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48 Hours in Bangkok

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Why Go?

Bangkok is one of the most dynamic cities in the world and offers a wealth of culture, fantastic shopping opportunities, exciting nightlife and some of the best cuisine on the planet. The Thai baht goes a long way, making the city excellent value for western tourists. For LGBTQ visitors, Thailand is the most tolerant country In South-East Asia. The Thai Tourist Board are promoting Thailand as a destination for LGBTQ travelers with their ‘Go Thai. Be Free’ campaign.

Getting There

Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang international airports both serve Bangkok. Suvarnabhumi is sixteen miles from the city, while Don Mueang fifteen miles away.

From Suvarnabhumi, there are lots of transport options into Bangkok including an excellent airport rail link, taxi, airport limo, express airport buses and public buses. From Don Mueang, you can take a taxi or a cheap, but slow train to Hua Lamphong Station.

Checking In

Bangkok is a sprawling metropolis and choosing where to stay can be overwhelming. Accommodation options range from hostels and cheap hotels at only a few dollars a night to glitzy five-star hotels. Here are a few of the areas which are popular to stay in:

Khao San Road – The backpacker’s Mecca, packed with budget accommodation, bars and restaurants.

Sukhumvit – A modern area of the city in central Bangkok with lots of good neighbourhood shopping and restaurants. The transport links are good.

Silom – Close to Lumpini Park and Patpong, the red light district.

Chinatown – Hualamphong Railway Station is nearby, which can be handy and Chinatown itself is a vibrant and fascinating area.

Day One

If you happen to be visiting at the weekend, don’t miss Chatuchak market which comprises of thirty-five acres of around fifteen thousand stalls http://www.chatuchakmarket.org. It’s an opportunity to try some delicious street food (check out the mango sticky rice or Thai grilled chicken) and there are bargains galore to be had. It would be easy to spend a day at the market, but with only two days in town, time is of the essence.

Chatuchak Market – an ideal place to try some tasty street food

Jim Thompson’s House http://www.jimthompsonhouse.com/visitor/index.asp is constructed in traditional Thai style and is also a museum and art gallery. Set in a beautiful tropical garden, it was the home of silk merchant Jim Thompson and is now a popular tourist attraction. It’s a peaceful oasis in the center of the city and also has a lovely café looking out over the garden.

Flag down a tuk-tuk and head to the Chao Phraya River, where you can take a boat across the water to Wat Arun. Otherwise known as the Temple of Dawn, it’s an ornate Khmer-style structure. Climb the steep steps for panoramic views across the city.

Wat Arun – one of the many temples to explore in Bangkok

To round off your first day in Bangkok, head to Silom Soi 4 in the Sukhumvit area of the city. Here you will discover an abundance of LGBTQ friendly pubs, bars, and restaurants to choose from. For those who want to dance into the early hours, mosey along to nearby Silom Soi 2, where there are some excellent clubs including D.J. Station, Freeman, and Expresso.                                                

Day Two

After breakfast, arrive at the Grand Palace early to beat the crowds (or at least some of them). This complex of extraordinary Thai-style temples and palaces was built in 1782. Gold painted buildings and intricate mirror and glass mosaics dazzle under the sun. The star of the show is the stunning Wat Phra Kaew, otherwise known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Thailand’s most revered temple.

The Grand Palace – a spectacular riot of gold and mosaics

Take the Chao Phraya Express Boat along the river – it’s cheap and a great way to see the old city. The boat stops off at various locations and it’s possible to hop on and off wherever you want to. Check out Khao San Road, the backpackers’ mecca and a lively area at any time of the day and night. Guest houses, restaurants, bars, market stalls, tattoo parlours and travel agents all vie for trade and it’s an absorbing road to wander along.

After re-boarding the boat, carry on down the river and alight at Ratchawong Pier, the stop for bustling Chinatown. Explore the labyrinth of streets lined with shops selling everything from durian fruit to nodding lucky cats. The sights and smells of Chinatown are an assault on the senses. Dip into temples to light some incense and check out the Thieves market.

Chinatown

If you haven’t satisfied your appetite with all the wonderful street food that Bangkok has to offer, make a beeline for Tealicious Bangkok (492 Trok To, Soi Charoen Krung 49, Bangrak, Bangkok 10500). It’s a lovely little restaurant serving up delicious authentic Thai food using fresh ingredients. Tom, the friendly owner is usually on hand to answer any questions relating to the cuisine. The menu is extensive and there are plenty of veggie options.

