Bolzano – Dolly Travels

Author: , September 15th, 2018

Bolzano - Dolly Travels

Good evening,

I finally have time to sit and write. We have been in Bolzano since yesterday afternoon, and it seems we have been going non-stop since we arrived.

We had a long train trip from Vernazza to Bolzano. If you look at a map of Italy, you will see that we came from the Ligurian Coast to northern Italy, to the gateway to the Dolomites. Actually, I have to admit, our train trip wasn’t so bad. We got a medium high speed train, the Frecciaargento from La Spezia to Florence, taking only and hour and a half, versus the usual 3 hours on a regional train. We had to wait about an hour in Florence, then we got another Frecciaargento train direct to Bolzano, a little over three hours.

Our hotel, Hotel Feichter, is located about four blocks from the train station, near the center of town. We got checked in, then took a walking tour of the town. It is a lovely Austrian-looking town, and of course, as we walked, we did not hear Italian being spoken anymore; the primary language here is German. Everything is so clean and neat. We walked down one street that had a covered portico to shield us from the sun. The shops were pretty upscale, but we weren’t shopping, we were just strolling.

Of course, for me, the biggest draw to Bolzano, is that this city is the gateway to the Dolomites. From the walkway in front of my room, I can see the stark Dolomite mountains. They are calling me.

Last evening, we walked again, and had not really decided where to have dinner. There was a big black cloud hovering over the western edge of the city. I told the kids that our dinner destination would be determined by what that cloud did. Interesting enough, we were just a few steps from a brew pub when the first fat rain drops started to fall, and within minutes, everyone was scrambling to get out of the rain.

We made it into the pub, got seated and enjoyed a traditional Austrian type dinner.

Of course, Danny had a beer with his dinner. After all, he had to try the locally-made brew.

After dinner, the rain had stopped, so we were able to walk home without getting soaked. However, about an hour after we got back to the hotel, we were treated to one of the most spectacular lightning and thunder shows that I have ever seen, complete with pouring down rain. It was so incredible, I had to open my window and watch the show. Heather and Danny told me that they went out onto the walkway in front of our rooms to watch it. What a fantastic treat…one we could enjoy from the comfort of our rooms.

Today, we visited the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, where we saw the displays focused on Ötzi, the Ice Man: an intact body of a man that was found high in the mountains between Austria and Italy in 1991. He has now been determined to be between 5,100 and 5,300 years old.

Later, we took a gondola up to the town of Oberbozen, a small resort town in the hills above Bolzano.

Tonight, we walked through some small streets, finally settling on one small restaurant for our dinner.

I do enjoy being in Bolzano, for it is an interesting city. There is a university here; it is the largest city in the northern part of Italy. There are many shops, eateries, plus parks and places to relax. Staying here is always a pleasure.

We will leave here in the morning, and take a bus for the one hour ride to Castelrotto, where we will spend four days, hopefully hiking and enjoying the outdoors in the clean Alpine air. For me, just being in the Dolomites makes me happy.

I will try to write a blog post within a day or two. It is hard to believe that this vacation is drawing to a close. What wonderful memories we will have to take home with us.

Arrivederci,
Ciao for now,
Dolly

By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels

Trentino-Alto Adige Gay Travel Resources Gay Travel Resources

Eating Out: Austria – Passport Magazine

Author: , September 10th, 2018

Austria - Pixabay

I ask an American what is considered quintessential Austrian cuisine, and you’re likely to get a furrowed brow. At roughly 32,000 square miles (think South Carolina, but landlocked), the country shares borders and cultural influences with the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Liechtenstein, and Slovakia. In its heyday, the Austrian Empire was one of the most powerful in Europe, ruled by the Habsburgs for nearly six centuries. The declared war against Serbia marked the beginning of World War I, and by 1918 the dynasty was history. Nazi invasion followed and an eventual restoration of autonomy with the help of the Allied Forces.

