Perhaps I should have written this a few months ago since so many take summer vacations, but I save most of my travel for later in the year, preferring to enjoy summers in New England. Regardless, these money saving travel tips remain true year round.
1. Be flexible with your travel dates. Why does everyone plan vacations that start and end on weekends? You can take the same number of vacation days and leave mid-Week. The upside is airfares are often cheaper and you have two short work weeks.
2. There have never been more lodging options. Americans tend to stick to US chains when traveling abroad, but try local chains or independent hotels. You can often read reviews of these properties on sites like TripAdvisor.com and the popularity of sites like AirBnB and GayHomestays give you even more choices if you’d like to look beyond traditional lodging establishments.
3. Check out the destination’s tourism sites. Cities in particular often have websites set up to promote tourism that include discounts to places of interest to tourists and public transportation. It is worth checking out before you go.
4. Eat where the locals eat. Every city has great “cheap eats” that locals know and love. We always go out and splurge on a few meals, but some of our best dining experiences have been at places frequented by locals. Do a little homework up front or when you arrive ask locals for tips and suggestions.
5. Check local blogs for tips. You must’ve seen this one coming from a mile away. There are bloggers everywhere now and chatting with a local on where to stay, what to see (and more importantly what to avoid) can save you more than just money.
As I was perusing Facebook yesterday I stumbled upon this breathtaking photograph of the Sydney Opera House at sunset. It reminded me how much I loved Sydney (and all of Australia) when Sergio and I visited back in November and December of 2009. I wrote about that trip quite a bit. Here are two posts you may find interesting if you share my fascination / love of Australia, An Americans’ observations about Australia and Seductive Sydney.
Much thanks to Marc Keeper who posted this on his FB page. It made my evening.
Paris is one of my favorite cities in the world so when I read a recent article on Huffington Post Travel, I knew I wanted to share it.
While I love the view of Paris from the Eiffel Tower, I think when Sergio and I next visit, we’ll likely skip the inevitable long line and head out to Tour Montparnesse; a massive skyscraper less than two miles from the Eiffel Tower that has an open air terrace on the 56th floor – some 650 feet above the city’s skyline. Follow my link to check out the amazing view you may appreciate (and photograph) when you visit Paris – wicked awesome view.
Maverick Men Mayan Adventure: Nov 30 – Dec 7, 2014
Boston’s most notorious gay couple, The Maverick Men, are hosting 3,600 gay men on a private charter cruise that leaves from Miami, Florida with ports of call in Key West, Mexico and Honduras and you can join them.
Cole and Hunter make for great travel buddies. We enjoyed our time together last December in Brazil, but we will have to miss the cruise since we’ll be in South America. Perhaps you’d like to join the cruise and tell me all about it? More info about the cruise is here.
BosGuy, Hunter and Cole – Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro
I will admit that I have a soft spot for New Jersey guys. I’m not sure if it is the hair, accent or guido vibe so many of them have, but if you suffer from the same affliction you may want to take a road trip to Atlantic City, New Jersey for Sand Blast Weekend, July 18-20th. I won’t be able to check out this event but two of my friends, Cole and Hunter – The Maverick Men, will be down there this year. If you see them tell them BosGuy says, “Hello”.
Sand Blast Weekend – Atlantic City, NJ – July 18-20th
This past weekend Sergio and I packed our bags and joined friends for a fun weekend in Ogunquit, Maine. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Ogunquit is another popular beach town for the LGBT community. It is a much smaller, less busy option to the craziness that defines Provincetown during the summer months.
I really love going to the beach in Ogunquit but if that isn’t your thing, the nearly 1.5 mile Marginal Way walk is a great alternative, as is spending time in the tiny village shopping, eating or walking down to the more quiet and picturesque – Perkins Cove. Below are some photos from this past weekend’s fun in Ogunquit.
If you have any questions about planning a day trip or longer stay in Ogunquit, Maine – feel free to reach out to me with your questions.
