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5 Things You Can't Miss in San Francisco, California

Http-zappos.com-baytobreakers
This weekly travel column is brought to you by ManAboutWorld, an immersive digital gay travel magazine for iOS and Android devices from Billy KolberEd SalvatoKenny Porpora, and nearly 75 Global Correspondents.


San Francisco is pretty much always ripe for a visit. It’s perfection in the spring, they host the world’s craziest Pride in summer, and three big gay street fairs, culminating with Folsom in the fall. But for a city so full of crazy parties, the Bay-to-Breakers street party — a 103-year-old foot race — is the only one that officially takes over the city and gives you a glimpse into the no-limits, creative, quirky spirit of the city as a whole.

TowerSure, it’s the sh-t show to end all sh-t shows, and wherever you go, you’ll run into costumed hordes, drunken masses, and the lingering smell of weed. Nowhere is safe from kookiness. And that’s the point. So make a crazy costume, grab a couple beers, and get ready to walk from the bay to the breakers. (Or, don’t, and just pretend to walk it while veering off into some debaucherous, spontaneously combusting dance party in Alamo Square Park, like everybody else does.)

On May 17, 2015, the city will host the country's longest ongoing race, maxing out at 12K from the San Francisco Bay and ending where the breakers crash onto the Pacific’s Ocean Beach near the Great Highway. Visit baytobreakers.com for registration info, fundraising opportunities, and the rules of the road.

If you head to San Francisco for this wacky road race or any other reason this spring, there's a lot to see and do from Alcatraz to Golden Gate Park to the Castro and on and on. We cover the city in full in ManAboutWorld, but we recently fell in love with the following five spots, which we for your next visit to the City by the Bay. 

1. Hotel Vitale: Understated elegance makes this property one of our favorite boutique hotels. The Americano Bar in the lobby — one of the city’s best — is great for a nightcap (they also serve breakfast in the morning.) The hotel is walking distance to Boulevard, The Slanted Door, Blue Bottle Coffee and the Ferry Building Market. It’s the best hotel in the Embarcadero area.

2. Starbelly: This spot is quintessential San Francisco: an easy-to-miss exterior, a warm, sleek-wood decor, low-hanging lights, a covered patio, seasonal, locally sourced ingredients, and a sophisticated gay (and straight) crowd. Starbelly is the best Castro restaurant for a Saturday night dinner with a hip, lively atmosphere and great food.

3. Foreign Cinema: This oasis is enmeshed beside the Chilango grit of Mission St. At night, a silent, subtitled foreign film plays on a concrete wall above the warm glow of candle lit tables making it a nice choice for a romantic anniversary dinner; but the real surprise here is weekend brunch, featuring a sun-soaked patio, inside-outside seating, homemade pop-tarts, fresh-squeezed orange juice and a Croque Madame that will leave you speechless.

4. Churchill: Only a couple years old and already a neighborhood favorite, Churchill has a pool table, jukebox, and creative cocktails served in mason jars. Artsy specialists mix the drinks, but don’t be afraid to order a heavy beer in this place.

5. Toad Hall: The best of the gay clubs, Toad Hall has window seating, a dance floor, great music, and strong drinks. On crowded weekends, sit out on the back patio where there’s a separate bar and room to breathe. The bathrooms are crowded and lines are frustratingly long, but the good-looking crowd and familiar bartenders more than make up for it.

For even more insider recommendations in San Francisco for other destinations in the U.S. and around the globe, get ManAboutWorld Magazine on iTunes (iOS) or Google Play (Android). 

Image credits: Top: Zappos-Bay to Breakers; Right: David Ohmer; Bottom: Bhautik Joshi

BaytoBreakers2 Bhautik Joshi https---www.flickr.com-photos-captin_nod-8756170557
 


5 Things You Can't Miss In Athens, Greece

ATH4 Harvey Barrison https---www.flickr.com-photos-hbarrison-3856976453-

This weekly travel column is brought to you by ManAboutWorld, an immersive digital gay travel magazine for iOS and Android devices from Billy KolberEd SalvatoKenny Porpora, and nearly 75 Global Correspondents.

AthensAthens gets a bad rap. For most Western gay travelers heeding the siren call of Mykonos and Santorini, it’s an unavoidable waypoint, to be avoided except for a quick tour of the Acropolis. But stay long enough to explore, and you’ll see how outdated that reputation is. While the country is grinding through its sixth year of recession, there’s no mistaking the energy in the air, and for visitors this translates to a burgeoning street life that feels like New York’s East Village 20 years ago when the first swanky cocktail bars were opening. There are new museums (the five-year old Acropolis Museum is a marvel); the city offers cutting-edge art galleries and performances; and there’s a rapidly evolving food scene with a number of Michelin-starred restaurants muscling into Souvlaki land.

