How Queer Friendly is the Netherlands?

Author: , October 25th, 2018

Queer Netherlands - Once Upon a Journey

Travelling nowadays seems like the ultimate dream. We’re living that dream, and it is an absolute fairy tale! But, travelling the world as an LGBT traveller isn’t as easy as packing your bags and go. We have travelled to countries with anti-gay laws and we refuse to boycott countries for that reason. We believe travelling the world is for everyone! However, it’s important to do it safely. A few important questions to keep in mind before flying to a new destination: what are the LGBT+ rights? What’s the public opinion like? Where are the LGBT+ safe spaces? In our “How LGBT friendly is…” series we’ll share all so you have fewer worries and more fun on your travels! In this blog post, we answer all those questions about the Netherlands. How LGBT friendly is the Netherlands?

The Netherlands is often referred to as one of the most LGBT friendly destinations in the world (ranking #9 of Spartacus Gay Index 2018). Therefore it isn’t weird that LGBT rights in the Netherlands have been some of the most progressive in the world. The Netherlands is home to the world’s oldest existing LGBT organisation: COC Nederland, an organisation that has been fighting for LGBTI rights nationally and internationally since 1946.

In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize marriage. Registered partnerships between same-sex couples are allowed since 1998. Same-sex couples may adopt together and lesbian couples have access to IVF. There are anti-discrimination laws since 1994 that ban discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation. From 1985, transgender people can legally change their gender when undergoing surgery and hormone therapy and since 2014 without undergoing surgery and hormone therapy. It’s possible, from 1970, to state “sex cannot be determined” on a birth certificate. This year, the Dutch court has ruled that a third gender must be recognised, adding a neutral option to the ‘male’ and ‘female’ gendered boxes. Overall, the Netherlands has great LGBT laws and keeps working on them!

By Roxanne & Maartje – Full Story at Once Upon a Journey

Netherlands Gay Travel Resources

Amsterdam Pride – Once Upon a Journey

Author: , September 28th, 2018

Roxanne & Maartje - Amsterdam Pride

There’s no time to rest, as the next Pride celebrations are already here! After a fantastic Pride weekend in Berlin, we fly back to Amsterdam. We rest and work for two days in Eemnes before the exciting new things are happening. Amsterdam Pride is a lot about partying but we also have some meetings coming up. Somehow, now that we are back in the Netherlands we get opportunities to connect with people we couldn’t connect anywhere else before (read: networking!).

The highlight of Amsterdam Pride is the canal parade on the first Saturday of August. This year will be the first time we will go on a boat of the parade. Normally we see all the boats passing by from the streets so it’s going to be a whole different experience this time. Thanks to our new Berlin-slash-gay-friend Haroon Ali we connect with some great people from Amsterdam Marketing and that’s how we get the opportunity to be on the NYC-Amsterdam boat. Why an NYC-Amsterdam boat? Next year, 2019, NYC will host World Pride. Something we are already insanely excited for. Mark June 2019 in your agenda: World Pride time! See you there?!

Amsterdam Pride is a lot different than most Prides worldwide. In Amsterdam, it started as a celebration of freedom and diversity instead of a demonstration. Prides elsewhere are usually inspired by the Stonewall riots, but in the Netherlands, that’s continued by Pink Saturday. In 1996 Amsterdam Pride started. The canal parade grew the past years till a parade of 80 boats and over 500.000 visitors! To make our boat even more special we learn a choreography. Together we will dance on the song Go West from the Pet Shop Boys, the entire boat ride.

By Roxanne & Maartje – Full Story at Once Upon a Journey

Netherlands Gay Travel Resources

Taiwan’s Pingxi Lantern Festival – Once Upon a Journey

Author: , September 13th, 2018

PINGXI LANTERN FESTIVAL

If you are looking for magic, you should go to a sky lantern festival. Sky lantern festivals are one of the most magical things on earth. Disney dreams will come true. We can’t get enough of them, so after experiencing Yi Peng in Chiang Mai, we travel to Taiwan to experience the magic of the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival. It’s one of the most spectacular happenings in Taiwan.