View of the dunes as you walk to the beach
A different kind of view – equally as engaging
Front Porch piano bar afternoon sing-along
Love the second floor deck at Maine Street Bar
Ogunquit is picture perfect no matter where you turn
I’ve often commented on how much I love Boston and am happy to act as any newcomer’s or visitor’s concierge, answering questions or providing suggestions. While I realize my preferences may not be yours, I thought I’d share ideas on what to see over three days in Boston. I’ve taken care to avoid suggesting places only a trust fund baby can afford. You can read my suggestions from Day 1 Here and Day 2 Here.
Day 3: Three (Gay) Days in Boston
What would a visit to Boston be without checking the Freedom Trail? This 2.5 mile walk chronicle’s America’s history in the years leading up to and during the American Revolution. Although the walk technically starts on Boston Common, I’d suggest starting your morning by splurging at The Omni Parker House dining room for breakfast just a few blocks from the start of the trail. This restaurant has been serving Boston and Boston travelers since 1855 and is the birthplace of the Boston Cream Pie. It also has the distinction of having employed Mao tse-Tung Ho Chi Minh and Malcolm X.
After walking the Freedom Trail you are going to be tired so spend the afternoon taking a 90-minute Duck Tour. Before or after your tour (you decide) grab lunch on Boylston Street in the Back Bay. I’m partial to the patio of Atlantic Fish Co. if you’re not a fan of seafood or want a cheap eats alternative check out Cafe Jaffa a few blocks away.
Start your final evening by visiting another iconic Boston restaurant, The Oak Long Bar + Kitchen, in the Fairmont Copley Hotel in Copley Square. For dinner on the cheap head over to a South End neighborhood mainstay, Anchovies, for basic, affordable homestyle Italian-American that is just a few blocks away. For something a little more interesting, try Myers + Chang – a Pan-Asian Tapas restaurant on Washington & Berkeley Street. Take a taxi rather than walk – it should be about $6 from Copley; again make reservations. After dinner walk just two blocks down Washington Street to Boston’s newest gay bar – more of a Bear / Sports Bar – Cathedral Station.
I’ve often commented on how much I love Boston and am happy to act as any newcomer’s or visitor’s concierge, answering questions or providing suggestions. While I realize my preferences may not be yours, I thought I’d share ideas on what to see over three days in Boston. I’ve taken care to avoid suggesting places only a trust fund baby can afford. You can read my suggestions from Day 1 Here.
Day 2: Three (Gay) Days in Boston
Leave all the walking for the afternoon today and start your morning at the original The South End Buttery on the corner of Shawmut Ave and Union Park St. Relax and enjoy the morning hub bub, use the free wifi and people watch at this busy corner coffee shop that serves some of the best coffee in town.
In the afternoon head over to Ernesto’s Pizza on Salem Street. It isn’t as famous as some of its neighbors but it is damn good, has no lines and the slices are HUGE. Then go to The Modern Pastry to get something decadently sweet you can enjoy while you stroll down The Rose Kennedy Greenway, which offers views of Boston’s skyline, harbor and public art. When you end your walk near Chinatown, take a left and head over to Boston’s only remaining Gay Bookstore, Calamus Bookstore (at 92b South Street; open 11am – 7pm Tues – Sat and 12-6pm Sun). Peruse the shelves and support this great LGBT bookstore with a purchase or two.
In the evening go to Sister Sorel on Tremont Street (or next door if it is nice weather – Tremont 647) in the South End to carouse with locals. Skip the food here; it is the n’hood vibe that makes the place fun. While it isn’t technically a gay pub, there is always a quorum present. When you get hungry head over to Stella on Washington Street; it may seem like a tough area but it is safer than you’d ever imagine so walk like a local down W. Brookline Street until you arrive at Stella. If it is the weekend, ask for directions to the back bar where it is easier to snag a seat. After dinner head to the front bar for drinks and people watching.
