Friday, May 28th, 2010by David Cohen
With Gay Pride approaching, many hotels and resorts all over the world are welcoming the GBLT community by offering great deals and new ways to celebrate equality and diversity during the month of Pride. I was recently invited to one of the best new Hyatt Rsorts
, and shown what an incredible and exceptional the upcoming gay pride experience can be.
Located less than 25 miles from Tampa International Airport on the Florida ’s Gulf Coast, The Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort
offers gay and lesbian guests one of the best ways to experience the sun, the sand and St. Pete Pride
festivities, one of the largest pride fests in Florida (www.stpetepride.com
Also, in Pinellas
county where the Hyatt Clearwater is located, the city of Dunedin
will host the First Pinellas Pride
from June 18-June 20, 2010. “This event is to bring diversity to the forefront of the community for a weekend,” says Lil Barcaski, Co-Chair of North Pinellas Pride (www.NorthPinellasPride.com
The Hyatt Pride Welcome Package
will include stunning accommodations of one or two-bedroom suites with full kitchens and private balconies overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Also you can have an intimate dinner with your loved one, at the resort’s signature seafood grill SHOR
. Executive Chef Brad Gillespie is
one of the most talented chefs I have recently came across, and will make sure you will have one of the most memorable romantic evenings ever. And last but not least, indulge by visiting the full service eco friendly Sandava Spa
and make sure to ask for Michael who gave me the best deep tissue massage I have had in the last few months. Believe me, this will be a once in a lifetime experience, and could be one of the best Pride you’ll ever have.
To top it all, the Pride Welcome Package is valid through December 30, 2010, at all Hyatt hotels and resorts worldwide. The only thing you have to do is to mention the LGBT10 code
to receive these special rates, a welcoming gift bag, full breakfast for two daily, 4 p.m. late checkout and much more. “The Price Welcome package is a great way to experience Hyatt hotels around the world while celebrating Pride events this year,” said Scott Seed, director of leisure and business marketing for Hyatt. For more information on rates or for reservations, visit www.clearwaterbeach.hyatt.com
or call 1-800-233-1234.
About Clearwater Beach
: Clearwater Beach is a friendly destination with boundless recreational and outdoor activities including fishing, golfing, hiking and more. A visit to Caladesi Island
aboard the Dolphin Encounter
is a must. This five-hour excursion travels to Caladesi Island the only rural and natural spot in the area where guests can relax on the white sands of one of the best beaches in America. I rented a chair and an umbrella and listen to the waves sounds and sketched the beauty of the landscape for hours.
Clearwater Beach is conveniently located within driving distance of notable museums. A visit to the Salvador Dali
and to the Fine Art Museum
in St. Petersburg
is a must. There are many other cultural activities but a visit to the near by Orlando
is highly recommended. For more information visit www.FloridasBeach.com
.In 2009, Clearwater Beach
was named one of the top beaches on the East Coast. Consistently recognized for its beauty, Clearwater Beach has been named “Best City Beach on the Gulf of Mexico”
by many well-known travel publications, and this year by PINK
by David Cohen
The Pearl of the Orient, China’s largest and most modern city, Shanghai is an exciting blend of traditional old neighborhoods and gleaming new skyscrapers. Home to some of the most innovative architecture in the world, Shanghai is breaking records as it races toward becoming one of the greatest 21st century cities. With grand hotels, sophisticated shopping, ancient culture and western influences, this city offers tourists an experience they will never forget.
Things to see and do
Shanghai History Museum
The Oriental Pearl TV Tower in Pudong is known for its panoramic views but the museum on its ground floor offers an equally impressive look at Shanghai’s past, especially the Concession years.
Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center
The showcase 6,400-square-foot planning model of Shanghai gives visitors a glimpse of just how much, and how quickly, this metropolis has been growing during the last decade. The model provides a sneak preview of the multi-national World Expo 2010 site along the Huangpu River in Pudong.
The Shanghai Historic House Association is a volunteer organization dedicated to saving the city’s endangered architectural gems. The group hosts guided walks along the Bund riverfront or through the lanes of the former French Concession revealing a treasure trove missed by many visitors.
When bargaining at the markets, make your offer 50 percent lower than the initial asking price. If the shopkeeper doesn’t budge, walk away. He’ll likely call you back. End negotiations pleasantly by asking for the shop’s mingpian (business card) and accepting it with both hands and a smile. More than 400 vendors make this a brand-name reproduction Mecca.
