TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD: Savannah, Georgia

Author: , February 10th, 2014
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Savannah Fountain

Midnight in the Garden of Good and EvilTwo things to always remember about Savannah is how beautiful and historical city it is and it’s depiction in the movie, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” based on the book by John Berendt about a real life Gay Antiques dealer in the city. It was a major movie directed by Clint Eastwood. The book was on The New York Times bestseller list for 216 weeks following it’s debut and still, to this day, the longest standing best seller of The New York Times.

After his book came out, tourists from all over the world flocked to Savannah to see for themselves the historic city. Savannah is located on the east coast of Georgia on the Interstate. Tourists go there 12 months of the year to take advantage of everything that the city has to offer.

SavannahThey have several trolley and bus tours that one can take to view the historical homes, downtown, and even the cemeteries. The most visited one is the Bonaventure Cemetery which is a public cemetery located on the scenic bluff of the Wilmington River just east of downtown Savannah. The headstones, markers and statuary are remarkable so be sure and take your camera.

Savannah Park

The main part of the city is made up of different “squares” which has the old stately homes and estates facing the historical statues in the center of the square.

There are of course dozens of restaurants touting that they are the best however we enjoyed one of THE best when found THE PIRATES’. It is located in the oldest house in Georgia and was erected in 1753! Yes, that is right….. 1753!

Pirates House restaurant SavannahWhile dining you can actually see the hand hewn ceilings joined with wooden pegs in the Captain’s Room, and the original brick walls and heart pine floors. They serve authentic Georgian food and it is priced very reasonable. Check out their website at: www.thepirateshouse.com

There are dozens of antiques shops in Savannah filled with the finest of porcelain, silver and decorative items for the home. We were lucky to find some great buys to bring home. For nightlife one needs to go further than to go to Club One, 1 Jefferson St. in the downtown area. The ‘Lady Chablis” has been performing there for years there.

If you have never seen her, check out the website so that you will know when she is performing, http://clubone-online.com/

Savannah statueOther items of interest when visiting Savannah are the River Boat Cruises, The Savannah Theatre for live productions, the Oatland Island Wildlife Center, plus there are several walking tours that you can take. If you stay downtown you can walk almost everywhere to view all that the city offers. On weekends, there is no charge at the parking meters in the entire city.

Before going to Savannah, be sure and check out www.savannah.com. There are several Bed and Breakfasts in Savannah and always check out www.purpleroofs.com to find the good ones.

Everyone is extremely hospitable in Savannah and are always more that happy to give directions or suggestions on where to dine and shop.

Always remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!

Donald and RayTRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married). Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at gaytravelers@aol.com and visit their website at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/

Click here for gay travel resources in Georgia.

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD: Trials & Tribulations While Traveling

Author: , April 6th, 2013

Gay Travel

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Most of our readers read about all the fabulous, interesting and exciting places where we go, the many wonderful people that we meet and the fine dining we enjoy. Yep, usually this is the case, however sometimes it does not work out that way.

We recently met Rudy Maxa, aka “The Savvy Traveler,” who is one of America’s premier consumer travel experts whose writings and radio and television shows have helped save thousands of travelers’ time and money. He was giving a lecture in town last week and we were discussing with him about whether or not we should write a column on the “not so pleasant things” that has happened to us in our travels. He highly suggested that we write it. So, here goes:

Most of the really bad accommodations where we have had problems have long gone out of business although a few still exist so we will not be mentioning any names (if any of you want to know the names, kindly email us and we will give those names to you).

One time in Colorado we stayed at a B and B that was the worst place we have ever stayed. It was filthy dirty and dusty. When you walked into the front porch you were immediately told to take off your shoes and put on a pair of the dozens of flip flops that were strewn all over the floor.

There was dust everywhere on the tables, desks, lamps, sinks, etc. It was just awful. Needless to say the bedroom was a total disaster as well with torn and ragged towels and sheets. Breakfast was to be at 8:00 and we went down at 7:45 and waited until 9:00 and still nobody was there and no breakfast. We left a note and then LEFT !

