Planning Your Visit to Cuba

Author: , April 18th, 2014

Cuba FortressFor a minute, let’s remove those Cuban stereotypes – you know, Castro, communism, and Teddy Roosevelt riding through Santiago, Cuba like the mustached maven portrayed in Night at the Museum. For decades, while America upheld its embargo on Cuba, millions of tourists from Canada and western Europe have flocked to the white sandy beaches at Jardines del Ray, or strolled the cobblestone streets in colonial Trinidad.

But things are rapidly changing: already, in the first third of 2014, Cuba’s seen more American tourists than Germans, Brits, and French visitors from all of last year, accounting for the second highest tourism earnings behind Canada. But that doesn’t mean traveling to Cuba from the U.S. is suddenly easy: the U.S. still holds a fifty-year trade embargo on the communist nation, and, without the guise of a foreign passport (or perhaps a fake Canadian accent), navigating those 90 miles south of Florida requires careful planning. Here’s how to do it…

Recent enactments allow Americans more ways to legally travel to Cuba. According to the revamped restrictions, Cuban-Americans can travel back to their home-country as long as they have proof of familial residency. But what if you’re not Cuban-American? Technically speaking, it’s illegal to travel to Cuba for “tourism” purposes, so tourists must travel through a permissible “People-to-People” program, which holds an official license from the U.S. State Department.

Authored By Tommy Burson – See the Full Story at Sherman’s Travel

Click here for gay travel resources in Cuba.

Miami Beach Gay Pride in Review

Author: , April 16th, 2014

Miami Beach Gay Pride - Towleroad.comSome photos in from Miami Beach Gay Pride.

First from Towleroad.com:

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to help us celebrate and have their photo taken, and special thanks to Paul Hunter and Ernesto Espejo for helping us man our photo booth (in exchange for an AIDS Lifecycle Ride donation (help him out here). Check out some of our favorite shots.

The Advocate also has some photos:

Miami Beach Gay Pride is an extraordinary two-day event that features a beach party and a festival and parade with more than 125 LGBT-friendly vendors and businesses, exciting celebrities, musical performances, refreshments, and a family-friendly play area. With grand marshals Gloria Estefan and choreographer Kenny Ortega, the fun volume nob was turned all the way up.

Joe.My.God has a video for us:

Miami Beach’s sixth annual LGBT Pride parade took place yesterday on South Beach’s Ocean Drive with Grand Marshal Gloria Estefan, who appears at 2:30 in this clip.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Miami Beach.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Miami.

Rest Easy

Author: , April 14th, 2014

We all know those iconic Vermont images like covered bridges, maple syrup and world-class skiing, but what about sophisticated resorts for primping, pampering and eating your way to complete relaxation? I bet that isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, is it? You’ll be happy to know that you can find just what you’re looking for at the fantastic Essex Resort and Spa.

Photo courtesy of Essex Resort and Spa

Snuggled between the Green Mountains and stunning Lake Champlain is Vermont’s only AAA 4 Diamond Culinary Resort. The 18-acre campus has everything you need to unwind, relax, enjoy nature and indulge in delectable cuisine, no matter what time of the year.

My partner and I decided to take a little stay-cation to the Resort – a get away in the middle of February to warm up our Winter-weary bones—saunas, steam rooms, hot tubs, and massage tables—it sounded glorious. With the winter we had in the Northeast, we felt we deserved it!

The Essex Resort is as progressive as the State it resides in. At the main entrance, we were showered with welcome greetings in many different languages. We couldn’t help but notice the rainbow flag and Human Rights Campaign logo proudly displayed, as well. The staff was just as welcoming.

Like many gay and lesbian couples, our dog is like a child to us. Whenever possible, we try to bring him along on trips. With a little extra charge, the Essex Resort had no problem with our canine companion. They even supplied a little welcome gift for him with a travel bowl, a rope toy Frisbee, and house-made dog treats. That was only the tip of the iceberg of the level of service you can expect at the Resort.

Our room was large, with huge windows overlooking a tree that had been wrapped in white lights, bringing a soft glow to our room in the evening. The bed was just right – soft but not too soft – with more pillows than we knew what to do with. Truth be told, it made thoughts of anything but long, luxurious naps difficult… We rallied, though, because there was no way we were going to miss out on everything the resort had to offer.