I’ve often commented on how much I love Boston and am happy to act as any newcomer’s or visitor’s concierge, answering questions or providing suggestions. While I realize my preferences may not be yours, I thought I’d share ideas on what to see over three days in Boston. I’ve taken care to avoid suggesting places only a trust fund baby can afford.
I’m happy to provide suggestions on places to stay but for the purpose of this series of posts I am going to assume you have reserved a hotel, B&B or apartment in downtown Boston and will provide suggestions with dining options for morning, afternoon and evening.
Day 1: Three (Gay) Days in Boston
Start your morning at Panificio Bakery on Charles Street in Beacon Hill. Grab a cup of coffee, tea or juice and a decadent, warm carb recently pulled from the oven that you can enjoy while walking along the Charles River. This public park offers great views of Back Bay, Cambridge (and men walking, running and biking).
In the afternoon, enjoy a relaxing picnic in Boston’s Public Garden (the nation’s first botanical garden). Call The Upper Crust in Beacon Hill (617) 723-9600 and ask them to walk or bike over your pizza order. All you need to have is a cell phone and a credit card. They will bring the pizza, drinks, plates and napkins. You can enjoy the park, the views and of course the pizza. After lunch take a stroll through Back Bay: enjoy the Commonwealth Mall with sculptures on each block with some of the neighborhoods most beautiful homes or walk along Newbury Street (Boston’s version of 5th Avenue) which includes both national luxury chains as well as one of a kind boutiques.
In the evening head over to The Trophy Room on the corner of Berkeley and Chandler Street in the South End. Grab a cocktail (or two) at this gay friendly neighborhood bar and when your appetite reminds you it is time to eat, walk the four blocks to Aquitaine on Tremont Street (reservations are strongly suggested). I won’t presume to know your preferences and am confident that everything on the menu would be to your liking. After dinner if you are in the mood for a 20 or 30-something crowd head to Club Cafe on Columbus Ave and Berkeley Street where there is always a crowd and dancing in the backroom. If you would like something more relaxing walk two blocks down Union Park to Boston Chops and enjoy a cocktail and the guys who congregate here after dinner by the bar.
Roundtrip nonstop service from Boston’s Logan Airport to Istanbul Turkey started today. This city is definitely on my bucket list to visit and with introductory roundtrip fares starting at $799 it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility, but sadly it won’t happen this year.
What cities would you like to see Boston have a nonstop flight to that Logan doesn’t currently service?
In my opinion, Laguna Beach stands out from a pretty but otherwise indistinguishable Southern California coastline because of its charm and sense of community that is apparent when you walk around the bustling downtown. Laguna seems to have it all with a gorgeous coastline and beaches that you can appreciate from near or up above in the hills that ring and separate it from its neighbors.
In full disclosure, Sergio called Laguna Beach home for seven years prior to moving to Boston so part of our connection is due to his many fond memories and the friends we have there like Fernando & Arden who live in their home which was originally built in 1939. They lovingly call this sprawling home with breathtaking views of Laguna Beach “Casa Laguna”. Aside from having a delicious dinner at Casa Laguna made with much TLC by Fernando, Sergio and I enjoyed walking the many parks and spending time at West Street Beach which happens to be the “gay beach” in Laguna or “Gayguna” as Instagram called this beach when I tagged this photo of Sergio goofing around and enjoying the warm weather.
West Beach – Laguna Beach, CA
If you do have an opportunity to visit Laguna Beach, I would also recommend driving up to the park “Top of the World”, which has the best views of Laguna and includes a park with hiking paths. Laguna also has a series of small parks along the coast worth visiting. Some of my favorites included the tiny Crescent Bay Point Park, Heisler Park and Main Beach Park (for the people watching) . If all that walking makes you thirsty grab a cocktail at the Mexican restaurant, Las Brisas. It abuts Heisler Park and has an outdoor patio overlooking the park and water.