Another time in California we were staying at a Resort and upon checking in, we were told that we would need to wait about an hour for someone to fix the TV. We walked around and returned only to find that it had not been fixed yet, but that the front door was broken as well as the sofa in the room. Nobody there knew what was going on.

After finally checking in, we called down to the front desk to ask for a wash cloth. Nobody there knew what a wash cloth was. The WiFi was not working and we called down to see what the problem was. Naturally they said that it was working perfectly and it must be our laptop that was the problem. Upon going down to the “dirty” swimming pool and talking with other guests, we found out that everybody staying there was having problems getting on line. The entire place was a disaster! Needless to say, the next morning we left.

Another time in Arizona, we stayed in a motel / B &B type of an accommodation. The owners had just moved from Ohio where they had sold their house and purchased this property. They put down as a deposit the entire amount that they sold their house for. Needless to say they didn’t think ahead to realize that they needed a few months of cash reserves to tide them over.

They actually asked us if we would lend them some money. NOT!

Another time we were to stay at a B and B in South Dakota. We drove up the house which was quite nice. Upon entering the house we soon discovered that there were only two bedrooms. One was taken up by a former lover of the owners and the other bedroom belonged to the owners. Yep, they put us up in that bedroom and they slept on the sofa downstairs.

Their toiletries were in the medicine cabinet and everything. We left the next morning. The same thing happened to us once in Denver. The B and B turned out to be a two bedroom condo and one of the bedrooms was the owner’s office. He slept on the sofa as we slept in his bedroom. Yep! we left the next morning.

Most B&B’s have a very nice sheet or two for arriving guests to read telling them about the B&B and the sights and sounds of the area. This is a very handy thing for guests. However some B&B’s have a 12 or 20 page booklet for their guests! What traveler wants to spend an hour reading something like this ? We have been sitting down for breakfast when a guest will ask the host a question, only to have the host ridicule them in front of the other guests that they did NOT read their booklet very well and to go back and read it to get their answer. How sad!

We were driving back from Florida a couple of years ago and pulled into a chain motel in Kentucky to check in. The motel clerk, with her “beehive hairdo up the heavens”, was watching an episode of the Gomer Pyle show. She then started ranting and raving in front of us about him being gay and went on and on and on. It was cold and late and we really needed to stay. However we did explain to her that we were a gay couple and we certainly did not appreciate the way she was talking.

We spent the night and then the next morning we talked with the manager/owner about the situation. He apologized and immediately gave us the night free. Was that enough? NO WAY! When we got home we called the home office for the national chain and explained the situation to them.

After a few days of telephone conversations and apologies on their part AND with a promise by them that they would delve into the matter so that something like that would never happen again in any of their motels, we were offered a settlement for 50,000. No, not $50,000 but 50,000 in reward points for future stays.

We have since checked and they did fire the clerk at that motel and they have sent out newsletters to all of the motels about the situation that we had and to treat every customer with respect. We stayed in a gay resort many years ago in Ft. Lauderdale (that is no longer in business). The bathroom fixtures were all rusty, there was a used condom under the bed, the linens and towels were thread bare. Yep, we checked out the next morning.

We normally have very nice dining experiences. A few years ago in Ft. Lauderdale we were going for lunch. The first place we went offered only sandwiches for lunch, so we walked out. The second place had everything we wanted however the owner/manager and two of the servers were having a very loud bitch fight and we didn’t feel as thou we wanted to deal with that, so. we walked out.

We decided to go to a buffet where we have dined many times in Ft. Lauderdale. After years of having a buffet, they stopped it and now only serves sandwiches. Yep, we walked out. We then went to a local place which is kind of like an upscale Denny’s. We have dined there several times in the past.

They were out of the two things that we wanted. Yep, we walked out. We both agreed that the next restaurant we passed that we would take it, no matter what! We stopped in a Cuban restaurant where the service was great as well as the food and food presentation. Sometimes it just takes time and patience.

