Traditional Panamanian Food – The Nomadic Boys

We travelled a great deal around Panama during our big trip in Latin America, from Panama City up to Bocas del Toro, and back. Along the way, we tried lots of different Panamanian foods and drinks.

Traditional Panamanian food has strong influences from Africa, Spain and its indigenous Native American population. There is a lot of similarity and overlap with the traditional foods of Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela, which is not surprising given that they once used to be part of “Gran Colombia“.

We’ve put together some of our favourite Panamanian traditional dishes we discovered during our trip, which we think you need to try to get a real flavour of this fascinating country.

Sancocho de gallina Panameño: the National dish

Sancocho is a delicious, light chicken soup with potatoes, culantro herb (similar to cilantro but stronger in flavour), yuca and plantains. Other ingredients often used include corn on the cob (mazorca), ñampi (a tropical root vegetable), hot sauce, chopped onions, garlic and oregano. The traditional recipe of sancocho is from the Azuero region, but other regions have their own variations. Due to the varied ingredients used to make a sancocho, it is often used as a metaphor for Panama’s racial diversity, showing that each part has just an important and equally important role to play in the preparation of this very yummy dish. As such it is considered the national dish of Panama.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at the Nomadic Boys

Panama Gay Travel Resources

Gay Moldova – The Nomadic Boys

Gay Moldova - The Nomadic Boys

Moldova is all about wines. Lots of delicious, fine wines that you’ve probably never heard of. What used to be a small slice of the Soviet Union is now one of the most underrated parts of Europe begging to be discovered.

So big is the wine scene of Moldova that the country famously has the largest underground wine cellar in the world. The Milestii Maci cellars are as notorious as they are humongous, holding a record 1.5 million bottles of wine.

There are lots of fun things to see and do in this undiscovered part of Eastern Europe, but as is the case with most places in the region, LGBTQ rights have a lot of catching up to do. We summarise our experience travelling around Moldova in this detailed gay country guide.

LGBTQ rights in Moldova

Moldova, sadly, is strongly influenced by the very conservative Eastern Orthodox Church, which frowns on LGBTQ rights. Anti-discrimination laws for hate crime and gender identity are yet to be passed and the country implemented a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in 1994, which is still in place.

On the plus side, being gay in Moldova is legal (since 1995) and anti-discrimination laws exist in employment and in the media. In addition, gays are (theoretically) allowed to serve openly in the army and the right to change legal gender was introduced (but only following a psychiatric diagnosis). 

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at the Nomadic Boys

Gay Bali – The Nomadic Boys

Gay Bali - The Nomadic Boys

“The Island of the Gods!” And in our humble opinion: “The Island of the Gays”!

Bali is the quintessential tropical island getaway high up on most travellers’ bucket lists, particularly amongst those of us inspired by the Julia Roberts movie, “Eat Pray Love”. Surprisingly, Bali is also a popular gay haven in Asia: remember this is part of Indonesia, a country which has over the years become increasingly more homophobic.

Gay Bali stands strong in the face of this rising tide of hatred towards our LGBTQ community in Indonesia thanks to its unique Hindu heritage and the diverse international community across the island.

For LGBTQ travellers, Bali offers a tropical paradise, gorgeous beaches, world-class restaurants, plenty of welcoming gay hotels and an entire strip of lively gay hangouts in Seminyak. We’ve put all of this right here in our lengthy gay travel guide to Bali based on our first-hand experience.

Why is gay Bali so gay friendly?

Before visiting Bali, we were wondering how such a gay haven can possibly exist in a country like Indonesia, where the Islamic government has been working ruthlessly to oppress its LGBTQ community. Over the years, more anti-LGBTQ laws are being passed in Indonesia. Whilst homosexuality wasn’t historically illegal in this former Dutch colony, the government has been ruthlessly trying to introduce laws that effectively criminalise consensual same-sex.

Despite what’s happening on the mainland, Bali continues to thrive, largely unaffected. Unlike the rest of the country, which has the largest Muslim population in the world, Bali is mainly Hindu – a religion which is more tolerant of our LGBTQ family! In addition, Bali is also very touristy, with a vast international community living/working here all year round. As a result, a gay scene has been able to thrive here for many years, along with several gay/male-only hotels.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at the Nomadic Boys

Bali Gay Travel Resources

Gay Bucharest – The Nomadic Boys

Bucharest, the capital city of Romania, is one of Europe’s hidden gems. It’s a fantastic city to explore – safe, with a rich history, many excellent bars, restaurants, a bustling Old Town and even a (small) gay scene. This is a big deal for an Eastern European country like Romania where LGBTQ rights are sadly lagging behind the rest of Europe.

Bucharest is also very inexpensive compared to other European capitals, and easy to reach with all major budget airlines across Europe. Score!

We used Bucharest as our base to explore Romania – a stunning country, with some impressive mountain scenery in Transylvania in the north and even a beach in the Black Sea at Constantia in the south. Bucharest is located right in the middle of the country with the best connections to all other parts of Romania. It’s also a super fun place to go out, whether in the vibrant nightlife of the Old Town of gay Bucharest or to one of the many gay and gay friendly places we set out in this guide.

This is our comprehensive gay guide to Bucharest from our personal experience and recommendations from friends with our favourite gay friendly hotels to stay, the gay bars/clubs, events, things to do and more.