To finish off your Bangkok sojourn in style, there’s no better venue than Sirocco Sky Bar. The elegant 63rd floor bar sits on a  precipice over the city, 820 feet in air. It’s one of the highest rooftop bars in world. (The Dome at Lebua, 1055 Silom Road, Bangkok 10500). Cocktails are creatively concocted and expensive, but who cares – it’s your last night in Bangkok and the view of the city is phenomenal.

 

Originally posted 2017-09-11 09:30:55.

48 Hours In...

48 Hours in Mexico City

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Mexico City is a sprawling metropolis full of color and culture. You could easily spend a month there and still not get to see and experience everything the city has to offer. If you only have a weekend, you can get a taste of Mexico City’s delights, but be warned – you will probably be booking your next trip as soon as you arrive home.

With more museums than any other city in the world, amazing architecture, a scintillating LGBTQ scene, delicious street food and many other attractions, Mexico City is one of the most exciting cities on the planet.

Getting There

Juarez International Airport is located eight miles from Mexico City. If you arrive late at night, it is advisable to take an official taxi to the downtown area. During the day, the metro is a good alternative.

Getting Around

Mexico City’s metro system is extensive and one of the cheapest underground systems in the world. Having said that, it isn’t the most comfortable of transport options during rush hour. Taxis are cheap, but make sure you take one from the official sitio taxi stands or use Uber.

Day One

Start the day with Huevos Rancheros, a classic Mexican breakfast – tortillas, fried eggs, salsa and refried beans. Try Café El Popular (5 de Mayo esq Palmas, just off the Zocalo). It’s a popular spot for both locals and tourists and has a diner-style ambiance.

After a hearty breakfast, head to the charming neighbourhood of Coyoacan. The number one attraction here is La Casa Azul, Frida Kahlo’s house, which has now been turned into a museum. It provides a fascinating insight into the life of artist Frida and her husband Diego Rivera. www.museofridakahlo.org.mx

The garden in La Casa Azul

Afterwards, you could head around the corner to the house where the exiled Leon Trotsky lived the last year of his life. It was there that he was murdered by an assassin in his study. In contrast to Frida’s colorful abode, it is an austere house which has been changed little since Trotsky lived there, but is an intriguing slice of political history.

Coyoacan Plaza is a great place to sample some tasty street food. At weekends, it is particularly lively with food and handicraft stalls. There is often live music, adding to the festive atmosphere. It feels like small town Mexico in the heart of the big city.

Back in Centro Historico, take a stroll around the huge main plaza, the Zocalo, the second largest public square in the world after Russia’s Red Square. There are plenty of museums, shops and cool street art to explore in the surrounding areas.

La Catrina, the iconic skeleton lady

El Balcon del Zocalo is a perfect place for dinner. The restaurant has a rooftop terrace, bestowed with spectacular views of the cathedral and Zocalo. It has an international, Mexican and veggie friendly menu. www.balcondelzocalo.com

For a taste of Mexican style nightlife, head to Calle Amberes at Paseo de la Reforma in Zona Rosa. This area is the hub of the LGBTQ scene in Mexico City. Have a wander and take your pick of the many bars and clubs that line the street.

Day Two

Pasteleria Ideal (Calle 16 de Septiembre 18, Col. Centro) could be the largest and most heavenly bakery you have ever seen. The choice of baked goods, both sweet and savory, are a feast for the eyes and as the name suggests, is an ideal place to grab some pastries. With breakfast and coffee in hand, make tracks to Alameda Park and find a bench to sit to enjoy your first meal of the day and partake in a spot of people-watching. You can’t miss the opulent architecture of Palacio de Belles Artes, the grandest building in Mexico City.

Just across the road (Calle Revillagigedo 11, Cuauhtemoc), check out the Popular Art Museum. Housed in an ex-fire station, this contemporary museum is full of colorful Mexican folk art. It’s fun and quirky and the exhibits range from Day of the Dead skulls and skeletons to vibrant piñatas. www.map.cdmx.gob.mx

Museum of Popular Art – fun and quirky

La Ciudadela is an artisan market (Calle de Balderas, s/m Centro, 06040 Cuauhtemoc). It specializes in Mexican handicrafts from 0axacan fantasy animals to beautifully decorated skulls. Prices are reasonable and you are bound to find something that catches your eye.

Even if you have never considered attending a wrestling match before, lucha libre is a unique Mexican experience and not-to-be-missed. (Arena Mexico,189 Calle Dr. Lavista, Colonia Doctores).  Regular sessions are held on Tuesday and Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons. The atmosphere is electric and whole families attend shouting abuse at the bad guys and cheering for their heroes.  

Round off your time in Mexico City with some tequila shots and mariachi music at a bar on Plaza Garibaldi. The haunting sound of roving mariachi bands echo around the square, as you reflect on two action-packed days in this amazing city.