Neighborhoods once considered quite dull and pedestrian (to wit: Agia Eirinis’ mid-level fabric district, yawn) have erupted in recent years as hot gathering places. Eirinis’ labyrinthine streets are now punctuated by super cool spots with funky names (like TAF, see below), attracting hipsters à la Grecque (who can work thick beards like no other race on earth!). The limited gay bar scene starts quite late and Gazi, the gayborhood, is still a hot spot late at night though, like many Western gay ghettos, it seems to be on the wane, giving way to straight gentrification.

Athens is ready to reclaim the spotlight in any Greek itinerary. If you’re heading to Mykonos or Santorini, take a few days to discover it. If you’re coming for work, spend a few days to enjoy its pleasures. If you’re coming for the beaches (and there are spectacular ones nearby), bracket your visit with the city’s historic and modern urban appeal. An early June visit means lovely warm weather and Athens Pride, held June 13 in Klafthmonos Square. Whenever you visit, on your next trip to Greece, make time for Athens, but first be sure to check out our top five picks below.

1. New Hotel: This exciting, boundary-busting 79-room hotel with informal but efficient service is centrally located between the National Garden and the Acropolis just 200 yards from Syntagma Square. The New Hotel sports its Modernist Fifties facade proudly but inside it is cutting edge with its insides completely refashioned from the existing materials in whimsical and exciting ways.

2. KuzinaThis funky cool restaurant sprawls over several floors of a renovated 19th-century building. One floor is devoted to art. You can eat on the ground floor but it’s best to schlep to the Terazza, the rooftop, which opens in early afternoon. It’s best right at sunset.

3. TAF: TAF (the Art Foundation) is an incredibly cool multi-functional space offering drinks, art, culture and a buzzing hive of activity in a beautifully lit space. Hipsters and attractive Athenians of all ages and sexual orientations hoist craft brews and organic Greek wines while enjoying the latest art installation or live musical act. Our friends at GayGuide Greece have a full rundown of gay venues updated frequently.

ATH1 Greg Neate https---www.flickr.com-photos-neate_photos-8077571621-4. Acropolis & Acropolis MuseumThe best way to see the Acropolis is in tandem with the stunning new Acropolis Museum. There are arguments for seeing each first — our recommended approach is to go to the Acropolis with a guide who can explain everything (and sneak you by some of the horrendous lines. Then head directly to the fabulous, beautifully designed museum to get some context. 

5. Astir BeachAstir Beach located in Vouliagmeni is the most “in” beach where you’ll find lots of men, including many closeted guys with their girlfriends. Rent a car for the day; take a taxi; or take the tram to Glyfada, then bus no. 114 or 116. The beach is clean and you can find many amenities (shops, cafe, restaurant, and sport facilities). There are even ruins (a temple to Apollo) so you know you’re really in Greece.

For even more insider recommendations in Athens, Thessaloniki and our favorite islands, as well as opinionated travel information and inspiration for destinations in the U.S. and around the globe, get ManAboutWorld Magazine on iTunes (iOS) or Google Play (Android). 

Image credits: Top: Harvey Barrison; Right: Greg Neate; Bottom: Panos Asproulis


ATH5 Panos Asproulis https---www.flickr.com-photos-paspro-3630143075-


5 Things You Can't Miss In Palm Springs, California

PSP1 http---www.flickr.com-photos-richardnthomas-5731632158-

This weekly travel column is brought to you by ManAboutWorld, an immersive digital gay travel magazine for iOS and Android devices from Billy KolberEd SalvatoKenny Porpora, and nearly 75 Global Correspondents.

Palm Springs’ heyday may have begun with the early movie and TV stars, but the town’s gay renaissance began in the ‘80s, when gay Angelenos started buying the mid-century modern homes in a then seedy downtown. Today, Palm Springs is a stylish and popular weekend getaway from September through May, and never more glorious than it is right now. When LA is a “chilly” 68-70° in the winter and spring, Angelenos head to sunny Palm Springs for warm swimming pool weather. It’s a popular gay destination, but it’s a relatively small city, with a population of under 50,000 residents. The few gay bars and clubs it has are often deserted midweek, even in season, and when the temperature soars in the summer, the town really slows down.

PSP Inset http---www.flickr.com-photos-25063318@N00-But that slow pace is at the heart of Palm Springs’ appeal. This is a place to go when you want to do little more than relax by the pool, under a stunning vista of mountains and desert. There’s also tennis, golf, and just enough other active, cultural, outdoors and shopping distractions for those who can’t sit still, and a large concentration of mid-century modern design, making it a world capital for those who share that fetish.  

If you want to see the town packed to its Modernist gills with gays, then head there during its top homo event: the White Party, April 24-27, a long-running annual party that bills itself as the world’s largest gay music festival, and whose Sunday afternoon T dance is just fabulous. Before you head to the desert, be sure to review our top picks below and DOWNLOAD a PDF of our recently updated Palm Springs Travel Guide, for recently updated recommendations on where to stay, eat, play/meet for FREE. Oh, and pack plenty of sunblock! 

