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A dog’s love of a luxurious retreat in the desert

La Quinta’s Waldorf is waiting for you and your human

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We jumped in the car. I curled up on the floor in my bed behind the passenger seat and off we went to Palm Springs, heading to a place called La Quinta Resort & Club.

Just 120 miles from home, and a couple hours later and we arrived.

The car stopped and the heat stung my paws when I jumped out. But, a very nice man welcomed us over to a water bowl, where I got a sip of fresh, cold water, along with a crunchy treat while we waited in the cool lobby to be assigned our room.

Mocha (Selfie)

Nestled beneath the beautiful Santa Rosa Mountains, I overheard the woman at the desk say the resort offered championship golf courses, an award-winning 23,000 square foot spa, fitness center, 23 tennis courts, 41 pools and five outstanding restaurants. This was going to a real treat, where I was 100 percent welcome. There are even pet friendly services including in-room massages.

La Quinta Resort was established in the 1920s by San Francisco businessman Walter H. Morgan, who envisioned creating a relaxing retreat for his friends and family.

Once referred to by the Cahuilla Indians as the “Land of the Eternal Sun,” the area we now know of as La Quinta has a rich history dating back hundreds of years.

The hotel opened in January 1927 and represented a total investment of between $150,000 and $200,000, and included 20 casitas. Morgan’s idea was to create a retreat for Hollywood’s movers and shakers to have privacy and find respite from the hustle and bustle.

After a long day basking in the California sunshine – there was a pool directly outside of our casita (one of 617 guestrooms and 161 villas) – my fur-parents enjoyed a day in the water, while I slept in one of the comfy lounge chairs.

The Spanish-style casitas and suites offered views of the garden or mountains – gardens in our case — and was appointed with a huge bathroom with a double sink, king bed, oversized tub, walk-in shower, a Keurig coffee maker, refrigerator and ice maker.

After a great sleep in the big comfy bed, I got a long walk in the cool early morning dessert, along the acres of paths on the property. Then we got a tour in a golf cart — this is the way to travel.

We were told that La Quinta has been visited by several Hollywood legends – Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Frank Capra and Bette Davis. Frank Capra is said to have penned “It Happened One Night” in one of the casitas. Today, the less legendary, but still impressive visit the resort — Will Smith, Barbra Streisand, Andre Agassi, and Al Pacino, to name a few.

Today, the resort hosts all the Coachella kids, it’s sold out a year ahead for the festival, and the property is a hot spot for weddings where everyone is welcome.

There are plenty of hotels that claim to be dog friendly, butLa Quinta Resort & Club is a getaway furry friends can truly enjoy – it’s gone to the dogs, but not in a bad way.

You better hurry for New Year’s Eve.  There’s so much to do there!

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Ft. Lauderdale beckons as winter sets in

Check out what to do in Wilton Manors and beyond

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It’s the time of year for many LGBTQ people on the East Coast to flock to Ft. Lauderdale and Wilton Manors.

Consider a winter getaway to Fort Lauderdale and Wilton Manors (The Island City that is surrounded by Fort Lauderdale, Fla.). The weather is usually perfect with highs in the low 80s and rain free. There is so much to do and if you stay right in Wilton Manors, you will not need a car.

WHAT TO DO

Besides hanging out at Sebastian Beach, there are lots of other things to do.

Hike the boardwalk and enjoy the red mangrove swamp in Colohatchee Park Wilton Manors. I took the electric shuttle there for just $2 known as the Circuit Rideshare service. Download the app and book your ride. It’s like Uber but you share a ride using a cute multi-passenger vehicle. The drivers work for tips so be sure to give them one. Details at ridecircuit.com/fortlauderdale.

Join the Frontrunners for a walk or run. They meet Sundays at 5 p.m. at the Pride Center in Equality Park in Wilton Manors (and also Wednesdays in Holiday Park and Saturday mornings). Details at FRWFL.org.

Pick up some sexy underwear at the Pride Factory clothing store (2282 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors).

See the shark exhibit at the Frost Science Museum.

Walk along the Riverwalk in downtown Ft. Lauderdale.

The new Seminole Hardrock Hotel and Casino in nearby Hollywood features live sports betting and games such as craps and roulette. It features restaurants and a guitar shaped hotel.

The Wilton Manors Library has shared computers and is perfect for teleworkers working out of their Wilton Manors office.

Download the Seek App and get to know the flora and fauna. Green iguanas are a startling site as are the colorful ducks that walk around the neighborhoods. The various kinds of palms are interesting. With a subtropical climate, you will find flowers not seen elsewhere in the U.S.

Take the Brightline Train to Miami. The super-fast train gets you there in just 30 minutes. You can even buy a snack on board. The train also goes north to Orlando Airport. There is nothing else like it in the U.S.

NIGHTLIFE

Most of the bars are close to each other on Wilton Drive in Wilton Manors. Hunters is my first stop. There is something going on every night. (Yes, the same owner as the one in Palm Springs.)

The LIT was just voted the best bar for lesbians. You will find them at 2440 Wilton Drive.

You will find the leather crowd at the Eagle in Wilton Manors.

Georgie’s Alibi and the Monkey Bar (of Ptown fame) at 2232 is a lot of fun.

Johnson’s has dancers and a happy hour from 5 – 8 p.m.

The new NoManors Bar is a lot of fun.

There must be 15 bars within steps of each other on both sides of Wilton Manors Drive. Check them out while in town.

WHERE AND WHAT TO EAT

Enjoy a burger at Rosie’s Bar and Grill (2449 Wilton Drive). Pub on the Drive also has great food and a brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. You will find them at 2271 Wilton Manor Dr.

Since I travel by myself, I prefer to get food to go at grocery stores. The Publix Market (Florida’s iconic grocery store) can be found at 2633 N. Dixie Highway. Try the hot food bar, which features southern classics. Pick up some Jaymar brand super sweet Florida strawberries for breakfast or a snack. Get cash at their Presto! ATM, which features no surcharge for many users with accounts at a credit union.

The new Sprouts Market is another option. They too have made-to-order sandwiches and other items.

WHERE TO STAY

The new Wilton River Suites is right on the river and walkable to the bars in Wilton Manors. Check out a bike or kayak during your stay. You get your own apartment, some of which have two bathrooms. They also feature an onsite gym and pool Book your room at wiltonsuites.com.

Men will like the even closer in Calypso Inn, which features a small pool. The tropical outdoor gardens are impressive, and it is just two blocks to the bars in Wilton Manors. Tell the owner Wes, I sent you.

