another tourist trap filled with plastic doohickeys emblazoned with an Old Town Logo somehow instead manages to be a vibrant, colorful visit to San Diego’s Mexican roots.

Old Town San DiegoNestled against Mission Hills, Old Town is “The Birthplace of California”. Father Junipero Serra established the first California mission here in 1769, and a small community began to form around Father Serra’s Mission and Presidio in the 1820’s. By 1835, the town had become known as El Pueblo de San Diego, and in 1846 the American flag was first raised here. For more on the history, see the Old Town History Page.

There are a number of things to do here – we’ll cover them under several headings, starting with the History.

There are a lot of historical plaques scattered about Old Town, and of course there’s the wonderful Mexican Mission architecture that’s in evidence everywhere.

But there are also sites dedicated to historical preservation, including the Wells Fargo History Museum, once a hotel, saloon, and gaming palour, where you can take money out of a modern Wells Fargo ATM in front of a beautiful, restored historic Wells Fargo coach – a nice mix of the now and the then. There’s also a large painting of what the town looked like originally – a great visual aid to the imagination.

Old Town San DiegoThen there’s the Sherrif’s Museum, which has a great metal prison cell behind the building that will bring a smile to the more, um, leather-minded in our community – iamgine a night in this place!

Old Town San DiegoYou can also tour La Casa de Estudillo, a restored Hacienda with a large, enclosed garden. Though a bit sparse on details, this Hacienda offers free tours and a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the early San Diego residents, with rooms filled with period furniture and decor, and the ceilings (surprisingly) are gorgeous (see below).

The garden is a bit overgrown, but still beautiful, filled with natural, native vegetation and meandering paths.

Here’s another great site that features much more detail on the historic sites in Old Town: http://www.oldtownartfestival.com/history.html.

Old Town San DiegoNext, we’ll jump into the shopping, which is widespread and varied. Whe you first arrive, park in the large lot at Juan St. and Mason St. Walk down Mason a block to Calhoun, which runs through the heart of Old Town. Right here, you’ll find a cluster of infoor and outdoor vendors offering pottery, blankets, clothing, some lovely carved gourds, and yes, a few cheap trinkets too.

Old Town San DiegoFollow Calhoun west and you’ll quickly reach Fiesta del Reyes (http://www.fiestadereyes.com/), a beautifully restored Mexican villa built around a grassy central plaza that now hosts 19 shops, 3 restaurants, and a hotel.

Old Town San DiegoAs we first entered, we were greeted by a Mariachi, playing festive songs and giving us a big smile. Since it was fall, there was also a beautiful display of local Pumpkins at the entrance, perched upon hay bales and an old wooden cart to help get us into an Autumn frame of mind.

There are also artisans in historic garb scattered throughout the Plaza, including the woman we found sewing quilts under a red tiled porch. The whole place has an air of living history, and is filled with shady spots to stop on a warm afternoon and just watch all the things goung on around you.

old-town-san-diego-18The central Plaza is a green, grassy oasis, with many benches and a beautiful fountain. The plaza is also home to one of the four restaurants here, Casa de Reyes, with a wonderfully relaxing outdoor seating area, protected from sun and rain, and with views out on the Plaza.

Old Town San DiegoAlmost directly west of the Fiesta del Reyes (though you have to go around-about to get there from here) is the Bazaar del Mundo, (http://www.bazaardelmundo.com) another shopping area with a couple fantastic shops.

The Gallery featured some beautiful sculptures and works of art.

Old Town San DiegoArtes del Mexico was one of our favorites here – this two-story shop is just jam-packed with arts and crafts in so many amazing, technicolor-bright colors you hardly know where to look.

These included a virtual rainbow zoo of fantastically imagined and painted wooden animals and all nature of other wooden carvings, wall art, and other eye candy.

There’s also a macaw in a cage here just outside the store entrance, nature mimicing art? But be careful – he’s not finger-eating trained, despite his 46 years.

Old Town San DiegoAnother store here, Ariana, had some of the most beautiful, and again vibrant, textiles and clothing. And the Design Center, at the back of the Bazaar, featured wonderful southwestern arts and crafts, albeit a little more toned down from what we found in Artes del Mexico (below, right, and bottom row).

In need of a restroom? You’ll find public bathrooms here too in the courtyard between the main buildings. And you’ll also be greeted by random art as you turn each corner:

There are also four restaurants here – Casa Guadalajara, Casa de Pico, Casa de Bandini and Casa Sol y Mar. We had dinner this time at Casa Guadalajara after my aunt’s wedding – it’s on the northwestern edge of Old Town. The food was decent, and the ambiance was fantastic – if it’s available, sit out in the covered patio.

Casa Guadalajara Old Town San Diego

Old Town San DiegoFor lunch, we headed back down Calhoun Street, and stopped at Cafe Coyote y Cantina, (http://www.cafecoyoteoldtown.com), a cute Mexican cantina with covered outdoor seating on the street and a bunch of cute murals inside. The food was good and very affordable – we had the Chicken Fajitas, with tortilla soup and guacamole and chips, and the service was pretty good too. Be sure to go inside before you leave if you eat on the patio, to enjoy the coyote murals. As with many Mexican restaurants, the portions are generous, so come hungry.

Old Town San DiegoThere’s lots more to see here – including (we kid you not) Fred’s Mexican Cafe (http://www.fredsmexicancafe.com), which sits on eastern Calhoun street, amidst a bunch more shops and restaurants. You can also catch a watergun fight a little farther down the street between a posse of two-dimensional cowboys, and be sure to check out the beautiful mansions on the hills behind Old Town. There are also little gardens and surprises everywhere as you walk through Old Town.