Sitting at the epicenter of Europe’s evershifting alliances has tested Austria’s resiliency, but it has also laid the groundwork for culinary inspiration drawn from historical trade routes and centuries-old farming and agriculture industries. I recently visited the land of Wiener schnitzel and pumpkinseed oil in search of Austria’s best bites, and to taste how the country is keeping pace with 21stcentury gastronomy trends, while still maintaining its authentic traditions.

Vienna is Europe’s unsung hero for stunning Gothic, baroque, and modern architecture. It also boasts the Ringstrasse, a three-mile circular road where you can find the Vienna State Opera, the Museum of Fine Arts, and other Insta-worthy landmarks. Commissioned by Emperor Franz Joseph in 1857, it is the symbol of the city’s penchant for the finer things in life and still serves as an anchor for Vienna’s bustling and sophisticated lifestyle.

I begin my edible excursion by checking into the Grand Ferdinand (Schubertring 10-12. Tel: +43-1-91880. www.grandferdinand.com), hotelier Florian Weitzer’s opulent reimagining of several adjacent 1950’s office buildings. Its showcase restaurant, Meissl & Schadn (www.meisslundschadn.at), pays homage to the legendary namesake hotel and restaurant that opened in Vienna in 1896 but didn’t survive the city’s World War II bombing. History is reborn with classic recipes served in a dramatic setting featuring wicker chairs, tiled pillars, low-hanging chandeliers, and crisp white linens.

But it’s the sound of veal cutlets pounded into plate-size portions in the salon kitchen that gives Meissl & Schaden its signature Viennese flair. Dipped in free-range eggs then coated in breadcrumbs, the Wiener schnitzel sizzles away (in your choice of clarified butter, lard, or neutral vegetable oil) until crispy. Finished with a hearty squeeze of lemon, it embodies the essence of classic Austrian cuisine.

By Matthew Wexler – Full Story at Passport Magazine

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Vernazza: Beauty, Disaster and Recovery – Dolly Travels

Author: , September 10th, 2018

Vernazza - Dolly Travels

Buongiorno, tutti,

We started our morning at the Il Pirata Bar at the top of the town. This restaurant has the best pastries; all are made on the premises. Their reputation has made this small place such a popular breakfast place, that one must get there early to get a table.

While we were enjoying our delicious pastries, we began talking with the couple who sat next to us. By the end of our breakfast we were best friends. We had such a good time with them. We discussed our plans for the day, and before we knew it, we had learned far more about each other than I know about my next door neighbors at home.

Soon, though, we all went our separate ways. I love the way that travel allows me to meet such interesting people as I go along.

The kids had their own plans for the day, so here I am, telling you about my day.

I am sitting at the Ananasso Bar again. Lest you think that I might do this too often, this bar sits right at the harbor’s edge. From here, I can look out at the little cove, where people are swimming. I can see the boats in the harbor and look beyond to the town of Monterosso. Over to my left and closer to the harbor is the good pizza restaurant that we visited yesterday. So, you see, my perch here, for the price of a drink, is perfect.

Today, I went for a walk up through town, past the Il Pirata Ristorante, where we had breakfast this morning. I walked up the road while following the little stream that starts somewhere up above, then flows down through the town. I remembered well, the deluge of October, 2011, where the rains came down so hard and for such a long time, that the mountains washed down into that stream, pushing homes, cars and anything in its path, into that stream, until the town was flooded with mud, debris up to the second story of the buildings.

Today, as I walked through the town, seven years after that disaster, I felt that the people of Vernazza have made a remarkable recovery. Although reconstruction is still going on in some areas: rock walls are being rebuilt, some facades of buildings still need to be repaired, life goes on as before.

As I sit here, watching the tourists, I wonder how many of them know the calamity that besieged the town those years before. I watch the people that work in the shops and the restaurants; I see them wait on the customers, and they are so kind, so patient. They are indeed lovely people.

Vernazza is one of the five villages in a unique area. During the day, the little town is filled with tourists. Many people come here to hike the trails between the villages. I honestly don’t know why the cruise ship passengers come here. When those cruise ships unload their tenders, the town is immediately flooded with up to five hundred extra people; more than the town can comfortable accommodate.