There is so much to do at the Essex Resort that with our two-day stay we felt we had to concentrate on one aspect of the services offered. While there are cooking classes that sounded fantastic–they offered a Paella class during our stay – we decided that on this particular trip we would concentrate on the indulgence of the incredible in-house spa.

There are tons of choices for treatments at the spa. Just by staying at the resort you have access to the 25-yard indoor pool (with an additional outdoor pool for the warmer months), an oversized outdoor hot tub, sauna, steam room and fitness center. The first night that we got there, we decided to take a swim in the pool. Though it was bone chilling outside, we braved the cold to sample the outdoor hot tub. We lounged comfortably, not even realizing our wet hair was freezing up! Once we were ready to go back inside our warmed bodies couldn’t even feel the frosty air against them.

The Essex Resort has two onsite restaurants. We chose to eat at the Tavern (a traditional pub-style restaurant with a vibrant bar scene), rather than the more sophisticated dining experience of Amuse. Both restaurants are part of the Vermont Fresh Network, so you can expect amazing locally sourced meals. The Tavern was so delicious that we went back for breakfast the next morning. It was just what we needed: low key, great food and wonderful service.

The next morning, before breakfast, we got up early to walk our dog and enjoy the crystal blue skies and white landscape that makes February so special. We couldn’t wait for 10:30am to arrive, so we could begin our spa treatments. I chose an 80-minute massage that began with a steam, a sauna, and a shower (with a rain shower head – my new obsession, by the way). An indulgence, indeed… but austerity has never been my cup of tea… Comfortable with a copy of US Magazine and a cozy terry cloth robe, I had a short wait in front of a roaring fire before my massage therapist brought me upstairs for the treatment. It was a delightful experience; we chatted just enough, she used just the right amount of pressure, and the requisite world music was sufficient to wash away my cares.

My partner, coming off of months of his busy work season, decided to really splurge with a package deal. His choice was the two-hour Pure Relaxation: a 30-minute deep soak; a 30-minute muscle melt, consisting of a warm body wrap to relieve sore, tired muscles and joints with a healing blend of herbs, mints, and grains mixed with aloe vera and a stimulating application of Sport Massage Cream. It was finished off with a 60-minute aromatherapy massage.

As I was finishing my massage and being escorted to the lounge, my massage therapist pointed out the aroma in the hallway: “Can you smell that?” she said. It was an invigorating perfume of eucalyptus and other products. “That’s your partner’s muscle melt.” If I hadn’t been completely relaxed from my wonderful massage, I probably would have felt some envy. As it was, I was too blissed out to be anything but happy that he was getting his much needed pampering.

I relaxed in the lounge for a few minutes until he was done with his spa treatments. Then, we were served a delicious, light lunch, which we’d ordered earlier. It was the perfect ending to our spa day.

After a lazy stroll with the dog on the bike path across from the resort, we decided that we need a little retail therapy. Not even a half-mile down the road from the resort is the Essex Outlets. While it may not have the largest assortment of stores, it has some great ones like Polo Ralph Lauren, Under Armour, and Orvis. We spent our hard-earned money in a few stores and thought about a movie at the adjacent Essex Cinemas, with stadium seating and the largest screen in Vermont. Instead, we decided to go back to our room for that much needed afternoon nap… in our king sized, insanely pillowed bed. Pure heaven.

By the time we were ready to check out, all three of us were perfectly relaxed, thoroughly warmed and comfortably satiated. The Essex Resort provided a charming experience. While far from inexpensive, it was certainly worth it. Vermont truly offers so much more than what you may imagine.

Blossoms in the Hood River Valley, Oregon

Author: , April 6th, 2014

09may23-2-300x225We get this question a lot in the spring.  Because who wouldn’t want to celebrate spring in one of the largest fruit growing regions in our Nation?  Over 15,000 acres of fruit trees, that’s over 2 million trees, putting on a show over a three or four week span with Mt Hood dressed in its spring best as a backdrop.