I have also stayed at the Home2Suites in the Flagler Arts Village District. The newer hotel is handy to the Riverwalk and downtown.

GETTING THERE

I took Southwest without incident to and from FLL. Then you can Uber your way to the hotel or take the #1 Bus to the #50 Bus to get to Wilton Manors. Details at Broward County Transit. The Tri Rail also runs from the airport to the city. Tri Rail also runs from Miami International as well. Skip the traffic and parking headaches and UBER or take transit. And if you stay in Wilton Manors, you can walk everywhere.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

OUT SFL is a newspaper and a magazine. Pick up a copy of either or find them at OUTSFL.com.

HOTSpots! Florida is another gay tabloid and also a reliable source of current goings on. You can read them on line at HOTSpotsMagazine.com.

The monthly OutClique Magazine also has lots of ideas of what to do while in town.

Special recognition to Richard Gray for his travel tips. Richard is the Senior Vice President of Inclusion and Accessibility for Visit Lauderdale who single handedly transformed Fort Lauderdale into the most welcoming LGBTQ+ city on the planet.

“Everyone Under the Sun” is their motto. Fort Lauderdale wrote the book on how to promote your city.

Bill Malcolm‘s syndicated LGBTQ travel country is carried by LGBTQ publications throughout North America.

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Record number of Southern Californians will travel for Thanksgiving

The Auto Club predicts 4.6 million Southern Californians will travel during the Thanksgiving holiday period this year

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AAA Auto Club/Los Angeles Blade graphic

LOS ANGELES – For the second year in a row, an all-time record number of Southern Californians are projected to travel over the Thanksgiving holiday, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.

The Auto Club predicts 4.6 million Southern Californians will travel during the Thanksgiving holiday period this year – a 3% increase from last year’s record number of travelers and a 3.5% increase from 2019, the last Thanksgiving holiday before the pandemic.

Nationwide, AAA is projecting this Thanksgiving to be the third busiest on record, with 55.4 million travelers expected compared to 58.6 million in 2005 and 56 million in 2019.

The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as the five days from Wednesday, November 22 to Sunday, November 26.

By the Numbers

Thanksgiving 2023 CA Chart
Thanksgiving 2023 ACSC US

“Thanksgiving is one of the more popular holidays for people to travel to see family and friends so they can take part in annual traditions like turkey dinners and Black Friday shopping,” said Jenna Miller, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel products and services. “Travel demand has been strong all year, and AAA’s Thanksgiving travel forecast reflects people’s ongoing desire to get away and spend time with their loved ones.”

Top Destinations

Warm weather destinations, theme parks, and cruise port cities will be among the most popular destinations this holiday season. Nationally, AAA expects Florida cities, New York City, and Hawaii to be among the top U.S. destinations and internationally, some top destinations will include Cancun, Punta Cana, and European cities like Rome, Paris and London.

Locally, the top five destinations for Southern Californians will be:

1) Las Vegas

2) San Diego

3) Santa Barbara/Central Coast

4) Grand Canyon

5) Mexico cruises and resorts

Gas Prices

Southern Californians who drive to their holiday destinations will be getting some relief at the pump compared to last year when filling up for their getaways. Gas prices are averaging about 30 cents a gallon less than this time last year and have been continuously dropping since October, with most local metro areas averaging less than $5.25 a gallon. To find the cheapest gas prices closest to your location, use the AAA Mobile app, and visit gasprices.aaa.com to find the average gas prices at your destination or calculate the estimated gas cost for your Thanksgiving trip.

Travel Tips

  • If traveling by automobile, make sure your vehicle maintenance is up-to-date and your tires and battery are in good condition. AAA expects to respond to more than 90,000 calls for help in California over the Thanksgiving weekend.   If you need some help getting your vehicle road trip ready, visit AAA.com/AAR to find a reputable AAA-Approved Auto Repair facility near you.
  • Air travelers should plan to arrive at the airport at least two hours before  domestic flights and three hours ahead of time for international departures. The Auto Club recommends people who drive themselves ot the airport to reserve a parking space to make sure you have one, download your airline’s app and check-in for your flight at home to avoid long lines at kiosks in the terminal.

Busy Roads

According to the transportation analytics firm INRIX, Wednesday, Nov. 22 in the afternoon and evening will be the busiest time for Southland freeways. The most impacted drive on that afternoon and evening will be I-5 North between Los Angeles and Bakersfield, which is projected to take 88% longer than normal with a three-hour travel time. Other heavily impacted routes will be I-15 South between I-10 and San Diego on the afternoon of Sunday, Nov. 26, and I-5 South between Bakersfield and Los Angeles on the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 24. All outbound freeways are likely to be congested on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons before Thanksgiving, so drivers should expect longer travel times during those periods and plan to leave early.

About AAA

Started in 1902 by automotive enthusiasts who wanted to chart a path for better roads in America and advocate for safe mobility, AAA has transformed into one of North America’s largest membership organizations. Today, AAA provides roadside assistance, travel, discounts, financial and insurance services to enhance the life journey of 64 million members across North America, including 57 million in the United States. To learn more about all AAA has to offer or to become a member, visit AAA.com.

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Loving the Land Down Under

Australia offers LGBTQ travelers a welcoming and diverse culture

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(Photo courtesy Destination NSW)

By CHAD MANTOOTH

Having grown up in Kansas, in the middle of the United States, I’ve always longed to see more than the flat, flyover states that are the Midwest.

When I was a kid, my dad was a huge Olivia Newton John fan. She was his Australian heartthrob. Many a school day, I would come home to her music blaring or one of her live concerts in the VCR. And as a young gay boy, I was mesmerized by her as well. She was pretty, sang beautifully, and was from this great land far, far away.

I wondered how this pop chanteuse from Down Under got into my living room. And I always wondered what her homeland of Australia was like. Was it filled with dangerous animals as everyone suggested?  Was there something at every turn that could kill me?

To me, it sounded exciting! I’ve always tried to live my life by a Helen Keller quote I heard while in high school: “Lift is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” And it was with that mindset firmly in place that I packed my bags this past spring to visit that mystical Land Down Under. 

Australia is one of the most LGBTQ-friendly countries in the world, with a progressive culture that embraces diversity and inclusivity. Australia decriminalized homosexuality in the 1970s and legally recognized same-sex marriage in 2017. The country has a very vibrant and dynamic LGBTQ community, and it is a popular destination for LGBTQ+ travelers.

