by Don Church and Tony Schillaci 17 March 2013
The spirit of the legendary Spanish conquistadors was again present in the Americas as the Madrid Pride committee won the honor of hosting World Pride 2017 last fall in Boston, Massachusetts. The event is expected to draw more than two million visitors for the week-long Madrid celebration in 2017. Book early.
The vibrant, openly gay-friendly city of Madrid was unanimously chosen by more than eighty delegations from cities around the world that make up InterPride, the International Association of Pride Organizers.
Madrid’s winning proposal, including a dynamic video, was presented by Miguel Sanz, representing the city’s mayor and the CVB; long-time equality activists Juan Carlos Alonso and Carlos Sanchez, chair and vice-chair of Madrid Pride; and Monica Duce and Emilio Aguilera from AEGAl, a group of entrepreneurs and other professionals from the LGBT community.
The first LGBT associations and demonstrations began in the late 70′s, especially after the death of General Franco and the establishment of a constitutional monarchy in 1975. Madrid’s first official Pride – Orgullo Gay – event drew 10,000 celebrants in the 80’s and grew to one million, including gay, straight, and their allies to celebrate diversity and equality in 2012. The mayor of Madrid, Ana Botella, has thrown her support behind World Pride 2017, and one of the co-sponsors is The Office of Tourism of the City of Madrid and its director Miguel Sanz and his team of travel professionals.
This year, 2013, from July 3-7, Madrid and the LGBT community join forces for an action-packed week of festivals, parades, and cultural happenings, lots of fun for everyone – including families, gay and straight.
The summer fun begins in Madrid on July 3 with International Gay Pride Day. This is the day when streets in the Chueca neighborhood are decked with flags and bunting and good cheer in the local bars as crowds overflow into the street. The festivities reach their climax on Saturday July 6 when the parade is estimated to attract more than one million people from all over the world. The parade floats begin at Puerta de Alcalá (6pm) and finish in the Plaza de España (11pm). On Sunday the 7th it’s time for brunch and rejuvenation from the all-night parties.
Following tradition, a welcome address in Plaza de Chueca opens Pride Week. Squares across the neighborhood will be packed with cultural events, concerts, performances and music. Calle Pelayo is the setting for Madrid’s best drag queens to strut their stuff and is also where a riotous high-heels race is held, with men of all ages trying to outrun each other wearing tastefully elegant shoes. Plaza del Rey is hosting the MuestraT Festival, a showcase for young musical talent, jazz sessions and a hand-clapping Flamenco Pride night on Friday 5th.
From July 4 to 6, Plaza de Callao will showcase international DJs and guest appearances by pop artists, and the grand gala final of the Mr. Gay Spain competition. The biggest party is set to take place on the 6th in Plaza de España, where Soraya and Marta Sánchez will be making thousands of people get up and dance.
The whole Chueca neighborhood, which is located adjacent to the popular Gran Vía, is the epicenter of the festivities, is a good example of the tolerance and respect typical of an open and cosmopolitan city with a 21st-century sensibility. Chueca is open to a whole range of divergent lifestyles. The festivities that are celebrated by all people who want to live their lives openly and freely. Proof of the fact is that instead of calling them the “Gay Pride festivities,” all Madrilenos refer to it as “the Pride festivities.”
In 2009 and 2010 Madrid was voted Best Gay Destination by fans of MTV’s Logo channel. And, the Madrid Pride (Orgullo) party has also become the most popular fiesta for mainstream folks and families in all of Spain.
As well as open-air concerts, outdoor dining and drinking, myriad events and the madess typical of Chueca nights, MADO (Madrid Pride) is also a week packed with cultural and activist programs as part of the MUESTRA-T festival, hosted by different art galleries, cinemas, bookshops and associations that support equal-rights causes.
Gay tourists will feel especially comfortable in Madrid’s charming Chueca district. This traditional neighborhood has become a trademark for modernity, avant-garde fashion, the latest designs, the craziest parties, delicious cuisine and excellent music and clubs.
