Visit Cuba?

Author: , July 14th, 2015

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By Rob Saldarini for Diversity Rules Magazine.

Rob is a college professor and inclusion training facilitator. Beyond academic publications and articles, Saldarini’s fiction work includes the novel, For the Least of My Brothers, “Leader of the Pack” within the Queer Wolf anthology, and “The Truth That We’ll Miss” published in Mob Men on the Make.

As with iPhone versions, many Americans are ‘chomping at the bit’ to be the first in line to visit Cuba. And like iPhones, those who get the devices first, deal with initial roll-out problems as an intrinsic cost of their bragging rights. Relative to rights, the LGBT community remains marginalized in Cuba due to its male machismo culture writing the law. Through the 1960s and ‘70s homosexuality was met with brutal treatment and a possibility of being sent to the labor camps. In 2007, Mariela Castro (daughter of President Raul Castro) began pressing for civil rights. Tensions eased over the last eight-years with a landmark move of Cuba voting in favor of UN resolutions supporting gay rights. Nevertheless, one cannot say that there is an embracing and accepting climate, specifically, outside of the urban areas.

An American traveler cannot simply book a flight to Cuba. The U.S. Government has strict regulations regarding allowable travel between the two nations. As requirements are under revision, check the Department of State’s Website concerning travel law and visas. Still, Cuba is not really a summer destination. In Cuba, July and August offer incredible heat and generally poor weather. The Island is in the hurricane track and can experience heavy downpours during this rainy season. Therefore, August through October has the highest potential of giving you nothing but a ‘bar tan’ for your money.

Speaking of money, although there are new regulations that allow Americans to pay by credit cards, the banking industry has not yet implemented financial relationships with Cuba. Also, there are no American bank branches on the Island, there are few ATMs, and many businesses do not have the facilities to process credit card transactions. So, American currency and credit cards become problematic during your stay. Therefore, I recommend that you convert dollars to Euros or Pounds before you travel. Unfortunately, using this strategy means double-conversion fees may apply. Yet, at the moment, the 10% penalty fee for converting U.S. dollars to Cuban currency is still in effect. The Cuban convertible peso (CUC) is a closed currency, i.e., can only be purchased within the Country. You may do conversions at the airport’s Cadeca, at a bank, or wait until you arrive at your hotel. A bank offers the best rate-of-return; however, all establishments examine the currency meticulously accepting only clean, crisp and unwritten upon notes. Also, an original passport is necessary when exchanging money. Cuba has a second currency for its people that is known as the Cuban Peso (CUP); one that is not convertible and most tourists do not have access to CUPs. This currency is used by Cubans to pay for items such as their rations or utilities. U.S. law allows you to return with up to $400 in goods that includes a $100 maximum on Cuban cigars; but, don’t expect many cigars with that cap on spending.

An average vacation in Cuba should cost you about $100 per day. Remember, that Cuba is an image of its glory-days and hot Havana nights. With the fall of the USSR, Soviet subsidies of $4 to $5 billion ended. Today, this communist state offers a lot of poverty and there are few five-star hotels or formal restaurants. Your best bet is to stay in a B&B. The B&Bs only take cash payments and are difficult to book because our international friends have been staying at these places for years. There are a few gay owned B&Bs on the Island, e.g., La Casa de Carlos & Julio (East Street 609, Havana) and La Villa Sonada (Calle Santa Teresa, Esquina). Concerning dining, one of the superior restaurants, Finca Agroecologica El Paraiso (Vinales), which is a wonderful place to dine after a day exploring the Valle de Vinales, has few chairs that match and serves on whatever plate the chef can find.

If history and old-world atmosphere is your preference, you can find both in Cuba. Many fear that once America gains foothold, the Island may look like Miami’s twin with mega hotels and chain restaurants. I suggest you place Cuba three-to-five years out on an April travel itinerary; let the travel kinks get worked out and go before the State becomes a little Miami. Should you desire to vacation in Cuba sooner, I recommend you consider a licensed cruise line package.

