Enjoying the first full day here. The view above is from our second floor balcony which I find unbelievably serene. The weather this morning started out overcast with a few passing sprinkles, but the afternoon has been gorgeous. I’ll write more about the W Spa and Resort after I return home, but as you can see the property does not lack for beautiful views of the water.
This afternoon I will dash off to the airport and if all goes according to plan, I’ll be checking into the W Retreat and Spa in Vieques by 8pm.
While away, my blogging may lag, but I’ll certainly be tweeting so join me on Twitter. On my last visit to Puerto Rico some of my tweets included hashtags like #HotDaddy and #UglyFriskyCouple. There is something so much more interesting about people watching while on vacation.
Posted in Travel, Twitter
Next week at this time I’ll be heading to the airport to leave for Puerto Rico, and after the bitterly cold temperatures of this week I am more than ready to go.
I am longing to feel the warmth of the Caribbean and look forward to having a few days that are free of conference calls and meetings. On this particular visit to Puerto Rico I’ll be at the W Hotel resort on Vieques. The image above was taken a couple years ago at El Conquistador Resort at my cousin’s wedding.
After Christmas I mentioned Sergio had surprised me with airfare to Puerto Rico so I cashed in points to stay at W Retreat and Spa on Vieques Island. Despite the fact that we’ve been to Puerto Rico several times, we’ve never been to Vieques. I’m curious if any readers have suggestions on things to do, places to eat or go out and of course tips about the W Hotel property. We’ve reserved a “Fabulous Ocean Front Escape” (their room description not mine), and the resort is highly rated on Trip Advisor.
Year in rewind: BosGuy’s favorite posts from 2012
To celebrate my partner’s birthday, I saved all during 2011 to surprise him with a cruise to celebrate. Attending a gay cruise had been on his bucket list. This was first published in Feb 2012.
I’ve recently returned from my first cruise. There were eight of us in total who joined thousands of gay men from around the world for the Atlantis seven day cruise through the Western Caribbean.
Perhaps you’re curious to see what one of these cruises is like. It’s impossible to capture everything; there’s too much to see and do, but here is a quick video of my take on the 2012 Atlantis Caribbean Cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas.
On Christmas Eve my partner surprised me with airline tickets to Puerto Rico at the end of January. Neither Sergio, nor I enjoy the cold weather and getting away to the Caribbean for a few nights sounds fantastic.
We have not been to Puerto Rico since December 2010 when we flew to my cousin’s wedding. The photo above was the view from our room at The Conquistador where we stayed. I love visiting this island and look forward to returning.
I recently returned from a trip to Brazil, and the last two nights of my vacation were spent at the Renaissance Sao Paulo so I thought I’d share my thoughts about this Marriott property.
Americans accustomed to hotels in the United States will appreciate the comfort of the Renaissance Hotel as well as the location just a few blocks from Avenida Paulista and near the beautiful Jardins District. The rooms are well appointed and provide ample space as shown below. The higher rooms also provide amazing vistas to view Sao Paulo – one of the largest cities in the world.
The property offers a lot more than just a convenient and comfortable room. The hotel gym is large and has helpful staff as does the pool and spa and there are several restaurants and bars for you visit should you not want to leave the property.
There happens to be a Starbucks just a block away, but I would encourage you to visit the gay-friendly cafe next door, Fran’s Cafe, which also provides a great option for a quick breakfast or lunch if you are on the go. If you will need the Metro, the hotel is just a couple of blocks from the Consolação metro station.
Built into a small hill in the Barra de Lagoa neighborhood is the Bistro Isadora Duncan. Above the restaurant is a treetop suite that is partly indoors, partly outdoors and 100% private. Co-owned by a friendly gay couple, Greg & Amauri, this 5 room suite complete with stunning views and a large jacuzzi to enjoy them.
Bistro Isadora Duncan is convenient to the local gay beach, Praia Mole. I first learned about the bistro and it’s one room suite in an old Passport Magazine article you may read here. If you are contemplating a trip to Florianopolis, this might be a good option depending on what you expect from your lodging and what your budget is like.