Chueca unites people who have been living here forever and people who are new to the area, and all of them coexist with the thousands of visitors that arrive daily. The neighborhood’s two main avenues are Calle Fuencarral and Calle Hortaleza, which are home to the most trendsetting fashions. It’s not just about fashion – there is also furniture, gifts, books, interior design, exquisite perfume shops, and designer, luxury and affordable hotels. In a nutshell, Madrid is a most beautiful, all-inclusive major world capitol.
The first thing you need to do before you set out to visit Madrid is to find an accommodation suited to your tastes and needs. This city is truly open to diversity. You’ll feel at home anywhere, so there’s no need to look for a “gay hotel” just to feel comfortable. However, if you want to make the most of the gay scene and everything else the city has to offer, you’ll probably prefer gay-friendly accommodation located in or close to Chueca.
When it comes to luxury establishments, The Westin Palace (Plaza de las Cortes, 7) is noteworthy for the special attention it pays to LGBT guests, who often celebrate weddings here (check out their facilities and services). Built in 1912 in the Art-Nouveau style, it has famously put up such famous figures as the spy Mata Hari, Pablo Picasso, Federico García Lorca, Salvador Dalí, Buster Keaton, Orson Welles, Rita Hayworth and Ernest Hemingway. To protect the privacy of their guests, Palace hosts don’t name those who’ve stayed there lately, although we did hear that Jennifer Lopez was a recent guest.
La Zona www.hostallazona.com offers reasonable prices and is owned by a gay couple who decided a few years ago to create an easygoing atmosphere. Situated in the heart of Chueca, the hostel offers cozy en suite bedrooms in a truly friendly welcoming environment. Complete with breakfast service, the hostel also offers apartments for clients looking for a little more independence or extended visits.
Another good budget option is the Hostal Puerta del Sol at Puerta del Sol 14, a long-standing establishment in the heart of Madrid, offering basic comforts, including breakfast, at reasonable prices.
For visitors who like to stay in hotels where design is everything, try the Hotel Room Mate Oscar Plaza Vázquez de Mella 12, [+34] 91 701 11 73) in the heart of Chueca. It has state of the art interior design and is also one of the trendiest establishments in which to have a drink, lunch or dinner in its second-floor Paris-Tokyo restaurant overlooking the busy street action. It serves superb French-Asian fusion cuisine in a glamorous setting. The personable host, Pepe Eiroa, makes sure that everyone of her guests is treated like a rock star.
For help in finding just the right hotel for you, contact Ian Karlsson (a hard-working gay activist) and his team of international specialists at www.bookingay.com. It’s a world-leading online booking system for more than 1000 gay, lesbian and gay-friendly accommodations and events all around the world.
For nightlife, a fun and crowded bar in Chueca is Liquid, with video screens, a DJ and dancing – Liquid heats up later than 11 p.m. http://www.liquid.es/ Another option is Delirio Live, a Chueca club with a fun party vibe. http://www.deliriochueca.com.
In the Lavapies neighborhood, the newest lesbian club is Club 33. With cultural events every Sunday, (http://club33madrid.es) it is close to the Anton Martin metro station.
For the Circuit followers who prefer huge venues with 4000 revelers, a monthly rave is the LGBT big party WE Party. (http://www.wepartyontour.com) The website will show where in the world, in addition to Madrid, the parties are being held.
And the grandpapa of them all, Museo Chicote www.museo-chicote.com on the Gran Via has been around since Hemingway decided to sit in a corner and write his Spanish Civil War dispatches while drinking. Chicote serves giant cocktails, and only cocktails. Have a Singapore Sling or a Bahama Mama for about 10 – 15 Euros. Listen to great jazz while you chat and drink. Everyone meets at Chicote for before and after dinner cocktails. It’s just the best. The owners also manage Ohm Dance Club (http://www.ohmclub.es) one of the main clubs for LGBT people in Madrid.
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Written by Don Church and Tony Schillaci, Out and Travelin’br>
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by Don Church and Tony Schillaci 18 January 2013
By Don Church and Tony Schillaci, Out and Travelin’ ™
If you think that size matters and bigger is better, it will be strike-up-the-band day when the new 4000-passenger Breakaway arrives in her year-round homeport of New York City. While dockside, arriving passengers and spectators will have no trouble spotting the Breakaway’s hull with its eye-popping graphics by the legendary pop-artist Peter Max.
