Monday, June 26, 2006

I Love New York

Corner of Gay Street and Christopher Street, Greenwich Village, NYThere's a lot to love about New York. My first visit was August, 2005. Eight of us went down to celebrate my birthday. We had a blast. The summer of 2005 was the hottest summer on record, and the temperature never went below 95F the whole time we were there.

I definitely fell in love with Greenwich Village. Although most of the gay action is now found in Chelsea, Greenwich Village is where it all began. As a gay man, it was an experience walking down Christopher Street for the first time, and actually having a beer in the now re-opened Stonewall Bar, site of the gay riots in 1969 which sparked the gay rights movement.

Stonewall Bar, Greenwich Village, New York CityWe navigated New York City for the most part, by subway. I felt comfortable enough on the subway (and even experienced the subway during rush hour, which was a trip). On more the one occassion, people went out of their way to help us when they saw us struggling with directions and trains. New Yorkers really are a nice and helpful people. They're just busy, that's all.

Ironically, the only rude New Yorkers we encountered was in the gay community. The worst yet was on a visit to Rawhide, on 8th Avenue. One of the bartenders apparently gave my friend the wrong change back. (My friend had paid with a twenty, and got change back from a ten...this happens to me frequently when I travel as well). When my friend politely brought it to his attention, the bartender went wacko...hurling profanities and calling my friend evey name in the book, including "you human piece of shit". It was the ugliest, most verbally abusive thing I've ever seen. My friend simply put down his beer and left, as did the rest of us. The bouncer outside wasn't much better either, he was very surly and rude. This was the first place we had been to, our introduction to gay NY, so to speak. We had gone there initially because a gay guide we had checked out recommended it a friendly place with lots of locals, and a great place to start on an evening out. Wow.

Fortunately, we were treated better in other venues that night. We did get ripped off by a cab driver, though. A $4.00 fare ended up costing us $10.00. Although new to the area, we did notice, however, the same corner going by three times. The driver, once confronted, wouldn't stop the car to let us out! We had to yell at him to get him to stop. We paid the fare, cursed him, and walked to our destination. (The Monster in Greenwich Village). So in NY, watch your cash, and buyer beware!!

The Monster, at 80 Grove Street, was a blast. Fun dance floor downstairs, and festive piano bar upstairs. The staff were much nicer, too.

The rest of the trip was very smooth, thankfully. Times Square was impressive (both during the day and at night, too). Ground Zero, if you get a chance to see it, is very sad, a black place. Central Park was amazing. Canal Street and Chinatown were worth checking out (if you can stand the smell of rotting fish). I bought a pair of knockoff designer sunglasses for $6.00, which promptly broke the next day. Broadway is a must see...Rockefeller Center and NBC Studios were cool, although I didn't see anyone from the Today Show.

Next trip: The Met, Statue of Liberty, Staten Island

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

South Beach, Miami

Art Deco buildings, South Beach MiamiSouth Beach, Miami, is indeed a fun place. Everything is beautiful here; the people, the buildings, the scenery, the weather. There is an abundance of trendy cafes (although the habit of posting really aggressive staff out front of a lot of these restaurants, armed with menus, is somewhat irritating) The shopping is great too. The beach itself is large, and has a prominent gay section.

I could only find a few gay drinking spots in the beach area. The one I had the most fun at was certainly Twist, at 1057 Washington Avenue. Several bars on different levels, with lots of fun, frolic and dancing boys. Oh, and the staff were fun too.

But the ultimate in South Beach definitely has to be the Art Deco Distict. The buildings are awe inspiring. The whole area is a national treasure, and kudos go to the hard work of all those who fought to preserve it.

I also had my first authentic Cuban meal in South Beach at Lario's on the Beach, 820 Ocean Drive. The food was very good, the service swift, the crowd was interesting. The restaurant itself is very basic, but that added to the charm. Definitely worth a visit.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Gay Camping Update

It's camping season, and nobody does camping like the gay community. This winter, I had the good fortune of spending over two months in Florida. I visited a couple of campgrounds, and they both deserve a mention.

Sawmill Campground, Dade City, FloridaThe Sawmill Campground is a gay campground one hour from Tampa, close to Orlando. This is a fun and popular place. Sawmill boasts lots of amenities, including a heated (clothing optional) pool with adjoining Snack Shack and bar; a large and festive Dance Club called Woodies, decent shower and washroom facilities, and very friendly staff. Highly recommended. Weekends are definitely the time to party, if that's what you're looking for. Mid-week is somewhat quieter.

Camp Mars is farther south, and is located in, yes this is for real, Venus Florida. Camp Mars is a tranquil, beautiful, more rustic spot than Sawmill. Although they don't boast a Dance Club, bar or restaurant, they do have a large rec hall. This is a friendly and relaxed place. The heated pool is great, and again clothing is optional poolside. Camp Mars is starting to get busier, especially on their theme weekends.

In Canada, Camping Plein Bois gets my vote. Camping Plein Bois is located 45 minutes from Montreal, one hour from Ottawa. This is a fun, full service gay campground & resort. Much the same amenities as Sawmill above, however with a french influence.

In July, I will be checking out The Point Tent & Trailer Resort, in Turkey Point, Ontario. Update forthcoming...

And lastly, a new gay campground/resort has opened in New Brunswick, just north of Fredericton. Rivers Edge Campground & RV Park is located on the beautiful Naashwaak River.
You can call them at 506.459.8675 or email them at riversedgecamp@nb.aibn.com

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Welcome to our Gay Travel Blog

Vancouver Gay Pride ParadeWelcome to queerghetto.com's Gay Travel Blog. queerghetto.com is a Gay Canada travel guide and resource, with up to date listings on gay bars, gay bath houses, gay accommodation, gay camping/gay campgrounds and more. Our blog is intended to be a more compreshensive gay travel resource; an interactive forum for the gay traveler about gay travel and gay spots throughout the world.

Post your experiences - great gay spots to discover, some not so great gay spots, your experience with the locals, the nightlife, etc. Do you know of a new gay campground? Has one of your favourite spots closed down? Had a particularly unsettling experience in your travels? Wherever you have ventured off to explore, we want to hear about it.

Welcome to our blog.