Yu Yuan/Fangbang Lu
The Ming-style buildings surrounding Yuyuan (Yu Garden) and the five-story Cang Bao Lou Building sell traditional Chinese gifts, memorabilia and antiques. Buyer beware; many items are copies, so buy judiciously and pay accordingly.
Where To Eat
Jade On 36 Restaurant and Bar
Revered for its beauty and glow, Chinese emperors saw jade as the “stone of the heaven.” Pudong Shangri-La’s signature restaurant features its own heavenly panoramic views. Jade On 36 is where sophisticated avant-garde cuisine and décor come together.
M on the Bund
Opened January 1999, M on the Bund was the first fine-dining restaurant on the legendary waterfront. The idea was to create a dining experience as exciting, as sophisticated, and as delectable as Shanghai itself. Located at the historic Nissin Shipping Building, constructed in 1921, M overlooks Shanghai’s most famous sight: the Bund. Diners can sample a creative menu in a warm, refined art deco atmosphere.
Yi Café @ the Shangri La
Yi Café invites guests to take an international culinary journey with gourmet showcases and 10 live cooking stations presenting cuisine from China, Japan, Morocco, India, Southeast Asia and Europe.
Set in the ultra-hip Xintiandi district, T8 offers diners a fusion eastern and western cuisine. Its Australian chef draws on his experience of cooking in multi-cultural Australia with Chinese traditional cooking methods and ingredients.
Future Developments in Shanghai
Mickey Mouse to Set Up House
Pending government approval, Walt Disney Company plans to open its sixth theme park in Shanghai. The anticipated 1,200-acre park will be four times bigger than Hong Kong’s Disneyland. Construction is set to begin in 2008 with completion in 2012.
World’s Largest Ferris wheel to kiss the Shanghai Skyline
The Pearl Tower and Jin Mao Building will have some company on the Shanghai skyline in 2007. An 8.6-acre site along the Huangpu River has been purchased to construct the Shanghai Kiss, a Ferris wheel that will surpass the famous London Eye as the world’s largest. Designed by British architecture firms Alsop Design and Arup, Shanghai Kiss will be 558-feet in diameter, with 36 pods carrying 1,100 passengers.
Recovering from the economic crisis of 2002, Buenos Aires is a bargain for any American who chooses to travel outside of the USA. Because of the devalued peso, it is one of the cheapest places to visit anywhere today.
Buenos Aires is not called the Paris of South America for nothing. The city streets are reminis- cent of the grand boulevards of Champ d’Elysee in Paris and the Grand Via in Madrid. With magnificent architecture, many parks, outdoor cafes, good restaurants and great shopping, Buenos Aires is a city that you want to visit over and over again. With its passionate people, liberal attitude and vibrant gay nightlife, Buenos Aires also is one of the best destinations for the gay traveler and stands proud as the gay capital of South America. This is a city faithful to its traditions and at the same time, con- stantly experiencing its own rebirth.
Buenos Aires is a city with many diverse neighborhoods and, while exploring the city, you will find it a city of contradictions. Great wealth exists alongside often hidden poverty.
One of the most picturesque and histor- ic neighborhoods of Buenos Aires is La Boca (meaning mouth in Spanish). Painted in vibrant colors of yellow, blue, green and orange, the old houses of La Boca were once crammed with Italian immigrants. It is the home of the Tango. In the early 20th century, tango was a dance for two frustrated men to perform while their women were paid for their services in the rooms above. To pass their time downstairs in the street, the men held each other in their arms, pressed tightly, putting their flesh together with both passion and anger. That was the original tango, performed by men. It was a dance that a woman could never dance. In La Boca today, with many tourists watching, there always will be a tango couple dancing on the sidewalk or on the cobble street stones.
The same passion and sensuousness of tango can be felt in San Telmo. At El Lugar on Defensa 1120, or at La Marshall where you can take gay tango lessons. You don’t need to know Spanish. Just hold him tight, be strong and lead. The rest is history. I promise, it’s a lot of fun and you’ll get to meet the hot Latin boys that you always wished for. San Telmo is a trendy gay neighborhood and home of many antique stores and restaurants. You must go to the famous San Telmo Street Fair held every Sunday. This street fair is a shopper’s heaven at a bargain prices. It will be impossible not to find that special thing you are looking for. It is colorful, fun and entertaining. If you decide to take a peek into Buenos Aires history, walk toward Plaza Mayor. There you’ll see the Pink House as the peasants did when Eva Peron stood in front them promising a new life and bright future.