This latest addition to the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet begins sailing to Bermuda every Sunday beginning on May 12, 2013. In the fall, the fun-filled Breakaway will turn its compass toward the southern Caribbean, the Bahamas and Florida from October 2013 through April 2014.
In keeping with the spirit of its Manhattan homeport, the Norwegian Breakaway’s entertainment will include three Broadway shows: five-time Tony nominated “Rock of Ages,” the dance sensation “Burn the Floor” and “Cirque Dreams and Dinner Jungle Fantasy.” The comedy troupe The Second City, Howl at the Moon dueling pianos, and New York’s own Slam Allen will also perform on the luxury liner. Celebrity Chef and Food Network star Geoffrey Zakarian will also debut his first restaurant, Ocean Blue, on the Norwegian Breakaway.
And to set a rhythm that’s in step with its hometown, the official Godmothers of The Norwegian Breakaway will be the dazzling Radio City Music Hall’s Rockettes. That shows there’s no business like show business on this gem of the oceans.
Two of the many spacious features of the ship, The Waterfront and 678 Ocean Place, are unique seaside venues that will enhance the guests’ connection with the ocean while dining, strolling and shopping.
The top decks of Norwegian Breakaway will feature the first Aqua Park at sea with five full-size water slides, including twin free fall slides-the first ever at sea, and a three-story sports complex that includes the largest ropes course at sea, a nine-hole miniature golf course, basketball court, rock climbing wall and… well, you’ll just have to see for yourself how much fun stuff for all age groups can fill a such a large luxury resort-at-sea
Stateroom options are many and varied: The Haven by Norwegian has 42 suites at the top of the ship with eighteen more located throughout the other decks. All through the ship there are innovative single studios, staterooms with ocean views, balcony and mini-suites, spa suites and bright inside cabins for budget-minded passengers.
The Breakaway will offer a true Ice Bar onboard, which will be kept at 17 degrees F. and feature ice sculptures of New York icons; the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and Chrysler Building. The Ice Bar is an arctic-like frozen chamber, guaranteed to give guests an ultimate thrill chill. The bar, seating and glasses will all be made entirely from ice. Located
on deck eight, the Ice Bar will accommodate approximately 25 passengers at a time. They will be given hooded coats and gloves to keep warm. An additional charge for the Ice Bar will include two signature cocktails. You’ll need to book early to enjoy a Central Park, Times Square Lights or Broadway Dream cocktail. For non-alcoholic drinks, the Lady Liberty and the Coney Island are in the mix.
According to Cruise Critic, when it comes to gay-friendliness, “The most open and accessible ships include Norwegian Cruise Lines, with at least one FOD meeting on every ship and on every cruise, and they have moved in recent years toward a consistent policy for their valued gay/lesbian passengers. (We should note that, while the cruise lines have this official policy in place, it is possible that a particular cruise may omit the meetings for various reasons, such as scheduling, with no slight intended.) NCL may now also include the term GLBT in the listing to avoid any confusion.” Should you have any trouble finding a GLBT group social onboard, contact the Cruise Director or the Concierge office for information and assistance.
For a virtual cruise of the incredible variety of features and accommodations on Norwegian Breakaway, visit www. breakaway.ncl.com/. To book a cruise on Norwegian Breakaway, contact a travel professional or call Norwegian at 800-327-7030. Online visit www.ncl.com.
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by admin 5 March 2012
Gay&Lesbian travel is visible at ITB Berlin since 2003 but it became one of the established ITB segments in 2010.
In the meantime, the Gay & Lesbian Travel Pavilion is becoming an increasingly important landmark. Thus at ITB Berlin 2012 more than a dozen exhibitors will be presenting the latest trends and products in this market on a record display area covering 200 square metres in Hall 2.1a.
In 2012, in addition to the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA), which with its rainbow-coloured columns will form the central part of the pavilion, there will also be numerous new exhibitors at the show.