Once in Seattle we went to a bar for a drink. It was a rectangular bar. We sat down on one end and the bartender completely ignored us. Finally a customer came over and explained to us that the bartender does not like to walk around bar and that if we wanted a drink that we would have to go to his end of the bar and order and then returned to our seat. We walked out of the bar.

However we did call the manager later that night and explained the situation to him. He was shocked. Yep, the bartender was fired.

In Jacksonville, Florida a couple of years ago, we sat at the bar and the bartender came to wait on us SMOKING A CIGARETTE! We nicely told him that when he was through with his cigarette break that we would order. He rudely and very loudly explained that he smokes all the time when he was behind the bar. Needless to say, we left.

Once in West Hollywood we were in a bar and the assistant manager was flinging her arms going thru the bar and hit the glass of wine I was drinking. It went all over me and my new white slacks that I had just purchased about two hours before (they were $100 and were on the 1/2 price rack).

She was not nice about it at all but did offer to buy me another drink. I explained that red wine would not come out of my new white slacks. We KNEW we were going to win this one. She finally relented and then gave us $50 for the slacks. Later the owner of the bar emailed us and other people saying how cheap we must be to only pay $50 for a pair of slacks! Jeez! That bar is now out of business.

Okay, want to read more of our “miseries” in traveling? A couple of years ago we took a bus trip to Tunica, Mississippi which has a dozen gambling casinos and nothing else. It was a 4 day, 3 night excursion with 48 people on board. It was supposed to be a 9 hour trip there. The bus stopped for lunch on the way down at a Denny’s! UGH!

Not so bad and we were off again and then the brand new bus’s air-conditioning broke. This would be no big deal except for the fact that it was over 100 degrees in July. The bus drive stopped at the first place he could and got ice for everyone and paper towels. Needless to say, that didn’t work. Now we are not talking teenagers here, we are talking mature people. Since the windows do not open the drive got a bright idea to open the roof escape hatches on the bus.

Naturally when he took off again they slammed shut. Not to be out-done by that, he stopped the bus and opened the roof hatches again and he went into the rest room and go rolls of toilet paper and propped the windows open with them. So now we all had more hot air coming in.

People were practically passing out. The driver stopped about ever half hour so the entire bus could depart and run into a McDonald’s or a Wendy’s or Burger King to cool off. Then he announced that due to the time he had to stop that his time was up. A new bus was called and we all got off the bus into another one which had air-conditioning. By then everybody was sweating like 48 hogs in a sty. It was NOT a good experience.

When we arrived at the resort all was fine until the next morning and we were to assemble at the bus to take off at exactly 9 AM to go to another resort for breakfast. As soon as we got there, yep! two of the passengers were late getting downstairs to get on the bus and the driver said that we all had to go back to pick them up. No, NO, a thousand times NO! Let us off and let the driver go back by himself to pick up the two ignorant passengers.

The driver would not budge and neither would the 46 passengers. The driver could tell that 46 against one is not good odds, so he relented and let us off so that we could all have breakfast.

On the way home from Tunica, they showed movies on the bus. Now mind you, there were 48 “mature” adults on the bus and what did they show? Cartoons!!!!! Never, as in NEVER AGAIN will we ever, Ever, EVER take another bus tour. NEVER!

Fortunately for us, we generally drive our own auto from coast to coast so rarely rent an auto or fly. We can only imagine how many more problems we might have encountered if we used them.

As said, most all of these places are out of business and we certainly understand why. Most places offer their paying customers tremendous service and THANKS FOR ALL OF THEM FOR DOING THAT! They are making money and have a solid customer But we have been writing our travel columns now for 12 years and have stayed at over 100 B and B’s plus motels, hotels and Resorts. Guess that the odds of having a few problems just comes with the territory.nd have a solid customer base. Most of the time, traveling is fun, interesting and exciting however sometimes there ARE bumps in the road. Fortunately they are few and far between.