However, when evening comes; the town settles down and becomes an almost-quiet village. The people of Vernazza are resilient. They have rebuilt their town and life goes on in this little city as if the disaster never occurred.

My point in writing this blog post is to remind all of us, that no matter what life hands us, we have the choice to adapt, rebuild, and get on with things, or curl up and admit defeat. I want to pattern my life after the citizens of Vernazza: there is always light at the end of the tunnel, if I choose to follow it. Or I can let the small disasters get me down.

I am inspired by the people of the town of Vernazza.

Until next time,
Arrivederci,

Dolly

By Dolly – Full Story at Dolly Travels

Vernazza 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

Inside the Pisa Cathedral – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , September 7th, 2018

Pisa Cathedral - Keep Calm and Wander

The Pisa Cathedral marks the zenith of the architectural power of Pisa at the time of its creation by having bits from the Islamic, Byzantine, Lombard-Emilian, and classical architecture. Lying peacefully in the Piazza dei Miracoli (Miracle Square), it gleams in multi-colors, courtesy of the different types of marbles that it is adorned with, especially cosmatesque marble.

1. The marble facade

Unlike the exterior, the cathedral’s interior depicts much more decorations and ornamentations. The Romanesque façade of the cathedral is made of pastel-colored marble that is designed divinely by the students of Giambolongna.

While the three doors leading inside were constructed or cast after the deadly fire of 1595, an original door “The Door of San Ranieri” designed by Bonnano Pisano still stands and provides a way in from the southern transept.

2. Medieval and Renaissance art

The interior of the cathedral has a mixture of the Renaissance and Medieval architecture. This mixture has been a result of the fire of 1595. After the destruction of most of the Medieval parts of the cathedral, they were rebuilt in the Renaissance style as it was popular back then.

The surviving Medieval pieces include Tomb of Emperor Henry VII, originally sculpted by Tino di Camaino, and the pulpit by Giovanni Pisano, which has been recently placed in its original place after being found dismantled.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Pisa Gay Travel Resources

Baptistery of Pisa – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , September 3rd, 2018

Baptistery of Pisa - Keep Calm and Wander

Located in the Piazza dei Miracoli (Miracle Square), on the west coast of Italy, the Baptistery of Pisa forms one of the four buildings. In fact, it comes second in the chronological order, neighboring the Duomo di Pisa, the cathedral, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

It is an ecclesiastical building, and throughout history, it has played a keen role in the religious scene in Pisa. This actually shows in the multiple architectural veils that it is draped in. The lower side has arches and pillars that hint towards the Romanesque style, but the upper levels show a stark Gothic style with pointed figures and closely spaced pillars.

The entrance to the edifice is covered with ornate pillars and reliefs, in which the upper one depicts the life of Saint John and the middle one shows Christ flanked by Saint John and Madonna and surrounded by several angels.

The Baptistery of Pisa – Where Galileo Was Baptized

This baptistery is famous for its architecture and also for the following things.

1. The Acoustics: Nicola Pisano and his son Giovanni Pisano have done an outstanding job by designing the interior that it facilitates reverberations or acoustics. Anyone standing below the edge of the dome can have his voice echoed. Every 30 minutes, one of the employees would sing loud to demonstrate the power of its acoustics.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Pisa Gay Travel Resources

Queer Malta – Gay Star News

Author: , August 25th, 2018

Malta - pixabay

There are many reasons to visit magical Malta, the world’s tenth smallest country, home to just 400,000 people. Firstly, the location. The three islands that make up the country – Malta, Gozo and Comino – are found almost directly in the center of the Mediterranean, 60 miles from Sicily. As such, temperatures are warm almost all year round.

Secondly, there’s Malta famously LGBTI-friendly reputation. Despite being a deeply religious country, (the most popular religion being Roman Catholicism), Malta once again topped this year’s ILGA-Europe ‘Rainbow Index’, which ranks countries by how their laws and policies promote sexual and gender equality.

