Inside Westminster Abbey – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , April 21st, 2018

Westminster Abbey - Keep Calm and Wander

Take a look inside Westminster Abbey – a royal coronation venue, a religious site and a cemetery. This is the most viral religious structure in United Kingdom. Royals were crowned, wed and buried here, including poets, scientists, and rulers The Westminster Abbey was initially titled “Collegiate Church of Saint Peter”.

Westminster Abbey was a founded by Saint Benedict of Nursia. But in 1539, it was dissolved. It was then given the symbol of a cathedral between 1540 and 1556. Later, in 1560, the structure has now changed from cathedral, rather it holds the symbol of a Church of England called royal peculiar. Which now became a church responsible to the sovereign in a direct form.

The Westminster Abbey hold a lot of important information that makes it a center of attraction for most people around the world.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

London Gay Travel Resources

The Five Villages of the Cinque Terre – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , April 19th, 2018

Cinque Terre - Vernazza

The five fishing villages of the Cinque Terre are the jewels of the crown of Italian Riviera. For any person who has a knack for hiking atop iconic locations that offer an amalgam of views, visiting these jewels is a must. They still exhibit their unique and isolated authenticity just the way they did decades ago when these villages sheltered the Italian peasants and the fishermen.

It is this uniqueness, the unimaginable beauty along with a preserved historic vibe that brought me to these villages. But more than anything the breathtaking coastal or mountain trails had been calling out my name from the very moment I saw their pictures.

By the looks of these villages, one might think that they are essentially identical. However, it is only when you visit them that you get to know that each village has its own charm that would sweep you off your feet.

Starting from the easternmost village and ending on the westernmost, let me share how I found the places and which one owned my heart completely.

1. Riomaggiore

This one is the largest and the most scenic of all the villages. Its scenery begins to dance in full grandeur when the sun starts saying good-bye. The buildings are peculiar, that’s what I liked, and they descend down to the harbor almost as if they’d dive right into the water one by one. While this really gave me a completely new experience, what refreshed my weary nerves were the botanical garden and the bird sanctuary located atop the hill.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Liguria Gay Travel Resources

Bolzano and the Dolomites – Dolly Travels

Author: , April 18th, 2018

Bolzano and the Dolomites

Today I want to tell you about Bolzano, in northern Italy. If you are traveling by train up to Bolzano from Bologna or other points south, you will notice a distinct change in the terrain, the look of the villages along the way, as well as the language of the people who live in this area.

Bolzano and the DolomitesAs the train travels further north, the terrain changes, becoming more rugged. Tiny villages are tucked into crevasses between giant mountains. Fields of hay are grown on the more flat areas, then there are apple orchards and vineyards. Some of the best white wine in Italy comes from this area.

This northern part of Italy once belonged to Austria. Most of the citizens here speak German, not Italian. The churches look more like the ones in Austria; in school, the children are taught in the German language. When there is a festival and the citizens dress for that, their costumes are Austrian in design; dirndls for the women, lederhosen for the men. The food, also, is different. The restaurants serve schnitzels, sausages, more potato dishes. While this food is delicious, it is not Italian food, as we know it.

Bolzano and the DolomitesA typical meal in Bolzano and the Dolomites: a ham hock, sauerkraut and a potato dumpling, with stone ground mustard to go with it. Beer is the preferred beverage, and in Bolzano, we found two very good breweries, both with restaurants.

From Bolzano, there is a cable car that takes passengers up to Oberbozen, as you saw in the earlier photo. That area is another very unique place to hike or ride mountain bikes. On one of my trips, some young men took their bikes on the cable car up to Oberbozen, then rode the trails down to Bolzano. There are trails for hiking or biking.

Bolzano and the DolomitesThe earth pyramids. These are unusual rock formations, found in the Oberbozen area. The rocks are unique. I don’t know if there are any of these anywhere else but in this region. Notice the rocks sitting on top of some of the peaks.

Hiking down to see these was a challenge for me, but if I had taken hiking poles, the trek would have been much easier. Hiking up was even more of a challenge.

Bolzano is home of the South Tirol Museum of Archeology, where the main attraction is a preserved body of a man that was found in some glacier ice high up on a mountain near the Austrian-Italian border. After extensive research, it has been determined that the man is over 5,300 years old. The museum is well done, with exhibits on three levels.

Of course, Bolzano, to me, is the jumping-off point for a stay in the Dolomites. I usually stay two nights in Bolzano, for it is an interesting town to me. But from there, I take a bus for a one-hour, exciting trip through winding mountain roads to Castelrotto, in the Trentino-Alto Adige region. I will post just a few pictures here, for the Dolomites will be another blog post or two.

Bolzano and the DolomitesOf course, there were bicycles. The trails are great for biking. I don’t know where that tractor came from, or where he was going.

That is a rare sight. Usually, there are just other hikers or bikers.

So I will say “Goodbye” for now. I will write more about Italy next week.