Sydney, the largest city in Australia, is often considered the LGBTQ capital of the country. The city hosts the famous Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, an annual festival and parade that attracts more than 300,000 visitors from around the world. The festival, with colorful floats, music, and performances, has become a symbol of Australia’s commitment to LGBTQ rights and is a must-visit for anyone traveling to Australia.

The parade, beginning with the roar of hundreds of “dykes on bikes,” is truly a sight to behold. The whole country comes to SLAY at this parade! Everyone puts on their brightest colors and outfits for this over-the-top event. It was one of the best (and longest) Pride parades I’ve ever been to in my life.

In 2023, Sydney was home to the 2023 WorldPride festival, and the city rolled out the rainbow carpet for the estimated 1 million-plus people, staging more than 400 events. And when I tell you that this city went over the top — well, that’s a complete understatement. EVERYWHERE I went, EVERYTHING was covered in rainbows — from the city sidewalks to the lighting on buildings, to every employee I saw in every shop with their rainbow pins and buttons. It was like gay was the norm and straight was the minority; it was weirdly fabulous!

Melbourne

Melbourne is another great city for LGBTQ travelers to visit. Aside from being the current home to my favorite pop star, Troye Sivan, the city is known for its vibrant arts and culture scene and is home to a thriving LGBTQ community. The annual Midsumma Festival, a three-week celebration of queer arts and culture, is held in Melbourne and features a range of exhibitions, performances, parties, and other events.

If shopping is your thing, check out the 145-year-old Queen Victoria Market. This open-air market is home to more than 600 small businesses where you can buy everything from Australian fruits and veggies to gourmet food, clothing, and souvenirs. There is literally something for everyone.

Wild Australia

What initially drew me Down Under were the lush landscapes and wild animals I saw on TV growing up. The country is home to some of the world’s most stunning natural wonders, including the Great Barrier Reef, the Outback, and the Blue Mountains. LGBTQ travelers can explore these natural wonders through a range of activities, including hiking, snorkeling and even zip lines and hot air balloon rides.

One stop for me was the breathtaking Heron Island, a stunning coral cay located on the southern Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland. It is accessible only by catamaran or helicopter and offers a secluded and pristine escape for travelers looking for a uniquely tranquil experience.

The island boasts world-class snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities, giving visitors the chance to swim among vibrant coral reefs and an abundance of marine life including sea turtles, manta rays and reef sharks, while its sandy beaches provide a picturesque setting for sunbathing and leisurely walks. The island is an also breeding ground for several species of seabirds, including the endangered black noddy tern and the wedge-tailed shearwater, making it perfect for birding enthusiasts.

I spent three glorious days on this piece of paradise and have never felt so relaxed in my life. I got up close with nature — every kind of wildlife you could imagine birds — in a way that I’ve never experienced before and will never forget.

Accommodation options on Heron Island range from eco-friendly tents to luxurious suites, with all rooms offering stunning views of the reef and the island’s lush vegetation. Facilities include a restaurant and bar and well as guided nature walks and reef talks.

If you need a chance for some peaceful rest and rejuvenation, especially after all the excitement of Sydney and Melbourne, Heron Island is the perfect destination. Its remote location and unparalleled natural beauty make it a must-visit destination.

Bondi Beach

Australia has several LGBTQ-friendly beaches, including the popular Bondi Beach in Sydney. The beach is home to the Bondi Gay and Lesbian Beach Picnic, which is held on the first Sunday of every month and is a great way to meet other LGBTQ travelers.

Food and wine

Australia’s food and wine culture is yet another draw for LGBTQ travelers, offering a range of culinary delights from fresh seafood to world-class wines and unique indigenous cuisine. I know I came back to the states 10 pounds heavier! The cities of Melbourne and Sydney are particularly known for their food and wine scenes, with a range of LGBTQ-friendly restaurants and bars.

Overall, I spent a little more than two weeks in The Land Down Under. I loved it so much that I’ve decided I will definitely be going back to vacation there again, and I might even move there some day. The welcome I felt from the people there is something I will never forget.

Aussies care about their country and the people in it. From the moment I touched down until the minute that I left, I never felt unwelcome anywhere I went.

The country’s progressive culture, natural beauty, and diverse cities make it an ideal vacation spot for LGBTQ individuals and couples. Whether you’re looking to attend a Pride parade, explore the great outdoors or simply relax on a beautiful beach, Australia has something to offer everyone.

So, pack your bags and come and say G’day; you won’t regret it. For more info on traveling to Australia, visit www.australia.com

 Chad Mantooth is a writer for the Dallas Voice. This story is courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association.

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A voyage to Iceland, Greenland, Denmark and beyond

Cruise of a lifetime to unforgettable ports of call

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Reykjavik deserves a few days to tour since it has some of the greatest landscapes and wonders on Earth (Photo by Jason Villemez)

By MARK SEGAL

(Mark Segal is publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News. This story is courtesy of the National LGBTQ Media Association.)

LGBTQ people like to travel, and like many people they take cruises to see the world or just to relax. It used to be when taking something as personal as a cruise, where you’ll be with people in close quarters and where conversations can be easily overheard, you might have felt uncomfortable to be yourself. Today there are numerous LGBTQ cruises for almost every segment of the LGBTQ community where you can be your fabulous self and party until dawn or more. Among those companies are Atlantis adventures, primarily for men, and Olivia cruises for women. But those companies still comprise only a fraction of available cruise sailings. So, how welcoming are non-LGBTQ cruises? 

My husband Jason and I have been on numerous cruises on many LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ cruise lines. For our current trip we booked a cruise on Oceania, a line known for its food (they claim the best food at sea), exceptional attention to detail, and out of the ordinary shore excursions. We chose Oceania once before, and it was above most of the other cruises we’ve done. Another advantage of Oceania is that they do exotic itineraries. Our July cruise started in Reykjavik, Iceland and then proceeded to Greenland, the Shetland Islands, Denmark, and Sweden before ending in Oslo, Norway after a whopping 15 days. We traveled with another gay couple, our friends Klay and Val, who are out and proud like us.

And that really is the heart of the question: How out and proud can LGBTQ people be on a traditional cruise?

On the first night of the cruise, the ship promoted an “LGBTQQIA+ Get Together” in their daily schedule printout. The 4 of us attended along with 3 other couples, though we weren’t the only LGBTQ people on board. Throughout the trip, we met many other LGBTQ people, mostly couples, who also had other cruise experiences. I asked many of them why they picked this cruise over an LGBTQ cruise, as well as how comfortable they felt being out on this cruise. 

