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

5 Interesting Facts about the Doge’s Palace in Venice – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , September 8th, 2018

Doge's Palace - Keep Calm and Wander

If anything that strikes our minds after hearing the name “Italy”, it is definitely Venice – a city where everything is shrouded in romance and intrigue. Doge’s Palace, in particular, is one of those places.

Here are some interesting facts about it.

1. It exhibits Gothic Architecture

The architectural exuberance of the palace is the first thing that meets the eyes of an onlooker. The building is purely gothic; however, there is a huge influence of the Venetian art; thus, making it Venetian Gothic style.

2. The “White House” in its heyday

This palace was the central government building at its peak time. “Doge of Venice” or the ruler used to live here with his family for his lifetime.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Venice Gay Travel Resources

Petrified Forest National Park – Free Wheel Drive

Author: , August 25th, 2018

Petrified Forest National Park - Free Wheel Drive

After a brief stop in Pheonix where we were able to meet up with our friend, Kirsten, and celebrate St. Patricks day we were off to the lesser known Petrified Forest National Park. The drive to get there was lovely. Through the mountains of the Tonto National Forest, and the high plains of Arizona.

Tucked in the Eastern side of Arizona, between the Navajo and Apache reservations, is the “smallish” park, Petrified Forest NP. At an elevation of 5,000 feet, it is a dramatically different landscape compared to the tall cactus filled Southern portion of Arizona. The landscape here is short sage bushes, prairie grasses, and colorful badland like hill formations.

The two days we visited the weather was chilly and windy, but still, this park is beautiful, colorful, and we learned a ton about geology and what a petrified forest is. Also, we found the park very easy to explore. With two entrances on opposite sides of the park and a 26mile long road connecting the two sides, it is a very easy park to navigate.

Along the drive are several established hiking trails and scenic viewpoints to break up the drive. One to two days is all you really need to see everything. We saw most of everything in less than two days.

By Camrin LaFond – Full Story at Free Wheel Drive

Arizona Gay Travel Resources

More About Florence – Dolly Travels

Author: , August 23rd, 2018

Florence - Dolly Travels

Buona sera,

Now I can settle down. Mexico won their first World Cup game, defeating Germany, so we are more relaxed. The kids went to a bar to watch the game. I had to do some more walking through my favorite Italian city. I finally stopped and watched the last two minutes of the game, before coming back to the apartment.

Saturday morning, we decided to follow Rick Steves’ audiotour of the Renaissance Walk. We fought our way through the crowds around the Duomo, continued down via Calzaiuoli to Piazza Signoria, then across the Ponte Vecchio.

We stopped for a snack and cold drinks after the walk…the most expensive snack we have had. But I needed a break from the crowds.

On our walk back to the city, we stayed on the Oltrano side of the river, until we came to the next bridge, Ponte Grazie.

Later in the afternoon, the kids made a visit to Bargello galleria. There is so much to see in Florence. Danny and Heather had their list of places to see. They have more stamina than I do, so I simply walked all around my favorite city, watching the children at play, following some of the streets I know so well.

This morning, after breakfast, we walked up to Piazzale Michelangelo. It is quite a hike, but we made it. The view from up there is incredible; it made the walk worthwhile.

We walked down the hill, following the paths, and soon we were back in the city proper. We stopped for some lunch, then it was time to go home and take our afternoon nap. These one-hour naps are becoming quite the habit, but so necessary, especially after being out in the humid heat of the day.

Now we are all unwinding at home, making our plans for tomorrow, our last day in Florence.

Until next time,
Arrivederci,

Ciao for now,
Dolly

From Orvieto to Florence – Dolly Travels

Author: , August 15th, 2018

Orvietto - Dolly Travels

Buona sera, tutti,

I realize that I haven’t told you about Orvieto yet. When we left Rome, we went to the hill town of Orvieto, in Umbria. This ancient town sits like a mushroom above the Umbrian valley. It is a lovely old city, with its stone walls and ancient building. The city itself dates back to 900 B.C. This turned out to be not the best trip I have ever made to Orvieto: no one reason, but several things happened that no one had control over. First, the funicular that is supposed to take passengers from the train station up to the old town, was broken. We had to go on a bus. Then the shuttle bus from the little station was not running (so we were told), so we walked about a mile, pulling our luggage behind us. By the time we got to our hotel, we were tired and starving.

However, pizza was not far away. After a good late lunch, I had to take a nap, while Danny and Heather went exploring. Dinner that night consisted of gelato.

