Orvieto – Dolly Travels

Author: , February 24th, 2018

View from Orvieto - Dolly Travels

Good morning, everyone,

You can tell that I am excited about returning to Italy. I thought I might go back and read some of my blog posts where I wrote about places that I will revisit this coming June.

Orvieto - Dolly TravelsI have had Orvieto on my mind for some time. I love that hill town that is situated in Umbria, somewhere between Florence and Rome. I first visited that town in 2010, by myself. I enjoyed traveling from the train station up the hill to the old town, which sits like a giant mushroom on cliffs that overlook the newer city of Orvieto (down at ground level) and the Umbrian countryside. Now there is a funicular, a small train, that takes visitors up to the old city more quickly.

Duomo Orvieto - Dolly TravelsThe cathedral in Orvieto is one of the most strikingly beautiful churches in Italy. While it is not as ancient as some of the others, the artistic design is gorgeous. It is a Roman Catholic cathedral and was built in the 14th century A.D., in the Italian Gothic design.

One chapel at the rear of the cathedral is called the Brizio Chapel. An artist by the name of Luca Signorelli decorated the walls and the ceilings with paintings that were probably inspired by Dante’s Inferno, for they are actually downright scary. Beautiful but scary.

On a gentler note, as I walked through the town, along the city walls, I found the peaceful scene at the top of this post. This is some of the countryside, looking south, with the newer city of Orvieto in the center.

Old Church in Orvieto - Dolly TravelsNow here is an older church. This is the Chiesa di San Francesco, which sits right at the edge of a cliff at the western end of the old town. This church was dedicated in 1266 A.D. Inside it still looks very old and stark. It is kept in good repair, but I did not find it as inviting as the Duomo, the grand Cathedral.

While I was staying in Orvieto, I took a bus to another hill town, Bagnoreggio. The bus driver knew the roads, thank goodness. I had been told that the trip from Orvieto to Bagnoreggio would take an hour. This bus driver made it in 40 minutes, stopping once for a stop sign when he got to the town of Bagnoreggio. I wrote on my blog post at that time that I felt like I was on Disney’s Mr.Toad’s Wild Ride. But I arrived safe and sound, and welcomed the half hour walk that I would have across town, for my goal was to cross over a bridge to the ancient town of Civita.

When I got to the eastern edge of Bagnoreggio, I found that bridge. I don’t know what I expected, but when I looked at it, I thought, “I can’t do this.” However, I had come that far to get to that little town, and I knew I had to cross the bridge over that canyon to get there.

Civita Gateway - Dolly TravelsYes, the foot bridge does go almost straight up. My concern was walking over that canyon on that bridge, for I am afraid of heights. I walked in the center of that bridge, not daring to get too close to the edges until I was safely at the top.

Civita House - Dolly TravelsThe gateway to the city, a rock archway, was built by the Etruscans over 2,500 years ago, but was renovated, for lack of a better word, in the 7th century by the Romans.

Inside the city were the ancient stone buildings. Population is minimal, as the young people are gone, and the older citizens have by necessity, moved to Bagnoreggio, or other towns nearby.

Orvieto View - Dolly Travels

After I had toured the town, I made my way back across the bridge to the town of Bagnoreggio, where I had some lunch. In Civita, or rather, underneath the town, are still ancient caves. I did not explore them on my first trip there, but took a peek at some of them on subsequent visits.

Back in Orvieto, I relaxed for a bit before I went out to explore more of that city. This is the view from my window in my room.

Orvieto View - Dolly TravelsAnother view of Orvieto. Maybe you can get an idea of how high in elevation this town is, from this picture.

There is still more of Orvieto to explore again, and places to sit and relax, good restaurants, some who specialize in serving the wild game of the area: wild boar (cinghiale), wild birds and other meats that I did not particularly want to try, but the cinghiale salami is delicious.

Now I will leave you with this memory of mine of one of my favorite hill towns. I am looking forward to visiting Orvieto again, as well as Bagnoreggio and Civita. The bus ride promises to be just as exciting this year as it was in 2010, I am sure.