Old Town San Diego is a great place to spend a day or an afternoon.

San Diego Gay Travel Resources

Go Gay Fort Lauderdale

Author: , December 29th, 2014

Fort Lauderdale Gay TourismSince its rapid transformation in the early 1990s into one of the world’s leading gay vacation destinations, Fort Lauderdale has continued on a steady path of exciting new developments. Swanky contemporary hotels have risen along its neatly manicured beachfront, which is within a short walk of several excellent gay resorts. The small city of Wilton Manors, which fringes Fort Lauderdale to the northwest, has become a vibrant hub of LGBT-popular nightlife, dining and shopping. And a growing number of impressive arts and historic attractions have helped turn Fort Lauderdale into one of Florida’s premier arts and cultural hubs.

High season in Fort Lauderdale (www.unny.org/lgbt) spans from late autumn to early spring, but Broward County is more of a year-round destination than you might think. As the region has become a top getaway among LGBT travelers, many gays and lesbians of all ages – from recent college grads to retirees – have moved here full-time. The acclaimed gay men’s resort Pineapple Point is currently developing an upscale retirement complex in an up-and-coming corridor of downtown Fort Lauderdale – plans are for this flagship residence to serve as a prototype for similar communities throughout the country. And throughout the city, neighborhoods, businesses and hotels tend to draw a diverse crowd.

Fort Lauderdale also has a number of LGBT-driven events throughout the year: Pride Fort Lauderdale in late February and early March, Stonewall Pride in Wilton Manors in June, the transgender Southern Comfort Conference in late September and early October, the Fort Lauderdale Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in mid-October, Wicked Manors over Halloween, and Gay Days Fort Lauderdale week in late November.

By Andrew Collins – Full Story at the Rainbow Times | Fort Lauderdale Gay Travel Resources

What’s New in Gay Berlin?

Author: , December 29th, 2014

Berlin, Germany - Apple Maps

Apple Maps

If ever a city knew how to do new, it’s gay Berlin. Sometimes by circumstance and sometimes by design, the German capital has weathered a steady stream of profound changes over the last century. In the past quarter of it alone, Berlin has gone from tensely divided Cold War ground zero to euphorically reunited mass construction zone, only to overextend itself into turn-of-the-millennium bankruptcy, only to be reborn as a global creative hotspot and hipster haven. Berlin’s next chapter is still to be written, but given that the city is now also sitting at the helm of Europe’s most booming economy, its future is looking pretty bright.

In the historical scheme of things, 2014 is a fairly momentous year for Berlin, marking both the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. November 9 will be a big day for the Wall (festivities will include a 7-1/2 mile strip of illuminated helium-filled balloons lining the path where it once stood), and throughout the entire year special events and exhibitions will take place at venues around town dedicated to the Wall’s memory. Foremost among these is the Berlin Wall Memorial (Bernauer Strasse, Mitte. Tel: 030-467-986-666. www.berliner-mauer-gedenkstaette.de) that features the last remaining section of the Wall with pre-1989 buffer grounds still preserved behind it.

Nearly just as popular is the East Side Gallery (Mhlenstrasse, Friedrichshain. Tel: 030-251-7159. www.eastsidegallery-berlin.de), the longest remaining stretch of the Wall thats now also an outdoor art gallery. It found its way into world headlines last year when real estate developers (who want to remove it, at least partially) were met with loud public outcries and protestors, including none other than David Hasselhoff. For a deeper understanding of how life once was on the Wall’s eastern side, check out the DDR Museum (Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse 1, Mitte. Tel: 030-8471-2373. www.ddr-museum.de) that offers a hands-on look at daily life in East Germany; and the Stasi Museum (Ruschestrasse 103, Building 1, Lichtenberg. Tel: 030-553-6854. www.stasimuseum.de) located in the former headquarters of the East German intelligence organization.

By Dan Allen – Full Story at Passport Magazine | Germany Gay Travel Resources

Image via Apple Maps

Visit Gay New York Like a Local

Author: , December 29th, 2014

Ed SalvatoThe ManAboutWorld founder Ed Salvato on gay New York – cruising at the Christopher Street Pier and shopping at Barneys with his boyfriend.

I’ve lived here since January 1, 2003. I moved from LA for a job and with my man. Ive since switched both but Ive had a fantastic life in NYC.

I’ve stayed because I love this city and its energy matches mine! Besides LA, I’ve also lived in Paris and Boston and, while I love every place Ive lived, this is the right city for me.

My favorite queer bar has to be? I dont drink very much but when our readers asks about a welcoming, fun gay spot I sometimes send them to the leather bar, Eagle. Its super friendly and youll find people of all ages, but especially guys 40 and above.

By Jamie Tabberer – Full Story at Gay Star News | New York City Gay Travel Resources

Featured Gay Friendly Accommodations: Haringtons Hotel, Bath, England

Author: , December 29th, 2014

Haringtons Hotel, Bath, EnglandPeriodically we’ll feature one of our properties here to let our readers know about some great gay friendly places to stay.

A Boutique Hotel with personality: Haringtons is unique amongst many other hotels being privately owned and managed. Peter and Melissa O’Sullivan have owned the hotel for the past 10 years and have individually designed each room in this historic townhouse.

See the Haringtons Hotel Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals in Somerset, England