Nearby Palermo is divided into sections. Palermo Hollywood is the home for TV and movie studios and Palermo Soho is named after the New York neighborhood. SoHo is the home of many local designers and trend leaders. Start your Saturday with a spa treatment at Home and then stay for lunch. Walk down toward Hollywood where every Saturday local artists and merchants display their goods out of doors at the Street Fair at the center of this neighborhood. The local boutiques, restaurants and cafes are beautifully designed. They all have that European flavor, which makes this neighborhood so unique– a mixture of elegance and culture. Believe me when I say, “You can shop till you drop.” From clothing and shoes to music and flowers, everything is a bargain here. The day won’t be complete without a drink or coffee in the afternoon at one of the outdoor cafes while you people watch. Trust me; it will be fascinating and intriguing. Don’t get confused when you see males kissing each other. Local Porteños (boys who live in Buenos Aires) give a kiss to greet each other—even straight guys.
Recoleta is the home for the most famous cemetery in South America. Eva Peron is buried there among the elite of Buenos Aires aristocrats. It is the area where you will find the most expensive stores in the city. From Hermés and Ralph Lauren to D&G, this is where the rich and famous shop. The luxurious Alvear Palace Hotel stands tall in the center of this rich neighborhood. To peek into the lifestyle of the elite, we highly recommend having lunch or afternoon tea at the Alvear—it is glorious. Be certain to dress appropriately. Then walk around and enjoy the beautiful mansions and parks, perhaps include a visit to Museo National De Bellas Arts, Malba or Museo Evita is highly recommended.
As a wine lover, a visit to Casa Coupage is a must. Sommeliers Santiago and his wife, Ines, open their house to visitors every Wednesdays for wine tasting with tapas, and on Thursdays for a four-course dinner. Serving only 15 people, it is one of the things to do in Buenos Aires. The tapas and wines are incredible. We sampled Argentine
Malbec wines and we learned a lot on how to pair the right food with the right wine. The tasting is also an opportunity to discover how people live there and meet the locals. Believe me, this will be one of the best meals you’ll ever have. For only best-kept secrets of Buenos Aires—for sure the best surprise of your visit. Due to limited space, advance reservations are required. In Buenos Aires, call 4833-6354.
Where to Stay
Located in the heart of San Telmo, the Axel Hotel is the best upscale gay hotel chain in the world. The new hotel offers more that just luxury—it provides the freedom to be openly gay. With modern design and many amenities such as sauna, Jacuzzi, two swimming pools and one of the best restaurants in town, this hotel is heaven for gays.
You will meet people from all over the world and for sure it will be an unforgettable experience. It is a place where everyone is welcome, respected and valued without any prejudice of sexual orientation. If you need to find out anything about anything in Buenos Aires, you just need to ask the staff at the front desk. They are friendly and very knowledgeable. Last but not least, don’t miss the Sunday Pool Party. It’s the best you’ll ever have.
Argentina’s gay community is very lively and active, especially in Buenos Aires. Gay Argentina’s main Pride Parade is held in Buenos Aires the first Saturday of November of each year. It marks the formation of the first-ever gay group in Buenos Aires in 1969. In 1996 measures forbidding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation were introduced and passed, making Buenos Aires the first Spanish-speaking city in Latin America to do so. In 2002 same sex civil unions were approved in Buenos Aires. As a result Buenos Aires became a popular gay travel destination. It is one of the most open-minded cities in Latin America.
The gay scene is vibrant and sophisticated. In many ways it is similar to the American one but with a European flavor. There are many discos, bars, saunas, movie theaters and sex clubs. The only caveat—everything starts very late, well after midnight, but it’s all worth it. The guys are hot and the women are sexy, and they love to party.
Some of the places to mention are Amerika and Alsina discos, Sitges and Chueca bars, Full Sauna, Zoom bar and back room, and for bears the Contramano bar. Women flock to Bach Bar and Entremujeres or La Casa Del Encuentro and Marlene. Pick up a copy of Gmaps (Gay Maps of the World) at the hotel or simply check out www.gaymaps.org for what is happening in this city that never sleeps.
www.aa.com • www.alvearpalace.com • www.axelhotels.com • www.casacoupage.com • www.homebuenosaires.com • Buenos Aires: www.destinoargentina.info
story and photo by David Cohen
Wildlife, glaciers and lush natural landscapes make Alaska one of the most exhilarating and beautiful places to visit. Inspired by last year’s unforgettable vacation to the Kenai Peninsula, PINK has opted to host annual group trips for LGBT travelers. The first took place in the summer of 2006, bringing nine lesbian friends on an adventure to the last frontier.