Always remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!

Donald and RayTRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married). Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at gaytravelers@aol.com and visit their website at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD: Buying Souveneirs When Traveling

Author: , November 5th, 2011
Email Don & Ray | Visit the Gay Travel Guys Website

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We have been asked repeatedly by people who are traveling whether on business, vacations or just traveling for the heck of it, what type of souvenirs we usually purchase.

Of course different people like buying different types of souvenirs. Some people like to purchase refrigerator magnets, sweat shirts, T shirts, baseball caps, coffee mugs, salt and pepper shakers and really all kinds of stuff. That is great if that is what you are into and want to remember your traveling by.

Being in the antiques business for over 38 years, we have always purchased souvenirs that we can use or display in our home, like fine china, clocks, furniture, silver, oil paintings and chandeliers! It IS amazing what we can put in our automobile and come home with.

Among the many items that we have found are a wonderful old antique wooden sea gull that we found while visiting Maine, a Baccarat Crystal Chandelier from an estate in Newport Rhode, Island, a French Morbier Clock from Chicago, several oil paintings from Denver, Los Angeles and New York City, a French settee from St. Louis, sterling silver from Atlanta, fine English porcelain from Philadelphia and all types of items for our home.

We love living with these items and when we look at them, they bring back so many memories from our travels.

Once when we were in the Hamptons in New York we went to a charity auction and purchased a dress that Shirley MacLaine wore in the movie, ‘The Evening Star’ and a shirt that Rock Hudson wore in the theatrical production of ‘I Do, I Do’. We got special cases to put them in for our home.

Sometimes it is just small items such as sterling flatware that we find and other times, we fine silver butter servers, silver teapots and silver serving trays.

So our travel souvenirs are all around our home and something that we can see and use on a daily basis. We have more stemware than we really need, however we are always purchasing more. We have 33 sets of china for dinner parties and who needs that many? But we do enjoy having the variety to use. As Mae West said, “too much is not enough!”

We also enjoy purchasing souvenirs for our outdoor patio, such as flamingos, boat buoys, driftwood, different types of unusual signs, statues, wind chimes and all kinds of bric a brac.

We also purchase a lot of our clothing when traveling which certainly does not help our local economy but it is helping other communities. Sometimes we get really great bargains as when we purchased fur coats down in southern Florida and just why would any shop be selling fur coats down there?

And swimwear in Chicago in the middle of winter. There are a lot of great bargains to be had out there, but it is just like fishing. The more you fish, the more you are going to catch.

The more shopping you do, the more you are going to find. And great finds can be found at Neiman-Marcus just as easily as at a local flea market. We always shop Neiman-Marcus in Ft. Lauderdale and Palm Beach when in Florida in January. Other items that we always purchase are CD’s from local entertainers.

Many entertainers that are entertaining in local bars especially the piano bars have CD’s for sale and are more than happy to autograph them for you. We have dozens of such CD’s from our travels from coast to coast.

For those of you who are into refrigerator magnets, baseball caps, etc. by all means go ahead and purchase them from your travels.

As for us, we will stick to purchasing items for our home so that we can enjoy them for years to come. Traveling is so exciting and interesting and fun but when you return home, all you have left are the wonderful memories, photos and if you are like us, you will also have some cherished souvenirs that you will be able to enjoy for the rest of your life.

We are sharing some photographs of some of our favorite souvenirs with our readers this month.