You see, the Hood River Valley is about 20 miles long, spanning from majestic Mt Hood and the Upper Hood River Valley where Parkdale and the Old Parkdale Inn Bed and Breakfast is located, north to the town of Hood River and the Columbia River Gorge. The three tiered Hood River Valley rises from 90 feet above sea level in Hood River to over 2500′ in the Upper Hood River valley, so we can have upwards of a three, sometimes 4 week span of bloom, Hood River Blooming first and those in the Upper Valley later.

So to answer your question:  When planning your spring visit to the Old Parkdale Inn I advise our guests to visit around the first of May when the Inn, which sits at an elevation of 1750′, is surrounded by acres and acres of awesomeness.   You’ll find answers to your questions on our AskOPI FAQ page on Facebook.

Our Sensual Spring Mid Week Special runs through May and we still have rooms available for Blossom Fest, a three week celebration in the Hood River Valley.  Family fruit stands reopen.  Wineries feature new wines.  First annual Hard Pressed Cider Fest and of course the main event: Blossoms

Purple Roofs Guest Blogger:  Mary Pellegrini, owner/innkeeper at the Old Parkdale Inn Bed and Breakfast in the Upper Hood River Valley, Oregon.  We are about an hour and a half east of Portland, Oregon, a scenic drive through the Columbia River Gorge and the Hood River Valley to our B&B at the base of Oregon’s tallest mountain, majestic Mt Hood.

April In Provincetown

Author: , April 2nd, 2014
Photo by Petar Dopchev

Photo by Petar Dopchev

Officially spring arrives in March, but in Provincetown April starts off the season. Many restaurants, shops and galleries that may have been closed for the winter re-open in April. Local favorite the Lobster Pot opens for its 35th year on April 11th.

April is also the time when we find out about some new restaurants in town.

El Mundo across the street from Town Hall went away to be replaced by Tin Pan Alley. Ten Tables is being replaced by Backstreet. Lorraine’s closed on the west end and relocated to our neck of the woods. Hot L on Bradford decided not to re-open. Cerraldi, which was very hot last year is relocating to a permanent space, but so far it’s a secret. We’ll let you know when we find out.

Of course you have probably heard that Liza Minelli is coming to Provincetown this summer to do two sold out benefit performances.

Other notable performers include:

  • Joan Rivers on July 5th
  • Helen Reddyon July 21st and 22nd
  • Leslie Jordan on June 30th and July 1st
  • David Sedaris on Friday, August 1st

Many more to come, we’ll highlight them as we hear of them. And we’ll give you an update on shops and galleries in the future.

What’s going on in April and beyond?

  • April 1 – The Pilgrim Monument and Museum opens for the season on April.

  • April 12 – Whale watching begins. Check out whalewatch.com for more information.
  • April 18-21 – Patriot’s Day Weekend
  • April 19-27 – Appearances Green Arts Festival
  • April 25-27 – Gays for Patsy Annual Spring Stomp
  • May 3 – Women’s Music Festival at Town Hall
  • May 16 – Fast ferry service from Boston begins
  • May 16-18 – Single Women’s Weekend
  • May 23-26 – Memorial Day Weekend.

My partner Bob and I own The Somerset House Inn, a wonderful B&B in the perfect Provincetown location. It’s on Commercial Street across the street from the water. We’d love to have you stay with us. We have availability for Memorial Day Weekend, the week of July 4th and limited availability for Bear Week. Click here to check availability and make your reservations.

Gay Honeymoon Hotspots

Author: , March 31st, 2014

Sydney, AustraliaTop honeymoon spots for gay couples have been revealed today by Abta in the wake of same sex marriage being legalised in England and Wales over the weekend.

These include long established lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender destinations such as Brighton, the Greek Islands, Miami and Sydney as well as newer favourites Puerto Vallarta and Tel Aviv.

Others include Cape Town, Phuket, San Francisco and Sitges in Spain, while the association has also identified emerging destinations such as Montpellier in France and Florianopolis in Brazil.

Authored By Phil Davies – See the Full Story at Travel Weekly

Click here for gay travel resources.

Art in the streets of Reykjavík

Author: , March 18th, 2014

Don’t have the patience to go from gallery to gallery but still wish to experience some art during your stay in Reykjavík? My advice is simply to walk around and enjoy the magnificent works decorating houses around Reykjavík.

Pink Iceland offers a walking tour around the city centre of Reykjavík, the Pink City Walk  – The essential Reykjavík City Tour sprinkled with LGBT history.