The overwhelming answer was that people on a cruise, like the general population, gravitate to like minded people, and since everyone’s on vacation it’s easier to get along. Most of them were comfortable being open about their sexuality. Jason and I felt comfortable enough to show our emotions at times and hold hands or put an arm around each other, just like non-LGBTQ couples. It made a larger point for me. Could we have done that a decade ago? The answer is: probably not. So in that regard, traditional cruises pass the comfort level for LGBTQ people. But what about the more nuanced reality of being an LGBTQ person on a cruise with 97% non-LGBTQ people?

Like any cruise, we found ourselves finding our own friends who turned out to be a fascinating lot. One of those was a couple who work at a small college and are developing new ways to be inclusive to LGBTQ students. Another was a retired couple from Seattle, another from Dallas. That’s the secret sauce in cruising, finding the people you get along with and having a nice time.

For all of us, the two factors that led us to this cruise were the itinerary and the reputation of Oceania. Let’s start with the cruise stops.

Reykjavik, Iceland

The departing port of the cruise, Reykjavik, deserves a few days to tour since it has some of the greatest landscapes and wonders on Earth, and if you’re lucky as we were, you will be met by an active volcano. We had arranged 3 days of touring with an LGBTQ tour company called Pink Iceland. There not only is a sizable LGBTQ population in Iceland, but it seems everywhere you go there are rainbows. The country even has had a lesbian Prime minister. It’s one of the most LGBTQ-friendly places on earth.

Our first day we traveled to the south shore and marveled at the raw natural landscape, which looks like something from the moon but is actually dried lava with moss growing atop. The volcanoes and glaciers are everywhere, and with an abundance of volcanoes, you’ll see steam coming up from the ground in certain places. This has translated to natural geothermal power that powers the country, as well as natural glacier water (which tastes better than any bottled water) in every home. Later that day we went to the black beach at Reynisfjara with its basalt rock formation from eruptions thousands of years ago. We also visited and walked behind several waterfalls, and the sunshine meant that rainbows were aplenty. It was wet, magical, and romantic. 

Our second day began with an adventurous ATV ride on that moonscape with a stop at a dormant volcano’s top ridge. With me driving, Jason held on for dear life. Afterwards, we spent the afternoon in the world famous Blue Lagoon spa, where there are pools of volcanic minerals and silica that are a color of blue you’ll see no other place on earth. As you soak you can apply those minerals as a face mask. Even though it was around 50 degrees outside, by the time we finished, we were all pleasantly overheated.

Our third day we toured the capital city, which is easily walkable and features a giant rainbow street, and then attended a get-together organized by Eva and Birna, the owners of Pink Iceland, with some local LGBTQ community members, including a member of parliament and a playwright who was the first to come out in his village in western Iceland. The audience was among the most engaged I’ve ever spoken to, and they asked insightful questions and were delightful to engage with. Iceland is a country built on stories (called the Sagas), so the people are keen to learn the stories of others.

After our three days in Reykjavik, we went onto our ship, the Oceania Riviera. 

The ship had recently come out of dry dock with a total renovation. The cabin was the most beautiful we’ve ever seen at sea and had ample closet space and a bathroom with a rainfall shower. Our home away from home would be comfy. 

Our friends Klay and Val opted for a larger room with butler service. The room had more closet space than some New York apartments, and the amenities were above average. But their butler, as they learned, seemed to have had no understanding of his role and often overcomplicated things. 

Isafjordur, Iceland

Iceland is still developing its infrastructure for tourism. Our ship had provided 10 shore excursions, but all were completely sold before we even boarded the ship, including the one we wanted most, whale watching. The fact that shore excursions sell out months before the trip was not fully communicated to us. When we attempted to book 6 weeks before the trip, many ports had no available excursions. Nevertheless, in this small fishing village, left to our own devices we discovered one of the treasures of Iceland, The Tjoruhusid Restaurant. Known to be the most traditional Icelandic food in the country, you still needed a reservation since locals and tourists come from all over for its cuisine. But in true Icelandic hospitality, the staff found room and were kind enough to seat us, and I must admit that while I’m not a seafood eater it was amazing. The buffet meal included a fish soup, five types of fish entrees, including fish throat, which I didn’t know existed, various vegetable combinations, and coffee, biscuits, and chocolate. 

After the meal, we took a stroll through the village and discovered that among the fishing boats, fjords, and homes, the town square had a giant rainbow painted down the center. That’s two for two cities in Iceland with rainbow streets.

Paamiut, Greenland

Our second stop was a small village of about 1300 whose complete economy was fishing and seal hunting. Very few cruise ships have ever stopped there, and for good reason. While there are very few facilities and the infrastructure is sparse, the main problem was that as we approached, the seas were somewhat choppy and we found ourselves in a sea of Icebergs. Before I could suggest to everyone that we all break out into a chorus of “My Heart Will Go On,” the captain stated the obvious: he canceled the adventure in Paamiut. It was not safe to take the tender boats to shore (there was nowhere to dock in a port that small). However, a consolation prize was being treated to a sea of majestic icebergs as we sailed away. 

That evening the entertainment and information system in all the staterooms went down. No television, no stateroom information, no map. Not only was the television system down, but the ship’s entire network went down as well. The casinos were out of service, and bartenders and shop staff had to write down stateroom numbers on paper receipts. Getting information about the problem was met with what would become a common complaint on this trip: a lack of communications skills from the staff. 

But we moved on to the next port of call, which turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip.

Nuuk, Greenland 

The capital of Greenland, Nuuk, held its Pride celebration the week before we arrived. Discovering small cities with Pride events astonishes me even to this day. We had tried to find a Nuuk Pride T-shirt but since the city is so small (17,000 people) the organizers told me they didn’t have the funds to create merch. 

For our excursion for the day, we chose the Fjord Boat Tour, which was majestic. Our boat driver dodged icebergs like a taxi weaving in and out of traffic. When we stopped for a few minutes, the calmness and solitude, being surrounded by ice and mountains, was otherworldly.

Sadly, our driver said that ten years ago, none of the ice in the water was there, and that it has been a result of climate change and melting ice. I shudder to think what the area will be like in another ten years. There might be so much ice that boats can’t get anywhere.

Qaqortoq, Greenland

In Qaqortoq, a 1,500-person city south of Nuuk, the excursion we chose was the “Kaffemik,” basically enjoying coffee and traditional Greenland cakes in a private house. We walked up the hills and passed by colorful homes to get to the residence of our host, an 80 year old widow with Swedish ancestry who was charming and explained Greenlandic culture. One of her children was there to help translate, while her other children live in Denmark, which Greenland is a territory of. During the pandemic, Greenland received ample funds from Denmark to make up for the loss of income in industry.