Always remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!
TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married). Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at gaytravelers@aol.com and visit their website at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/

Don & ray - Gay TravelersAlways remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married). Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at gaytravelers@aol.com and visit their website at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/

The Minotaur at the Old Vic Tunnels London

Author: , October 11th, 2011


The Minotaur at the Old Vic Tunnels
 |  London, UK  |   Tonight I came to the tunnels of London, close to the Waterloo Station, to experience an amazing exhibition only matched by this unique venue, high fashion derelict and modern. The Minotaur which opens to the public tomorrow (OCT 11th. – 25th.) by Lazarides, returns to The Old Vic Tunnels this year taking inspiration from the ancient Greek legend of The Minotaur. If you are a local, or just visiting, The Minotaur is a London Must see and visit… > Check the Full Post and more at www.carlosmeliablog.com

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Hackett Groom & Groom Package by Mandarin Oriental

Author: , October 7th, 2011


Hackett Groom & Groom Package by Mandarin Oriental
 |  London. UK  |  Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park is offering a new Groom & Groom Package in collaboration with Hackett London, renown British men’s clothing with worldwide reputation for quality and luxury. The ultimate ‘Groom Service’ to couples getting married in the magnificent ballroom in 2012. And I got to experience the full service today at their store over Sloane Street. > Check the Full Post and more at www.carlosmeliablog.com

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Lake Panic at Kruger National Park

Author: , October 5th, 2011


Lake Panic at Kruger National Park
 |  Kruger Park, South Africa  |  One of the treasures of coming to Africa, is to be able to observe and enjoy animals in the wild, on their own habitat where there is almost to no interaction with human beings. Lake Panic is one of the spots in Kruger Park do so. Lake Panic is an earthen dam on the Mafunyana Creek.  > Check the Full Post and more at www.carlosmeliablog.com

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TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD: 40 Years of Happiness, Fun and Travel Adventures

Author: , March 5th, 2011
Email Don & Ray | Visit the Gay Travel Guys Website

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Graceland

It is VERY hard for us to believe it, but we are celebrating our 40th Anniversary on March 27th. How time has flown by!

In addition, this is the 10th year that we have been writing a monthly travel column for purpleroofs.com.

We have written about the many places around the country, from coast to coast where we have visited and the wonderful people that we have met. We have written about great Bed and Breakfasts, resorts and hotels/motels. We have written about fabulous restaurants where we have dined.

We have met so many great people both gay and straight that we have stayed in touch with thru the years.

We always tell our readers to “have fun when traveling and always talk to everyone”.

We received one email from a reader asking us NOT to tell readers to talk to everyone. When he is traveling, he said that he does not want to talk to anyone.
He wants to sun himself on the beach or at the resort swimming pool with having to be bothered talking to anyone. He doesn’t want to hear about the problems or happiness of other people. Isn’t that sad? He goes to his room and reads a book. You can read a book at home without spending all that money for traveling. However if that is the way he wants to spend his life, fine.

As for us we will continue to talk with everybody that we come into contact with when traveling. You just learn so much more about life and where to go in a particular city and where not to spend your time and money.

GracelandOn our way back from Florida this year, we did stop by Memphis and visited Graceland (pictured at top), the home of Elvis Presley and took, “the tour”. It is not for everyone but seeing how he lived in conjunction with his wardrobe, awards and trophies, autos and airplanes was extremely interesting. Check it out at www.elvis.com.

Lorraiane Motel MuseumAnd while in Memphis we visited many of the other interesting sites including Beale Street experience, the Peabody Hotel and the Lorraine Motel which is now next to the National Civil Rights Museum, www.civilrightsmuseum.org where Dr. Martin Luther King was shot.

Flamingo GardensWhile we were in Ft. Lauderdale we visited the Flamingo Gardens, www.flamingogardens.org and that was one of most pleasant surprises we have had. Located just west of Ft. Lauderdale in a 60 acre area of lush gardens showcasing rare exotic and native plants, the facility offers the perfect backdrop for hundreds of birds, alligators, flamingos, bobcats, otters and other animals. It is a walking tour. It was truly incredible.

Flamingo GardensYou walk right into a bird aviary and the birds are right there. Dozens and dozens of them for you to photograph. They walk right on the paths that you are walking on. They come in all shapes and sizes and colors.

One great aspect is that all of their animals and birds you see are permanently injured, non-releasable animals. They provide a safe refuge for these animals including some of the State’s threatened and endangered species. We were there for several hours however one could spend the entire day there.

