Tag Archives: Travel

Plan a New England foliage daytrip this fall

New England foliageThe summer may officially be over but the weather in New England will remain beautiful for several more weeks but even as the days get shorter and the temperatures cool, there is plenty to do in the fall. With many of us not traveling, day trips may prove to be a boon for local tourism.

According to USA Today readers two New England locations were included in their Reader’s Choice list of 10 best destinations for fall foliage. New Hampshire’s White Mountains ranked No. 4 and Stowe, Vermont, ranked No. 6. If getting out of the house for a weekend roadtrip sounds appealing, check out the NH scenic foliage drives or VT scenic foliage drives websites. Although it failed to make the Reader’s Choice top 10 list, I also want to give a shout out for Berkshire Scenic Drives which typically sees peak foliate a week or two after Vermont and New Hampshire.

The best part about these drives is they are easy day trips so make plans to get out and enjoy the fall weather when it arrives next month.

European Union bans travelers from US, Russia, India, China and Brazil

travelAs expected, The European Union (EU), which represents 14 countries, voted to restrict visitors from countries that have failed to take steps to curtail their rapidly rising caseloads of the coronavirus.  I cannot blame the EU for taking these precautionary measures but it still stings. Everyone is painfully aware of the impact the coronavirus has had here and around the world. Who could forget the New York Times front page in May when they published some of the 100,000 names of Americans who had died from the coronavirus?

Even those who ignore the science and disregard the safety precautions laid out by the CDC admit that the economic toll the virus has had is unprecedented. While most of the impact was initially felt in the Northeast, in recent weeks rising numbers in states like Arizona, Florida and Texas have forced many Republican Governors who were eager to reopen to rethink their policies. It is precisely these rising numbers that led the EU to include the US in its travel ban.

This decision could not have been easy for the EU to make. Like the US, their economy is teetering on the brink of recession. I would imagine the money US business travelers and tourists spend is significant. Barring visitors from the US will likely impact many small businesses and in particular the hospitality and service industries. It is (however) a testament to how serious the EU is when it comes to protecting their people. I hope the actions of the EU serves as a wake-up call for the White House and those in power in Congress who (to date) have preferred to politicize public health and the guidance from our medical leaders rather than show leadership and take public health more seriously.

Low cost carrier Allegiant will begin flights at Logan Airport

flightright.com, flightrightThe Las Vegas-based airline, Allegiant Air has announced plans to add 44 nonstop routes, including several seasonal routes to Boston starting later this spring that include:

  • Grand Rapids, MI. at Gerald R. Ford Airport, beginning May 7
  • Asheville, N.C., at Asheville Regional Airport, beginning May 8
  • Knoxville, TN., at McGhee Tyson Airport, beginning May 8
  • Destin/Ft. Walton Beach, FL., at Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport, beginning May 14

To celebrate the largest expansion in the airline’s history, the company is offering one-way fares on the new routes as low as $33.

The new nonstop routes will operate twice weekly, according to the airline.

Chau Uruguay

Last month, after spending two weeks visiting Argentina, we hopped on a 90-minute ferry from Buenos Aires, Argentina headed for Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay. Situated in the southwest corner of Uruguay, this pristine town is best known for its historic quarter which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Since 1828 Colonia del Sacramento has been a part of Uruguay but it was hotly contested by the monarchs of Spain and Portugal, exchanging hands more than a half dozen times since the 1600s. The city was even briefly a part of Brazil.  Colonia del Sacramento makes for a great day trip from Buenos Aires, but if you’re going to spend a night, I’d recommend where we stayed, Hotel Charco, which is situated in the middle of old town with views of the water.

After spending a night we were ready to hop in our rental car to get to our real destination and fun in the sun at Uruguay’s famous Punta del Este. The drive from Colonia to Punta was easy but further than I realized (approximately 3.5 hours). It gave us a glimpse of Uruguay, which seemed to be mostly farm land with an occasional vineyard. Note that the drive from Puna del Este to the capital, Montevideo is much shorter (about 90-minutes).