Ciao for now,
Dolly

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What Happened to the Gay Bars? – Traveling in Our Fabulous Gay World

Author: , February 24th, 2018

Black Crown

Years ago, Gays went to the bars to meet people, have fun and enjoy being with other Gay people. In today’s world with the acceptance of Gays, Gays can go to straight bars and feel just as comfortable as going to a Gay bar.

Other factors have stopped people from going out to the bars. Cover charges for no reason is one thing. For those who are not into drag queen shows, they have opted out of going to bars. Last year we went to a leather bar in St. Louis and they had drag queens performing. Several customers did an about face and walked out of the bar.

The GangwayA lot of bars have bachelorette parties where straight women come in to see the drag shows and makes the Gays feel very uncomfortable. It makes money for the bar owners but they are alienating the Gay clientele.

Rising cost of drinks and the “drinking and driving” idea has stopped a lot of people from going to bars. And then there is the Smartphone and the different websites to ‘hook up’ and that has had a tremendous effect on bar business.
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Rising costs of operating a business with rent, insurance, utilities, etc. are rising and forcing a lot of bars out of business. There are also a lot of owners of Gay bars who simply don’t understand how to operate a business. Long ago all you had to do was open a Gay bar and Gays would flock to the bar. This certainly is not the case anymore.

Since we travel from coast to coast a lot, we have walked in to hundreds of Gay bars or the past many years. We have seen bartenders rip off the owners and in today’s world the worst thing is to have a bartender on his smart phone and doesn’t even seem to care if you are there or not. There are a few Gay bars that still do it right and take care of their paying customers and we salute them.

Some of the bars that we really enjoyed in the past and now out of business are listed below:

The TropicsThe Tropics in Ft. Lauderdale which we have been going to for years closed their doors last year. It was always packed and one of the busiest bars in the city. It was sold and the new owners simply didn’t know how to operate a business properly so what was once a real cash cow, now is closed. In a resort city like Ft. Lauderdale one really has to be dumb to lose a bar such as this. Thankfully another smart businessman opened up the old Chardee’s which had been around for years until it closed about 13 years ago. Now 95% of all the patrons of the old Tropics will drink down there.

Burkhart'sBurkhart’s in Atlanta had been a very thriving Gay for many years and we have been there several times on our driving trip down to Ft. Lauderdale. Some owners just don’t get it ! Any business depends on it’s customer base and for some strange reason, the owner turned out to be VERY racially stupid. All of his staff left and his customers stopped going there as well. Yep, he had to close the doors last January. Atlanta had already had two other bars closed due to not enough business.

The Palace Bar in South Beach which has been an “institution” for years was getting ready to close do to high rent, however the owner was able to find another location just 2 blocks away so the Palace will continue.

The Gangway in San Francisco, the city’s oldest Gay bar there closed last month. We have been to San Francisco many times over the years and never even heard of it. We had always thought that the Twin Peaks bar in Castro was the oldest Gay bar in the city. Well, we guess that is now !

The Double Header in Seattle, which was thought to be the oldest Gay bar in the country closed a couple of years ago.

One of our very favorite Gay bars was the Black Crown in Denver, Colorado. It was a very upscale and handsome bar. Unfortunately the owners simply did not know how to operate the business and then sold it a guy who really didn’t know how to operate a business. Sadly it also closed after just a couple of years.

In life, things change and the intelligent people know that they have to change with it. Just always remember the good times.

Don and RayAlways 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/

Las Vegas Gay Travel Resources

Best Western Plus Inn of Sedona – Sedona Gay Friendly Hotel

Author: , February 23rd, 2018

Best Western Plus Inn of Sedona - Sedona Gay Friendly Hotel

The Best Western Inn Plus Inn of Sedona is a beautiful home base for your Sedona adventure.

The hotel’s award-winning, terraced design takes full advantage of its ridge top location. With broad promenade decks along both sides of the property, guests can enjoy 360 degree red rock views without leaving the hotel.

Take in the views on the sunrise side as you enjoy a hot breakfast each morning.

In the evening stroll along the west side and take in an amazing red rock sunset right from the deck.