Our intrepid group arrived in Anchorage via American Airlines, and spent the first night at the Puffin Inn next to the airport. After breakfast we loaded up our rental SUVs and headed south toward Seward. This charming coastal town is one of the oldest and most scenic communities in Alaska. Home to a small and charming boat harbor, Seward has a lot to offer. From fishing, hiking and kayaking to cruise tours of massive glaciers and three different fjords, this is sure to be the most breathtaking experience of any sightseer’s life. The Kenai Fjords Tours explore the region’s wildlife—whales, otters, puffins, seals, white eagles and bears—all found in the Gulf of Alaska and at the Kenai Fjords National Park. Seward is simply nature at its best.
We stayed a night at the Seward Windsong Lodge nested in a glacier river valley next to Exit Glacier where we hiked the following morning. Spending a night on Fox Island, to experience the remote wilderness retreat of Resurrection Bay, is highly recommended. These are ideal places to enjoy the “real Alaska.” If choosing to stay in town, the Holiday Inn Express, next to the strip of shops and restaurants, is also an excellent option.
After a few days in Seward, it was time to hit the road and travel north toward Denali National Park. To enjoy nature’s wonder, we had to stop along the way to soak in the spectacular views.
En route to Denali, the group paused to relax for one night at the Alyeska Resort. Though located in the quaint town of Girdwood, this resort offers world-class accommodations. Here, the luxury of fine dining is discovered at Seven Glaciers, the hotel’s top-of-the-mountain restaurant that sits 2,300 feet above sea level. The restaurant continually receives the Wine Spectator Restaurant Award, and is one of the two AAA Four Diamond restaurants in Alaska.
Driving north the next morning, Denali National Park’s Mount McKinley was clearly seen on the horizon, something that doesn’t happen very often. The Athabascans referred to it as the “Great One” because of its massive peak—the park itself is larger than the state of Massachusetts. Denali remains one of the world’s last great frontiers for wilderness adventure, largely wild and as unspoiled as the natives knew it. Here the PINK pack stayed at the Denali McKinley Chalet Resort located in the middle of town. The hotel offers a package including mini-suites, dinner with a show, a guided Tundra Wilderness Tour to the park, and a paddle rafting trip along the Nenana River. To get a sense for how enormous Denali really is, flight- seeing over the park and Mount McKinley is highly recommended. The view is unlike anything
Traveling with a group enhances any destination’s experience when perceiving it through camaraderie. Making our way to the airport, we were both happy and sad. Happy to have experienced an unforgettable week of adventures. Sad that we had to leave such a beautiful place and our friends. The awesome sights of the last frontier and the good times we had there would not have been possible if not for our wonderful group of Alaskan adventurers.
Over the glaciers near Seward
by David Cohen (story and photos)
The mainstream mental picture of our most northern state as a deserted frozen tundra is not entirely accurate. Sure there’s ice, but as summer blankets the land and the blooming season erupts, there are gorgeous scenic views and waterfalls everywhere you go. The colors of blossoming plumage are at their most vibrant. The air is the freshest and most pure you’ll ever breathe. The sun never goes down in June and July and nature is simply at its best. To me, Alaska is one of the most beautiful places on earth.
I flew into Anchorage and stayed one night at the Anchorage Hilton Hotel. But Anchorage is not all that Alaska has to offer. As a person who loves the outdoors, I wanted to be in the more rural areas. However, it is definitely worth a short stay in the city if only to visit the Alaska Heritage Museum at Wells Fargo. Exhibiting artifacts native to Alaskan cultures, this is by far one of the best museums in the region.
On our first night, my boyfriend Casey and I checked out a couple of the gay bars in town. Places like Raven and Mad Myrna’s were fun, but much more low key and less flashy than the bars you’ll find in mainland major cities. The people there are amazing. They’re always eager to meet new gay people and have a few drinks; start up a conversation and you’ll find them to be the most open and affording people you may ever meet.
On a clear day in Anchorage you can see Mount McKinley just north of the city. You can get an even better view on an aerial tour, which I recommend.
