Labor Day Weekend officially brings the summer season to a close in New England. The warm weather will continue to bring people to the beaches but the summer-state-of-mind shifts back to reality when I return to the office on Tuesday so I thought I’d recap what has been a wonderful summer.
MAY: Hello Captiva Island Our first large group vacation since the COVID-19 outbreak took place over Memorial Day Weekend. Our friends David (taking the selfie), Mark (next to him in the green polo) and Rodney (in the back with the I ❤️ Fig Newtons shirt) organized this amazing trip. It was a great start to the summer season.
JUNE: Summah in the City We spent most of June in Boston and highlights included going to a few Red Sox games at Fenway Park and going to M Street Beach (a.k.a. Kiki Beach) in Southie on the weekends. I love Boston in the summer.
JULY: Ptown & Brazil We spent the July 4th holiday in Provincetown relaxing at our friend Marco’s beautiful home, and seeing friends, including the proud new owners of the Crown & Anchor, Paolo Martini and Jonathan Hawkins. They’ve done an amazing job since purchasing this inn, restaurant and entertainmnet complex, and I couldn’t be happier for them.
Then it was off to Belo Horizonte, Brazil to celebrate Sergio’s Mom’s 90th birthday at the end of the month. Kudos to Sergio for pulling off an amazing party. Below is a selfie I took to show off Belo Horizonte (Sergio’s hometown).
AUGUST: Back to Provincetown for Carnival After unpacking from Brazil, we turned around a week or so later to go to Provinctown. We spent Carnival Week enjoying drinks and meals with friends, seeing a few shows, and visiting “Boys Beach”. Below are a few photos from our week at Carnival. BTW, Carnival 2023 theme is Land of Toys so start thinking about your costumes.
I’ll definitely miss the summer of 2022. Much thanks to Mother Nature for giving Boston and much of New England one of the best summers in recent memory.
Once upon a time Eastern Air Lines was a major carrier. At its height, all of Terminal A at Boston’s Logan Airport was dedicated to Eastern Air Lines, but that all stopped when it went bankrupt in 1991. The airline had a brief and unsuccessful relaunch in 2017 but the failed brand didn’t dissuade Dynamic Airways from purchasing the rights to the brand in 2019 and flying again under the name in early 2020.
The fledgling airline has a total of 13 planes (Boeing 767s and 777s) at the moment and is based out of both JFK (NYC) and Miami International Airport. Earlier this year, the airline started flying from Boston to Miami and recently the airline which currently flies from Boston, New York City, Philadelphia and Miami to 8 cities in the Caribbean, Latin and South America announced that it will be expanding service in 2021.
Starting in late March Eastern Air will begin flying from Boston, Miami and New York to Belo Horizonte, Brazil. In Boston, the airline will cut into LATAM Airlines monopoly on nonstop flights to Brazil and with most Brazilians in metro Boston hailing from Minas Gerais, flying to Belo Horizonte, could be quite profitable.
Eastern’s service from Boston will operate on Sundays, Mondays and Fridays. Miami service will operate on Mondays and Fridays and New York service will operate on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Roundtrip tickets are currently available online for approximately $600.00 with taxes.
While visiting Sergio’s family in Brazil this week we went to visit Inhotim, an elaborate botanical garden that doubles as a contemporary art museum.
Sergio and I have visited Inhotim previously but it had been several years since our last visit, and I forgot how much I liked coming here. Here are a few more photos from our afternoon visiting Inhotim.
“To be gay is not strange… Homophobia is strange.”
The New York Times writes about anti-gay violence rocking the LGBT community in Brazil, attributing some of the rising violence and intolerance to a troubled economy as well as increasingly intolerant rhetoric from American-style Pentacostal congregations who use the gay community as a scapegoat for the ills afflicting Brazilian society.
“Nearly 1,600 people have died in hate-motivated attacks in the past four and a half years… a gay or transgender person is killed almost every day in this nation of 200 million.”
It is so sad to think that of all the wonderful things the US can export, it is the Evangelical movement that is taking hold in Brazil. The Brazilian economy will eventually rebound – Brazilians are resourceful and hard working. However the hate that is taught as ‘religion’ by these Evangelicals will sadly remain. You can read the full article in the NYT here.
In the six weeks since that post went live, it has been viewed a couple thousand times, several people have reached out to me inquiring about travel tips to Brazil and more than a few have inquired about hotel options vs. using services like Airbnb so I thought I’d provide another shout out for one of my favorite places to stay when I visit Sao Paulo, Brazil – Renaissance Sao Paulo.
Photo Source: Renaissance Sao Paulo
On our most recent stay Sergio and I were upgraded to a suite on the hotel’s executive level which also gave us 24 hour access to their superb executive lounge which provides guests breakfast in the morning, snacks and cocktails in the afternoon followed by light bites in the evening from a spacious lounge that gives you nice views of the cityscape.