One of the first class amenities included in your stay, the “About Town” shuttle takes all the guesswork out of getting around Sedona. Climb in and relax – our friendly and knowledgeable staff will get you where you want to go in Sedona.

Go ahead, enjoy a glass of wine with dinner. Your ride back to our Sedona hotel is only a phone call away. We are the only hotel in Sedona that offers this service, and at the Best Western PLUS Inn of Sedona, we’re proud to be the leader in red rock hospitality. Many guests park their cars when they arrive and don’t get back into them until after check-out. Now that’s a relaxing vacation!

The energy of Sedona’s famous vortices and the spectacular natural beauty of Sedona’s red rocks combine to make Sedona, Arizona one the “Top 100 Places to Visit in the World” according to Trip Advisor. But red rocks aren’t the only attraction!

From Jeep tours to swimming tigers, hiking to train rides and of course amazing local art and shopping, there’s something for everyone in Sedona and the Verde Valley. But more than anything, you just have to experience the magical feel of this wonderful place. To show respect for the surroundings, and to help protect their natural beauty, the Best Western PLUS Inn of Sedona is a certified “Green Hotel”.

Are you interested in the famous Vortices? Well, the Airport Mesa Vortex is just across the street.

Want to know more about the history of the area or maybe just find out about the local flora and fauna? The complimentary Concierge Service can assist you in making the most of your time in Sedona, your way.

Whether you’re looking for dinner reservations or want to book a tour in a Pink Jeep, they can help take the hassle out of planning your itinerary. For a customized experience call our Concierge Desk 7 days a week to get personalized service to help you create your dream Sedona vacation.

If you plan on traveling with your best friend, and they happen to have 4 legs, don’t worry, this hotel gives new meaning to the term “pet friendly”. With a welcome gift at check-in and a list of local pet friendly restaurants for your reference, your furry best friend will be sitting pretty.

Sedona’s famous red rocks are waiting! A visit to Sedona can be anything you want to make it. We hope you make it memorable.

See the Best Western Plus Inn of Sedona Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

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

Gay Philadelphia – The Hornet

Author: , February 23rd, 2018

Gay Philadelphia

Philadelphia, founded in 1682, played a significant role in shaping America. This city was where the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776. From there, Philadelphia became one of the leading industrial cities during the 19th century. Today, the City of Brotherly Love continues to thrive. There’s also quite a lot to explore in gay Philadelphia, as the city has one of the nation’s most vibrant LGBTQ neighborhoods known as the Gayborhood.

There are a total of 67 national landmarks in Philadelphia. You can spend a whole week just sightseeing! The Liberty Bell, the most iconic American symbol, is a great place to start your tour. Find it at the Liberty Bell Center (oddly enough) in Independence National Historical Park.

The Betsy Ross House, several blocks away from the Liberty Bell, is a tiny museum and a landmark where the seamstress and flagmaker Betsy Ross lived when she sewed the first American flag. Take a tour of the house and relive the days of how Ross lived.

The Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site is a must-visit place for fans of his work. This house, the only surviving residence of Poe, is in the Spring Garden neighborhood of Philadelphia. Check out different rooms while savoring Poe’s famous works like “The Raven” during the tour.

By Charles Thompson-Wang – Full Story at The Hornet

Philadelphia Gay Travel Resources

On a Gay Cruise – Gay Star News

Author: , February 23rd, 2018
Gay Cruise

The Netflix documentary, Dream Boat, follows a cast of gay men aboard their first ever gay cruise | Photo: Netflix

After the recent tragedy on a gay cruise this week, where 36-year-old Joel Taylor, star of Discovery’s Storm Chasers, died of an overdose onboard, I thought I would share my own gay cruise experience. Sadly, the fact someone died of an overdose onboard doesn’t totally surprise me.

I don’t mean to say any gay cruise encourages drug use; they all have strict policies which prohibit illegal drug use. But, while the organizers’ intentions are good, many decide to break the law and sneak drugs onto the ship to ‘enhance’ their onboard experience.

As soon as you board, you’ll find a huge array of activities to choose from. But, where a gay cruise differs from others is by the sheer amount of men on board, of course.