You can be sure that sometime, before the first of June, I will write about the Dolomites, for there is my “Happy Place”.

Ciao for now,
Dolly

By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels

Bolzano Gay Travel Resources

 

Visiting the Tower of London

Author: , April 13th, 2018

Tower of London - Keep Calm and Wander

Approximately 952 years ago, the Tower of London was built by William the Conqueror to keep any hostile intruder at bay. Now, as we see it, it still stands tall and proud. As a matter of fact, there are hordes of reasons why you need to visit it as soon as you have spare time. It’s just a few steps from that very photogenic bridge you see in London postcards – the Tower Bridge!

I explored every inch of the building and without splitting my hair much (because I’m bald :D), I gathered the following 11 reasons to make you pay a visit, too.

1. Have a look at the dazzling trinkets

Have you ever heard about the Cullinan I also called the Great Star of Africa, Cullinan II, and the Koh-I-Noor? If you have, it could be your once-in-a-lifetime chance to lay eyes on these magnificent Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. Not only these, in fact, you’d get to see all the 140 ceremonial objects that are on the display. Believe me, when I say this: I was literally drooling over when I saw them.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

London Gay Travel Resources

Cinque Terre – Dolly Travels

Author: , April 13th, 2018

Cinque Terre - Dolly

Today I want to continue writing about places in Italy that I will visit on my next trip, which is coming up pretty soon. Cinque Terre is one area that we will visit, and we will stay there for a few days.

Cinque Terre is unique, in that the area is comprised of 5 villages that hug the Ligurian Coast. These villages are isolated from the main body of Italy by rugged mountains at their back and the sea in front of them. For centuries, the primary commerce of this area has been fishing and that continues. Now there are also vineyards planted on the steep terraces. Lemon trees grow wherever they can gain a foothold.

Cinque Terre - Dolly

That little red line on the western edge of Italy denotes the location of Le Cinque Terre.

Cinque Terre - Dolly

The villages, as viewed from the sea, look like colorful toy buildings that have been super-glued to the mountainsides. Corniglia, the middle village of the five, sits on a steep mountain. It is the only one of the villages that does not have direct access to the sea.

To get to the Cinque Terre, one takes a train to La Spezia, then change trains to a regional one that will stop at each of the small stations. The trip from La Spezia to Riomaggiore, the first of the little towns, takes about 4 minutes. The next stop, Manarola, is another 2 to 3 minutes, then Corniglia station is another few minutes; likewise, Vernazza then the last of the villages, Monterosso, takes 3 minutes from Vernazza. So, you can see, if you travel by train, the villages are very close to each other. However, many tourists come to the area to hike the trails that connect these towns.

There are two main trail systems here: the “Short Trail”, the one most familiar to hikers, follows the coastline for most of the hike; although the trail is usually high above the sea, the hiker has a scenic view from start to finish.

The second trail, the “High Trail”, runs above the towns, but the view from that high up is fantastic. That trail is longer, but as of this moment, that trail is open, while the Short Trail is only open from Vernazza to Monterosso, and possibly Vernazza to Corniglia. That depends on the weather and landslide conditions. The Short Trail has had sections closed since 2012, due to landslides, with no time frame in sight for getting them open again. That is sad, for those trails were such a remarkable adventure, and could be done from start to finish in a few hours.

In the past, for centuries, the only way to go from one village to another was by the trails, which were steep and not well-maintained. Therefore, when a tunnel was carved through the mountain that connected Riomaggiore and Manarola, the villagers could then visit with each other. More importantly, to some, the young people could form friendships and romances with young people from the other village. The path through the tunnel became known as the Via dell’ Amore, the “Road of Love”.

Cinque Terre - Dolly

This is the famous metal sculpture within the tunnel of the Via dell’ Amore. Note the padlocks on the railings. Supposedly, lovers would put the lock on the railing, then throw the key into the sea. That meant their love would last as long as the padlocks stayed on the railing. However, I noted that some of the locks were combination-type locks. What does that mean?

This part of the trail is now in a section that is closed, due to landslides. I hope it will soon be repaired and open again.

Cinque Terre - Dolly

Monterosso has the best beach area of all the villages. I love to come here, rent a chair and an umbrella for the day, and just hang out at the beach. The water is clear, and warm enough to enjoy a swim.

This area, Le Cinque Terre, is one of the most popular areas of Italy for tourists to visit. It has become quite crowded during the summer season, but I still like to be there. As I usually stay a few days, I find places to go that are quiet, when the main piazze are filled.

The older area of Monterosso is one place that I have found that is more peaceful.

I hope you have enjoyed my little travelogue about Cinque Terre. Put this area on you Bucket List to visit when you go to Italy.