When traveling in that area, don’t miss this exciting experience.

When traveling, always remember that most art museums offer a wonderful array of art and antiques to view. We have met a lot of very interesting people while touring museums. Plus, just by talking with other people you can find out about other places to visit including which days are free or two for one admittance.
If you do not want to talk to people when traveling, that is fine, but for us it is the ONLY way to go. As the old saying goes, getting there is half the fun and since we usually drive everywhere we like to stop along the way and “smell the roses”. We are a very “out” gay couple in the city where we live and a very “out” gay couple anywhere we travel. And why not?

Always remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!
TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married). Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at gaytravelers@aol.com and visit their website at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/

Don & ray - Gay TravelersAlways remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married). Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at gaytravelers@aol.com and visit their website at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD: Live Your Life Before It’s Too Late

Author: , December 5th, 2010
Email Don & Ray | Visit the Gay Travel Guys Website

Edward Albee wrote, “What could be worse than getting to the end of your life and realizing you hadn’t lived it?” Wouldn’t that just AWFUL!

Unfortunately there are thousands of people out there that it really does happen to. Whether traveling thousands of miles or simply to the next town, enjoy yourself and explore new things, meet new people, learn how others live, dine in different restaurants and cafes and for sure, talk to everyone.

We visited a small town just south of Palm Springs a few years back and the clerk was not busy and wanted to talk. We found out how they got their electricity in town, their gas and water supply as well as a lot of other very interesting things. We found out what living in a very small town was really like with no major supermarkets, big box stores or things like that.

We visited a small town in Arizona and everyone had to make a 120 mile driving trip to get to their nearest major grocery store, hardware store and pharmacy. These people learned to build a relationship with their neighbors real quickly so that if one of them was going to be making the trip, that they will tell their neighbors around them so that if they needed anything, they would pick it up for them. In large city, we don’t even think about such things like that.

In large cities, we take so much for granted and many times forget about how others live. From Palm Springs, try driving nearly all the way to the Arizona border and stay in one of the small towns for the weekend. You just might be surprised what an education you might obtain and how very friendly the people are.

You won’t get to see all that much culture but on the other hand some small high schools can really stage some nice drama and musical productions. Just always pick up a copy of the local newspaper to see what is happening. Many times we have just taken off for a weekend trip to a small town not too far away and we have always returned with some great memories.

As the holiday season approaches try to remember to always talk with new people that you encounter in your own city whether at bars, restaurants or wherever you find them. They will certainly appreciate it and you just might make some new friends that way.

We talk to people everywhere, while visiting museums, having lunch, seeing drama or musical productions and everywhere. After all, we all must have something in common otherwise we wouldn’t be in the same location!

And if you are traveling, talk to everyone (or at least several people) on your cruise line, at the resort where you are staying and especially if you are staying at a Bed and Breakfast. Talking with people doesn’t cost anything and it can bring you so many rewards.

We fully realize that many people are rather shy until you get to know them. If you fall into that category then just try to learn to be a little more outgoing. People are not going to bite you if you speak to them first. The most they can do is simply ignore you.

In that case, forget them and go on to the next person. Live life for today! Give it your best shot! Enjoy life, have fun, make new friends and have new adventures.

With emailing now in today’s world it is so simple to stay in touch with people that you meet. Do not go to the same restaurant every time you go out. Do not go to the same bar every time you go out. Be adventurous and try new and exciting things!

Just do not be one of those thousands of people who say “What could be worse than getting to the end of your life and realizing you hadn’t lived it?” We are off to Florida for 6 weeks and can’t wait to meet new people and try new adventures!

Always remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!
TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married). Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at gaytravelers@aol.com and visit their website at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/

Don & ray - Gay TravelersAlways remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married). Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at gaytravelers@aol.com and visit their website at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD – Chicago, The Windy City

Author: , October 8th, 2010
Email Don & Ray | Visit the Gay Travel Guys Website

Visit the Purple Roofs Illinois Page

Want to Get Married in Illinois? | Looking for a Gay Chicago Realtor?