Heisler Park – Laguna Beach, CA
An excuse to visit my brother, sister-in-law and my youngest niece brought me to Carlsbad, CA last month. For those unfamiliar, wikipedia describes the Southern California town as, “an affluent seaside resort city occupying a 7-mile stretch of Pacific coastline 87 miles south of Los Angeles and 35 miles north of downtown San Diego.”
If you have the cash and like suburban life this may be the perfect place. While I look forward to returning to visit my family and enjoy the temperate climate, I think I’m too much of a city kid to ever feel comfortable in such a setting for more than a few days. However, the accommodations, family and the allure of a new place made the trip one I’ll remember for quite some time.
During my stay I did find a few places I enjoyed. Perhaps the best find was Cafe Elysa, which has a large assortment of pastries replenished each morning from its sister cafe called French Pastries Cafe. Cafe Elysa is one block from the beach and has a large covered patio that also includes fire pits to help keep you warm when there is a chill in the air. I enjoyed the coffee, pastries and breakfast foods through out the day, proximity to the beach and people watching. Another cafe just a few blocks away in what looks like an over sized strip mall called Vinaka Cafe was also good and although I didn’t try it, the local chain coffee house, It’s a Grind looked like it was worth trying. If you like chocolate, check out the Carlsbad Chocolate Bar, a lovely shop that sells chocolate and wine (I wish Boston had such a shop). Since we didn’t eat out much for dinner I only had the opportunity to try The Compass, which I’ll review in another post.
Something I didn’t expect and enjoyed was the murals painted on the sides of shops, in parking lots and around the town like this image from the wall of a parking lot in Carlsbad.
If you are planning a trip to Carlsbad, CA and you have any questions leave me a note in the comments section of this post or feel free to email me. I have more information about some of the places mentioned above.
Visiting Lisbon and the Azores from Boston just got a heck of a lot easier thanks to the fact that SATA Airlines is offering daily service between Boston to Portugal, starting this month. From June to September SATA Airlines will also offer daily nonstop flights to the Azores, Ponta Delgada with flights continuing on to Lisbon. SATA will offer weekly direct flights from Boston (on Wednesdays) to Terceira Island.
FYI – Lisbon Gay Pride information can be found here and earlier in June you can check out Lisbon Bear Pride. More details about SATA’s service from Boston to Lisbon and the Azores here.
Last week I stayed at the W Washington D.C. in my review I commented on the P.O.V. roof terrace bar and restaurant that features beautiful views of The White House and Washington Monument. While the menu is very limited and the food best described as “okay”, the view and the vibe make it a place better suited for a cocktail and conversation. Unfortunately it was so cold when I was there the patio was enclosed so I’ve included this photograph from Starwood Hotels.
Should you be visiting D.C., skip the grub and come here for an early evening cocktail; the sunset can be beautiful. The subdued lighting facing the Washington Monument has more of a club vibe with the black and red decor where as the black and white checkered flooring and open terrace overlooking the White House has a more casual feel so choose the side you’d like to visit depending on your mood and preferred view.
P.O.V. is located atop the W Washington Hotel at 515 15th St NW.
The W Hotel Washington D.C. is a unique property for the W Hotel chain. The building first opened as Hotel Washington back in 1918 and is a registered building so when the W Hotel took over the space, they had to maintain certain architectural features in the lobby and exterior. I think they did a fantastic job and this is a property I would stay at again.
The hotel rooms are more in line with your typical W Hotel. My only gripe with the layout was my desk had only one plug so I had to charge my phone by my bed while working at the desk because both my phone and laptop were nearly drained by the time I had checked in.
The bathroom space is semi private with a sliding door that hides the commode and over-sized shower. A sink and vanity is located across from the shower and by the hall near the closet and entry to the room. The W Washington D.C. is located at 515 5th Street and has all the amenities you would expect but its best feature is their P.O.V. roof terrace bar / restaurant with views of The White House and The Washington Monument. The property is near many of D.C.’s attractions making this a good location for both business and personal travel.