After we wrapped up our sightseeing, that evening, while walking around the ship, we came across a portrait of a woman who is the godmother of the ship, Cat Cora, the famous Iron Chef. She and her wife and children were also among the guests on board with us. We went to see her give a talk the following evening. We figured since there was no working casino or state room entertainment, that meeting an Iron Chef would be entertainment worth seeing. During her presentation she introduced her family, and afterwards we got a chance to chat. When I asked her about how it felt introducing her wife, she said “that’s what we need as a community, we need to be more visible.” That was music to our ears. 

Torshavn (Faroe Islands), Denmark

This charming capital of the Faroe Islands is a wonder of old architecture and homes with grass roofs. The town’s Library had several LGBTQ books on display in the window due to the previous week’s Pride celebration. This trip, after learning about Pride in Nuuk, Greenland and also the Faroe Islands, proved to me what I’ve always believed, that Pride is one of the best exports America has ever given to the world. I thought of my friend Ellen Broidy who helped write the resolution that created Pride, and all of us who marched in that first Pride in 1970 in New York.

Lerwick (Shetlands Islands), Scotland

Believe it or not, it was actually stated in the ship’s excursion brochure “encounters with Shetland ponies is not guaranteed” which gave me a chuckle. The tour we were on in Lerwick included going to the town’s museum to learn about the Shetland Bus, where people ferried people and supplies back and forth between Norway during WWII, as well as, thankfully, a stop at a Shetland Pony farm. Seeing the ponies and the beautiful green hills full of sheep was the highlight of this stop. One surprise was that while the Shetlands are part of Scotland, the citizens feel culturally closer to Norway, and there are lots of Viking motifs.

Haugesund, Norway

While there were excursions available to see the Norwegian fjords, by this point in the trip we needed a little bit of a break, so we simply walked around the town’s main square, bought a magnet as a souvenir, and enjoyed the warm sunshine, the first day above 50 degrees we’d had in two weeks. One of the LGBTQ couples did go on a fjord tour, and they said it was beautiful despite spending three hours in a bus to get to them. 

Skagen, Denmark

Skagen is the picture-perfect Danish seaside town. I’d recommend not doing any guided tours and just walking around the city’s downtown area on your own. There are museums, art galleries, shopping, and plenty of outdoor cafes and bistros. There are also top notch garden shops and plenty of greenery for those who have a green thumb.

Gothenburg, Sweden

Sweden’s second largest city has a population of 579,000 and is a model of a beautiful European city with second empire buildings and a very large central shopping area. We stumbled upon some fun shops, including one dedicated to Pippi Longstocking, as well as the largest cinnamon rolls and cookies we’ve ever seen. We took some time to sit in a city park and enjoy the surroundings.

On the final night of the cruise, we enjoyed a performance by Tiano, the tenor and piano duo of Shimi Goodman and Chris Hamilton. They dedicated one of the love songs to Val and Klay, who were celebrating their 25th anniversary. The duo will soon embark on a North American tour, and we’re looking forward to seeing them again. They’re also a couple, and they mentioned that they were glad to meet other LGBTQ people on the ship.

Oslo, Norway

The cruise ended in Oslo, Norway, and many passengers planned a couple day layover before heading home. But others, like Jason and I, decided to head to the airport the morning of disembarkation, and we purchased tickets from the ship that would transfer us and our luggage to the airport. The luggage was put in a truck, and we were ushered into buses. The process was confusing, and there was no ship representative at the airport to direct us where our luggage was. Ultimately, the truck with the luggage arrived about 15 minutes after we did, and everyone was reunited with their bags.

Compared to the other Oceania cruise we did, this one failed to meet expectations. While it had what seemed like the best cabin at sea and a wonderful itinerary, the staff, while helpful, seemed to be learning on the job. The other major disappointment was the food. Oceania no longer has the best food at sea. Other than the specialty restaurants, the food was similar to any other cruise at best, and at times some of the food was severely disappointing. Also disappointing were the ships lack of available shore excursions, and lack of communications skills. The lack of information, especially from the cruise director and excursion staff, was subpar compared to many other cruises we’ve been on. And while the cruise did go to ports that have little infrastructure, there are ways to mitigate that which the cruise staff did not do. 

While the cruise did not meet Oceania’s reputation, it still afforded us the delight in the people we met and the destinations we saw along the way. That’s what we’ll remember most. A private party with some of the LGBTQ guests we met; Tiano on that final night; the maitre’d in the dining room who seemed to know the name of every passenger on the ship. Each evening we had the delight of sharing our experience with our friends over dinner. 

To sum up the reason for this trip, as an LGBTQ couple, we felt comfortable being ourselves on a non-LGBTQ cruise, and the other LGBTQ people we spoke with didn’t seem to have any issues either. As for whether we’d take Oceania again, we sadly would not unless the itinerary was completely unique. Oceania seemed to have lost the sparkle that made it one of the best cruise companies around.

But despite the ship’s faults, seeing Iceland, Greenland, and so many other places was an experience of a lifetime. We can’t wait to go back to Reykjavik someday and see more of the country and meet more of the people, and we’re forever grateful to have seen Greenland, a place of unparalleled beauty and where few others have ever been. It’s a reminder that the planet has existed long before humans, and that we are but a small part of the wide wonder of nature

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Fabulous San Diego beckons with array of attractions

You cannot beat a vacation in San Diego and there is always something fun and new going on in the city including the Hillcrest gayborhood

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San Diego’s perfect weather draws visitors year round. (Photo courtesy Bill Malcolm)

You cannot beat a vacation in San Diego and there is always something fun and new going on in the city, including the vibrant Hillcrest gayborhood (fabuloushillcrest.com). The city of 1.4 million borders Mexico and is built on mesas surrounded by canyons on the Pacific Ocean. Interesting neighborhoods and parks will keep you busy. The climate is mild, so any month is perfect for a visit given the climate. The city combines the best of Southern California combined with a strong Mexican influence given the proximity to Tijuana. 

WHAT TO DO

Don’t miss the Farmers Market Sundays in Hillcrest Sundays from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Enjoy the Southern California strawberries and dates. I had salmon for lunch. There are lots of local vendors. You will find them on Normal Avenue between Lincoln and University Avenue near the rainbow flag.

On Saturdays, the city’s other large farmers market in Little Italy is also very popular. Little Italy is a cute neighborhood near downtown with lots of trendy restaurants and shops. (Details at littleitalysd.com).