View from Isadora Duncan Suite
Despite the suite’s proximity to Praia Mole it is still quite a leg work out to get there and is about a 20 minute walk. All the hills you must navigate if staying in this part of the island are offset by the spectacular views and the fact that each morning Greg brings a delicious breakfast up the spiral staircase that leads to the entrance of the suite so you’ll feel the need to burn off some of those calories.
The amount of food Greg’s partner, Amauri, prepares is nothing short of a feast. While the space is a little worn, it remains very comfortable. Adding to the convenience is the very quaint Bistro below you, which serves delicious, albeit pricey dinners (~$150 per couple). Never fear, cheap eats can be found next door at Pacai, which is open Wednesday through Sunday and at other cafes.
Travel Tips: Owners Greg and Amaury don’t speak English so practice your Portuguese to see if you can communicate or grab a Brazilian friend to help.
To access the suite you must walk up a spiral staircase that is at the top of a very steep hill – this can be tricky if you have lots of luggage or are lazy.
Lastly, it can be tricky using a credit card over the phone and reservations may take more time than you anticipate so be patient and plan accordingly.
Our visit to Brazil concluded with the final two days of our vacation in Brazil’s largest city, Sao Paulo. This city lives in the shadow of the more famous, Rio de Janeiro, because it lacks the natural beauty that Rio is so blessed to have. However, I love this city of 12 million residents, which by the way makes it the largest city in the southern hemisphere.
The key to having a good time in Sao Paulo is having someone to show you around, because the size of this city makes it too large for a tourist to wrap their head around. Previously, we’ve hit the clubs – Sao Paulo is home to my favorite gay club called The Week, but this was a more relaxing visit spent eating and visiting with friends and family.
Paulista’s (a resident of Sao Paulo) are famous for their many delicious pizzerias and thousands of pizzas are made and consumed each night in this sprawling urban jungle. On this trip we enjoyed the fantastic restaurants in the trendy Jardins District near our hotel including a pizzeria on Saturday night called Pizza na Mao.
Should you be planning a trip to Brazil and have any questions about Sao Paulo or another area definitely give me a shout and I’ll be happy to share what I know.
Prior to visiting Florianopolis, I had heard that if you were gay you should check out Praia Mole. If you’d like to learn more about the official gay beach on the island be sure to check out my recent post, Praia Mole: Where the gays are.
If you would like to see another part of the island and not be the only gay man on the beach, venture over to in Jurere International; specifically by the beach in front of Taeko – a restaurant / bar area with beautiful views and warm water to enjoy.
Most who visit this part of the island seem to stay at the Jurere Beach Village. I had opted to stay elsewhere since the resort looked so family-friendly and if I go back I would seriously consider renting a house near Taeko, but if that is not an option, I’d suggest trying Jurere Beach Village since it is an easy walk along the beach to Taeko (5-10 minutes).
I would guess approximately 25% of the people here were gay if not more. In addition to the beach, which is beautiful, the neighborhood has constructed a walking / jogging path that gives you views of the the water to one side and beautiful mansions on the other side. The path also attaches to the various beach bars (like Taeko).
Florianopolis is a small city by Brazilian standards, but most who travel here never set foot in the downtown preferring the natural beauty the island has to offer, which includes scores of beaches, plenty of forest, dunes and a couple of gorgeous lakes. For years many gay Paulistas and Cariocas have been coming to Florianopolis, but recently this has become a destination for many gay travelers from Europe, Australia and North America. Just an hour flight south of Sao Paulo makes it relatively easy to get here.
Praia Mole is known as the gay beach on the island. This is a beautiful beach on the east side of the island that extends nearly 1 kilometer. The far end of the beach, near an outcropping of over-sized boulders is the gay bar, Bar do Deca. Although the nightclubs are all located in the city, if the weather is good – the guys will mostly be at Praia Mole.