Field Museum, Chicago, Illinois

Adler Planitarium, Chicago, IllinoisWe just returned from the Windy City where we had a great 7 days of fun. First of all, Chicago is THE friendliest cities in the country. From people on the street, bus drivers, customers in bars or anywhere, this IS the friendliest city!

Ashland Arms B&BAlthough you can have fun anywhere in the city, Boystown and just to the north on Clark Street is where the main gay action is. There are dozens of gay owned bars, restaurants and shops in the area. We stayed at the Ashland Arms Guest House Bed and Breakfast which is just north of Boystown.

Ashland Arms B&BIt is located in an old hotel from the 1920’s however it has been completely been renovated to perfection. The rooms are spacious and beautiful. On weekends they serve a full breakfast which is wonderful. The hosts, Michael, Eric and Jimmy are very professional and friendly.

Walk out the front door and take a few steps is the city bus stop which will take you anywhere in the city and just a few minutes to the heart of Boystown.Their address is 6408 North Clark and their website is www.ashlandarms.com.

There is a leather bar on both sides and a fantastic neighborhood bar across the street. We really enjoyed the Jackhammer Bar next door. The owner and staff were extremely friendly. Their website is: www.jackhammer-chicago.com/.

Chicago Art Institute - Chicago, IllinoisAcross the street is a new bar that recently opened called the Parlour, www.parlouronclark.com/. It is one of the nicest and most friendly neighborhood bars we have visited anywhere from coast to coast. Their address is 6341 North Clark. A very special thanks to Jay and Jason who made us feel very welcome. We wish the new owners, Nikki and Jennifer much success.

Chicago is full of culture. We were busy every morning and afternoon visiting the Adler Planetarium, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Botanic Garden, The Field Museum, the John Shedd Aquarium, the Lincoln Park Conservatory, Lincoln Park Zoo, Millennium Park, Navy Pier and the Museum of Contemporary Art. You can purchase a “City Pass” which lets you go to all of these places at a greatly reduced price.

Chicago Zoo - Polar BearYou really do not nor need a car when visiting Chicago. Take the El or bus from the airports. We took Amtrak there and the station is right downtown. Yes, it is “touristy” but you do need to go up in the old Sears Tower which is now the Willis Tower. Standing at 1,490 feet and 110 stories high, it is the tallest building in the western hemisphere.

For fine dining, we highly recommend Jack’s on Halsted, 3201 No. Clark, www.jacksonhalsted.com/. We had one of the best steaks that we have had in years. Everything is made fresh and they have a great ambiance.

For Mexican food, be sure and dine at Las Mananitas, 3523 No. Clark. It is one of the finest Mexican restaurants in the entire Midwest. We used taste buds that we have not used in a long time. Service and ambiance was terrific.

Sears Tower, ChicagoFor casual dining, we enjoyed Hamburger Mary’s, 5400 No. Clark, www.hamburgermaryschicago.com/. We have dined at several Hamburger Mary’s around the country and this is the best. It’s fun, campy and outrageous plus they have great food. The bar scene in Chicago runs the entire range of whatever you are into including a piano bar, leather bars, dance clubs, neighborhood bars and meg-bars.

Public transportation in Chicago is one of the best in the nation. The Bus system as well as the El takes you within 3 or 4 blocks of anywhere in the city. They are safe and clean.

Chicago SkylineDowntown Chicago is a treat to itself with the magnificent shopping and architecture. The performing arts is alive and well. We got to see the Broadway show, Billy Elliot when we were there. They also have the Chicago Opera Company, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, the Joffrey Ballet, the Music of the Baroque as well as others.

Sightseeing tours around the city as well as on the Tall Ship Windy which takes a cruise out to Lake Michigan can be quite an adventure. Of all the cities in the country, it is easier to get around in Chicago than anywhere. Their public transportation system is simply the best and the city is laid out so well so that you can get anywhere quickly and safe. Chicago really does have it all. Enjoy and savor every minute you are there!