Hike up Maple Canyon and enjoy the native vegetation on Bankers Hill.

See the rarest pine in the world, the Torrey Pine, and enjoy the wildflowers and views from bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean at the Torrey Pine Natural Reserve just north of La Jolla. You will also see the beaver tail prickly pear cacti, yuccas, cholla cactus, manzanitas, and native wildflowers. To get there without a car (and to avoid the $25 parking charge), take the Blue Line MTS trolley (light rail) to La Jolla (Noble Drive Station) and then catch the 110 North County Coaster bus to Torrey Pines Beach. The bus ride goes through the UCSD campus and is interesting. (See SDMTS.com)

Once at the beach, walk up the hill going south into the preserve and enjoy the Guy Fleming loop trail, which features stunning views of the ocean and the rare and unusual Torrey pines, which are found only here and on Catalina Island. These rare and endangered pines are found nowhere else on Earth except these two small locations. Plan your trip at torreypines.org

Then enjoy the Torrey Pines or Blacks beaches. Then catch the 101 bus back to La Jolla and enjoy fish tacos at Rubio’s Coastal Grill (Nobel and La Jolla Drive) and a fresh carrot juice at the Nektre Juice Bar (8855 Villa La Jolla Drive). 

Walk along the bay at the trails on Harbor Island near the Sheraton. It’s just over a mile to the Liberty Public Market, a new food hall that had been a Navy Mess Hall at the former Navy training facility. It also features museums and an Arts District. Try the craft beer at Bottlecraft or craft cocktails at Mess Hall. There are local clothing, soap, and jewelry vendors as well. Pick up some homemade soap at the Old Town Soap Company. You will find Liberty Station at 2820 Historic Decatur Rd. (libertypublicmarketsd.com). They are celebrating 100 years. On the way back, stop at Spanish Landing, the site where California was discovered in the 1500s by Cabrillo, a Spanish explorer.  

Visit the North Park neighborhood. Take in a drag and dinner show at Lips on El Cajon Boulevard. Stop by the Eagle Bar.

Balboa Park includes museums as well the San Diego Zoo. It is a must for first-time visitors. 

For more ideas, visit the Metropolitan Transit System website. Enjoy a car free, carefree stay.

NIGHTLIFE

You cannot beat the selection of bars, restaurants, and shops in Hillcrest, one of the best gayborhoods in the world.

I stumbled on a fun Saturday night show featuring drag, strippers, and burlesque at Urban Mos in Hillcrest. The strippers and bottomless Mimosas on Sunday were a hit. They also have great food. I loved the fries. 

Richs is always fun as is Flicks, the latter of which has an all-day happy hour on Tuesday. Number One has a DJ on Sunday afternoons. You can dance on the patio. The Loft is a fun neighborhood bar.

WHERE TO STAY

This was my second stay at the Sheraton Hotel and Suites on the marina near the airport on Harbor Island. It’s a quick Uber to Hillcrest or take the 922 MTS Bus downtown, Union Station, and the attractions. Get a room in the main tower facing downtown and the bay. Check Trip Advisor for other hotel ideas. However, there are few lodging options in the Hillcrest. 

GETTING THERE 

I took the Southwest nonstop from Indianapolis. You don’t need a rental car as San Diego has great transit. MTS runs the trolley system (aka light rail). Plus you can walk everywhere in this fairly compact city if you stay around Hillcrest, Downton, Old Town, and the Gas light District. 

USEFUL TRAVEL TIPS

Visit San Diego listed all the new attractions, hotels, and happenings for summer in San Diego. As for Hillcrest, San Diego will be celebrating with the San Diego Pride Parade, one of the largest in the country, with over 300,000 attendees July 8-16.

OTHER INFORMATION

San Diego has a bad homeless problem, and many are mentally ill. I was attacked at 8th Avenue and Hillcrest while walking down the sidewalk at 5 p.m. on a Sunday. The psychotic looking shirtless man tried to steal my day pack and then pulled me. Fortunately, Mayor Todd Garcia pushed through a new ordinance banning public camping by the homeless to deal with the problem. 

San Diego has prohibitive costs including hotel rates. Book your hotel before you book your air. You may want to avoid the peak summer season where folks from Phoenix flee here to escape the summer heat. And beware of annoying resort fees. 

Although you are close to Tijuana, Mexico, it is unsafe to visit at this time. 

There are four publications you can find at the bars or online to help you plan your trip:

• LGBTQ San Diego County News (LGBTQSD.news) is a newspaper covering the community.

• RAGE Monthly covers all of San Diego. (rage.lgbtq)

• GedMag.com (GED Magazine) is a Palm Springs magazine distributed in San Diego.

• Metro Magazine is a New York publication that publishes a Los Angeles edition.

You cannot beat a trip to San Diego, with a perfect climate and set on mesas above canyons. There is always something new to do. And it has something for everyone. 

Bill Malcolm is a syndicated LGBTQ value travel columnist. His column is now carried in LGBTQ publications in Toronto, Seattle, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Dallas.

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This Zurich bar was once a meeting place for a secret gay society

Barfüsser is now Kweer and attracting a new generation of diverse patrons

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Kweer in Zurich has a long history as a gay-friendly bar. (Photo courtesy of Dan Renzi)

In 1942, as the Nazis were bombing their way around Europe, a quiet revolution was forming in Switzerland. The Swiss government decriminalized homosexuality that year, and the legal victory emboldened a group of gay men who had been secretly publishing a magazine. Der Kreis, a.k.a. The Circle, featured news, sexy stories and artwork, all about gay life in Switzerland, and most importantly there were details for upcoming parties at a nightclub in Zurich. With pages published in German, French, and English, The Circle was a lifeline for its subscribers, perhaps serving as their only glimpse of life beyond their oppressive reality. 

With the absence of anti-gay laws in Switzerland, and the social scene created by The Circle’s publishing team, Zurich became one of the gay capitals of the mid-20th century, where bands played for raucous parties and attendees dressed as their gender of choice. Just to the north in Germany, the Nazi regime arrested suspected homosexuals and imprisoned them in concentration camps, but gay Germans could take trains to Zurich and spend the weekend, dancing and drinking and engaging in taboo activities of the night.

Zurich’s police tolerated the publishers of The Circle, on the condition that members had to be at least 20 years old. But social attitudes in Switzerland were still predictably conservative, and any public exposure of a homosexual lifestyle was grounds for immediately losing your job and eviction from your home. The Circle’s parties were cloaked in secrecy. Attendance was restricted to registered members, and those registration lists were stored in a member’s home, in an oven filled with wood, ready to ignite should the police invade looking for evidence for blackmail. 