1. Pura Vida: This (clothing-required) gay guesthouse is the most stylish and modern in all of Palm Springs. Opened in late 2011, the rooms are large and flooded with ambient light, have travertine floors, comfortable king sized beds that are positioned in front of Fantasy Glow fireplaces and 40-inch flat screen TVs. The sparkling pool offers stunning views of the mountains.

Palm Springs Palms Linda Tanner http---www.flickr.com-photos-goingslo-6326261552-2. Palm Springs Art Museum: This impressive 150,000 square foot facility boasts major collections of modern,  contemporary, Native American and Western art, including two outdoor sculpture gardens. Admission is free every Thursday from 4-8pm, and the second Sunday of the month.

3. Happy hour: So many happy hours in this boozy little gay oasis, so little time! We love two in particular. Oscar’s Café and Bar is a fun bar with live music and drag performances. Its Sunday tea dance gets visitors and locals packing the place. We also never miss Wang's In The Desert, still the most popular happy hour in town (Friday afternoons). Come thirsty not hungry: Wang's is known for its cocktails and scene not the food!

4. Hacienda Cantina & Beach Club: This stylish yet casual venue features a restaurant with indoor and outside dining, a bar and a pool with lounge chairs and cabanas for rent for reasonable prices. Hot locals pack the thumping pool area on weekends. It’s located along side the main commercial drive in Palm Springs but faces the soaring mountains. Taco Tuesdays are particularly popular (the tacos are interesting and inexpensive). Day or night, it’s a little bit of Vegas in Palm Springs.

5. Ruben and Ozzy’s Oyster Bar and Grill: Oysters in the desert?! Sounds odd but during a recent visit this was the best meal we had. Ruben and Ozzy, the two brothers who own and run this establishment, have had long careers in the Greater Palm Springs area. They feature globally influenced seafood dishes (with fish tacos particularly popular). Carnivores, fret not: There are also excellent steaks.

Click here to download more great Palm Springs recommendations in our FREE PDF insiders guide.

For even more opinionated travel information and inspiration, get ManAboutWorld Magazine on iTunes (iOS) or Google Play (Android). 

Image credits: Top: Richard Thomas; Top right: Billy Kolber; Bottom right: Linda Tanner


Travel Diary: A Gay Myanmar Man Talks About Life in Yangon

Yangon

Yangon, also known as Rangoon, is the former capital of Myanmar (Burma), and the country's largest city. This article was written by Stefan and Sebastien and first appeared on their Nomadic Boys gay travel blog.

Myanmar is a very religious country. Around 89% of the population are practicing Buddhists. It has also retained the old colonial homophobic laws, which criminalize sodomy.

While Queen Elizabeth in the UK recently "signed" gay marriages into law, 150 years ago, Queen Victoria oversaw section 377 of the 1860 Penal Code being passed into law, which criminalized sodomy with up to 10 years imprisonment and a fine.

01-Queen-shop-Seb
Battle of the Queens: Queen Elizabeth of UK recently oversaw gay marriages whereas Queen Victoria in 1860 introduced Myanmar's homophobic laws.

Since 2010, the military government of Myanmar has made sweeping political reforms which opened up the country more, particularly press censorship.

But what's it really like? We've learned by now on our travels that even in quite homophobic countries in south Asia, there's one rule for tourists and another for locals. For example, being gay in the Maldives can get you in lots of trouble if you're local, but as a tourist less so!

In Yangon we found quite an active gay ‘scene’ and met Beau Tun (pronounced Bo-Tune), a local, who told us what it was like growing up in gay Myanmar and also about gay life in Yangon.

Read on, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Travel Diary: A Gay Myanmar Man Talks About Life in Yangon" »


What to Do on a Weekend in Montreal Outside the Gay Village: TRAVEL

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Montreal’s Gay Village has boys, booze, and clubs open past dawn. But if you want to start your mornings with legendary Montreal bagels and end your night at a lo-fi electro dance party before drifting home, spend a weekend in Montreal’s Mile End. It’s laid-back and welcoming to LGBT tourists and the tattooed, bike-riding, book-toting, locally-sourced goodness might have you wanting to stick around just a little longer.

Friday night:

Dine at Sparrow (5322 St-Laurent) for high-end pub fare by way of India and Morocco. The space feels like a British living room owned by a family of adventuring rugby player explorers circa 1930. If the weather isn’t cooperating, curl up on the windowside sofas and linger with a drink from a menu that repeatedly tops Montreal’s best cocktail lists. IMG_2362

Afterward, head to the Musée d’Art Contemporain (MAC). It’s not in Mile End, but the museum’s Les Nocturnes du MAC, on select Fridays throughout the year, are worth the trip. Check out French artist Sophie Calle’s Voir la mer, a short film capturing people’s first time seeing the sea, take a guided tour of the museum’s collection, hit the bar, and enjoy the DJs and video installations. This year’s Nocturnes are scheduled for April 10, June 16, and November 6.