Punta attracts travelers the world over but it is mostly a summer playground for well-to-do Argentinians and Brazilians. If you’ve seen photos of Punta del Este it was most likely of the giant beach sculpture La Mano or Casapueblo, the onetime home of Uruguayan artist Carlos Páez Vilaró, which is now a museum, restaurant and hotel.

casapueblo, la mano, punta del esteMaldonado, Uruguay, Punta del Este, gay hotel, gay travelWe opted to stay about 20 minutes outside of town in Maldonado, after a friend recommended a gay-owned hotel called Undarius. The owners, Fran and Mario a Spanish / Uruguayan couple are friendly and fantastic hosts. The tiny hotel has beautiful grounds with a pool and jacuzzi and the gay beach is about a 5 minute walk from the hotel. One big surprise was the ocean temperature. I had no idea the South Atlantic could rival the temperatures of Cape Cod. Having said that, it was still sad to leave this little beach haven, but I’d really like to return.

Chau for now Uruguay.

Beautiful Buenos Aires

Last month Sergio and I traveled through parts of Argentina and spent 5 nights in beautiful Buenos Aires at the Park Tower Hotel in the Retiro neighborhood; near Puerto Madero and adjacent to Recoleta. This was our second visit to the city; our first visit to B.A. was back in the early 2000s.

Above you can see some photos of Sergio posing in front of a Pride flag in a public park, Obelisco de Buenos Aires and the Casa Rosada which translates into the Pink House and is where the President of Argentina resides.

There were some things we wanted to revisit like the Recoleta Cemetary  (shown above) where prominent families from B.A. are buried – Eva Peron among them; going back to the Floralis Genérica or the Tulip as I kept referring to it (shown below) and we wanted to spend more time in the Palermo neighborhood.

Floralis GenéricaTo make the most of the beautiful weather, we made a conscious decision to spend as much time as we could outside spending time in favorite neighborhoods and visiting many gorgeous parks.

Below are some of the many photos taken on our visit. I could probably write an entire post on the parks and green spaces throughout Buenos Aires.

Some of our favorite parks included Buenos Aires Ecological Reserve, a massive reserve in the heart of the city; Parque Thays most notable for its Nude Male Torso sculpture by Fernando Botero; Floralis Genérica a.k.a. the tulip sculpture made of steel and aluminum; Buenos Aires Botanical Garden in the Palermo neighborhood and the Japanese Gardens.

Knowing that spring is still many, many weeks away in Boston, made walking through these parks and being outside everyday an extra special treat.

graffiti mundoIf you enjoy art and are looking to do something a little different I’d recommend checking out the guided walking tours of Buenos Aires graffiti art. We signed up for a 3 hour walking tour through different neighborhoods in BA and it was really fascinating. The tour guides tell you about the individual artists, their backgrounds, trademark techniques that have helped distinguish them.

If you’re interested in learning more you can check out the tour guides website and the various tours they offer at graffitimundo.com.

While there are many fantastic restaurants in Buenos Aires, Sergio and I did not indulge in any gourmet experiences. However we did return to B.A.’s famous Cafe Tortoni to indulge in an afternoon coffee and dessert. We really enjoyed the Four Seasons Buenos Aires lounge, Pony Line. Thanks to a tip from a bartender there we were directed to a subterranean bar about 3 blocks away in a Flower & Wine shop called Floreria Atlantico where you enter the basement bar through a fake refrigerator door (see Sergio in photo above).

Despite being disappointed that we didn’t see everything I had hoped, I know I’ll be back to Buenos Aires. It is an amazing city and one to add to your bucket list.

Remembering Mendoza Argentina

This past December I had the opportunity to visit Mendoza, Argentina, which is best known for its proximity to the Andes Mountains and wine country. Prior to my visit I knew very little about Argentinian wines but much thanks to Nick Dadonna, Beverage Director for Boston Urban Hospitality Group (Boston Chops, Deuxave, dbar) for helping me, that is no longer the case.

Catena Zapata, Zuccardi, Lujan du Cuyo, Uco ValleyWhen I started planning this trip, I had initially wanted to stay at a vineyard but that became impractical so we ended up staying in Mendoza at the Sheraton, which turned out to be a great property with access to interesting areas of town.

Unfortunately Sergio wasn’t feeling great so I ended up touring a handful of gorgeous wineries on my own. I did have the good sense to hire a driver ahead of time so I could indulge without worrying about driving. Should you find yourself booking a trip to Mendoza I would recommend doing the same. Even though parts of wine country are very close to downtown, having a driver makes a huge difference and provided me with a lot of flexibility. Below are some of the highlights from my two days touring wineries.

Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza WineryA twenty minute drive south of Mendoza brought me to Bodega Catena Zapata one of Argentina’s oldest wineries located in Lujan de Cuyo. This award winning family-owned winery dates back to 1902 when it was founded by Italian immigrant, Nicola Catena.