As it’s a big happening, you would think there’s a lot of information available online. Unfortunately, the resources of the Taiwan Tourism Board were limited and the blog posts we found, didn’t provide us with the right transportation-information. Therefore, we end up in the wrong town. We will not let that happen to you, so here’s the ultimate guide to Pingi Sky Lantern Festival!

WHY SHOULD YOU GO?

The Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival takes place once a year, usually in February or March, during the first full moon of the Lunar New Year. The festival has been named one of the 15 Festivals To Attend Before You Die and one of the Best Winter Trips. So, it’s a must see! At night, thousands of lanterns float up into the night sky, and with them, so do many dreams and wishes for the new year. The lanterns are released in group releases. And it’s truly like a dream come true.

WHERE SHOULD YOU GO?

So here’s where it gets tricky. The festival takes place in the Pingxi district, in New Taipei City, and lantern releases are held in the towns Jingtong, Pingxi and Shifen. The biggest lantern releases are NOT held in Pingxi old town – so don’t try to go there, like we did. The biggest event is in Shifen, where they set up the main stage at a parking area and is transformed into the Shifen Sky Lantern Square. It’s located close to the Shifen waterfall, and only a short 15 minute walk from Shifen Station.

By Roxanne & Maartje – Full Story at Once Upon a Journey

China Gay Travel Resources

Las Pozas Garden in Xilitla, Mexico – Once Upon a Journey

Author: , September 8th, 2018

Las Pozas garden - Once Upon a Journey

Walking in the surrealist garden of Edward James, Las Pozas, makes you feel like you are in a totally different world. A world where fantasies and imaginaries come to life. We feel like true explorers, walking in a jungle, not knowing what we see next or where we end our exploration. It’s a place we recommend everybody going to, it’s a hidden gem located deep in the Mexican mountains. Definitely one for on the bucket list!

HISTORY OF LAS POZAS

Las Pozas garden was created by the British poet Edward James. He moved to Xilitla where he started growing exotic plants. But in 1962 frost and blizzards destroyed all of his orchids, he decided to make something permanent which the weather couldn’t destroy. He wanted to create his version of the ‘Garden of Eden’ with giant concrete sculptures. It took him 20 years from 1949 until his death in 1984, to design and build the concrete structures resembling floral elements, which costs over 5 million dollars. And yet, most sculptures are still unfinished.

Las Pozas, the Pools in Spanish, is named after the pools covering the place, coming from waters that flow naturally through it. There’s also a beautiful waterfall.

HOW TO GET THERE

The surrealist garden is located in the jungle near a small mountain village called Xilitla, in the province San Luis Potosí, Mexico. To get to Xilitla you can drive there yourself by rental car (like we did), or go by bus. It’s about an eight-hour drive from the capital. Be prepared for a long trip with winding roads. If you have time and money we really recommend renting a car. You will have the freedom to go where you want and to explore authentic Mexican places, like this place!

By Roxanne & Maartje – Full Story at Once Upon a Journey

Mexico Gay Travel Resources

Mexico Roadtrip – Once Upon a Journey

Author: , July 20th, 2018

Mexico Roadtrip - Once Upon a Journey

Roadtripping through Central Mexico, the adventure has officially started. For a week we rent a car and drive from Guadalajara east, to places like Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende and Xilitla. We want to show people it’s safe to travel (by car) through Mexico. Even as blonde ladies. In case you missed it: my sister Denise joins our travels for the whole month of May. So there we go!!!