If you have any comments, suggestions or recommendations, please feel free to email me at

Healthy Holiday Travel

Author: , November 18th, 2014

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By Robert Saldarini for Diversity Rules Magazine
As it appears in the November Issue

Okay, yes, we are all tired of the media hyping Ebola. Networks haven’t had such a field day since bedbugs. Yet, let’s talk about traveling health-safe during the holiday season; especially, since there are many immediate illness threats that can easily be avoided. Today, seasonal travel is much more than going ‘over the river and through the woods.’ AAA predicts that about 20 million people travel during the year-end holidays. So with all the time, money and resources spent, let’s enjoy our friends, events and family without needing to lie down after arrival.

Planes, trains, subways and buses as well as their respective airports, stations, and terminals are breeding grounds for germ and virus transmission. The media focuses on air travel because of recycled air and that you can’t easily move about or get off the jet. However, stuck on a NYC subway train hanging on the strap keeps you pretty boxed-in and transmission can occur quickly. So as an athlete puts on his or her gear to protect against the opposition, ready yourself to guard your health.

Suit-up with your under-armor. Do not fall for marketing hype. Your $6 is better donated to the HRC then spending it on products like Airborne. Stay close to the facts, e.g., Vitamin C helps increase your immune system and most nutritionists recommend taking a continuous supplement when a person does not eat vitamin C rich foods. The result you can expect is a faster and less symptomatic cold because C does not prevent colds. Zinc-based remedies such as Cold-eeze have the medical jury still sequestered pending a verdict. Yet, like vitamin C, a five-month zinc supplement may help reduce symptoms by boosting your immune system. Beware of herbs such as Echinacea because there is no oversight by the FDA. WebMD warns that some products have been found to contain lead and even arsenic. Regarding sanitary manufacturing, check to make sure any product you are considering is made in the USA. Importantly, speak with a trained nutritionist or your doctor before taking any supplement.

Get a flu shot. Many municipalities give flu shots to their residents cost-free. And remember, the shot itself releases only dead virus and your body needs about five or six weeks to be at a level to fight off live contamination. So, put the flu-shot on your to-do list as soon as possible. Nevertheless, the best defense is a healthy immune system, one that is gained by proper sleep and eating well.

In the cold weather, change the practice of taking off your gloves when you walk into a facility to removing them when you settle into your seat. Although, not impermeable, light-weight gloves, such as leather driving gloves, provide a second skin. Speaking of skin, the CDC equates washing your hands to the ‘do it yourself vaccine.’ Appallingly, research studies show nearly 50% of people in urban areas do not wash their hands after using a restroom. Nonetheless, throughout travel, washing your hands is easier said than done. While traveling, using an antibacterial wipe to clean you and surrounding touch-points (you don’t know if someone changed a baby on that tray-table) is a good defense. Select the best product not the cheapest. Some wipes use bleach or alcohol that strips natural oils from your skin where overuse overtime can make your hands look old. Also, inexpensive wipes may contain triclosan; which, according to the Mayo Clinic, can have serious side-effects.

During the holidays, people push themselves to events even when they are not feeling well; therefore, wash off the handshakes by excusing yourself after greetings and before meals. Your waistline will thank you for not adding calories from shared appetizers such as nachos and potato-chips and dip; especially, rumor has it that Uncle Albert is a double-dipper. And only let your significant other taste things from your personal plate.

Late November is the signature of autumn’s goodbye. Enjoy your time with special people without issues or tissues! Have a great thanksgiving holiday wherever your travel and purpose take you.

Place Your Bets

Author: , August 13th, 2014

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Written by Robert Saldarini for Diversity Rules Magazine

A summer night at a casino can be great fun. Although no Las Vegas, New York State supports Tribal American casinos and rancinos. Full service casinos can be found in Cayuga, Franklin, Cattaraugus, Oneida and Cattaraugus counties. Rancinos are race tracks that embrace machine gambling, meaning, there are no table games. A day-at-the-races with a little gambling makes for a great day in Erie, Genesee or Tioga counties. Yet, if distance accommodates, a short summer trip to Niagara Falls, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, or Atlantic City, New Jersey, are the jewels of the broader region; whereby, a gambling visit easily dovetails to the LGBT lifestyle.