Being on a gay cruise makes you the majority, not minority

You are no longer a minority as a gay man – in fact, being gay is now mainstream. This freedom of self-expression is one of the many reasons that people choose to attend a gay cruise. However, with such a large array of gay men from around the world in attendance, stereotypes begin to emerge and the ‘freedom’ is taken too far.

By Auston Matta – Full Story at Gay Star News

Towne Motel – Camden Lesbian Owned Motel

Author: , February 22nd, 2018

Towne Motel

The Towne Motel is a small(ish) motel with a B&B feel, just two blocks and a five minute walk from downtown Camden. We’re the closest motel to the harbor, shops, and restaurants, and have the best rates in Camden. We’re known for our super clean rooms, affordable rates, friendly vibe, home-baked continental breakfasts, and perfect location. And the big blue sign that makes us super easy to find!

We have 17 immaculate rooms of various sizes and types, some of them newly remodeled, and one pet friendly studio with kitchenette. Rooms come with fridges and Keurig coffeemakers, free wifi, outdoor seating, PAYA bath products, and individually controllable heat / A/C. Open year round – except when we need a vacation!

The history of the Towne Motel property goes back to the mid 19th century, when part of our “owners’ quarters” was a saddlery, on a large plot of land owned by the Taber family. What is now a row of cars in our lot was possibly a row of horses then! About a hundred years later, in 1955, the motel was built, just 8 small rooms on one floor catering to the first wave of car vacationers, for whom “motor hotels” were built all around the country. We’re proud of Towne Motel’s part in 1950s Americana and American motel history!

The original “Town Motel” sign advertised TV, heat, – and hot water! In the 80’s it was replaced by the blue sign we still have today, and a second story was built. Each set of owners has left their marks on the property, but everyone stayed true to Towne Motel’s core commitments: super clean rooms, retro (= affordable!) rates, and a friendly, welcoming atmosphere.

Had a psychic predicted our current lives ten years ago, we would’ve called her insane. Or us. What possessed us to become innkeepers? Long story, but the short of it is that we had to escape our academic lives before they became life sentences. We wanted a change that didn’t involve job applications, additional degrees, long commutes, or starvation. Inspired by Maine vacations, talks with innkeepers, an aspiring innkeepers seminar with The B&BTeam, and the memory of Siobhan’s mother’s inn here in Camden (whose current owner is now a good friend), we embarked on a journey to find the perfect inn (conveniently, this journey involved a lot of trips – most of them to Maine!). Several failed attempts into it (we almost gave up for that year), we found – and snagged – the Towne Motel, a few days after it came up for sale!

And so, in September 2013, not long after friends and colleagues had started their academic year we packed our 10,000 bags and three protesting cats (our fourth adopted us later) and drove up from New Jersey to begin this next big chapter: learning to be innkeepers. It didn’t require a degree, but it’s definitely been an education: challenging, insane, fun, challenging, and enlightening! Just “the way life should be,” as the Maine slogan goes…

See the Towne Motel Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

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

Fishing for Money in Sri Lanka – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , February 22nd, 2018

Fishing for Money in Sri Lanka - Keep Calm and Wander

When traveling in Sri Lanka, one of the scenes that would forever be etched in your memory is the fishermen on stilts. They can be found along the coast or wherever there’s water. However, the practice of stilt fishing may look like a time-honoured custom but it’s actually not. It started around World War II – more or less 80 years ago.

What is stilt fishing? It’s a way of fishing where fishermen are sitting on a pole while holding a dangling fishing rod onto the ocean. These stilts are usually planted far from the shore but the ones I saw where just right on the shore. Why? Read on…

I found them along the southern coast, between the Galle and Weligama. They’re usually in groups – so you can’t miss them. Keep your eye on the coastal side. Since the southern part of the country is known for its beaches, tourists do flock in the area. Be warned: these fishermen on stilts are there for the money. Yes, they’re fake! Once you stop and take a photo of these fishermen, a fellow is gonna follow and collect “donation.” If you refuse to pay, they’ll ask you to delete the photos.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Sri Lanka Gay Travel Resources

Ten Hilights of Gay London – The Nomadic Boys

Author: , February 22nd, 2018

Gay London - The Nomadic Boys

Famous true words spoken by the English 18th century poet, Samuel Johnson. We truly believe this, especially from a LGBTQ perspective. London has one of the best gay scenes in the world, which we love. It’s a very progressive city where we always feel comfortable and completely accepted.