For the first time the Brazilian Tourist Board Embratur is represented in the Gay & Lesbian Travel section with its own stand, as is the tour operator Dertour, which at ITB Berlin is also presenting the first edition of its Gay Travel catalogue. Exhibitors from Greece, Mexico, Portugal and Poland will be celebrating their debut this year. Tom OnTour, Spartacus and the publisher Jackwerth Verlag will once again be participating, as well as the Argentina Gay&Lesbian Chamber of Commerce that will be presenting “Queer Tango” on their stand on ITB Saturday.
source: official ITB website
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by Thorsten Kadel 27 November 2011
Gay-ville.com is a new website to rent, compare and even sublet gay-friendly properties for ever-cheaper travel. Many times we find ourselves having trouble finding reasonable accommodations when we travel. The options are usually expensive, and they don’t always fit with the average gay traveler’s needs in terms of location, facilities, and a friendly attitude.
Gay-ville.com is a new website, launched in early June this year. Its goal is simple: to make gay tourism easier and less expensive, enabling gay people to travel as frequently and freely as they would like. How does it work? The website provides a platform of services for the gay tourist in the world’s most popular gay destinations. It focuses only on gay-friendly cities, which attract massive numbers of gay tourists all year round such as New York, Berlin, Madrid, San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro, and Barcelona among others.
The website is primarily dedicated to finding accommodations in these big cities. Hotel prices there are usually not cheap at all, especially in the center of the city and/or the gay area and during the high season, and all the more so during a gay event (such as pride or a festival) when hotels are overpriced and overbooked.
Gay-ville.com allows anyone anywhere to publish his own apartment or a room in his apartment for sublet. For example, if Dave from NYC wants to go on vacation in Barcelona, he can sublet his apartment to another gay guy in the interim, thus saving the accommodation expenses of his trip. In Barcelona he has the option to rent an apartment from Pedro, who lives there (he doesn’t have to – it’s not an apartment swap website), and it will cost him less than a hotel.
Beyond accommodations, Gay-ville provides you with all the necessary information about your destination: what to see and what to do, where the gay area is, how liberal is the city, which events and parties are taking place during your stay, gaymaps, transportation guides, tips about the city from local gays, and a local gay lingo. Eliad Cohen, Gay-ville’s VP Business Development: “We were surprised by the amount of new users in the website, who joined in a short period of time. We are certain that the website will soon grow to be one of the leading key players in the international gay travel scene, for the benefit of gays everywhere around the world.”
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by Don Church and Tony Schillaci 22 November 2011
By Don Church and Tony Schillaci, Out and Travelin’™
With the coming of winter it’s comforting to know that fair weather is an easy drive from Connecticut and other northeast states along the interstate highways to Port Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, New Jersey.
We drove after the morning rush hour to Port Liberty and parked ($19 a day) in the secured lot, a short walk to a dock-side terminal. We boarded the gay-friendly Celebrity Cruises newest Solstice-class ship, Silhouette, one of the most technologically advanced, spacious and luxurious ships afloat today.
The ship offers seven-night cruises to the Eastern and Southern Caribbean from Port Liberty this winter. www.celebritycruises.com.
For a few extra dollars we recommend booking the AquaClass accommodations – you’ll have an upscale stateroom with a veranda. It includes unlimited access to the AquaSpa which works closely with Elemis®, one of the leading providers of health and beauty solutions. The spa offers a wealth of transformative treatments (acupuncture, yoga, beauty services, massage) that draw on cultures from around the world.
Another perk is being able to dine in AquaSpa’s hugely successful specialty restaurant, Blu. Executive chef Jacques Van Staden’s menus offer light, flavorful dishes prepared using natural reductions and sautéing methods. The high-quality and expertly prepared dishes have deservedly won raves from cruisers – and us. For those not in AquaClass a table can be booked at Blu, based on availability for an extra charge.
Sailing from Port Liberty to the Caribbean, it’s always fair weather in the gigantic solarium with its soaring crystal- clear roof. This area will be a welcome refuge during the first and last days of cruising between Port Liberty and the Caribbean. Once in warmer waters, some guests might just decide to forgo the use of the outdoor pool just to indulge in the style and luxurious feeling offered in the lush Solarium.
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