For more information on Chicago, go to www.purpleroofs.com, www.gaycities.com to get more information on the bar scene and www.funmaps.com has great maps to check out. For a complete listing of things to do when in Chicago, visit www.explorechicago.org.

Don & ray - Gay TravelersAlways remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married). Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at gaytravelers@aol.com and visit their website at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD: Amtrak

Author: , September 9th, 2010
Email Don & Ray | Visit the Gay Travel Guys Website

Amtrak

Tired of flying and all of the hassles that are involved in that mode of traveling and are you tired of driving everywhere? You should look into Amtrak. Although it is not for everybody especially if you are on a very tight schedule however if you have plenty of time, Amtrak might possibly be perfect for you.

We found it quite amazing how inexpensive traveling by rail is. Depending on the day, etc. you can take Amtrak all the way from Chicago to New York City for just $172.00 round trip! Riding on the rails is a very relaxing and enjoyable way to see the country as well. Since most of our readers have yet to take Amtrak on a cross journey travel, we will explain a few of the basics.

When you first get on the train your ticket will be collected and you are free to move about the train. If you are a coach passenger leave the tag above your seat as this reserves it for you. It is good to spend time in the lounge watching the changing scenery and enjoying conversation with fellow travelers.

Coach seats on the train are much roomier than airplane seats. Long distance coaches feature comfortable reclining seats with foot and leg rests (if you find yourself on a long distance train lacking leg rests, you are in a car for short haul passengers, and you might want to try to get seated in another car). Pillows are supplied for overnight travel, but you might want to bring a light blanket. A washcloth in a plastic bag and hand towel will come in handy. Many short distance trains offer extra charge Business class with wider seats and extra amenities.

Sleepers: See Amtrak First Class for descriptions and some photos of the various types of sleeping accommodations on Amtrak’s Travel Planner, available at any Amtrak ticket office. The service notes in Amtrak’s National Timetable booklet indicate which types of bedrooms are available on each train. Towels, washcloths, soap and bedding are provided. The first class amenities include morning coffee, tea and juice available in your car, morning newspaper and all meals in the dining car.

Amtrak Observation DeckThe Lounge car on long distance trains are open to all passengers is a great place to meet people and enjoy the scenery. “Superliner Sightseer” lounge cars feature ankle to ceiling picture windows for panoramic viewing.

The lounge car counter serves beverages, snacks, sandwiches and other items and is usually open from 6:30 AM to midnight. Most short distance trains also have food service counters, some of which are located in a “dinette” with table seating that serves as a lounge.

Amtrak Dining CarThe Dining Car on most long distance (overnight) trains is a sit-down restaurant serving good, reasonably priced meals prepared on board. Meals in the diner are part of the overall train travel experience. Large windows provide a good view of the every-changing scenery as you dine.

You will usually be seated with others as there are four seats per table. “Train” passengers generally tend to be more open and friendly than on an airplane perhaps because of the relaxed atmosphere on board the train. On long distance trains breakfast is served from 6:30 AM until about 10 PM.

On long distance trips, passengers are asked to make reservations for lunch and dinner. Reservations are taken in 15 minute increments which allows for a more pleasant dining experience, assures passengers of receiving quality service from the staff and prevents the dining cars from becoming overcrowded during peak meal times. After boarding, a staff member will go through the train asking passengers to select a preferred time for dining. Lunch reservations are taken from 11:30 AM to 3 PM and dinner reservations are taken from 5 PM to 9 PM.

Amtrak traveling can be quite an experience and of course you never know who you are going to meet. You can also take advantage of Amtrak’s scheduling and get off at a city and spend a few days, then continue your journey to your next destination later. For more information visit www.amtrak.com

Always remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married). Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at gaytravelers@aol.com and visit their website at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/

Don & ray - Gay TravelersAlways remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married). Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at gaytravelers@aol.com and visit their website at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/