Our suite faced East offering views of the back of many prominent buildings lining Avenida Paulista. We used the sitting area and desk which you cannot see from this angle to host friends and to enjoy our morning coffee and early evening glasses of Champagne courtesy of the Renaissance executive lounge.
Below I’ve included photos of our bedroom and the over sized master suite bathroom. I didn’t bother to snap a photo of the half bath in the hallway leading to the den shown above because it pales in comparison to the master suite.
Aside from the posh digs, I recommend that gay travelers consider staying at the Renaissance Sao Paulo for several reasons. First, there are always several other gay travelers there – most often at the hotel bar near the lobby – so you are more likely to get tips and helpful travel suggestions. Second, it is very centrally located and happens to be just blocks from great shopping and restaurants. Third, the hotel has great amenities including an excellent gym, nice pool and spa (if you feel like a little pampering).
If you are planning a trip to Sao Paulo or Brazil and have any questions, feel free to reach out, and I’ll be happy to provide you with suggestions, hints and tips so you can make your trip as memorable as possible.
Earlier this month Sergio and I spent our last few nights in Brazil’s largest city, Sao Paulo. This sprawling city is one of the largest in the world. If you don’t know your way around you could easily find yourself lost or worse, leaving without ever getting a chance to see what the city has to offer.
For more than 15 years I’ve been visiting Sao Paulo and I’ve never had a bad stay. That is due in part to having friends in the city and a partner who many years ago briefly lived there. It would be impossible to talk about all that the city offers in a single post so I’ve opted to share a few tips and links to related posts below.
If you visit Sao Paulo, I’d strongly recommend that you stay in the Jardims (Gardens District). Most of the gay population either lives or plays there and there is no shortage of great restaurants and shopping available. I can offer some recommendations and share where Sergio and I like to stay when we visit.
Just a few blocks away from where we usually stay is Bella Paulista (shown above). Bella Paulista is open 24/7 and always seems to be bustling. When we grabbed a late night ice cream we were mildly entertained by two men who couldn’t keep their hands off each other while they waited in line. PDA with gay couples is rare, and I was heartened by the site and the fact that nobody seemed to bat an eye; this wouldn’t be the case in most other neighborhoods.
If you will be traveling to Sao Paulo and have any questions, feel free to give me a shout and I’d be happy to point you in the right direction. Here are a few posts I’ve written in recent years about Sao Paulo:
Thank you to all of you who read my blog, comment and share the posts. This hobby has turned into a bit of an obsession over the past few years and I greatly appreciate the support you provide by leaving comments and sharing my posts via your social media sites.
This photo was taken about 10 years ago in Cabo Frio, Brazil. We will be celebrating the New Year once again with our friend “Junior” shown above with us, but this year we will be celebrating together in São Paulo. I hope you enjoy your New Year’s Eve no matter where you are or how you decide to celebrate.
By the time this post goes live Sergio and I should be settled in São Paulo, Brazil after spending the previous 10 days visiting with Sergio’s family in his hometown of Belo Horizonte. The metro area population of Belo Horizonte is 5M+ making it comparable in population to Dallas but much more densely populated.
I’ve been coming to Belo Horizonte to visit family for years now but the incredible hills and indistinguishable skyline comprised of mid-rises make it impossible for me to get my bearings except for when I can take in vistas like the one shown above from the posh Mangabeiras neighborhood.
Bar Imperial – Savassi Neighborhood
Belo has more than its share of little bars where people congregate to drink and talk outside since the weather is pleasant most of the year. When we go out, we tend to eat and drink in Savassi. Thanks to a very friendly exchange rate, eating and drinking in Brazil right now is very affordable for Americans and Europeans, which also means that we had more than our fair share of Midnight snacks.
Midnight snacks in Belo Horizonte’s trendy Savassi neighborhood
One of my favorite places to meet is Cafe com Letras. The food is surprisingly good and it is a popular destination for gay and lesbians to congregate – located just blocks from other gay friendly destinations like Bar Imperial, 2015 (soon to be changing its name to 2016 in March) and Josephine’s.
St. Francisco de Assis chapel in Pampulha
In addition to a nightlife that lasts until the sunrise, there are plenty of places of interest including Pampulha – a residential neighborhood defined by its man-made lake and the modern architecture designed by Brazil’s most celebrated architect Oscar Niemeyer. For those of you who feel less inspired by architecture there are plenty of other sights to take in as you leisurely stroll along the man- made lake walking / jogging / bike path on a Saturday or Sunday morning.
Sergio and I are in Brazil for Christmas this year where the temperatures are warm and the daylight plentiful. The photograph shown above is actually from 2012 when we were visiting Florianopolis “Floripa” in southern Brazil.