Is Gay Bucharest Safe for LGBTQ Travelers?

Romania is generally not regarded as a gay-friendly country, but that is changing! As with much of East Europe, homosexuality is a massive taboo in society, which can get you into a lot of trouble if you shout out loud about it. On the plus side, however, as part of its ascension to the EU in 2007, Romania was forced to adopt an array of anti-discrimination laws, particularly in relation to hate crime and hate speech. Laws to recognise civil unions are being discussed and the right to change legal gender was introduced as far back as 1996. And thankfully, in a 2018 referendum, Romanians voted against banning same-sex marriage!

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at the Nomadic Boys

Gay Saigon – The Nomadic Boys

“Guys, just follow my lead and slowly cross the road with me: the cars and motorbikes will just weave their way around you…”

…so said our friend Quan who showed us how to navigate the crazy traffic of the streets of Saigon. Honestly, you’ve not been to Saigon until you’ve tried to cross over one of the main roads or taken a scooter ride through the busy jungle of moving vehicles; it’s something you won’t forget in a hurry!

Saigon is a lot of fun. It’s busy, frenetic, has super feisty locals, manic traffic and delicious street food. The gay scene is also pretty good, with a large LGBTQ community of both expats and locals.

This is one place we quickly fell in love with and know you will too! It’s definitely a must for LGBTQ travellers visiting South East Asia and we’ve got you covered in our comprehensive gay travel guide right here.

What’s the difference between Saigon and Ho Chi Minh City?

So we hear you asking, what’s the actual difference between Saigon and Ho Chi Minh City? Is it the same place?

Short answer – yes! The city has actually gone by many different names in its long and complicated history, reflecting different groups that have controlled it through the years. It was named “Gia Din” until the French conquest of the 1860s, when it was named Sài Gòn – and westernized to be “Saigon”. After the ‘Fall of Saigon‘ at the end of the Vietnam war, the city was renamed Ho Chi Minh City in honour of the late North Vietnamese president, Mr Ho Chi Minh.

Nowadays the name Saigon is still used to refer to the city centre around District 1, while Ho Chi Minh City generally means the entire modern city with all its districts. But don’t be surprised to still find places (especially hotels) named after Saigon as people often use the names interchangeably.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at the Nomadic Boys

Saigon Gay Travel Resources

Barcelona Gay Restaurants – The Nomadic Boys

Barcelona is a cosmopolitan and exciting city, with a vibrant gay scene. We love coming here to party, celebrate Barcelona Pride, relax and stuff our faces! With such a great mix of people and culture, it makes sense that Barcelona also has a thriving foodie scene.

The unique blend of Spanish, Catalan and Meditteranean cuisine, along with Barcelona’s seaside location, make this a wonderful spot for a gastronomic holiday. You will get to try the freshest seafood, the most delicious tapas and many other types of food from all over the world.

The main gay area of Barcelona can be found in Eixample (often nicknamed ‘Gaixample’), with many fabulous gay hangouts to check out. A word of warning, most restaurants in Barcelona are closed on Sunday, but we’ve included the best ones that still serve food on the day of the Lord (a day when we’re usually nursing a heavy hangover and craving a bit fat greasy burger…!)

During our visits to Barcelona, we’ve managed to experience lots of excellent gay owned restaurants, as well as those with a mostly gay clientele, which serve up the most delicious dishes. These are our favourite gay or gay friendly restaurants which we tried and loved in Barcelona.

Restaurante D’Divine

Restaurante D’Divine has been going strong for around 13 years and is the best place to come to watch a drag show with your meal. Whilst the menu is a bit limited, the cocktails are delicious and the shows, hilarious!

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at the Nomadic Boys

Barcelona Gay Travel Resources

Queer Ashland and Southern Oregon

Central Point Sunset

In September, we drove up to Southern Oregon to visit some dear friends who live in Central Point – a little town just north of Medford. We spent a few days up there, and visited their town, a little bit of Medford, and the towns of Jacksonville and Ashland.

Read moreQueer Ashland and Southern Oregon

The Perfect Italian Afternoon in San Francisco’s North Beach

Acquolina - North Beach

We’ve been to North beach in San Francisco a number of times, but I always complain about how it’s only restaurants and coffee shops – no other real parts of Italian culture seem to be represented.

Well, that’s changed, and for the better. If you’re an Italianofile like Mark and I, there’s now an Italian bookstore in the heart of North beach, chock-full of Italian language books.

Read moreThe Perfect Italian Afternoon in San Francisco’s North Beach

Queer Albuquerque

queer Albuquerque

We’re just back from the GRL (GayRomLit) con in Albuquerque – part of my “other” life as a queer writer.

We explored downtown and Old Town, and thought we’d share some of our favorite things about each. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency in the heart of the “new” downtown. Albuquerque is clean and quiet – at least in October. We were both surprised by the paucity of public art – there are very few murals or public statues and sculptures here.

Read moreQueer Albuquerque

Gay Friendly Montreal Restaurants – The Nomadic Boys

Gay Friendly Montreal Restaurants - The Nomadic Boys

Our chips-loving Frenchman Seby was dying to try the famous poutine when we visited Montreal. And he wasn’t disappointed. After a night out exploring the gay scene of Montreal, this gravy-cheese-curd-fries concoction is the perfect hangover food your body needs!

Read moreGay Friendly Montreal Restaurants – The Nomadic Boys