Tuesday June 18, 2013
World-famous personal-finance guru Suze Orman will join a slate of celebrity guests and entertainers that includes comedians Vickie Shaw and Karen Williams, and singers Barbara Higbie and Teresa Trull, on Olivia Travel's upcoming luxury South America cruise. The seven-day adventure - set for January 21-28, 2014 - is aboard one of the swankiest small cruise ships out there, the cushy and intimate Silversea Cruises Silver Cloud, and the itinerary includes one fantastic port after another. The 296-guest ship departs Buenos Aires (my advice - spend at least three or four nights ahead of time in this vibrant capital of Argentina), then calls on Uruguay's capital Montevideo, the splash Uruguay beach resort of Punta del Este, Brazil's coffee-exporting city of Santos, and the charming and well-preserved coastal colonial town of Parati, before wrapping up in vibrant Rio de Janeiro, which is looking better than ever as it prepares to host the World Cup in 2014 and Olympics in 2016.
Olivia is currently taking reservations, and as this is a small ship, and rates are lower if you book early, it's not a bad idea to act quickly. The Silver Cloud is a high-end cruise ship, and rates for this adventure start at $3,999 per person, double-occupancy, with early booking (then $5,199 after that), and some cabin categories already have waiting lists as of this writing. Note that even the standard suites have butler service, Italian marble bathrooms, robes and slippers, flat-screen TVs, and large stateroom windows - this is definitely a way to see South America in style.
Friday June 14, 2013
One of the most world's foremost GLBT celebrations, New York City's Gay Pride Celebration takes place throughout the final weekend of June, with official events - the Pride Rally, Rapture on the River, the VIP Rooftop Party, The March, PRIDEfest, the Dance on the Pier, and the Pride Poolside Party - taking place Friday through Sunday, June 28 to June 30. There's plenty to see and do, and even beyond the official NYC Pride events, a number of other parties and celebrations related to Pride are set for the weekend.
- The fun starts early on Wednesday, June 26, with a Barefoot Wine Pride Kick Off Celebration, from 7 until 10 pm, at Element (225 Houston St., 212-254-2200), with a special guest performance by RuPaul's Drag Race fave Manila Luzon. You can register online to attend this free party.
- Gumbo NYC, which has been throwing "pop-out" parties around New York City since 2009, its 2nd annual Gumbo NYC Pride Pool Party on Saturday, June 29, at the swanky Thompson LES Hotel (190 Allen St., in the Lower East Side, just steps from the East Village). The party gets underway at 2 pm and lasts well into the evening, with live sets by DJs Justin Dawson and Jon Ali.
- On Sunday, June 30, the famed Marquee Nightclub (289 10th Ave., 646-473-0202) hosts "Wild Thang NYC PRIDE," a white-hot women's (and LGBTQ) party, developed by promoters Whitney Day Events and Hot Rabbit. The party kicks off atá 6 pm, thumps until 2 am, and features an opening DJ who earned this spot from a 16-entrant competition, dancers in wild costumes, and performances by electric violinist Diva Sarina Suno, and headliner Zuzuka Poderosa (MC & Queen of Carioca Bass).
- Planning on doing a little snacking while you watch the NYC Gay Pride Parade on Sunday? The acclaimed Mediterranean restaurant Ilili (236 5th Ave., 212-683-2929), located right along the parade route at 5th Ave. and W. 27th St., is serving a special "Pride Brunch" from noon until 4 pm, featuring a draw performance by Dallas Dubois and Eve VanCartier, music by Scotty Roc, complimentary Leblon Cachaša cocktails (such as the Harvey Milkshake, with Leblon, o.j., and coconut cream; and the One Night Stand, a fresh concoction of Leblon, pineapple syrup, simply syrup, and mint). Highlights from the brunch menu include eggs in cocotte with a spicy tomato sauce; semolina gnocchi with yogurt, pine nuts, and orange zest; and Brussel sprouts with grapes, fig puree, walnuts, and mint yogurt.
- Saturday, June 29, is a final-show-of-the-season (it'll resume again in the fall), special performance of cabaret legend Jesse Luttrell's Bawdy Show, at Stage 72/The Triad (158 W. 72nd St., 212-362-2590), with guests Justin Valentine, Didi Panache, Lady Winifred, and "So You Think You Can Drag" finalist Nomi Sas. This camp cabaret-burlesque homage to old-school TV variety shows starts at 9:30 pm.
Tuesday June 11, 2013
Oregon is one of the country's top destinations for boating on rivers, whether you're into kayaking on relatively calm stretches of the Willamette and Deschutes rivers in downtown Portland and Bend, respectively, or you're up for the adrenaline rush and camaraderie of whitewater rafting. You'll find great opportunities for the latter in a few parts of the state, including the Clackamas River near Portland, the McKenzie near Eugene, a much wilder section of the Deschutes south of The Dalles, the Umpqua near Roseburg, and - perhaps most famously - the Rogue River in southern Oregon, near Grants Pass (just 45 miles north of the gay-friendly town of Ashland, home to the world-renowned Shakespeare Festival, and 100 miles west of Crater Lake National Park).
You'll find dozens of first-rate outfitters around the state leading whitewater rafting tours, and this summer, one of the most respected - Rogue Wilderness Adventures - is host an LGBT-themed "Paddles & Pride Weekend," scheduled for August 26 to 28. This three-day adventure, which costs $989 per person, includes one night of camping and another in "Oregon's most remote lodge," Paradise Lodge, plus meals (for which Rogue Wilderness is justly renowned), swimming, and rafting on absolutely stunning class III rapids. All equipment is included. As an Oregon resident, I'm admittedly a little biased in my appreciation of this part of the world, but the Rogue River does truly pass through some of the West's most breathtakingly beautiful scenery.
Friday May 31, 2013
The popular seaside resort town of Rehoboth - a favorite of LGBT vacationers in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and elsewhere in the Mid-Atlantic region - is heading into its busy and fun summer season. With that in mind, I've written a guide to about 15 great places to stay in town, including a number of gay-owned guesthouses and smaller inns, but also a few larger hotels in varying price ranges (after all, some travelers prefer the anonymity and value of a chain motel out on the highway, and Rehoboth has several of these).
Additionally, and also based on research during a recent trip in the area, here's a new Rehoboth Gay Guide to Bars and Restaurants - note that most of these places are within walking distance of downtown accommodations as well as the beachfront. Hotels in Rehoboth tend to book up quickly this time of year, especially on weekends, so try to reserve as far ahead as you can.