Gay Tbilisi – The Nomadic Boys

Gay Tbilisi - The Nomadic Boys

That Soviet hangover, so prevalent amongst gay bars and clubs across East Europe and Russia: your entry based solely on a bouncer’s snap decision as to whether you’re cool or hip enough to enter inside.

Yet in Tbilisi, it’s also a way the club bouncers and promoters monitor who comes inside in order to prevent any violent homophobic clashes happening.

Face control aside, we completely fell in love with Tbilisi, as do most travellers who visit, both gay and straight. This is a city with a crumbling, yet super picturesque old town – Instagram opportunities abound on every other street corner. There is an evolving queer scene with a super active LGBTQ community, growing massively in confidence by the minute! Tbilisi’s also super cheap, making it a popular base with many expats, digital nomads and property developers looking for the next big “up and coming” investment base in East Europe.

We came to gay Tbilisi to celebrate my birthday and quickly fell in love. This is a city you will want to return to, and for good reason. We know we will! 

We’ve put together our gay guide to Tbilisi based on our first-hand experience and embellished with other nuggets of information passed on to us by gay locals we met along the way.

Is Tbilisi gay friendly?

Compared to Barcelona, Berlin and Amsterdam, not really, no! But compared to the rest of Georgia and most other places in East Europe, we say a big ‘hell yeah!’ It’s all a matter of perspective of course. As a country, Georgia is renowned for being quite homophobic, largely because of the strong influence of the extremely conservative (and backwards!) Orthodox Church.

However, as a gay couple in Tbilisi, we were surprised by how more liberal and progressive the city is in comparison to the rest of the country. There is not only a growing queer scene here (including the largest gay club in the Caucasus), an annual Pride event, but thanks to the rise in tourism, more and more hotels are embracing LGBTQ travellers.

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 Chisinau, Moldova – The Nomadic Boys

When it comes to gay destinations, let’s just say gay Chisinau isn’t one that’s going to be at the top of LGBTQ travellers’ bucket list. This is one place where LGBTQ rights are sadly lagging behind the rest of Europe, sort of what you’d expect from an East European former Soviet country.

Chisinau is the capital of Moldova, one of the poorest and undiscovered countries of East Europe. Whilst the city itself is nothing much to write home about, it’s the ideal base for trips around the country, particularly for nearby wineries. It’s also a handy base for tours to the stunning Orheiul Vechi Monastery and the fascinating breakaway state of Transnistria.

Chisinau is itself a city with lots of bland Soviet-style buildings. There is no gay scene here nor any obvious queer bars/clubs. In relation to tourist sites, there are a few green spots worth checking out, in particular, the Lacul Valea Morilor. Also, the central park around the Stefan cel Mare statue always has something going on. But be warned, this is quite a strange city: whilst we felt totally safe here, it feels eerie at night due to the lack of street lighting. In the evening when it gets dark, Chisinau feels like some weird ghost town and we often had to use our iPhone torchlight to light our way!

In this gay guide to Chisinau, we’ve set out the best gay-friendly hotels to stay, gay friendly places to go out, restaurants, things to do and more. Be sure to check out our detailed Moldova gay country guide for more inspiration.

Is Gay Chisinau safe for gay travellers?

Look, let’s call a spade a spade; this is as Eastern European as you’re gonna get. LGBTQ life is still very much in the dark ages here, not helped by the strong Russian influence in daily life (Russian, along with Romanian remain the official languages of Moldova). Moldova is a very Orthodox country where most people are extremely religious and socially conservative. They even have a ban in place on same-sex marriage. This is not to say it’s unsafe for LGBTQ travellers. We felt absolutely fine here, but we did avoid PDAs and didn’t publicise our sexuality or relationship.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at the Nomadic Boys

Barcelona Gay Shopping – The Nomadic Boys

If you go to a city like Barcelona and don’t overdo it with shopping, did you even really go on holiday? We sometimes bring an extra suitcase with us just so we can fill it up with all the new clothes, art pieces and *cough* toys we find along the way!

The Barcelona gay shopping scene is fantastic for gay shops, with loads of different options. Whether you want to buy new speedos, harnesses, a few tank tops, or just something for a quick jerk-off(!), there’s always plenty to discover.

Sure, sex shops can seem quite intimidating from the outside, but hey, we’re all human. We all have desires, and these places are committed to helping you fulfil them. So shop til you drop using our guide to the best gay shops in Barcelona.

Gaixample, Heart of the Barcelona Gay Shopping Scene

The gay village of Barcelona is located in the large residential Eixample neighbourhood, bordered by the following streets: Carrer de Balmes, Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, Carrer del Comte d’Urgell and Carrer d’Aragó. This section of Eixample is nicknamed, “Gaixample” (pronounced “gai-sham-ple”). Read more about the gay scene in our comprehensive gay guide to Barcelona.

To get our bearings, we always look for the main Axel Hotel which is right in the heart of Gaixample, then work things out from there. Most of the shops in this guide are located in and around Gaixample. You could also orientate yourself on one of these gay tours of Barcelona!

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at the Nomadic Boys

Barcelona Gay Travel Resources

Pink Street Lisbon – Once Upon a Journey

Portugal’s Pink Street in Lisbon is hot and happening – you must’ve come across the photos on social media! But what’s the story? How to get to the pink street in Cais do Sodre and when is the best time to visit? It’s not just a picturesque street, it’s home to some of the best bars in Lisbon too! So if you’re looking for Lisbon nightlife – look no further. Let’s dive into everything you need to know about this quirky pink street.

Rua Cor-de-Rosa aka Pink Street

So how did the red light district turn pink?! Rua Nova do Carvalho was painted not that long ago actually! The painting started in 2011 and was finished by 2013. Since then, it has become locally known as Rua Cor de Rosa, meaning Pink Street. The project was supposed to make the neighborhood better – gentrification at it’s finest. And it has worked. Brothels closed, new bars opened and the street has replaced the shady nightlife and turned it into something hip.

Full Story at Once Upon a Journey

Lisbon Gay Travel Resources

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

Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar – Keep Calm and Wander

In 2014 (yes, I know, it’s been 4 years already), the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul was the world’s most-visited tourist attraction, according to Travel+Leisure. If you look at the Instagram hashtags of this marketplace, you’ll be dazzled by the colors of what this well-known tourist destination would offer to your four senses.

On the day I was there, the scene didn’t disappoint me. I was enamored not just by its history, sights, and colors but also how the Turkish vendors won’t bother you just by passing through their shops. Unlike other busy markeplaces I’ve been to in many countries (like China, Hongkong, Vietnam, and Thailand), the sellers at Grand Bazaar are not the pushy kinds. They’d leave you alone once you politely say, “I’m just window shopping.”

I was there in the early morning, so the crowd was still thin, and I felt like I was the only (or most) obvious tourist going around.

The Grand Bazaar is a 15th-century shopping mall that makes your shopping experience worthwhile. However, in the frenzy of buying all good things, do not forget to revere the character of the architecture and historical vibes sprouting from the walls.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Turkey Gay Travel Resources