Despite the fact that we are nowhere near a beach (we are in Belo Horizonte for the holidays), we are enjoying every minute of Brazil’s summer.
As this post is publishing Sergio and I will be at the airport boarding our flight to Miami where we will then connect to fly to Brazil to spend the Christmas holiday with his family before going on to Sao Paulo where we will spend New Years Eve to ring in 2016. We would like to wish everyone a very happy holiday season and a healthy and prosperous New Year.
Although I focus on LGBT life in Boston, Ogunquit and Provincetown, thanks to Sergio I have a large number of readers from and in Brazil (and in particular in Belo Horizonte), so when party organizers for Di Latte asked me to help spread the word about their latest party, I was only too happy to publish this post.
If you happen to be in B.H. this coming weekend be sure to stop by and check out this party at Mix Garden. You can get more information by visiting the Facebook event page, here.
Check out the 2014 promo video from last year’s party.
For the past few years the American dollar has been laughably weak as compared to other currencies, making shopping less enjoyable when we travel abroad. However, the US economy has been on a tear lately and the dollar is significantly stronger than it was a year ago when we were in Brazil.
As a result, Sergio and I opted for some retail therapy when we visited Sao Paulo. I’d strongly encourage anyone visiting Sao Paulo to bypass foreign ateliers where prices are 100% – 300% more expensive due to the country’s idiotic tariffs and fixate on Brazilian retailers where you can purchase items friends back in the US will not have access to.
Sergio splurged on these red shoes from Aramis
While Sao Paulo has many shopping malls (‘the gays’ are partial to Shopping Frei Center and Shopping Higienopolis), but I’d recommend you bypass them and head directly for Rua Oscar Freire. The street is full of retailers you will be unaccustomed to seeing, selling everything from bathing suits to tuxedos. If you get hungry each block has one or two places you can duck into for a quick bite.
A few tips if you go shopping in Brazil:
1) Customer service is taken very seriously. Be prepared to have someone approach you and to bring you multiple items they think you may want to see or try on.
2) Sizes are different and more in line with European designers so don’t enter a store with the mindset that you are a medium or a particular waist size. Clothes in Brazil are much smaller than in the US.
3) If you are serious about making purchases and are buying more than 2-3 items ask them if there is a possible discount they can provide. You are more likely to get a “yes” if you have a Brazilian ask the question. We were able to get 10% off our purchases at one retailer.
4) Avoid purchasing anything from the US or Europe, You will pay significantly more than in the US. Focus your shopping on local designers and chains.
5) The most important phrase of all to learn when shopping, “Quanto Gosto?”, which is acceptable for asking “how much”, although I don’t believe that is the literal translation. It is also good form to know how to say thank you (although this is a phrase you will hopefully use elsewhere as well) “Obrigado”.
Although on our most recent visit we didn’t have a chance to go to Spot, I thought I should write about this restaurant and bar since it is a favorite. You will find more than a few handsome men at this gay friendly restaurant conveniently located just a block off of Paulista Avenue near MASP.
The first time I visited Spot was probably ten years ago. We arrived at 11PM on a Friday night and asked for a table for four. The handsome host smiled and said the wait was 2 hours, but encouraged us to order drinks from the bar and enjoy the outdoor patio while we waited. We didn’t take him seriously until he came to seat us for dinner at 1 AM (at which point there was only a 30 minute wait).
While the food is good it is the people watching that makes this a great place to either nab a cocktail or have dinner with friends. Main dishes at Spot run from $30 – $50 Reis (with the current US exchange rate of 2.5 that equates to $15-$20).
I always enjoy spending a few days in Sao Paulo, Brazil, but if you don’t know where to go it can seem like a massive concrete jungle that is tough to navigate. Fortunately that isn’t a problem for me since I’ve been several times and have good friends who are Paulistas.
Cocktails in Sao Paulo taste sweeter from atop the SKYE bar.
On our recent visit to Sao Paulo we met friends for cocktails at the SKYE Bar atop Sao Paulo’s Unique Hotel. Located near Ibirapuera Park, the roofdeck bar offers some pretty spectacular views of the city’s skyline (see above).
When you drive up to Unique Hotel you realize the name is accurate – regardless of what you make of the architecture – which I loved by the way. Our taxi driver referred to it as “melancia” (watermelon), which made me laugh. The bar is sleek and designed to impress from the minute you enter through the marble hallway and walk through the dining room. Red lights reflect off the lap pool that runs the length of the deck beside comfortable furniture that is available on a first come first serve basis. If for some reason, the weather is not cooperating but you would like to visit the hotel, they have an impressive second option in the hotel lobby on the ground level worth checking out. You can grab a seat at their large bar or sit down in their library which has plush red seats and can be seen in the image below to the right.
Regardless of the weather, this is a great place I would recommend for cocktails.