Those blackmail attempts began in the 1960s. Several gay men in Zurich were murdered by male prostitutes, but the killers claimed the “gay panic” defense, as if they had been coerced into being paid for sex by predatory older men, and the Swiss courts set them free. Mainstream press jumped on the story, also portraying the killers as the victims, and painted an image of Zurich as a pit of debauchery, which riled up the public. The police, embarrassed by the city’s distasteful image, interrogated The Circle’s publishers and threatened them with exposure if they did not disclose the names of their members. The publishers never caved to the threats, but the harassment led to the demise of The Circle, which ceased production in 1967, and those legendary parties disappeared.

All is not lost to history, however. In the 1950s, a bar opened in Zurich’s Old Town historic district; called Barfüsser, it was owned by a liberal-minded husband and wife couple who defiantly hired a waiter who had been fired from his previous job for being gay. That bit of gossip spread quickly, mostly among the waiter’s gay friends, and business flooded in, leading to Barfüsser quickly becoming one of Zurich’s first gay bars. Women sat in the front, and men congregated in the back room, and it was in that back room where The Circle held meetings, amid the antics of dancing boys and drag queens and other shenanigans occurring around them. 

Barfüsser soldiered on for decades and eventually closed in the early 2000s after the owners retired. The space was leased to a new business, a sushi restaurant, but in 2022 the restaurant moved out, and two local nightlife impresarios claimed the historic building. Marco Uhlig, who owns the nearby nightclub Heaven, a hotspot for Zurich’s twink scene, and Sam Rensing, who owns restaurants outside of the city, worried that “the space might be occupied by a big gastro-chain,” as explained by Rensing, and they wanted to return to its roots in European gay history. So they opened a bar there once again, now with the new name in the German spelling, Kweer.

The new Kweer is a beautiful lounge, with long serpentine couches and a small stage for shows, and the space opens early in the day as a coffeeshop, then changes to a posh cocktail bar in the evening. As progressive as it was in the 1950s when they hired their first gay employee, the bar is just as progressive now: instead of the self-imposed split of women in one room, men in the other, the crowd is entirely gender-friendly, with young patrons embracing their chosen pronouns and giving the place some fresh energy.

“We made sure to pivot the place as a queer space,” said Rensing. “We really thought that it was imperative, that this place became a thriving queer space again, as it had been in the second half of the last century.”

Kweer exterior (Photo courtesy of Dan Renzi)
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Southwest Air scrubs all SoCal departures, DOT investigating

Departing flights from LA area airports cancelled until Dec. 31. It was unclear if arriving Southern California flights were also affected

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Southwest jet on the ramp at Hollywood Burbank Airport *undated* (Photo credit: Southwest Airlines/Facebook)

BURBANK – The travel delays and cancellations created by the epic winter storm that gripped the nation over the Christmas holiday period forced Southwest Airlines yesterday to have canceled more than 2,600 flights, roughly 66% of its schedule, according to FlightAware.com. Another 18% were delayed.

Today the airline abruptly canceled all departing flights from Los Angeles area airports until Dec. 31, also included are departures from San Diego. It was unclear if arriving Southern California flights were also affected.

The airline’s website lists all departures out of LAX, Hollywood Burbank Airport, Ontario International Airport and the John Wayne Airport as “unavailable” until New Year’s Eve.

Adding to the company’s woes customer service has apparently imploded leaving travelers with no information and in some cases no options. ABC News affiliate in Indianapolis WRTV-6’s Investigative Reporter Kara Kenney noted on Monday: “Southwest Airlines has canceled thousands of flights across the country including mine. I spent more than 2 hours on hold and can’t get through. I’m assuming it’s a staffing issue and/or pilot hours impact from the winter storm. Regardless, I’m not a happy camper.

If an airline cancels your flight, or if there’s a “significant delay,” you’re entitled to a refund if you choose not to travel, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Whether you are entitled to a refund for a delay depends on many factors – including the length of the delay, the length of the flight, and your particular circumstances, according to the DOT.

Tuesday morning CNN reported more than 2,845 flights within, into or out of the US have already been canceled for Tuesday as of 6:15 a.m. ET, according to flight tracking website FlightAware. Of those canceled flights, 2,509 are operated by Southwest.

Tuesday’s cancellations follow a full day of post-Christmas travel chaos, with 3,989 flights canceled on Monday — 2,909 of those being Southwest flights.

Dallas Love Field Tuesday was packed with stranded Southwest passengers according to Dallas ABC News affiliate WFAA-8’s reporter Malini Basu:

The United States Department of Transportation is now investigating Southwest Airlines for this major travel fiasco. USDOT said it will examine whether cancellations were controllable and if Southwest is complying with its customer service plan. Currently, 70% of flight cancelations today are from Southwest Airlines.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg also said he was monitoring the situation closely.

Southwest cancels most departing SoCal flights:

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Christmas storm continues to disrupt travel, 45+ deaths reported

Flight Aware reported flight delays as of noon Eastern were around 13,711 with cancelled flights reported at 4,405

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Screenshot/YouTube NBC News

LOS ANGELES – The winter storm, labeled as a ‘once-in-a-generation’ weather event estimated to be 2,000 miles wide, that produced driving snow and plummeting temperatures, and was responsible for knocking out power from Texas to Maine continues to disrupt the nation’s holiday travel.

Flight Aware reported flight delays as of noon Eastern were around 13,711 with cancelled flights reported at 4,405. International travel was disrupted with total delays within, into, or out of the United States Monday at 4,679 and cancellations at 2,708.

The Associated Press reported the storm that produced blizzard conditions that paralyzed the Buffalo, New York area and much of the country left a death toll so far of 27 in western New York authorities said Monday as the region dug out from one of the worst weather-related disasters in its history.

The dead have been found in their cars, homes and in snowbanks. Some died while shoveling snow. The storm is now blamed for at least 48 deaths nationwide, with rescue and recovery efforts continuing Monday.

Temperatures across the United States continue to be life-threatening cold.

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Over 2K flights cancelled & travel disruptions as major storm hits

Forecasters are warning that this ‘Once In A Generation’ Winter Storm For Christmas’ will create record delays and cancellations

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Screenshot/YouTube NBC News

CHICAGO – As flights out of  are canceled Thursday out of Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports along with other major hubs including Denver International, forecasters are warning that this ‘Once In A Generation’ Winter Storm For Christmas’ will create record delays and cancellations.