If it just wasn’t for the bad weather…

Gay London of course is Stefan’s home city where he was born and raised. This is also where we met back in February 2009, so it will always have a special place for us. These are our 10 favourite sightseeing highlights for first time gay travellers to London based on our many years experience exploring this awesome city.

Watch a musical like Dreamgirls

New York has Broadway, London has the West End. This area around Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus and Covent Garden is home to some of the best theatres in the world. Here you’ll find the best musicals at any time of the year, which is one of the reasons why London is considered the theatre capital of the world.

We sang through Mamma Mia, cried in awe during the Lion King, laughed at Kinky Boots, and more recently, were completely blown away by Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre. This show, loosely based on the story of the Supremes is just incredible. The singers’ voices made our hairs stand on end. And the performance of “And I Am Telling you” brought tears to our eyes. It gets a standing ovation every time without fail!

We always use TodayTix when searching for last minute deals. We love it because they have the best prices and cover all the top musicals playing in London. You can also download it as an app, which make researching and booking so much easier and quicker.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at The Nomadic Boys

Gay London Travel Resources

The House of Romeo – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , February 21st, 2018

House of Romeo - Keep Calm and Wander

In Verona, after I visited Casa de Giuletta (Juliet’s House), I wasted no time but walked to the house of Romeo. It’s just 3 minutes walk to and from each other. However, it took me 15 minutes to finally figure it out because the street was so quiet. I expected a bit of a crowd but I saw no one. I walked back and forth the narrow street until I asked a fashionable, middle-aged Italian guy who was talking on his phone.

Me: Scusami
The Italian: Yes?
Me: Casa di Romeo?
The Italian: You’re in front of Romeo’s house.
Me: Hmmmm? This? (Pointing at the huge, arched black door)
The Italian: Si! Yes!
Me: Aw, grazie. (Embarrassed)
The Italian: Prego. Parli Italiano?
Me: No.
The Italian: You’re Italian is good.
Me: Those are the only words I know.
The Italian: (Smiling) Ok, ciao. Enjoy Verona.
Me: Thanks again.

I was disappointed when I saw it. This is the house? Really? I have so many questions. But, then, I reminded myself that Romeo is just a fictional character of one of Shakespeare’s plays. So, my brain shut up!

Thai Island Bliss – Globetrotter Girls

Author: , February 21st, 2018

Thai Island Bliss - Globetrotter Girls

Even though I’ve been to Thailand three times, I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of the Land Of Smiles, or its many islands. I’ve been to Koh Chang in the Gulf of Thailand (did you know that there’s another Koh Chang in the Andaman Sea?), I’ve been to Koh Tao and Koh Phangan, to the Phi Phi Islands and Koh Poda, and to Koh Lanta. My Thai island wish list is long though: I’ve yet to visit Koh Lipe (highest on my list), Koh Mook and Koh Kood, Koh Samet and Koh Mak.

So when I spontaneously decided to add on a quick island getaway to Thailand to my Singapore trip a couple of months ago, I knew I had to check out a new island instead of returning to old favorites (sorry Koh Tao!). When I consulted the map to see which island would make the most sense, I zeroed in on not one, but two islands: the Yao Islands. And they happened to be two islands that have been on my Thailand wish list for years – score!

The Koh Yao island group is made up of 44 islands in total, but only the two largest ones, Koh Yao Noi (Little Long Island) and Koh Yao Yai (Big Long Island), are inhabited. The smaller islands can be visited but don’t have hotels or resorts. Both islands are surrounded by a number of uninhabited scenic limestone karst rocks, a typical feature of the Andaman Sea.

By Dani – Full Story at Globetrotter Girls

Thailand Gay Travel Resources