Should you want to explore the city, another advantage to this part of the island is that it is fairly convenient to Florianopolis (a taxi is approximately $30 each way). We used our central location to visit other parts of the island; perhaps the most notable location was Sambaqui, a quaint neighborhood on the west side of the island. From our restaurant in Sambaqui we had a beautiful view of Florianopolis.
Here are more photos of this beautiful Brazilian beach. After we left this part of the island we ventured north to Jurere and the slightly newer and wealthier Jurere International. While Praia Mole rightly deserves the reputation as the “gay beach” there is no doubt that if you go to the beach club / bar Taiko in Jurere International you will be far from alone, but more on that in a future post.
I love to travel to Brazil. It is a warm tropical country in the Southern hemisphere that makes for a perfect getaway anytime but especially from December through March – when my home, Boston, is usually freezing. This year my partner and I opted to spend a week in Florianopolis (Floripa), which is a one hour flight south of Sao Paulo. While business brings some to Floripa it is the 200+ square mile island that draws thousands of tourists.
Our trip to Floripa started in the centrally located Barra da Lagoa neighborhood, which is a hilly stretch of land between the island’s Lagoa da Conceicao and the South Atlantic Ocean; specifically Praia Mole. We also hired a taxi to take us to Santo Antonio de Lisboa and Sambaqui where we had a very relaxing lunch with views of the city of Florianopolis off on the horizon. These two quaint neighborhoods are picture perfect and provided for a nice option to the beach since I needed a break from the beach (well to be more specific my pale skin needed the break).
Where to go in Barra da Lagoa: For food check out Bistro Isadora Duncan or for a less expensive option Pacai which is located next door. For fun during the day, pack a bag and walk 20-minutes to Praia Mole and set up next to the gay bar on the beach, Bar do Deca. I’ll write a bit more about Praia Mole this week.
Florianopolis prominence has made Jurere and Jurere International a hot spot for wealthy tourists from around the world. Located further north, the area is still being developed but has a definite Miami-vibe. Ocean-facing mansions and affluent neighborhoods with cobbled streets might make you forget you’re in Brazil. While many of the resorts in this area cater to families, there is still plenty of people watching and fun to be had in both Jurere and neighboring Jurere International which is a newer and even more affluent.
Where to go in Jurere: There are several options for dining but our favorite location was the beachside bar Taiko at Jurere International. While the kitchen won’t win any awards, the views from here are spectacular – regarding both the nature and the visitors. As with Praia Mole I’ll write a bit more about Jurere and Jurere International later.
While I recognize that nearly none of my readership will ever visit Brazil’s third largest city, Belo Horizonte (B.H.), it is my partner’s home city and a place we’ve traveled to over the years. B.H. or Belo for short, is a sprawling metropolis of more than 5 million. While this publishes, I am currently in Florianopolis, but thought I’d share a bit about where I was last week.
When we visit family in B.H. we make it a point to come to Lourdes for dinner. Depicted immediately below is the trendy o Dadiva Restaurant, Oak Restaurant and Wine Bar and one of the desserts we tried at Oak (yes, I said “one of”…)
There are many dining options here and in the surrounding blocks, which means there is plenty of pedestrian traffic and great people watching. Main plates range between $25 – $35.
If one does find themselves visiting Belo Horizonte or has friends who live there, I would suggest dinner in Lourdes followed by a night out at the gay clubs / bars in neighboring Savassi.
Photo from: Sean Howe’s blog Behind the Bean
Last spring while staying at the Westin Copley Place I noticed signs encouraging guests to rent New Balance sneakers and work out clothes for just $5 to make it easier to squeeze in a workout while traveling. It looks like the program was successful, because the hotel chain has announced it is now available in all 190 Westin Hotels.
The gear lending program will deliver New Balance sneakers and clothing to your room. The sneakers come with socks that are brand new and yours to keep as well as fresh and clean clothing in your size. Upon departure, guests simply leave the items in their room in the mesh bag everything was delivered.
You may read more about this program at westinnewbalance.com. I love this idea. Would you be inclined to try out the program?
Many Americans are making a mad dash to airports to fly home in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. If you happen to be traveling, I want to wish you a safe and speedy trip.