The National Weather Service has issued an alert for a “a multitude of weather hazards through early this weekend, as heavy snowfall, strong winds, and dangerously cold temperatures.”

More than 1,250 flights have been canceled on Thursday and another 700 nixed on Friday, according to data from FlightAware, an app that provides real-time, historical, and predictive flight tracking data Forbes reported Thursday morning.

Prior to attending a briefing on the winter storm impacting the U.S., President Joe Biden said in remarks made in the Oval Office Thursday:

“Okay, this is going to be brief, folks. 
 
The storm — extreme cold weather — you can see it on the map the estimated areas where they’re at the — you know, as low as 50 degrees; where it’s that dark red, it’s below zero.  You know, it’s dangerous and threatening.  This is really a very serious weather alert here.  And it goes from Oklahoma all the way to Wyoming, and Wyoming to Maine.  And it’s of real consequence.
 
So I encourage everyone — everyone, please heed the local warnings.  We’ve contacted — we’ve tried to contact 26 governors so far in affected regions. 
 
And — and go to Weather.gov — Weather.gov for more information.
 
And I know this is — you know, it’s like — this is not like a snow day, you know, when you were a kid; this is serious stuff. 
 
And my team is prepared to help communities weather this — no pun intended — this storm, this — this freeze, and — because we need to cope.  They need to be able to cope if it’s necessary. 
 
I’m going to, shortly, be briefed by — by both FEMA and the National Weather Service, and we’re going to start that briefing.
 
And — but in the meantime, please take this storm extremely seriously.  And I don’t know whether your bosses will let you, but if you all have travel plans, leave now.  Not — not a joke.  I’m tell- — sending my staff — my staff, if they have plans to leave on — tomorrow — late tonight or tomorrow, I’m telling them to leave now.  They can talk to me on the phone.  It’s not life and death.  But it will be if they don’t — if they don’t get out, they may not get out.
 
So, any rate, thank you all for coming in, and I’m going to do the briefing now.  Thank you.”

More than 100 million Americans are under a winter weather alert as an arctic blast brings life-threatening cold to parts of the country, causing travel chaos just days before Christmas.

Graphic via The Weather Channel

The National Weather Service reported that temperatures across the central High Plains plummeted 50 degrees Fahrenheit in just a few hours. In much of the country, the Christmas weekend could be the coldest in decades.

The frigid air will move through the central United States to the east, with windchill advisories affecting about 135 million people over the coming days, weather service meteorologist Ashton Robinson Cook told the Associated Press Thursday.

Forecasters are expecting a bomb cyclone — when atmospheric pressure drops very quickly in a strong storm — to develop near the Great Lakes, which will increase winds and create blizzard conditions, Cook said.

NBC News’ Julia Jester breaks down how airlines are helping passengers with flight delays and cancellations and what travelers can expect on the roads ahead of the holidays:

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Sydney WorldPride just 3 months away – & the time to book is now

The massive LGBTQ+ gathering will mark multiple important firsts and anniversaries, including the first WorldPride in the Southern Hemisphere

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Sydneysiders created a human Progress Flag on the steps of the Sydney Opera House (WorldPride/Getty Images)

The global Pride extravaganza known as WorldPride is heading down under to Sydney, Australia in less than three months, and the scramble is on to secure the best flights, accommodations, and tickets to the enormous 17-day celebration. More than three hundred events will take place over the full WorldPride calendar, which spans February 17 to March 5 and includes a star-studded Live and Proud opening concert set for February 24, headlined by iconic native Aussie pop darling Kylie Minogue and British superstar Charli XCX.

The massive LGBTQ+ gathering will mark multiple important firsts and anniversaries, including the first WorldPride in the Southern Hemisphere, the 50th anniversary of the first Pride Week in Australia, the 45th anniversary of Sydney Mardi Gras Parade, and the 5th year anniversary of Australian marriage equality.

With travel demand already high for this once-in-a-lifetime event, Sydney WorldPride organizers are urging international visitors to book their voyages as soon as possible, ideally through an official approved travel provider to ensure access to genuine WorldPride event tickets. For a limited time, these travel agents will have access to an exclusive allotment of tickets to sold-out events, which they can bundle with flight and accommodation packages to make for a more streamlined and less expensive WorldPride experience.

Approved providers for American travelers include Down Under Answers, which has two complete travel packages on offer, a Sensational Sydney bundle that includes seven hotel nights in Sydney, and an Absolutely Fabulous WorldPride Sydney package that expands to ten nights. Both include round trip airfare from Los Angeles.

Out of Office is offering a variety of WorldPride packages with Australian travel add-ons to places like Hunter Valley in New South Wales’s wine country and to the legendary natural wonder Uluru (also called Ayers Rock) in Central Australia. 

For those who may want to book their Sydney flights and accommodations on their own, Planetdwellers has a package that includes tickets to the four most coveted WorldPride events (the Live and Proud opening concert, the 10,000-person circuit event Domain Dance Party, the 12,000-human Bondi Beach Party, and the seven-hour closing concert Rainbow Republic), plus two days tours to the Blue Mountains, the South Coast, or Hunter Valley.

Goway is offering separate packages for the first and second weeks of WorldPride events, as well as an extended 12-day trip that includes special roundtrip Pride flights from San Francisco to Sydney and an additional visit to the Great Barrier Reef. 

StudentUniverse has a booking portal on its website for a variety of flights combinations and Sydney hotels. After booking those by November 30, travelers will have access to purchase exclusive tickets to WorldPride’s main events, some of which are already sold out.

Los Angeles travelers will have the unique chance to get their Sydney WorldPride party started even before boarding the plane. Australian air carrier Qantas is offering a special Pride is in the Air flight from Los Angeles to Sydney on February 22, which includes pre-flight entertainment for all passengers in the Qantas First Lounge, queer-themed inflight fun and entertainment, special edition “Rainbow Roo” pajamas, curated LGBTQ+ inflight movies and music, an exclusive menu designed by Australian chef Neil Perry, and a general admission ticket to the Live and Proud opening concert.

Beyond the myriad parties and concerts that will be taking place during Sydney WorldPride, a dizzyingly diverse lineup of other happenings is also in store, including a WorldPride Arts program with nearly 70 events (some 50 of which will be world premieres), a WorldPride Sports program with 17 different sports, and the largest LGBTQIA+ human rights conference ever held in the Asia-Pacific region.

Sydney WorldPride will mark the eighth incarnation of the international event, and the first since the pandemic-challenged WorldPride 2021, which was jointly hosted by Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmö, Sweden.

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