In a nod to their new world status, the winery built a pyramid-like design based on Mayan architecture for their beautiful bodega and logo.  The winery is very proud of their history and Argentina’s role in saving the Malbec grape, which had been Eleanor of Aquitaine’s preferred wine of choice, but was essentially wiped out in Europe due to a disease in the 19th century that attacked European vineyards.  The lovely tour, learning about the history of the Malbec and this illustrious Argentinian family was interesting but it was the tasting (see the wines above) I’ll remember best. My favorite from the tasting proved to be Luca Old Vine Malbec 2017.

Following a 2+ hour tour and tasting I was more than satisfied but later that day I needed to rally for a private luncheon at Casa Rena’s gorgeous restaurant. I’ve included photos from the 2+ hour luncheon, 7-course meal (the sorbet not shown) accompanied by six wines (click the image below to enlarge).Lojan de Cuyo bodegaSitting outside with views of the vineyard and beautiful landscaping, I gorged on this gourmet lunch. Unfortunately, I was running so late I couldn’t stay for the tour of the winery but the lunch and wines were fantastic. After lunch I could barely move but I somehow managed to power through the rest of the day.

Uco Valley, Mendoza ArgentinaOn my final day of tastings, we drove to Uco Valley (a 90-minute drive from Mendoza). This would turn out to be my favorite winery. Nestled in Uco Valley with the massive Andes Mountain Range off to the west, Zuccardi winery was founded in the early 1960s by an Engineer who was trying to modernize irrigation in the region.

Three generations have been involved in making wines here. The family made a decision to use local, sustainable materials wherever possible to build this bodega so it would blend into the landscape. And local artisans and builders were hired to help construct this gorgeous winery, which also applies that same sustainable approach to making wine by using concrete vats to turn their grapes into wine (see below).

However, what I shall remember best from my time at the winery is the amazing lunch that was prepared for me in their restaurant. The photo at the very top of the post was the main plate but it was preceded by two other dishes and followed by dessert. Just like the previous day at Casa Rena, Zuccardi’s lunch proved to be a gourmet marathon with four courses and eight wines served (OMG). It’s no wonder that after I rolled out of Uco Valley I told Sergio I needed to take a break otherwise I might die from overindulgence.

I loved my time in Mendoza and learning more about Argentinian wines. If you’re a wine lover, you really need to check out Argentina’s wine country.

2020 North American gay ski week calendar

max emersonEach January I write about the various ski weeks and weekends that are organized here in New England and North America.

With the holidays now a thing of the past and many weeks of winter weather still ahead of us, I try to take the attitude of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” by sharing a handful of gay ski celebrations as the circuit moves from the beaches to the slopes. I also like to use this post to give a shout out to OutRyders – New England’s largest gay ski club.

Aspen Gay Ski Week: January 12-19, 2020  This week long celebration is the biggest and oldest of its kind starting back in 1977 and having grown significantly over the years.

Winter Rendezvous at Stowe, VT: January 22-26, 2020  This is New England’s largest (and longest running) gay ski week. Boston’s  gay ski club, OutRyders (mentioned above) will help members organize and logistics.

Elevation Tremblant Gay Ski Week: January 30 – February 2, 2020 located in Quebec this is a great option for guys from the Northeast. Last year was the first time Elevation came East so it should be interesting to see how they build upon last year’s successful event.

Whistler Pride & Ski Festival: January 26 – February 2, 2020  This annual tradition which started in 1992 offers plenty to do and if you are coming from the US at a nice price break with the favorable exchange rate.

WOW weekend at Sunday River, ME: February 6-9, 2020  The Welcoming Committee’s mini takeover of the Sunday River Resort has grown in recent years. This year Boston’s OutRyders are an official sponsor of the event.

Elevation Utah Gay Ski Week at Park City: Feb 26 – March 1, 2020
While Utah isn’t exactly known as the most gay friendly place in America, this will be the 9th anniversary and continues to grow in popularity.

Elevation Mammoth Gay Ski Week: March 18-22, 2020  The Elevation Ski Week brand started here at Mammoth Mountain and attracts mostly a west coast crowd.

Big Gay Jay Weekend at Jay’s Peak, VT: March 20-23, 2020  This weekend trip to southern Vermont is organized for and by New England’s gay ski club The OutRyders.