We drove our rental car south and began our tour of the Kenai Peninsula. In between the little towns, we had to stop along the road to soak in the spectacular views. The serene settings of the mountains, ocean and wildlife pulsate with pure vibrancy and natural wonder. They were so inspiring, I paused to sketch and paint the majestic sights.
With its frequent snowfall and high mountaintops, Girdwood is home to some of the best skiing in the country and KEUL FM, the “legal private radio station" founded by an openly gay local in 1997. On your way to town, you should definitely stop off at the animal refuge and see the large roaming bison in their natural habitat.
Gliding at the Alyeska Resort in Girdwood
Easily accessible to the Alyeska Resort, other outdoor activities include mountain top gliding (I can’t believe I did it!), white water rafting and hiking. While in Girdwood, we rode the tram to the top of a mountain and took up with local openly gay and well-known stained glass artist Jim Kaizer. We enjoyed lunch at The Bake Shop, where Jim’s work is on display. His studio and exhibit space is next door and showcases some of the best stained glass I’ve ever seen. Be sure to look him up when you’re in town – he was so hospitable that he invited us to tour his home.
The Portage Glacier is a popular site 10 minutes outside of town by car. It’s worth a stop if only to take a deep breath and be intrigued by the beauty of the rock formations and the reflecting spectrum of color off the glacial ice.
The only place to see the massive Harding Ice Field is at Exit Glacier just outside of Seward. There, you can choose one of the trails that takes you right up to glacier’s edge or the more wooded route showing the temperate rainforest that emerges when the ice recedes.
At Seward we stayed at the Adams Street Bed and Breakfast. I’d highly recommend taking a private room with a bathroom. It costs a little more but as a gay couple wanting the extra privacy, it’s worth it. Don’t miss the Seward Aquarium and Wildlife Research Center, where you can take a behind the scenes wildlife tour of the habitats and the research. You’ll get the chance to touch baby seals, starfish and other marine creatures.
Flightseeing with Scenic Mountain Air
To learn how spectacular Alaska really is, you have to go “flightseeing." Casey and I flew over the Bear Glacier with Scenic Mountain Air in a small Piper PA-18 propeller plane and watched bears fishing in the river. The view is unlike anything you’ll ever experience. It’s like being on the Discovery Channel. You really get a sense for how awesome and enormous the ice-aged ice fields actually are.
Then it was time to fish! Alaska’s got the best fishing opportunities for halibut, silver fish and salmon. You’ll need a license to go on any charted fishing tour. These are available at any bait and tackle shop. And once you get your license, there’s no better charter to take than the Puffin Fishing Charter.
I didn’t have any expectations when the Seward Chamber of Commerce set this up for me. However, I soon found out that Puffin Fishing is the only gay-owned charter in town and Captain and First Mate Leslie and Denni are amazing!
Puffin Fishing Charter
As two gay women, the other fisherman didn’t take them seriously when they first started out. Yet they have proven themselves to be the best in Seward. They will go out of their way to accommodate you (especially if they know you’re gay).
The charter starts around 6 a.m. Leslie, Denni and their beautiful assistant Melissa will provide you with everything you need, even filet your catch, freeze it, store it or vacuum seal and ship it for you. Keep in mind it is best to wear sturdy, slip-resistant shoes and multiple layers of clothing, as the temperature varies dramatically during the course of a long day.
Even carrying up to 16 people, the boat is very comfortable. The feeling of intimacy on board is second only to the warm and inviting ambience Leslie and Denni create. They made me feel free to be myself with my boyfriend, unlike the atmosphere on all the “straight" fishing boats I have been on in the past. Wanting us to get a better catch, they took us further out to sea where we spotted playful whales flipping their fins on the water’s surface.
This was the best time I’d ever had on a fishing boat. I was so grateful I invited them all out to dinner afterwards.
On the boat I met Jessey, Denni and Leslie’s best lesbian friend. What an amazing woman! If I were a lesbian, I would snatch her up right away. I am in love with her. It didn’t take much for her to invite Casey and I to spend some time with her at her log cabin on the river in Soldotna – that she built herself! Spending time with her there, watching her dogs run free on her land and going river fishing for the best king salmon in the region was unforgettable (we caught one that was about six-feet long). We stayed out fishing until 11 or 12 at night and prepared dinner at 1a.m. Jessey was right there with us, helping with the meal and making us feel right at home. I had another chance to do some painting there, and being grateful for all her hospitality, I gave Jessey one of my original pieces.