The following day our activity was thwarted, also, for we had planned to take a bus to the city of Bagnoreggio and walk to another ancient city, Civita. This could not happen, for the rains and thunderstorms came. I did not want to walk across that footbridge from Bagnoreggio to Civita in a thunderstorm. The walk is scary enough to me in good weather. Heather had her heart set on doing a hike through and around the mountain that Orvieto sits upon. Off they went; several hours later, after walking 3 miles and climbing or descending 43 sets of stairs, they emerged back into town, soaking wet.

I stayed in town, walked up and down a few of the streets, found a place for cappuccino and spent the morning writing. After that, I visited this beautiful cathedral. The Gothic facade is spectacular.

We ended our evening with dinner at Trattoria da Carlo, with a typical regional menu. Carlo not only was our chef, but our waiter as well, along with his Mama and one other waiter. The pasta was homemade with choices of different sauces; simple meat dishes but very tasty. After dinner, we took another quiet stroll, then off to bed for us, to be ready for our train ride into Florence on Thursday morning.

Once again, all three of us were hungry when we arrived in Florence, so first item on our agenda was lunch. We went across the street to one of my favorite places, the L’OK Cucina e Ristorante…eight years ago, when I first started hanging out there, it was the OK Bar. Now Christina owns the place, has enlarged it and turned it into a first class dining establishment.

I was going through cooking withdrawal, so after lunch, we went to the Conad market and bought food to cook for dinner. I think we all enjoyed our simple home-cooked meal, then relaxed while watching the World Cup game on television in our own living room.

Later, we took an evening stroll. The weather was a bit breezy, but sweater weather.

Today, we started by visiting the Galleria Accademia, where the kids got a first look at David. He stands on a pedestal that is about 6 feet tall, and the man himself is 17 feet tall. Massive and impressive, of course.

I love it that so many of the merchants remember me. It makes me feel like a really am a Fiorentina.

After our lunch, at home, of fresh bread, salami, cheese and fruit, we are all ready for our siesta. We will venture out again this evening, for the “passiagetta”, or our version of that walk, while we find more good places in Florence. The kids are enjoying Florence so much that we may not take more than one side trip. There is just too much to see and savor in this Renaissance city, my true second home.

Until next time,
Arrivederci,

Ciao for now,
Dolly

By Dolly – Full Story at Dolly Travels

Orvieto Gay Travel Resources

Florence Gay Travel Resources

Mauger Estate B&B – Albuquerque Lesbian Bed & Breakfast

Author: , August 10th, 2018

Mauger Estate B&B - Albuquerque Lesbian Bed & Breakfast

Native to Albuquerque Leigh and Stephanie are the proud new owners of the Mauger Estate Bed and Breakfast. The Mauger (pronounced Major) is a wonderfully intimate, restored Queen Anne residence, where high ceilings and rich woodwork offer an old-fashioned, one of a kind experience.

The Mauger Estate B&B is Albuquerque’s most centrally located bed & breakfast. Located less that half a mile off historical Route 66, the Mauger Estate B&B is in the heart of thedowntown business district, blocks from the Convention Center, and one mile from Historic Old Town. Our homemade breakfasts, outstanding customer service, knowledgeable staff,and our extremely high standards of cleanliness makes for a memorable stay with us.

The beds are comfy with high quality linens and fluffy pillows. Feel at home in our home. This historic property features private bathrooms, daily breakfast, evening refreshments, free WiFi, mini fridge and coffee pot, and free parking. We love our K-9 family and we know you love yours, we have one room available on the property with a private fenced court yard and doggie door. Please confirm availability before booking.

See the Mauger Estate B&B Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Albuquerque Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

St. Kitts Volcano Crater Hike – Lesbian Travel

Author: , August 10th, 2018

St. Kitts Volcano - Mt. Liamuiga - pixabay

Say St. Kitts and images of white sandy beaches, swaying palms and turquoise blue waters come to mind. Ready to go off-beach and really see what the island is all about? Let me introduce you to Mt. Liamuiga – a 3000 ft volcano. She hasn’t breathed fire for almost 2000 years, but a hike to the rim proves she’s still as mighty as ever.

After a winding drive through St. Kitts, we started our 2-3 hour trek upwards. The first hour passed easily beneath banyan trees and more vines than Tarzan could ever hope to swing. Our guide, who hikes the volcano 3-4 times a week, pointed out which plants can save a life and which ones can end one.