A manageable run from Buffalo gets you to the Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel (310 Forth Street), located in Niagara Falls, which is the largest hotel in New York beyond Manhattan. The Casino has recently been renovated. On property, you can take advantage of some decent entertainment, for example, on August 8, jet back to the ‘70s with Steely Dan. Consider dropping your passport in your bag so you can cross over into Canada as a night in Ontario may prove to be better suited to your tastes.

Almost a direct shot from Rockland County, driving Route 287 South to 78 West cuts you through Jersey to Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Travel time is about 1½ hours. The Sands provides a full range of both machine and table games, outlet mall shopping (no tax on clothing or shoes) as well as some nice restaurants. I recommend lunch at Emeril’s Italian Table where the Crispy Point Judith Calamari is outstanding. When heading back to the City or the Hudson Valley, meander through the farmlands to pick up Route 202 and spend an evening in New Hope.

If you need the beach, set your sights on Atlantic City (AC), New Jersey. As many of you know, this City has been hit hard with autumn casino closing announcements as it tries to right-size itself in the new gaming geography. However, the competition for willing gamblers provides a variety of discounts and comps like never before. In July, AC’s openly gay mayor, Don Guardian, posted the gay-pride flag at Boardwalk and Park Place dedicating the area as the City’s official gay-friendly beach. (I find it interesting that the mayor gave the LGBT community the best property on the monopoly board.) The casinos slated for closure are the Revel, Showboat and Trump. Revel was the last bad boy to join the club and appears to be near bankruptcy. Recent prices on trivago show rates at the major casinos mid-week at less than $100 a night; yet, with a little persistence you can get a price near this amount on a Friday night.

Regardless where you go, gamble with a clear head and a target spending amount. Bring the stash with you, ATM fees in a casino can go as high as $15 per transaction. The best psychological approach is to set aside a gambling wallet for the evening that contains the exact amount you are willing to lose. Consider the money as admission fee for entertainment and not a vehicle to make money. For example, if you go to a concert and the ticket price is $200 you leave having a good time for the amount spent, you don’t expect to take Katy Perry home in the process. Bring smaller denominations and avoid cashing a $100 bill since the temptation to continue to play hard is heightened by the stack of chips in front of you. Even though many casinos serve free drinks, do not drink and gamble because intoxication drops inhibitions and prods us to take bigger risks beckoning ‘WTF.’ Take breaks from the gambling by grabbing something to eat or do a little shopping. If you are staying at a casino hotel, go to the pool for a while, rest up in your room, or sit in the sauna. And above all, if you are winning, remember what goes up comes down. Casinos always win when a player gets greedy. My personal rule – gambling, stops when my winnings pay for the experience. Gamble well and have a great time.

Spring Ahead!

Author: , February 27th, 2014

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By Robert Saldarini for Diversity Rules Magazine
Appears in March 2014 Issue

Okay, enough snow, enough ice, and enough cold: New York, we are over it! So let’s have warm thoughts and start designing a perfect summer vacation. March is a great time to plan a trip. Most of us have already picked vacation dates at work; so, let’s find a place to go.

Of course, the first step is a balance of desire and budget. Okay, are you traveling alone or with someone else? Many people love to travel on their own. Actually, vacation planning doesn’t go much beyond place and transportation because the lone-traveler is a free-agent during the time away. Nonetheless, when traveling alone there are no splitting costs. If you’re a person who loves to share the travel experience with a friend or companion, you can save some money, but dialog expectations and goals before making any final arrangements. Be careful of ‘gay travel sites’ as my experience identifies great itineraries accompanied by premium pricing. I recommend that you explore gay travel sites, such as Gay Travel (, for planning purposes, yet, investigate value before making any commitments.