If there is a gay ski week or weekend celebration I’ve overlooked that you would like to share, please leave the name, date and web link in the comments section so people can learn more.

Chasing summer

Following the Thanksgiving holiday, Sergio and I left Boston to spend one month chasing summer in South America. During the visit we were able to travel to Mendoza, Cordoba and Buenos Aires, Argentina, Colonia del Sacramento and Punte del Este, Uruguay before going on to Brazil for approximately 10 days.

For the past week we have been in Sergio’s hometown, Belo Horizonte, Brazil to celebrate Christmas with Sergio’s family. Yesterday, we flew to Sao Paulo. We will celebrate the New Year with friends and a few bottles of Champagne then fly to chilly Boston. I know that many people struggle with geography so I pulled together this homemade map below to show you on a map where we traveled.

I can’t stress how amazing having a month to travel has been and if anyone plans to travel to any of these destinations reach out to me for suggestions. I’m only too happy to share what we did and to make recommendations.

Once I am back in Boston and all caught up, I will resume my regular Monday morning posts which share what is happening in Boston for the week.

Starting our South American adventure

Sergio and Rob, gay travel, flying, travelSergio and I flew down to South America this past weekend. We are about to begin quite an adventure traveling to Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil over the next few weeks. While traveling, my weekly posts about “What’s Happening” and “What to do this weekend” will be temporarily suspended until the New Year.

While traveling I plan to regularly post on Instagram so if you don’t already follow me, please do. Through my posts on Instagram you can join us as we visit Mendoza, Cordoba and Buenos Aires in Argentina, Colonia del Sacramento and Puente del Este in Uruguay and finally Belo Horizonte and Sao Paulo Brazil.

Follow me and my travels on Instagram at @bosguyblog

More flights to Cape Verde from Boston

travel to Africa, Cabo Verde

Photo of Hotel Riu Karamboa in Cape Verde

It seems like every week or two I am writing about more nonstop flights being added to Boston’s Logan Airport. Earlier this fall I shared that Delta Airlines had made Boston its newest hub, then there was news that American Airlines was adding nonstop service to London and last week I shared that in 2020 Austrian Airways would be adding nonstop service to Vienna and Lufthansa would begin nonstop service to Munich.

This past Saturday, Cabo Verde Airlines announced that they will launch a second weekly flight between Boston and Cape Verde, Africa. The airline currently flies between Boston and Praia, Cape Verde on Mondays but starting December 14th it will have flights on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The nonstop flight is approximately seven hours.

Cape Verde, is a nation on a volcanic archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa known for its Creole Portuguese-African culture and numerous beaches. Its largest island, Santiago, is home to the current capital, Praia. Since the early 1990s, Cape Verde has been a stable representative democracy, and remains one of the most developed and democratic countries in Africa. Thinking of planning a trip? Check out TripAdvisor photos, tips and suggestions.

Nonstop service from Boston to Vienna and Munich begins in 2020

Austrian Airlines which is part of the Lufthansa Group announced new nonstop service between Boston and Vienna will start March 29, 2020. The airline will initially operate four weekly flights between Boston and Vienna, increasing to six weekly flights by mid-April, according to the company. Lufthansa (the parent company of Australian Airlines) also announced earlier this year that nonstop service between Boston and Munich will begin in the summer of 2020.

I backpacked around Europe for a bit after college and regret that I didn’t do more when I visited Vienna and Munich. Both cities are incredibly beautiful but unfortunately, my main memory of Vienna is doing my laundry and I didn’t see much more than the beer halls of Munich while I spent the day drinking German ale, waiting for my night train to Prague. Perhaps it is time to revisit these gorgeous cities again. Below is a photo from the AIDA Cafe-Konditorei, that I pulled from this Instagram Account.

Europe

Take CMI’s annual LGBT travel survey

travel, handsome, hunkCommunity Marketing Insights 23rd Annual LGBT Travel survey is live and they are looking for members of the LGBT community to share with them your travel preferences. The survey will remain open through Sunday, November 10th.

Your responses are anonymous and aggregated to better understand LGBT traveler trends and preferences.  The organizers say that the survey will take approximately 10-12 minutes but it took me even less time.

www.LGBTQsurvey.com 

About CMI: In 1992, Thomas Roth and David Paisley conceived of the idea of forming a marketing research company to help companies and brands better understand the emerging LGBTQ community and include it as a viable market segment.  More than 25 years later, CMI is no the world’s leading and most-respected LGBTQ research firm.