Catch of the Day from Puffin Fishing Charter
On the way to visit Jessey, we stayed at the Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge in Cooper Landing. Though this town offers amazing mountain views of the Kenai River, famous for its dazzling blue-green hues, fishing, white water rafting and kayaking, here we choose to just take it easy. The lodge has a great restaurant and spa. Casey and I and took the opportunity to share a few romantic moments and took solace on the balcony overlooking the gorgeous scenes. There, I did a lot of watercolors and took tons of pictures.
The final stop was for Alaskan halibut in the native fisherman village of Homer. It’s a very open place with huge horizons over the land and water that seems to go on forever. The pier is lined with small bars and pubs and the town itself is reminiscent of the one portrayed in the George Clooney film The Perfect Storm. Though locals limit the amount of fish you can catch in one day, there’s no limit on the weight. Being that these halibut are some of the biggest in the country, running around 60 to 70 pounds each, you can still walk off with close to 350 pounds of fish at the end of the day.
Tears were in my eyes as I made my way back to the airport. I didn’t want to leave! I wanted to stay so badly. I had never known such a friendly and accepting gay community in Alaska, and I might have missed it had it not been for Jim, Denni, Leslie, Jessey and all the others. It was one of the best experiences I ever had in my life.
I was so enamored by the scenery of the Kenai Peninsula and hospitality of its locals that I’ve been inspired to start hosting organized trips for LGBT travelers.
by David CohenMANCHESTER
Britain's second city is also one of its most dynamic and cosmopolitan. Once a heavily industrial city, Manchester is now at the forefront of modern British life.
The city has a vibrant gay community, probably the largest and certainly the most visible outside London. The familiar atmosphere of Manchester is where "Queer As Folk" was born. With a diverse range of bars, pubs and clubs, Manchester's gay community leads the country.
The Gay Village, radiating from Canal Street, offers a great sense of community and belonging, while the fantastic architecture and open-minded attitudes of the city reveal the cutting-edge spirit that makes Manchester a must-see gay destination. For Manchester, a city packed with LGBT inhabitants and clubbing opportunities, there really is something for everyone.
Via Fossa, a large, multi-level bar with an eclectic interior, is one of the most popular clubs on the Canal. Try Essential, replete with three floors of contemporary urban clubbing, with go-go boys, a hi-tech sound system, and the best dance music in town. Vanilla is a hot club for lesbians. Nightlife takes place not only in the bars, but outside by the Canal, where people congregate on the streets.
Every August, Gay Pride in Manchester is a three-day festival, featuring one of the best Pride Parades in Europe – Ian McKellen was last year’s Grand Marshall. Visitors from all over Britain and Europe enjoy the entertainment, artists, and the abundant party life. The festivities go on all evening, then after midnight the circuit crowd goes dancing at the Manchester Arena.
Culturally, Manchester has a lot to offer. The Manchester Art Gallery houses one of the UK's finest art collections in spectacular surroundings. Over 1,300 artworks are displayed, including ceramics, glass, metalwork, furniture, textiles, and armor.
Manchester is the shopping capital of the Northwest, and with its unique mix of chain stores, exclusive fashion shops and individual boutiques, locals claim that Manchester offers the best shopping experience in the UK.
But luxury doesn’t end there. We stayed at the 5-star Lowry Hotel, on the banks of the River Irwell. The main commercial, business, shopping and entertainment areas can be reached within a few minutes by the landmark Trinity footbridge. The Lowry’s rooms are amply sized and boast floor-to-ceiling windows, with pared down modern furnishings. The River Room Restaurant features sumptuous cuisine, and provides a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Manchester offers the most exciting gay nightlife in the U.K., outside London. Direct flights from Chicago are available from BMI, which offers an upgraded economy class with many of the conveniences of business class at a lower rate.NEWCASTLE
Mention "Newcastle" to most people and they’ll either give you a blank look or identify it as a coal town. "Carrying coals to Newcastle" long stood as a common expression for a redundant activity. In reality, coal mining has been gone from this region for over ten years. In the wake of its smoke-stack industrial past, this small city in northeast England has been reborn as an avant-garde culture and arts center and as another vibrant point on the UK’s "pink triangle."
Must-sees include: the towering Angel of the North sculpture, a northern hemisphere echo of Rio de Janeiro’s famous Christ the Redeemer; the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, the world’s first tilting bridge; and the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, one of the largest and most ambitious museums of its kind in Europe.