Finding a great deal never means blind faith in discount travel Websites like Travelocity or Orbitz. Online commercial Websites may actually lead to higher prices and travel-grief when something goes wrong during the journey. Also, be careful of reviews because many are posted by people who have exceptionally good or bad experiences. I suggest you familiarize yourself with Hipmunk ( Hipmunk is a little known travel service that receives praise from Time, Forbes and CNN. Also, take some time to investigate Trivago (; a hotel site that searches for the best prices offered by other hotel discount Websites, that is, Trivago acts like a mini-discount hotel search engine.

When you find a flight you like at a travel site, immediately launch a new browser session and go to the official airline Website. Key the roundtrip flight information that you found into the system. You may be surprised to discover that the ticket is actually cheaper by buying it directly from the airline. Relative to hotel ‘finds,’ call the hotel directly and speak with a reservation specialist and tell him or her that you are viewing an advertised rate of $XYZ. Many hotels match the rate. A key point is to try to pull that third-party vendor out of the equation. Problems during travel can be met with airlines or hotels instructing you to resolve your issues directly with the organization that made the reservation. There is nothing more frustrating than to find out a flight has been cancelled or a room is unavailable, whereby, you are put in a position to deal with this event on your cell phone with some Web-based customer service assistant.

Vacations by definition should be relaxing, careful planning can deliver a quality experience at a fantastic price. Think summer… think fun!
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It’s Mardi Gras!

Author: , February 27th, 2014

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By Robert Saldarini for Diversity Rules Magazine
Appeared in February 2014 Issue

Mardi Gras begins on February 28, and continues through Fat Tuesday, March 4. This party is fierce where beads can gain you a lift of a woman’s blouse or the drawdown of a guy’s underwear. Gay Mardi Gras dates back to the ‘50s. In 1958, the krewe (organization that puts a party together) of Yuga threw a ball to parody the aristocrats’ grand galas. A poorly made decision of hosting the Ball at a private children’s school resulted in a raid where the participants ended up in jail. Today, the season hosts many LGBT activities and none are held at a school.

The best place to see Mardi Gras is from a balcony and these venues book months or years in advance. Be aware that the street level can yield almost impassible crowds that may quickly take the glamor out of this occasion. So, if crowds deter you from The Big Easy during these dates, enjoy one of the many festivities held during the month.

The Krewe of Amon Ra Mardi Gras Ball XLIV is the first gay Mardi Gras event on February 8, at 8PM, within the Frederick J. Sigur Civic Center. You may view this Egypt-themed spectacular from the balcony for $10; yet, long dress or tuxedo is required for admission. Tickets should be purchased in advance, a dinner and dancing ‘after party’ follows the tableau.

The excitement of Fat Tuesday begins noon at OZ (800 Bourbon and Saint Ann) with the 50th Annual Bourbon Street Awards. Following the Awards make sure you stroll to Ambush Headquarters (828 Bourbon Street) where 2014 Gay Mardi Gras Queen, Barbara Ella, leads the official Gay Mardi Gras Bead Toss. These Ambush sponsored bead tosses rain tens-of-thousands of brightly colored necklaces.

New Orleans has an abundant gay life style and some of the most relaxed drinking laws in the U.S. For example, you may take your drinks out of the bar and onto the street as long as they are in cursing crystal (plastic cups). The police are exceptionally diligent about keeping glass and cans out of the hands of the pedestrians, so don’t try to walk with a beer bottle. I suggest the Gay Bars page of New Orleans Online ( to help find your preferred French Quarter bar style and atmosphere.

The food in New Orleans is fantastic. I would trade my dining experiences at Antoine’s (Rue Saint Louis), Brennan’s (currently closed but gave us Banana Foster), and Stella (Chartres Street) for one of the small informal restaurants in the Quarter. And, I never leave the City without a cup of coffee and beignets from Café Du Monde (Decatur Street). This place is open 24-hours. The Café is a fantastic ‘after the bar’ stop before going back to the hotel.