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These Photos Will Make You Want to Go to Cologne Pride

Author: , March 17th, 2014

Cologne CarnivalAfter visiting Cologne a few times in the past six months, it’s quickly climbed up my list of favorite German cities. So a few weeks back, with Cologne’s annual Carnival approaching, I booked myself train tickets for the long weekend. The Cologne Carnival (or Koeln Karneval, auf Deutsch) is the biggest event in the city each year.

From speaking to friends who live in Cologne, the annual Carnival usually ranks among the best things to do in the city. So, having fallen for the city last year, I made a point to visit during their biggest event. Even if I was skeptical of what Carnival would be like, in the end it turned out to be a fun, easy-going, non-stop party.

The Cologne Carnival is more than just a weekend festival, though. It kicks off with events the week before, but the biggest party is the Rose Monday Parade (Der Koelner Rosenmontagszug).

Authored by Adam Groffman. See the Full Story at Travels of Adam here.

See Adam’s full blog here.

Click here for gay travel resources in Germany.

A BFB, that’s what we are! That’s Bike Friendly Business

Author: , March 15th, 2014

Oregon is becoming a top destination for cyclists, both off road and road biking, touring or simply day trippers.

Travel Oregon, the states leader in tourism, had created a program, Bike Friendly Business, to go along with the State’s Ride Oregon campaign.  When cycling through and around Oregon Bike Friendly Businesses are committed to welcoming cyclists, offer amenities riders may need and have officially been recognized by the state.

Travel-Oregon-Bike-Friendly-graphic-no-iconsBike the Columbia River Gorge, the Mt. Hood Scenic Byway, the Willamette Valley and have a comfy bed and and hearty breakfast at an bed and breakfast along the way.  A Bed and Breakfast offers so much more than a hotel.  Oregon innkeepers know the best back roads, the best places to eat, the scenic attractions you won’t want to miss.  You determine how far you want to go in one day.  The whole adventure is about 200 miles and you’ll discover why those arriving in Oregon on the Oregon Trail called this place “paradise” and our inn the Old Parkdale Inn would be the halfway point for this tour.  Don’t necessarily want to tour?  No problem.  We invite you to explore the many backroads of the Hood River Valley.

As a participating business we need to adhere to program requirements and recommendations.
~ as a lodging partner we must provide a secure area to store bikes
~ serve up a hearty hi-carb breakfast with larger than life servings of fruits and vegetables
~ be able to share local knowledge about where visitors can find bike shops, bike maps, good places to ride, and where to pick up a bike rental
~ our guest rooms have oulets and power strips to plug in and re-charge phone and laptops safely and we have free WiFi connection in the house and out in the garden ~ provide laundry service ~ assist in shipping home any treasures you might find while touring the Hood River Valley on the Fruit Loop

Purple Roofs Guest Blogger:  Mary Pellegrini, owner/innkeeper at the Old Parkdale Inn Bed and Breakfast in the Upper Hood River Valley, Oregon.  We are about an hour and a half east of Portland, Oregon, a scenic drive through the Columbia River Gorge and the Hood River Valley to our B&B at the base of Oregon’s tallest mountain, majestic Mt Hood.

Five Things to Do for Free in Mobile, Alabama

Author: , March 10th, 2014

Mobile, Alabama - Apple Maps

Apple Maps

Mobile is that “other” city on the northern Gulf Coast, the one that sometimes gets lost between the beaches of the Florida Panhandle and the nonstop party of New Orleans. Local promoters call it “secretly awesome.”

No, Mobile doesn’t draw millions of tourists annually. But the bayside town drips with Old South charm and has plenty of things to do, some of the best of which don’t cost a dime. With a quaint downtown that’s situated on Mobile Bay and framed by huge oak trees with gnarly braches, Mobile and the surrounding area offer visitors a variety of free activities.

FORT CONDE

The city’s welcome center, Fort Conde is a red-brick recreation of the French fort that protected Mobile for a century until 1820, when the original was demolished to clear land. Exhibits explore life in colonial Mobile and include artifacts from Indians and early European settlers who shaped the area.

Authored By Jay Reeves – See the Full Story at Edge Boston

Click here for gay travel resources in Alabama.