The Gateshead Millennium Bridge has won many awards, including the UK’s top architecture award. The BALTIC is more than a museum; it’s an "Art Factory" where artists come to work. Exhibits include striking visual, audio, and video creations.
Visitors can walk the bustling city center within a day, or take a relaxing stroll along the quayside and drop into a café. The manageable size of the city rewards even short visits, leaving lots of time for the lively gay bar scene.
The gay village is located in the western part of the city, a short walk from the main rail station. While gays outnumber lesbians by a fair margin, the two groups form a single social community. Even Sunday and Monday nights find a crush of partygoers in local favorites The Baron and Baronet or nearby The Yard and Twist.GLASGOW
Glasgow is one of the liveliest destinations in Europe. A center of style and vitality set against a backdrop of outstanding Victorian architecture, Glasgow boasts world famous art collections and the most vibrant nightlife in Scotland. From mind-blowing shopping to funky bars, restaurants and cafés, Glasgow is a perfect weekend getaway.
Gay Glasgow centers around the elegant Merchant City quarter, where you’ll find not only the majority of the scene bars, clubs and shops, but also some of the best of the designer stores, top restaurants, trendy bars, plus stunning architecture from the 17th to 21st centuries.
Art and culture are important in Glasgow life where galleries and museums are in abundance; the choice includes: the world's first Museum of Religion, the renowned Burrell Collection, and the contemporary Gallery of Modern Art. The City of Glasgow owns one of the richest collections in Europe, displayed in 13 museums across the city.
Glasgow’s nighttime calendar is teeming with music and theatre festivals year-round. Each November, the city is also home to Britain’s largest multi-art gay and lesbian festival, Glasgay.
Don’t miss the Art Nouveau splendor of Scotland's best known architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, whose inimitable style adorns attractions such as The Lighthouse, House for an Art Lover, and the Glasgow School of Art.
The Glasgow School of Art was one of the leading art academies in Europe, and its reputation in architecture and the decorative arts reached an all time high in the late 1800s. In 1896, Mackintosh designed a new addition to the School of Art building, now world famous for its unique and innovative style.
In addition to the Glasgow School of Art building, Mackintosh designed a series of Glasgow tearoom interiors. Some of his greatest designs include large private houses in Scotland.
A century on, Mackintosh's Glasgow School of Art is seen as an important architectural monument. With an ever-increasing interest being shown in the work of Mackintosh himself and Glasgow in general, the building has become a favorite destination for a growing number of cultural tourists.
Stylish, upbeat and cultural, Glasgow has reinvented itself in the 21st century as one of Europe’s top arts and party capitals, with traditional Scotland right on its doorstep.For more information, call 877-UK-RAINBOW, or visit www.gaybritain.org. For air and rail travel, visit flybmi.com or britrail.com.Photos courtesy of Marketing Manchester, Greater Glasgow & Clyde Valley Tourist Board, Newcastle Gateshead Initiative and David Cohen.
by David cohenFrank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum
in Bilbao, Spain
is a supremely successful work, both artistically and economically. Its high-profile introduction into a capable but economically depressed locale has led the tremendous revival of this Spanish city.The Guggenheim Bilbao
opened to much fanfare and acclaim in October 1997. The striking silhouette of the building and the world-class art collection were an enormous draw. By one year later, attendance had far outstripped projections, as over 1.3 million people had passed through its doors. Expectations that the museum would deliver a wave of new visitors (and ancillary tourism money) to the city have been realized: A survey in 1998 found that 79% of all visitors traveled to Bilbao expressly to see the museum. By the end of 2000, 3.6 million visitors had seen the museum. According to surveys, 83% of those people came to Bilbao because of the museum.Conceiving the Rebirth:
Bilbao is the sixth largest city in Spain, with a metropolitan area numbering about one million people. It is located in the heart of the Basque country: seven provinces gripping the border between Spain and France, draped across the Western Pyrenees Mountains. Three of the four Basque provinces in Spain comprise the Basque Autonomous Community, which has been the local governmental authority since 1978.
For centuries, Bilbao has been a commercial and industrial center because of its location on the Nervión River and proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. The area is rich in iron ore, which fueled a large iron and steel industry. Shipbuilding is also a major industry. Wealthy shipping magnates and industrialists populated the town.