There are hundreds of places to stay in NOLA ranging from simplistic to luxurious accommodations. Yet, during Mardi Gras, the lack of a reservation usually means no bed. Staying away from the French Quarter may of course offer more opportunities and lower prices. Nonetheless, a few phone calls can find some interesting independent places that can be overlooked by the party-crowd. I propose a little Internet searching before you assume that traveling to New Orleans at this time is out of the question. Small places like Nine O Five Royal Hotel (Royal Street) may prove to be a find.

Even if you can’t find the time or resources to make it down to NOLA this February, Mardi Gras 2015 happens on February 17. And of course, there is Southern Decadence that starts on August 27.

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Traveling to Stowe, VT

Author: , February 27th, 2014

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By Robert Saldarini for Diversity Rules Magazine
Appeared in January 2014 Issue

Even those with a passion for travel may pause to plan a regional trip in winter. The northeast winters can offer hideous airport and highway conditions. A weekend may be spent sleeping on a dirty carpet at LaGuardia or stuck for hours burning gas on the Thruway. Still, before you pull a movie from your DVD collection as a weekend experience, why not get away by train? With all due respect to the absolutely wonderful resorts in New York State, think about taking a trip to Vermont.

If a winter outdoor activity is a short-list item, within the beauty of Stowe, activities ranging from snowboarding to dog-sledding makes a day spectacular. Nonetheless, if you are more ‘cozy by the fire’ by day, Stowe, VT generates many exciting gatherings to keep you well entertained at night.

Consider the Amtrak train ride to Stowe as a part of your getaway by focusing on the journey. The train allows you to sit back, walk around, and socialize with your travel companions. Seats are comfortable, you are not strapped in, you may use the restroom at any time, there is no boarding by rows, and most inviting, no one is pawing through your stuff. Some routes even provide free WiFi if unwiring is not an appealing option; although, I find Amtrak’s wireless to be sketchy at best even on the Acela.

There are two train stations that service the Stowe area, i.e., Essex Junction and Saint Albans. From the station you are going to need transportation to your final destination. I highly recommend discussing your Vermont traveling arrangements with a lodging reservation specialist. Transition smoothly since being left at a train station miles from where you want to be is exasperating. Yet, a distance from Stowe may offer lodging availability that can easily cost justify renting a car.

Stowe is home to Mt. Mansfield that rises 4,395 feet. Mansfield makes its fame as being Vermont’s “high point.” The town is picturesque from its legendarily haunted Emily’s Covered Bridge (Gold Brook Road) to the Stowe Community Church’s (Main Street) gleaming steeple. Downtown Stowe is quaint, encouraging people to visit the 70 unique shops in its New England Village and along Stowe Mountain Road.

If you are a Sound of Music aficionado, make your way to Trapp Family Lodge (Trapp Hill Road). When alive, Maria, would actually sit among her guests and share stories of the real experience. Dinner in the Dining Room provides a more formal environment and can be the center of a romantic or special occasion. Should you be visiting the Resort by day, grab lunch or coffee at the DeliBakery. If you are a cross-country skier or enjoy snowshoeing, time your day so a three-mile trek gets you to Slayton Pasture Cabin for lunch. The Cabin offers a perfect winter day meal of hearty soup and a sandwich.

Since Stowe is a desired ski community there are many places to stay. Most hotels and inns are friendly; for example, the Timberholm Inn (Cottage Club Road), Stone Hill Inn (Houston Farm Road), and the Brass Lantern Inn B&B (Maple Street) have great relationships with the LGBT community. If you prefer to stay at a gay-owned and operated establishment, reach out to Michael and Cory who run the Arbor Inn (Mountain Road). The guys speak five-languages providing an added welcoming experience. The bed-and-breakfast is attractive, clean and well maintained. The hosts received the 2013 Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor making this the third year in a row. Rates range from approximately $110 to $150 a night.