Tequila shots at the ready!

 

Originally posted 2017-07-29 11:22:36.

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48 Hours In...

Weekly: 48 Hours in the Big Apple – The Greatest City in the World

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Ah, my home town. While there’s no way possible to fit the entire city into 48 hours, I’m here to give you some of the highlights that take you from the Financial District  in lower Manhattan, up to the Upper West Side. And if you’re in the city and need a tour guide, I’ve got you covered there, too! Let’s take a look at what to do in New York when you only have 48 hours.

Friday: 

7:00pm – Get settled into the Hudson at Columbus Circle

This is my favorite hotel in Manhattan, and when I need a stay-cation I always book a room at the Hudson. Their lobby is decorated with vines and chandeliers, and the courtyard is gorgeous. They also have The Library bar, which features signature cocktails, including the delicious Honey and the Bee’s. The rooms are rather small, but they are cozy and have style. Start your weekend by getting settled, then heading down for a cocktail at The Library.

8:30pm – Dinner at Beauty & Essex

Head down to the Bowery and get ready for a real treat! You’ll walk in through a pawn shop to a beautiful open two story restaurant decorated like a speakeasy. You’re going to want to eat everything on the menu but I recommend the tomato soup dumplings with a bacon-cheese dumping, the beef carpaccio, and the sliders. Plus, they have a great wine and beer list, and delicious cocktails. Make a reservation in advance though. This place gets packed, and quick!

10:30pm – Christopher Street for drinks and dancing

Head on down to Christopher Street and Sheridan Square for drinks and dancing the night away. Some of New York’s best bars are all within walking distance, including The Monster, where Dan Daly can be heard tickling the ivories several nights a week for karaoke. Across the street is The Duplex, which happens to be my first gay bar experience in New York City. Down Christopher, you have Ty’s and Rockbar, which are sure to please.

1:30pm – Street Halal

If there’s one thing New York is full of, it’s street food carts. Get yourself the chicken over rice, extra white sauce. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

Saturday :

10:00am – Brunch at Maison Pickle on the Upper West Side

This is Jacob’s Pickle’s sister restaurant, currently housing Jacob’s Pickle’s brunch menu due to a recent fire. Get the open-faced chicken biscuit sandwich covered in mushroom gravy. You’re welcome.

11:30am – Walk through Central Park

Want to go people-watching? Take a long walk through Central Park. You’re bound to see people of every variety in there. My advice is to find yourself a park bench, take a seat, and watch the parade of people and puppies. You’ll find me there, too, I’m sure.

2:00pm – Exploring Greenwich Village

This is one of the most famous parts of Manhattan. Just take a cab or the A train down to West 4th street, get out, and walk in any direction to explore this fun neighborhood. Head over to Magnolia Bakery for some sweet treats, too. Get the banana pudding for sure.

4:30pm – World Trade Center Observatory and September 11 Memorial

If you haven’t been to the 9/11 Memorial yet, it’s worth a visit. The site is so peaceful and great for reflection. In the spirit of rebirth and growth, head up to the One World Trade Center for the observatory. You’ll see a great view of Manhattan, New Jersey, and all five boroughs.

6:30pm – Dinner at Sotto 13

This restaurant in Chelsea is quite cozy and features an American-Italian menu with great cocktails and a fun atmosphere. The wait staff are all very friendly, but definitely make a reservation first.

8:00pm – Catch a show!

You’re not far from Times Square, so maybe catch a show! One of my current favorites it Waitress, a funny and heart-warming story based on the 2007 film of the same name. Or, see one of my favorite actresses, Allison Janney, in Six Degrees of Separation. She’s positively brilliant.

10:30pm – After-dinner drinks at Bourbon Street Bar

Really, you can just walk around Hell’s Kitchen and duck into any of the bars, but I’ve recently fallen for Bourbon Street Bar on 46th St between 8th and 9th avenues.

Sunday:

11:00am – Brunch at The Stand

Seriously, this one is not to be missed, unless you have a flight out of New York that afternoon. $45 gets you unlimited mimosas, Bloody Mary’s, and screwdrivers, plus entrees.

2:00pm – Battery Park before heading out

This is just a fun little part of town and a nice place to have a cup of coffee outside before you head home!

There you have it! A great 48 hours in Manhattan awaits you! Let me know when you’re here!

Originally posted 2017-06-15 03:30:36.

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48 Hours In...

Weekly: 48 Hours in Nashville – Music City, and So Much More!