Saturday:

Hit up one of Mile End’s two Montreal-style bagel shops, St-Viateur or Fairmount (263 St-Viateur and 74 Fairmount—both have their rabid acolytes), or grab a bag of croissants at Boulangerie Guillaume (5132 St-Laurent). Get your carb fix during an easy hike to the top of Mont Royal, the city’s namesake peak and Mile End’s neighbor, for perfect views out over the city and the St. Lawrence River.

7651417566_974f545ee0_zIf you went too hard Friday night (the Gay Village is, after all, a short walk from MAC) or don’t feel like hiking, spend the day gallery hopping. Galerie Yves Laroche (6355 St. Laurent), Occurrence (527 Av. Du Parc), Galerie d’Avignon (88 Laurier O), Articule (262 Fairmount O), and Centre Clark (5455 Av. de Gaspé) feature installation, performance and traditional work. At Monastiraki (5478 St-Laurent) you can pick up antiques and knick-knacks, or grab super-affordable limited edition prints and works on paper.

More on Saturday, and Sunday, and an extra tip, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "What to Do on a Weekend in Montreal Outside the Gay Village: TRAVEL" »


5 Things You Can't Miss In Dallas, Texas

Dallas Linda tanner https---www.flickr.com-photos-goingslo-9887346254

This weekly travel column is brought to you by ManAboutWorld, an immersive digital premium gay travel magazine from Billy KolberEd SalvatoKenny Porpora, and nearly 75 Global Correspondents.

We’re not really sure why rodeos are assumed to be a straight man’s sport. Think about it: a sexy guy in skin-tight jeans hanging on for dear life while a wild, bucking horse or bull tosses him around like a rag doll sounds like a typical Saturday night in West Hollywood to us. But never mind all that. The good news is, we don’t need those hetero rodeos because we have our own; and the now legendary Texas Tradition (gay) Rodeo in Dallas, Texas is the best one on the circuit for visitors.

From May 1-3, the rodeo will celebrate 31 years and more than $3 million raised for Texas charities. Whether you’re going to enjoy the gay rodeo antics, or protest animal cruelty, it’s a great time to visit Dallas and ride a cowboy. Speaking of cruelty, the Park Inn by Radisson is the official host hotel for the event, but our sources tell us it’s dingy, dated, and smells like pool hall. Don’t despair, we have plenty of incredible hotel recommendations for you including our top pick below. For the event itself, check the rodeo’s website for ticket and registration information and a list of events and entertainment as it becomes available. Grab your cowboy hats, boy (and our top 5 list below): You're heading to Texas!  

1. Warwick Melrose Hotel, Dallas: For distinctly classic luxury — and the bill that comes with it — the Warwick remains an outstanding choice for accommodations. The spacious rooms, elegant decor, and location smack dab in the Oak Lawn gay neighborhood make The Warwick a hard splurge to deny. Just be sure to wipe off your cowboy boots before you set foot in this classy joint.

2. The Pecan Lodge: Despite its name, this spot  is a restaurant, which has been voted Best BBQ in Dallas — no easy feat in this carnivorous state — making this a must-do for meat-lovers. Ask for the burnt ends —  a secret treat not on the menu.

3. The Dallas Museum of Art: Dallas offers a treasure trove of cultural assets, including the DMA with a robust permanent DFW7 http---www.flickr.com-photos-iain-4089452083- collection (including an important riches of Islamic art), intriguing temporary exhibits and robust programming including live musical performances.

4. FT33: FT33 is a design district favorite that serves modern, farm-to-table Southwestern cuisine in a beautiful setting with an open kitchen. Don’t miss the smoked potatoes and kale salad starters, though pork is the real star on the menu, especially during the new Tuesday night Swine & Wine happy hour, 4:30-6:30pm.

5. The Round-Up Saloon and Dance Hall: The Round-Up is easily the friendliest of Dallas’ gay bars — and one of the most fun. Warm, welcoming and a stop on just about everyone’s weekend circuit, The Round-Up is a great place to meet locals and show off that two-step (or learn). The bartenders are also generally quite happy to make introductions to any regulars they think you might like, especially if it’s a bit quiet.

For more opinionated travel information and inspiration, get ManAboutWorld Magazine on iTunes (iOS) or Google Play (Android). 

Image credits: Top: Linda Tanner; Right: Iain Farrell; Bottom: Doug Wertman

DFW1 http---www.flickr.com-photos-nanoprobe67-5948041661-


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