Beyond the beauty, hospitality and activities of Stowe, the region does not offer a dynamic nightlife. This low-key mountain area has no exclusive GLBT bars or clubs; therefore, if exciting nightlife is in your plan make sure to book your trip during the days of Rendezvous when the ‘party is brought to the town.’ Stay warm and have fun.

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Oh Tannenbaum

Author: , December 8th, 2013

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Written by Robert Saldarini for Diversity Rules Magazine
Appears in December issue


Compliments of

Regardless if you celebrate Christmas or respectfully decline, few can dispute the glamor of the Christmas tree. In actuality, the tree predates Christianity and was an intimate part of winter festivals. Few know that celebrating Christmas was viewed as pagan and outlawed in the newly found settlement of Boston; whereby, a fine was levied if one made merry. Even after the Revolutionary War, Congress sat in session on the 25th of December.  Time past and in 1870 America declared Christmas a National holiday. So, let’s look beyond the political correctness and religion of late December and instead admire the art of the Christmas tree.

New York State hosts the most celebrated Christmas tree in the Nation, i.e., the one that stands in Rockefeller Center (47 to 51 Streets between 5 & 6 Avenues). The majesty of this tree is uncompromised by any other as it is set behind the beauty of the ice-rink. The tree lighting is set for December 4. Nonetheless, New York City offers other spectacular trees which are indoors, such as, the tree at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (5 Avenue and 82 Street) and the tree at the Plaza Hotel (5 Avenue and Central Park South).

Yet, the great State of New York has spectacular Christmas tree displays beyond those found in New York City. In Syracuse, you can enjoy the beauty of the Clinton Square (North Clinton Street) tree which is lighted as part of the City’s “Home for the Holidays” tradition.  In Yorktown, the community Christmas tree stands proud at the Jack DeVito Memorial Field (Front Street) where it is lighted following the Annual Lights Parade on December 7.  Speaking of December 7, if you are near Buffalo, journey to the Rotary Rink at Fountain Plaza (Main and Chippewa Streets) where the City tree lighting is immediately followed by a fireworks display. The vast geography of the State generates more tree exhibits than could possibly be discussed here, so, power-up your computer and find a local event that celebrates the beauty of the evergreen.

If you celebrate the Holiday with a tree, consider ‘keeping it real.’ Artificial pre-lighted trees can be perfect down to every needle. Nonetheless, the smell and history of a live tree adds a bit of magic that plastic and steel simply cannot replicate. The State offers many opportunities for a ‘bringing home the tree’ adventure; for example, in Albany County, you can visit George and Janice VanEtten at the VanEtten Tree Farm (2000 Berne-Altamont Road) and tie up a fir of your choice.

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Autumn In New York

Author: , October 31st, 2013

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Submitted by Robert Saldarini for Diversity Rules Magazine

FallSlightly above Albany and down to New York City, the Hudson River Valley offers a thriving diverse community with an established LGBT presence. October’s warm days and crisp nights accent the beauty of autumn’s prime. The vibrancy of the fall foliage makes a car trip a perfect fun-filled escape. So, pull up a map and see where in the Valley is the best place for your personal experience.

If you ever had a reason to break the piggybank, a stay at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz (Mountain Rest Road) may make you scramble for a hammer. This magnificent one-eighth of a mile long resort is at the river’s edge. The estate is surrounded by magnificent gardens where within five American Presidents vacationed. If the piggybank seems to be a bit low, stop at the House for lunch and a nice walk around its grounds.

Speaking of Presidents, if you are a history buff, visit The Franklin D. Roosevelt Home, Presidential Library & Museum (Albany Post Road) in Hyde Park. The surroundings are incredible and the estate is steeped in an era that reshaped modern America. Want more history – journey to West Point.

The beauty of nature compliments the eye candy at West Point. The campus is impressive and well worth an hour tour. The history and almost reverence of the grounds at this time of year stirs the American pride. The $35 Sunday Champagne Brunch at the remarkable Thayer Hotel (Thayer Road) is extraordinary. The Academy allows visitors to tour by bus and is quite strict about identification requirements, therefore, visit the Academy’s Website regarding sponsored tours.