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Ah, Music City USA, home to Hot Chicken, The Grand ‘Ol Opry, and the Tennessee Titans, arguably one of the NFL’s worst teams in history. Still, the city is alive and vibrant. With millions of tourists flocking to the city yearly to visit the biggest sites in country music, it can be difficult to find the right places to visit to have a truly local experience. Fortunately for you, I’m a born and raised Nashville native, so I’ve got all the great eats, sites, and sounds for your truly original Nashville weekend. Let’s dive right in.

Friday:

7:00pm – Arriving and checking in to the Opryland Hotel

One of Nashville’s most famous attractions is the Opryland Hotel, a city within a city, located right next to Opry Mills shopping mall, with downtown shuttles leaving every 30 minutes. The hotel has several great restaurants and bars in it, but you won’t be spending too much time in the hotel this weekend. Still, it’s a unique experience that I’d recommend, and the rates aren’t too bad!

8:30pm – Dinner at Moto in the Gulch

One of my all time favorite restaurants, Moto, offers a unique take on Italian foods with savory dishes that are sure to please even the pickiest of taste buds. I’m partial to their Brussels sprouts and their duck course. Mix that with craft cocktails and you’re set for a great meal!

10:30pm – Lipstick Lounge

Rhonda and Jhonda have put together Nashville’s premiere LGBTQ bar, with a heavy focus on the “L” but all are welcome. The bar tenders are funny and quirky, the atmosphere is eclectic, and the music is always on point.

2:00am – Waffle House for Drunk Food

Waffle House is not a place you go during daylight hours. It should specifically only be open from 8pm to 6am, and should only cater to drunk people. After your night out, head to any of the 40 Waffle Houses in Nashville get yourself scattered, smothered, covered, and chunked. If you don’t know what that means, you’ll learn, and you’ll thank me later.

Saturday:

10:00am – Shopping at Opry Mills

Head across the parking lot from your hotel to Opry Mills and pick out a new outfit for your night out on the town. With hundreds of stores and over a mile of interior shopping in a loop you’re guaranteed to find something.

1:00pm – Hattie B’s Hot Chicken

Now, hot chicken is highly debated in Nashville. Whether you’re on the right side of the fence and love Hattie B’s like me, or you prefer the lesser quality Prince’s Hot Chicken, make sure you get out there and get your mouth burned within an inch of it’s life. Trust me, it’s worth it.

3:00pm – The Gulch for Shopping, Coffee, and People Watching

Ah, Nashville, the new hipster heaven. Congratulations, Portland, they’ve officially out-hipstered you. I love the Gulch just to grab a coffee or a bear to go people-watching. You’re bound to see some bears with beers wearing plaid shirts and rolled up jeans.

6:00pm – Before-dinner cocktails at Virago

This sushi restaurant offers one of Nashville’s best rooftop bar experiences. Their bartenders are ready to mix up anything you throw at them, or ask them to come up with a drink themselves. My favorite is to give them three adjectives and see what they come up with. You may also want to grab a roll or two while you’re there. Enjoy the view!

8:00pm – Dinner at Josephine’s

Make a reservation! This place fills up very quickly. Located in the up-and-coming 12 South neighborhood, you’ll dine on contemporary American farmhouse cuisine. From their website, “The restaurant focuses on simple, classically composed recipes accompanied by a small but carefully selected wine list in a soft industrial space that emphasizes a sense of home. Chef Andrew Little’s expertise and dedication to cooking—not just by the seasons, but by the day— has garnered him praise for the food he serves and the innovative and inspired way in which it is presented. Perfect for everyday dining or special occasions, Josephine is an experience that carries an air of ease; a great time takes care of itself.”

10:00pm – Tribe, PLAY, and Canvas

Head over to Church Street for all the gay bar action you might want! From Tribe’s trendy cocktail lounge vibe, to PLAY’s dance floors and drag shows, to Canvas, a more laid back yet fun and enthralling environment, Church Street has it all. Trust me, the Nashville gay nightlife will definitely take you to Church. (See what I did there?)

Sunday:

11:00am – Brunch at Saint Anejo

This is right next to Moto in the Gulch and is the best brunch in town, in my humble opinion. In Nashville you cannot go wrong with brunch options, but this one features Spanish twists on brunch classics, and their spicy Bloody Mary is smack-your-momma good.

2:00pm – The Frist

Head over to Nashville’s best art museum, The Frist, to see what new exhibits they have showing. If you’re buzzed from brunch, this is a short walk from Saint Anejo, and the modern art will give you fun thoughts!

Your weekend in Nashville has come to a close, but you’ve lived it to the fullest. There’s a lot to do and see, but you’ve packed in some of the best activities! Congratulations on a weekend well spent!

Originally posted 2017-06-15 01:48:21.

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