Malta is a major destination for Jet2holidays, the UK’s second biggest tour operator who provide package holidays from nine UK bases – London Stansted, Birmingham, Leeds Bradford, Manchester, Newcastle, East Midlands, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Belfast International.

As such, we’ve teamed up with Jet2holidays, who are friendly, customer focused and winners of the Which? Travel Brand of 2018 award, for this quick-fire guide on what to do and where to stay in the Med’s most stunning archipelago…

Go set-jetting

Season One of Game of Thrones was filmed in many locations across Malta and Gozo. Meanwhile Popeye Village Malta, the set of the live action 1980 film, based on the iconic cartoon sailor, is now a major tourist attraction. This beautiful location is the perfect backdrop for blockbuster films and hit series.

By Jamie Tabberer – Full Story at Gay Star News

Malta Gay Travel Resources

Where to Have a Gay Wedding in Italy -The Nomadic Boys

Author: , August 24th, 2018

Since our engagement in Cartagena in Colombia, we’ve been researching wedding venues and ideas for destinations for our own ceremony. We attended our friends’ gay wedding ceremony in Gallipoli in South Italy and completely fell in love, feeling totally inspired at the same time.

Gay Wedding in Italy

Although Italy remains one of Western Europe’s more conservative countries with regards to LGBTQ rights and still has a ban in place for same sex marriages, steps are slowly being taken in the right direction. In particular, civil unions for same sex couples (called “unioni Civili” in Italian) were introduced in June 2016. This has spiked interest in Italy as a destination wedding for LGBTQ couples.

Following on from our travels in Italy and researching the best places for our own wedding, we’ve put together our 5 best destinations for a gay wedding in Italy:

Gorgeous Gallipoli in Puglia
Gallipoli is the main gay hotspot in the Puglia region of Italy. Over the years it’s grown massively with gay tourists, due to its mix of gay friendly beaches and fun gay events. This has made it ideal for gay wedding destination in Italy.

We attended our friends’ Unioni Civili at Villa dei Fiori Eventi, located just outside of Gallipoli main town and absolutely loved it. The registrar from the town hall attended to officiate the ceremony, which was held outdoors. Everything was spot on, from the choice of music, decor, food and music. Definitely one to consider, especially as Puglia has so much to offer gay travellers for a honeymoon. Also check out our 5 best gay friendly hotels in Puglia for more inspiration.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at The Nomadic Boys

Italy 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

48 Hours in Gay Edinburgh – Gay Star News

Author: , August 16th, 2018

Dan Beeson

Struggling through changeable weather year-round, Edinburgh, the UK’s most northerly capital city, has better things to offer than endless days of unbroken sunshine – it has class, heritage and candlelit folklore to keep you warm.
We should mention, It was unusually sunny and hot during our visit in late May – but we promise everything in this guide is, pretty much, weatherproof and true to ‘usual’ climates.

Now that’s been cleared up, let’s take a five-pillar approach to what makes a good trip; relaxation, culture, LGBTI spaces, food and drink and the outdoors.
We had exactly 48 hours from the time the plane touched down to when we departed from the tarmac once again – so it was on to cram in as much as possible but still feel chilled.

Here’s a quick round-up of guide of where we found ourselves in those 48 hours:
Wake up with the dawn chorus and head to a spa for relaxation.

Have you ever had an hour-long exfoliating facial massage? It’s a definition of living.
One Spa at the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa offers a huge range of treatments designed individually to suit men and women, as well as an outdoor hydropool and signature spa experience, ‘Escape at One’, that leads relaxation-seekers around various treatment rooms.

Diving in bright and early, around 9am, starting our adventures in Edinburgh with a vigorous workout followed by intensive therapy sessions was just what we needed to unwind from a busy week we’d just left behind – and truly left behind.

By Dan Beeson – Full Story at Gay Star News

Edinburgh Gay Travel Resources