When driving through the Hudson Valley, consider adding Poughkeepsie to your list of stops. While in town, experience the magnificent “Walkway over the Hudson State Historic Park” (Parker Avenue) that provides breathtaking views of the Hudson River and its banks as you walk the longest (1.28 mile) pedestrian bridge in the world. Should your travel plans bring you to Poughkeepsie on October 26, you should not miss “The Great Poughkeepsie Costume Carnival.” This ‘creepy vintage carnival’ takes place downtown ($10 Ticket); there are prizes for the best use of glitter, best side show/freak show character, and of course, the best gender illusion. After the Carnival, you may want to stop for a drink at The Out Bar (Main Street).

If later October is the best travel time, I highly recommend that your sights are set on the Village of Nyack. Downtown Nyack is remarkably quaint and is filled with interesting shopping and great eateries. The Village is celebrating its Halloween Parade on October 26. Following the parade head over to Barz (US 9W) if you enjoy Saturday Dance Night.

New York has a jewel of the Halloween diadem that is set in Sleepy Hallow. Washington Irving immortalized North Tarrytown (renamed Sleepy Hallow in 1996) with the American classic, The Legend of Sleepy Hallow. If time permits journey to nearby Irvington to stroll the grounds of Irving’s home, Sunnyside (Sunnyside Lane). You may want to search for the headless horseman by day as the Sleepy Hallow Cemetery (North Broadway) is a fully functional resting-place with gates open 8:30AM to 4:30PM. Nonetheless, if you want some excitement take an evening guided lantern-tour through the cemetery; hopefully, the night is clear and the moon bright.

As always, please make reservations and call ahead for special needs to avoid any disappointment.
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Ithaca, NY: A Jewel in Upstate New York

Author: , September 29th, 2013

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By Robert Saldarini, for Diversity Rules Magazine

As we pack away the beach balls and pails, let’s turn our attention to some autumn adventures. September is a great time for a weekend in Finger Lake region; especially, the town of Ithaca. This ‘Cornell Community’ has been LGBT friendly for decades and the natural beauty of the region is extraordinary. As a college-town, Ithaca is an easy commute by many means – even by bus.

The expression, “Ithaca is Gorges,” is by no means shy of the truth. Visitors find the trails, the waterfalls (there are over 100-waterfalls in this region of New York), and views to be breathtaking. September may offer some warm temperatures. So, if the weather prediction is a hot late summer’s day, you might want to plan a water adventure on Cayuga Lake. Another appealing activity centers on exploring the wineries along the Cayuga Wine Trail.  If you wish to do a wine tour in a grand way, companies like Finger Lakes Winery Tours can provide a limo and driver to take you about.

If you are in Ithaca on September 7, cheer on the cyclists at the 15th Annual AIDS Ride for Life (Stewart Park).  Should you have the flea market bug, do not miss the September 15, “Found Flea” (Cherry Street) that hosts 50-dealers selling an unimaginable array of vintage and unique items. On Friday night, September 20, join the Cornell crew for its 2013 Homecoming (Schoellkoph Field) by attending the University’s annual Fireworks Laser Light Show Spectacular.

Lodging in Ithaca can be found to fit almost any budget. Although there are no excusive LGBT hotels or inns, The William Henry Miller Inn (North Aurora Street) is both friendly and beautiful; whereas, a guest room can be had for less than $200 a night. If you are traveling with a hound, the Inn is ‘dog friendly’ and can accommodate your pup as long as you prepare ahead. Conserving financial resources can make always make a Super 8 (South Meadow Street) attractive.