Planning our trip to Argentina and Uruguay

travel tipsIn about 5 weeks Sergio and I will be traveling to South America to explore Northern Argentina and a bit of Uruguay. For our upcoming visit we plan to explore Mendoza (wine country), Cordoba which is the country’s second largest city as well as Buenos Aires before heading to Uruguay.

Do you have suggestions on things to do or places to visit or dine?
Share your suggestions by leaving a comment below.

I had visions of us staying at a winery in Mendoza but struggled to find something I could afford and liked. Out of frustration, I booked us into the Sheraton, which is very affordable. From there we can easily day trip to wineries. I’m much more excited about the hotel in Cordoba we booked. It looks really cool, and I hope the Azur Real Hotel lives up to expectations.

Sergio and I arrive in B.A. the night of national elections and we are bracing for disruptions and protests, considering the anger many Argentinians have with their government. In lieu of staying at a private residence in the Palermo neighborhood as I initially envisioned, I booked us into The Park Tower, which is a large hotel where we should be fine if civil unrest gets out of hand. Another driving factor in choosing the hotel was that I could book it on points (never underestimate the allure of free) and since we will be here 5 nights that gives us more money to allocate to eating, drinking and being merry.

argentina, gay travelAfter visiting Argentina, our itinerary will next take us to Uruguay. We will cross the Rio de la Plata from B.A. to Colonia del Sacramento and will stay at a gorgeous little hotel called Charco in the historic district overlooking the river. Colonia is best known for its cobblestone Barrio Histórico, that is lined with buildings from its time as a Portuguese settlement and after spending nearly a week in B.A. this quiet, historic town will be a nice change of pace.

After a quick stay in Colonia, we will rent a car and drive to a gay owned and operated boutique beach resort in Uruguay’s Punte del Este, Undarius, that was recommended to us by a friend called. We figured that after visiting Mendoza, Cordoba and B.A. it might be nice to sit back, relax and spend time at the beach. This will seem extra special since it will be winter back in Boston.

Sergio and I spent much of September thinking through the logistics of this trip, booking the many flights required and finding places to stay. Next up is planning activities, and I wanted to reach out to ask for suggestions on things to do, places to visit or dine. Do you know of any great private wine tour guides in Mendoza? A fun day trip or activity to consider while visiting these cities? Suggestions on somewhere we should eat? All these suggestions and more would be very welcome as we start to plan out how we will spend our time exploring.

Weekend in San Francisco

Rob and SergioThis past weekend Sergio and I went to San Francisco to see a friend I’ve known since childhood get married. It had been about ten years since Sergio had last visited so we played the role of tourist, walking all over and visiting places like Noe Valley, The Castro, North Beach, SoMa, The Embarcadero and more.

We stayed at The Adagio Hotel on Geary Street just a few blocks from Union Square. The boutique-style hotel fit our needs perfectly, but it was upsetting to see how many homeless have settled in downtown. There are still many beautiful parts of the city but it was still unsettling and made me wonder what the city can do to reverse this trend and help these people get back on their feet.

It was great being a tourist with Sergio (I took my first trolley ride) and to connect with friends in San Francisco but it was Jeff and Ritch’s wedding that brought us to San Francisco. The weather on Saturday could not have been better for their ceremony, which took place on a ship called “The Merlot”. Jeff and Ritch exchanged vows under the Bay Bridge with the skyline as a backdrop and after photos were taken as the sun set behind the Golden Gate Bridge.

The sky was incredibly clear and unseasonably warm, making it incredibly picturesque and providing Sergio and I with some amazing views. I’ve shared a few of my favorite photos from the evening below. Despite the city’s ongoing issues with providing affordable homes and caring for those who seem unable to care for themselves, San Francisco remains one of my favorite cities to visit.

Bay Bridge, San Francisco

American Airlines adds nonstop service Boston to London

flightright.com, flightrightEarlier this week American Airlines announced they will begin a nonstop service from Logan Airport to London Heathrow Airport. starting on March 29, 2020. The new daily flight will depart from Boston at 7:15 p.m. and arrive in London at 7:30 a.m. the following day on Boeing 777-200 airplanes.

Tickets for the route are available for purchase beginning starting on Monday, Oct. 7.  American Airlines joins an already crowded field of carriers who provide nonstop service between the two cities but with additional flights comes (hopefully) more affordable fares and better options for travelers.

Read more:
American Airlines will add nonstop service from Boston to London in 2020