He told us about the mongoose, brought over by the English to control the snake population. What the Brits didn’t know is that mongoose also have a taste for tropical bird eggs, which explained the eerie quiet as we hiked. No parrots or tropical birds on the island, but plenty of mongoose.

As we neared the rim, the slope pitched dramatically and the chit chat changed to determined concentration. At points it felt as if we were climbing straight up, grasping at roots and trunks to keep us from falling backward.

By Julia Rosien – Full Story at Go Girlfriend

Lesbian Santorini – Go Girlfriend

Author: , August 3rd, 2018

Santorini

Santorini’s reputation began 36 centuries ago with the eruption and implosion of an ancient volcano, creating a mega-tsunami massive enough to end the Minoan empire 120 km (75 miles) away. The Caldera (remember the myth of Atlantis?), ringed with smaller remnant islands boasts 1,000 ft. cliffs upon which perch the whitewashed main capital of Thira.

Towering seaside cliffs and charming whitewashed villages along the caldera coast make Santorini a favorite of cruise ships and tourists with unique cliffside restaurants, shops, hotels and churches. But arriving by cruise ship presents the problem of getting up the 1,000 ft. vertical cliff face. Your choices are to walk the almost 600 steps along the meandering pathway, ride a donkey up this same path or board a cable car for the quickest, most direct route to the top. How energetic do you feel?

Depending on your stay in Santorini, you’ll need to prioritize what you want to see.

1 day or part day (Cruise ship tour) – Set your sites on Santorini’s main city, Thira (sometimes referred to as Fira). The cruise ships dock here so it’s an easy choice. This is the island’s gem with the main shops, restaurants and caldera views all walkable from your ship – you must have lunch on the cliffs. Also consider booking a tour with Viator or Expedia to see some other locations close by like Nea Kameni’s volcanic crater and sulphur hot springs [our GG Recommendation], or a catamaran sailing cruise sightseeing the caldera.

By Stacy Rosien – Full Story at Go Girlfriend

Greece Gay Travel Resources

 

Sorrento and Amalfi Coast – Dolly Travels

Author: , August 2nd, 2018

Sorento and the Amalfi Coast - Dolly Travels

Buongiorno, tutti,

The sirens of the Sorento and the Amalfi Coast were calling us. We left Rome on Sunday morning and traveled to Napoli by train. At the train station, we got a taxi to take us to the port, where we would board a ferry for a short ride across the Bay of Napoli to Sorrento. The taxi ride itself was an adventure. I felt like I was on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride in Disneyland. Napoli, to me, is so crowded and congested, I never want to spend any time there. The taxi driver made certain that we got to the port in one piece, but I had my doubts for awhile. He was a genial soul. He did not speak English, but I was too terrified to speak, anyway.

The boat ride across the bay was such a pleasant way to get to Sorrento. I have always, in the past, taken the small train, the Circumvesuviana, which is usually very crowded and takes twice as long to get to Sorrento. I was happy for this new experience.

Once we arrived in Sorrento, and checked into our hotel, we set off on a short walking tour of the town. The walk was not very long, as we were hungry. We went to Ristorante Aurora, to have pizza, for they make the best pizza in Sorrento. The restaurant sits right on the main piazza, Piazza Tasso. From our outdoor table, we could watch the people walking by, as well as the activity of the piazza.

Sorrento sits on top of huge limestone cliffs. The canyons, the small streets, the hills, as well as the parks and quiet places, are so stunning, making Sorrento a superb walking town.

On Monday, we went on a driving tour of the Amalfi Coast. Carolina Monetti, daughter of our usual driver, Raffaele, picked us up at 8:30 and away we went.

Carolina drove us over the mountain to the Amalfi Coast side of the Mediterranean. She pointed out different points of interest to us, and stopped frequently for us to take pictures and get better views of the sea.

We stopped in one turnout on the road, where a man with a small truck had set up a little fruit stand. Lemons are everywhere. We were told that the trees down here produce three crops a year. Most of the lemon trees are in groves that are fenced and covered with mesh screens, as the torrential rains of winter, plus the birds and other calamities of nature, would destroy the fragile lemon blossoms.

Finally, though, we had to return to Sorrento. We finished our day by enjoying a fabulous dinner at my favorite restaurant in all of Italy, Ristorante Delfino, situated down at the Marina Grande. We celebrated Danny’s birthday in style. This was a perfect finish to a perfect day.

Until we meet again, Arrivederci. There are certainly more adventures in our future, but Danny’s birthday this year has to go down in history as one of the best days ever.

Ciao for now,
Dolly