We leave our wonderful housesit and cute doggies and travel back to Guadalajara. In Guadalajara, we meet our friend Tata again and enjoy some typical Mexican things like mezcal (made from the Agave plant) and micheladas (beer with lime juice, assorted sauces, spices and peppers). Or well enjoy… we don’t really enjoy the micheladas, it’s the weirdest drink we have ever had. Then it’s time to pick up the rental car and take off…

Thanks to the all-in car rental from Sunny Cars we don’t have to worry about a thing! We have the ultimate freedom to go anywhere, and we are looking forward to that so very much. We start our journey from Guadalajara to Guanajuato and find out toll roads are pretty expensive in Mexico. For a three hour drive we pay 35 euros, guess we will not take toll roads anymore. We also find out that the freeways are much more fun to drive on, they aren’t that bad and we see more exciting things on the way.

By Roxanne Weijer – Full Story at Once Upon a Journey

Mexico Gay Travel Resources

Colima: Volcanoes and Pickups – Once Upon a Journey

Author: , July 13th, 2018

Colima - Once Upon a Journey

Mexico, Mexico, Mexico, it’s impossible not to love you. After a week in Guadalajara, we go to Colima where we housesit for three weeks. The first days we are with the two of us, but on day three, a family member joins us for an entire month. Hopefully, we will survive that…

DRIVING THE PICKUP

Who’s that family member?! It’s my sister Denise. It’s already her second time visiting us, first time was for two weeks on Borneo with her boyfriend. Now she’s in Mexico and for a whole month! I pick her up from Guadalajara airport and together we drive to Colima in our badass pick-up truck. To celebrate Denise’s arrival in Mexico we buy a cake and many other delicious foods. In return, Denise brings us Dutch candy, stroopwafels & cheese! We were already looking forward to that for ages.

PUEBLO MÁGICO COMALA

The first exploring we do together is seeing the beautiful magical town Comala. Comala is officially called a magical town – Pueblo Mágico – in Mexico. The government gave 111 towns in Mexico the name magic town to attract more tourists. What’s so special about Comala? All the facades of the buildings are painted white. It’s super cute and pretty.

By Roxanne Weijer – Full Story at Once Upon a Journey

Mexico Gay Travel Resources

 

The Ultimate Koh Mak Travel Guide – Once Upon a Journey

Author: , July 6th, 2018

The Ultimate Koh Mak Travel Guide

Koh Mak is a small tropical island in the eastern Gulf of Thailand, close to Cambodia. We travelled to this island in November 2017 and stayed much longer than expected. I’ve seen many more Thai islands and I must say: Koh Mak is my favourite of all! The island is a well-kept secret for most travellers, it’s (still) a quiet place with a laid-back atmosphere. It’s located south of ‘big brother’ Koh Chang, and north of Koh Kood – they all are completely different!

What we most love about this island is that it’s relatively undeveloped. You might be able to get cash at a resort – but no guarantees – and there are no 7-elevens anywhere on the island (is that even possible in Thailand?!). Koh Mak is privately owned and therefore nobody is allowed to build more resorts, how fantastic?! And although there are many rubber farm plantations, you can still find lots of palm trees. The best part of Koh Mak though: gorgeous, empty beaches!

Koh Mak is located about 40 kilometres away from mainland Thailand (Trat) and 300 kilometres from Bangkok. From Bangkok you can take a minivan to Trat and take a taxi to the pier. You can even take a minivan directly to the pier. From the Laem Ngop pier in Trat, you can take the slow boat (cheap but slow) or a speedboat (fast but more expensive) to Koh Mak. Be sure to look up the time schedule of the boats! During low season there are less or no boats at all going to Koh Mak. There are also boats going from Koh Chang, Koh Wai and Koh Kood to Koh Mak.

By Roxanne & Maartje – Full Story at Once Upon a Journey

Thailand Gay Travel Resources

Colorful Guadalajara, Mexico – Once Upon a Journey

Author: , June 30th, 2018

Mexico - Once Upon a Journey

Hello Mexico! After a three hour flight from Los Angeles, we arrive in Guadalajara: Mexico’s second biggest city. We are super excited to be in Mexico, but also a bit concerned. So many people told us Mexico isn’t safe… But luckily we are two tall girls who already have quite some travel experience and aren’t stupid. Let the Mexico adventures begin!