Unfortunately, in the 1970’s the area experienced a major economic recession. Many shipyards and steelworks closed down. Much of the steel business was lost to Asia. In order to revive the economy, the Basque government started formulating a plan in the 1980’s and 90’s to redevelop Bilbao and the Basque region.
Although Bilbao had never been known as a tourist destination, the government determined to change that with an ambitious plan that included bringing a high-profile art museum to the city. The plan also included developing the riverbank alongside the museum, building a new conference center, renovating the airport and creating a new public transportation system. To support a major source of income for the city, the plan also included enlarging and modernizing the city’s shipping port.
The Basque authorities pitched the idea for a new museum to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation of New York, which had already established an objective to expand its collections into Europe. The Basque government would provide the financing and political clout to get the project approved, and the Guggenheim would provide its art collection and expertise in running museums. An agreement was struck, and in 1992 Frank O. Gehry was chosen to design the museum complex. To the delight of officials and the public, the project was completed early and below budget.The Man and the Museum:
Frank Gehry is a Los Angeles-based architect whose career has soared in the late twentieth century and into the twenty-first. In 1989, a few years before his commission for the Guggenheim, he received the Pritzker Prize for Architecture, the most prestigious award in the field. His adventurous work on such buildings as Santa Monica Place (Santa Monica, CA), Chiat/Day Offices (Venice, CA) and the Loyola University Law School (Los Angeles) earned him this award. Another significant work was the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota, completed in 1993.
Since his success with the Bilbao museum, accolades have poured in for his designs of Seattle’s Experience Music Project (completed 2000), the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles (completed 2003), and the Pritzker Pavilion and BP Bridge in Chicago’s Millennium Park (completed 2004). [See companion article Built for the Arts.]. Last fall, Gehry was selected to design the performing arts complex at the World Trade Center site.
I have seen a lot of Gehry’s work and, in my opinion, Bilbao is his best — his signature project. It is a powerful design. You can see the man’s genius by looking at the building from every angle. The towering, irregularly shaped structure commands the riverfront. Monolithic blocks of limestone contrast with glistening curves of metal. The thin “fish-scale” titanium panels encasing the structure cause it to change color throughout the day, based on the reflections of the sunlight and the river.
Perhaps in acknowledgement of one of Bilbao’s traditional strengths, Gehry designed part of the building to jut out like the prow of a mighty ship. Enormous glass curtain walls draw light inside. One of the focal points of the interior is the atrium, lighted by a skylight in the ceiling 55 meters above the floor.
The museum houses a wide selection of modern and contemporary masterpieces. By a unique arrangement, the collections of three museums — the Solomon R. Guggenheim museum in New York City, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice and the Guggenheim Bilbao — are shared among the three locations. The NYC collection includes such luminaries as Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Piet Mondrian, Constantin Brancusi, Joan Miró and Jackson Pollack. The Peggy Guggenheim collection contributes Surrealist and Dadaist art from Salvador Dalí, René Magritte, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray and others. Bilbao’s own collection features works by Yves Klein, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning. In a nod to the spectacular setting — a work of art in its own right — the Guggenheim commissioned several works specifically for the museum. In addition, Bilbao’s collection features some leading Basque and Spanish artists like Txomin Badiola, Cristina Iglesias and Prudencio Irazabal.
Seeing this magnificent building in photographs doesn’t do justice to its enormous presence. To truly appreciate Gehry’s masterpiece, go to Bilbao and stand beside it or across the river from it, or on the hill high above it. From every angle and viewpoint you will discover something new about this amazing work.When you go:
The huge uptick in tourism has led to the construction of new hotels, including the strikingly modern Sheraton Bilbao, designed by architect Ricardo Legorreta and located very near the Guggenheim Bilbao. The Sheraton (www.sheraton.com/bilbao) boasts luxurious rooms appointed with technological touches such as wireless internet access and, in the suites, plasma tv’s.
I found that Bilbao’s gay nightlife scene is pretty much dead Monday through Thursday, only coming alive on weekends. So if you’re there during the week, you'll have to content yourself with a broad range of restaurants and several performing arts venues.
If you’re traveling to Bilbao and the Basque region, we recommend that you take a side trip to Donostia-San Sebastián. This resort town is about an hour from Bilbao and has plenty to recommend it, including beautiful beaches, delicious cuisine and internationally known Jazz and Film Festivals.
To plan your trip, visit www.bilbao.net
, or call the Tourist Offices of Spain at 312-642-1992.