Ciao for now,
Dolly

By Dolly – Full Story at Dolly Travels

Liguria Gay Travel Resources

Five Great London Museums – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , April 12th, 2018

London Museums - Keep Calm and Wander

Paying nothing to enter almost all galleries / museums in London is one of the best things about living in the city. They’re yours to see, admire and love. After visiting these 5 museums / galleries, I must say that nothing can be better than treading the floors of these destinations in a pursuit to have a rendezvous with some of the world-famous collections. Perhaps, if you’re living in this amazing city, going into these galleries (remember, it’s free!) is the best way to kill time.

1. Tate Modern

Situated along the South Bank, and opened in 2000, the Tate Modern houses some of the most spectacular ancient exhibits like that of the Pablo Picasso’s “Figure dans un Fauteuil”. I know it’s hard to pronounce, but let me tell you, it is a one-of-its-kind spectacle. All of the shapes forming the perfectly distressed image is more than worthy of everyone’s eyes. This is not all, however. The art gallery also has art relics from the time of Piet Mondrian, and particularly, his “Composition C” is a big eye-catcher. These are the permanent instalments of the gallery among other absorbing art pieces dotted along the walls of the gallery.

And most of all, when you’re done exploring the collections, go upstairs and enjoy a glass of wine and the view.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Keep Calm and Wander Gay Travel Resources

Hospital Sant Pau: Barcelona’s Window to Art Nouveau – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , April 4th, 2018

Hospital Sant Pau Barcelona - Keep Calm and Wander

The former hospital Sant Pau is Barcelona’s window to art nouveau. The moment you enter the gate, you know you’re inside a place that would take you to bygone times. You’d never even know that in the past, these buildings were used as hospitals. From outside, the pointed spires and well-decorated walls and windows give you a Gothic feel but wait until you see its interior.

I’m not really good at remembering addresses but it’s less than 10 minutes walk from Sagrada de Familia. My google map led me there. If you ask a local who lives around Sagrada, there’s no way he won’t know. If you find a gas station at the corner, and facing it, follow the street on its left lined with cafes. The closest subway/metro is Sant Pau or Dos de Main.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Barcelona Gay Travel Resources

Barcelona’s Stunning Park Guell – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , April 2nd, 2018

Barcelona's Stunning Park Guell - Keep Calm and Wander

Park Guell in Barcelona is visually stunning. I’m not only referring to the legacy of arts and architecture that Antoni Gaudi left but also to the nature and breathtaking views you’ll see from up here. You’ve never been to Barcelona if you’ve never been to Parc Guell. This is the city’s green space on a hill with views unequalled anywhere in the world. No wonder, this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Though the Park Guell isn’t really in the centre of the city, public transport is accessible. There are buses that stop right in front of the gate from downtown. All you have to do is find the exact bus number. I found it using google maps. The nearest subway or metro is Lesseps. From here, you have to walk uphill for 15-20 minutes.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Barcelona Gay Travel Resources

Hidden Barcelona – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , March 30th, 2018

Hidden Barcelona - Keep Calm and Wander

Barcelona remains one of the most popular destinations to visit in Europe, attracting over 32 million people per year and it is easy to see why. This historic city, with its incredible architecture, energetic nightlife and famous beaches make this an attractive holiday destination for tourists. Barcelona also has a fantastic array of restaurants, including 24 Michelin-starred eateries such as ABaC, a three Michelin-starred restaurant in the heart of the city.

While it is exciting to see a different side of the city, there will be some things you won’t want to miss when you visit Barcelona. La Sagrada Família, Park Güell and La Catedral, for example, should all be on your must-see list. However, there are also some fascinating places that you can see in Barcelona that are not as obvious choices for tourists.

For example, you could pay a visit to the Museu Nacional de Art de Catalunya where you can admire the breathtaking views of the city as well as an amazing array of modern art. Don’t forget to check out the stunning waterfall!

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Barcelona Gay Travel Resources

Queer Stockholm – Out Magazine

Author: , March 29th, 2018

Queer Stockholm - pixabay

A while ago, I had a conversation with my boyfriend that stayed with me. He’s American, and just recently moved in with me in my Stockholm apartment, having lived in New York City for eight years. As I started showing him the city, I was intrigued to hear his reactions. He seemed surprised. Where were all the gay bars? Why did I seem less comfortable engaging in PDA on the subway in Stockholm than he does in New York? And where exactly, if Stockholm is so gay, were the drag queens? Stockholm’s gay scene seemed poorer than my boyfriend had expected. Did he as a foreigner think I was living in some kind of gay utopia?

It wouldn’t be strange. Hell, Wikipedia’s page on the subject starts off with “LGBT rights in Sweden have been regarded as some of the most progressive in Europe and in the world.” But what does that actually mean for queer life? Granted, Stockholm is much smaller than New York. Still, I wondered: how would an LGBTQ tourist visiting the city perceive it? And what would help them make a more informed travel choice?

Here is what every LGBTQ tourist visiting Stockholm should know.

By Erik Galli – Full Story at Out Magazine

Sweden Gay Travel Resources