It’s my first time in Mexico, Maartje’s second time. Not sure if Maartje’s first time counts since she went to Cancun for Spring Break. Not really an authentic part of Mexico, but this time we will see authentic Mexico for sure. We never heard of Guadalajara before, but that’s something we like about a place! That means not so many other tourists go there, or well, let’s see ourselves.

The first nights in Guadalajara we stay with Marco and his dad. We are welcomed with open arms and with lots of Tequila and Corona. I don’t hope this much alcohol is a normal thing in Mexico, wow. With five people we drink three bottles of Tequila in one night. The hangovers are big, but we have lots of fun. And we break our first Pinata ever!! The only thing we see during the first days in Guadalajara is Tlaquepaque, and we LOVE it! It’s so beautiful and colourfull. There are coloured umbrellas and flags in the streets; Maartje is the happiest girl ever. She was already looking for a place with umbrellas like that for a while.

By Roxanne Weijer – Full Story at Once Upon a Journey

Jalisco Gay Travel Resources

California Dreaming – Once Upon a Journey

Author: , June 22nd, 2018

California Dreaming

Time flies when you are having fun! After a year in Asia, we fly to the other side of the world. Now we can call our trip a world trip for real! After some fantastic days in Hong Kong and Macau, we fly to San Francisco. The culture shock is huge, the jetlag as well…

HELLO SAN FRANCISCO!

As soon as we arrive, our friend David – who we met in Myanmar – takes us to the Golden Gate bridge. We enjoy the view over the iconic bridge from the best spot you can think of, and David also surprises us with some champagne. We couldn’t wish for a better start. Later on, not only the jetlag but also the champagne kicks in.

During the first days in the States, it’s difficult to adapt. The jetlag is enormous, it’s cold and rainy outside and the people are so different. People talk small talk to us, and we are not used to that at all. Besides that, it’s the first time after a year of travelling that I feel unsafe. Something I never expected to happen in San Francisco. There are so many homeless people, which is shocking to me. Feeling unsafe had something to do with being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I would not recommend people to be in the city centre and the areas close to the city centre of San Francisco late at night.

Before arriving in the States we were thinking of hitchhiking from San Francisco all the way down to San Diego (we like adventure), but after hearing a couple of horror stories, we book the first night bus down to Los Angeles. From Los Angeles, we travel further down by bus, to San Diego. The buses in the States are not that bad at all!

By Roxanne Weijer – Full Story at Once Upon a Journey

California Gay Travel Resources

Lesbian Travel: Motorbiking Vietnam – Once Upon a Journey

Author: , May 18th, 2018

Lesbian Travel: Motorbiking Vietnam - Once Upon a Journey

After a quick stop in Thailand, we are finally in Vietnam. For some reason, we had the idea to go to Vietnam for a long time but never made it. Our friend Marieke, a Dutchie who lives in Ho Chi Minh now, invites us to Vietnamese New Year, Tet. Time to visit Vietnam!

This time we only travel the south and middle of Vietnam, we save the northern part for next time. It’s a bit too cold for us over there right now. We fly Vietnam in to, and out from, Ho Cho Minh. The last couple of weeks we travelled at a high speed so we are super happy to see Marieke and to stay at her place for a couple nights.

We don’t see a lot of Ho Chi Minh but really enjoy doing the ‘normal’ things. We go to the cinema, sleep in, work a bit, enjoy Vietnamese food and go to our first Tet party. Marieke and her friend invite us over and we get to know the Vietnamese culture and it’s Tet traditions a bit more. We get lucky money (which we can’t use until next year) and eat and drink a lot, which also part of the Vietnamese traditions haha.

When Marieke finishes work we travel to Dalat with the three of us. It’s my second time in Vietnam but the first time I didn’t visit Da Lat. So I’m super excited to go this time! We rent motorbikes and go to one of the most beautiful waterfalls I have ever seen. Go to the Pongour Falls when you are in Dalat.

By Roxanne Weijer – Full Story at Once Upon a Journey

Vietnam Gay Travel Resources