Eateries abound in Ithaca as the area hosts more restaurants per capita than New York City. Most vegetarians own one or more Moosewoods’ cookbooks. Ithaca is home to the internationally known Moosewood Restaurant (Cayuga Street). Even meat-eaters usually find an excellent dining alternative from the menu’s non-meat options. Interestingly, Ithaca holds the title of being “the Official Birthplace of the Ice Cream Sundae.” Therefore, regardless of where you eat, skip dessert at the restaurant and head over to Sweet Melissa’s Ice Cream Shop (West Seneca). Melissa’s is unique and caters to most everyone’s sweet tooth. The Shop’s diversity is impressive as they even serve ice cream made from coconut milk for our Vegan friends.

Ithaca does not have an exclusive LGBT bar scene. Now that Common Grounds closed to become the more mixed Oasis Dance Club (Danby Road), a relaxed atmosphere may be found at Felicia’s Atomic Lounge (West State Street). Felicia’s is a bit trendy and known mostly for its unique martinis and infusions. You may want to consider one of their Farmer’s Market Cocktails.  If you arrive early on a Friday, think about going to Silky Jones (East State Street) to grab a drink during Happy Hour which goes until 8PM.

Get outside and enjoy while making some early autumn memories in Ithaca; truly, the region is a jewel of New York State. As always, make reservations to avoid any disappointments.

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Rehoboth Beach, DE

Author: , August 10th, 2013

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Submitted by Robert Saldarini for Diversity Rules Magazine

Rehoboth Beach - Apple Maps

from Apple Maps

Rehoboth Beach provides the LGBT community a great mid-summer experience. GayCities calls Rehoboth, “Mid-Atlantic’s Key West.” The community is energized and gay-friendly since there are over 200 gay-owned and operated businesses. This Delaware resort area brings New Yorkers a new crowd as most of Rehoboth’s beachgoers are from Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. Therefore, if you can steal a Friday for a travel day, rest assured a Saturday at Rehoboth makes for a great August adventure.

Poodle Beach is the place for men to tan while women can be found at North Shores; meanwhile, Baltimore Avenue is the place to model the results. Rehoboth Avenue, the traditional town ‘Main Street’ provides many interesting retail outlets. Shopping in Delaware is nice because the State has no sales-tax. Nevertheless, Baltimore Avenue is the gay town center that offers good places to shop as well as great places to eat.

When it comes to meals, pick your desire then select a restaurant or café. Downtown provides suitable eateries for all tastes. Aqua Grill (57 Baltimore Avenue) has a nice seafood menu or try Adriatico Restorante & Café (30 Baltimore) if your heart is set on pasta. Should you be away on a romantic trip, a meal at the Back Porch Café (59 Rehoboth Avenue) may be exactly what the doctor ordered. The Blue Moon (35 Baltimore) is a firmly established restaurant/bar and is recognized as one of Delaware’s exceptional restaurants. You may want to save Blue Moon for Sunday brunch (10:30AM- 2PM) before you make the ride back. If brunch is in your plans be sure to make a reservation to avoid any disappointments.

Accommodations should also be made in advance and range to match your personal tastes; e.g., Ram’s Head Inn (35006 Warrington Road) is a male-only secluded resort, the Oceanus Motel (9 Second Street) is family-friendly, and the Lighthouse Inn (20 Delaware Avenue) is small (4 rooms) and intimate. If cost or availably are concerns, major hotel chains in the vicinity are exceptionally gay friendly.

Swim by day and party by night as Rehoboth delivers many choices during the evening hours. Whether the end of your day calls for a stroll on the boardwalk or a dance club, Rehoboth can accommodate your taste. You can find the bears at the Double L (622 Rehoboth Avenue) and the women at The Frogg Pond (First Street). The young party crowd moves about in migration finding the right DJ and music. However, if you simply want a nice place to socialize with friends, consider ‘hanging-out’ at Rigby’s Bar and Grill (404 Rehoboth Avenue).

The Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce will send you a free-copy of their Official Guide by simply emailing the organization at Make sure you include your email and mailing address. If you have the shopper-gene, time permitting, stop at some of the Delaware outlet malls. And, remember to bring your sun screen – tan don’t burn.

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