MSC Grandiosa, a luxury spot for family and friends!

MSC is one of the biggest and fast-growing cruise agencies in Europe. I love cruises and big cruise ships. MSC allowed me to visit their newest ship: MSC Grandiosa, one of the ships in the Meraviglia group.

We left early in the morning for a long drive to Le Havre. It’s not the most ‘sexy’ cruise port, but the impression of the ship was magnificent! Time to explore it with al here benefits!

We entered the ship by the central hall, a place with magnificent stairs filled with Swarovski crystals. Just take 5 minutes to look around. It’s amazing. The next visit is the promenade. A street with bars, shops, and restaurants. But the most amazing thing is the big LED Wall. Every night you can enjoy a light show on it, or just walk hand in hand with your lover under a heaven of stars… isn’t it romantic? MSC takes care of the design of the ship. Mostly you love it or hate it but on this ship, it’s perfectly chosen.

How can you please your guests on the ship? Well… by good food, great service, and good entertainment. Let’s try the food!

Or you choose the buffet on Market Place or one of the 5 restaurants with first and second seat. It’s an explosion of good taste. MSC let you enjoy of the good Italian cuisine in every way. They even make their own mozzarella in the restaurant and the pizzas are freshly made. From breakfast till lunch and midnight snack… everything in the main restaurants was just perfect!

If you want something special, then choose a specialty restaurant. For a little more, you have a great food experience. L’Atelier Bistrot is a traditional Paris Bistro. ‘Hola!’ serves the best tapas of Spain made by 2-star chef Ramon Freixa. For the Asian lovers go dine in Kaito Teppanyaki & Sushi bar. But we tried the real American Steak restaurant. When u are lucky to have a great and funny waiter, the food always tastes better. We had luck! You can choose a la carte or for a good price the Chef’s menu. But… only go there when u are really hungry. The portions are big!

Not good for my diet, but I love desserts! And then u need to go to ‘Jean-Philippe Maury’s Café and Chocolat’ and his Gelato shop. Drink a magnificent coffee, a Chocolat milk or buy some chocolates in the shop and make your own tablet. I tried the gelato and found great sorbets! Yes, I think of the calories!

After dinner… party time!!! We started our evening at one of the many bars with a cocktail and some nice music. The whole night long you can find different kinds of artists. Go for jazz, smooth romantic or a strong disco song! Then up for the sky lounge. A place with an amazing view, so be on time for a view at the window. If you like a special drink then visit the Champagne bar for the bubbles or the British pub ‘Masters of the sea’. And then it’s time to go into the night at the disco. But not before u try the midnight snack at the buffet. With a drink package, you can enjoy the many drinks and cocktails of the ship… So have fun!

MSC invests also in great entertainment, during the day and the evening. Grandiosa has an amazing sports area and a gym with the newest equipment. Check your daily male for the group sessions like spinning! Do you like fun? Even that is amazing on the ship. I tried the XD cinema and The Virtual Reality maze. Magnificent!!! But also try the bowling or the F1 race simulators. But what is a ship without a swimming pool? You find one outside with an Aquapark or an inside with hot tubes. On the sea, enjoy also the Imperial Casino with 164 slots.

And then the shows… In the evening you can visit the theater with 8 amazing shows. Every night you can see a new production on the cruise. For me, ‘Voyage Fantastique’, was close to a real Broadway production!
But the most amazing thing is the Promenade on the ship with the biggest Led sky on the sea. Every night you get a great light show.

MSC is not the agency of exclusivity… but they have an exclusive contract with Cirque du Soleil for the ships in the Meraviglia group. They build their own theater onboard. The Carousel Lounge is only made for one of the 2 exclusive Cirque shows on the ship (and every ship has 2 different shows). For a small price, you can enjoy a show on the sea of 45 min with a cocktail or an exclusive 3-course dinner. So for me a reason to come back!

MSC is a family cruise agency. They gave the children their own space. When the parents enjoy a spa or restaurant, the children will not be forgotten on this ship. You have the Chicco Baby Club, Mini Club and Juniors Club sponsored by Lego and the young Club and Teen club for the older children. It’s their space with their own Disco and movie theater. And they have even a gaming lab and a web creator room.

But many people like luxury on a ship. So you can book yourself a luxury cruise or choose for ‘the ship in a ship’ possibility by MSC: MSC Yacht Club. It’s an amazing place with their own private butler service, their own restaurant and pool deck. You can choose to stay there the whole trip or visit other parts of the ship. It’s an amazingly beautiful place. The benefit: you have everything of a luxury cruise, but with the possibility to go somewhere else during the day… and less expensive.

In a time of climate change, there is a lot of critics on cruise ships. People do not find them ecological. With this new generation of ships, MSC chooses for cleaner engines and more effective use of everything on the ship (even the water!). In 2021 every ship of MSC will be clean.

MSC is a family cruise, but is it LGBTQ friendly? For sure! During my time on the ship, I saw openly gay staff and LGBTQ passengers. MSC has a policy of ‘be who you are and we accept everyone’. At the end of the trip, MSC also announced that they will follow the suggestion of Touristicogay: they will make official social hours on all their ships, starting in the USA! Proud on MSC.

Should you book a cruise on this ship? For sure: MSC chooses for good food, great entertainment, and friendly staff. All these ingredients are enough to make your cruise the best holiday of the year. and they also have their own privat island: “MSC Ocean Cay Marine Reserve”. It’s an amazing spot close to Miami. And as LGBTQ, I’m proud of the decision of MSC!

Top 10 gay beaches in Europe

Still thinking of going to a gay destination? Mister B&B makes a top 10 of the best gay beaches in the world. enjoy!

1. Mar Bella, Barcelona: Spain

Barcelona’s most famous gay beach Mar Bella is a long, sandy relaxation zone filled with hot muscle guys, locals who want to sunbathe in the buff, and everyone else in between. Indeed, regulars and tourists hang out at this clothing-optional beach, especially during the weekends and during Circuit Festival in August, when it’s almost impossible to lie down in the sand: it’s too packed (just like the guys and the contents of their Speedos!).

2. Playa del Muerto, Sitges: Spain

Playa del Muerto in Sitges has been a gay nude beach for decades, welcoming men since 1930! You’ll find a little bar (chiringuito) next to the beach and a great forest behind, too. Getting here is a bit of a journey by foot but well worth the effort: from Sitges seafront, turn right and walk along to the end of the sidewalk. Jump down and continue to follow the coast around for 15 minutes along the train line (be careful!). When you finally reach it, you’ll see why Playa el Muerto makes it on our Top 10 list of the best gay beaches in Europe!

3. Costa da Caparica, beach N°19, Lisbon: Portugal

It’s one of Europes biggest gay beaches, 30 kilometers south of Lisbon. Dunes and forest border it. A lot of young urban Portuguese come here to swim and mingle. From Lisbon, you access this beach with the bus (161) or with a car.

4. Elia Beach, Mykonos: Greece

Mykonos island is one of the most gay-friendly destinations in the Mediterranean Sea, a place you definitely want to be on your gay bucket list. The famous Elia beach is a true paradise with hot sand, crystal clear water and magical scenery. The music isn’t too loud so you can chat with friends. Oh, and one last thing: sometimes it can get really hot (and we’re not talking about the sun!).

5. Studland Beach, Bournemouth: England

Located near the towns of Bournemouth and Poole, in the south of England, Studland Beach is probably the best nudist beach in the UK, offering vast white sands to sit on. Although this is not officially a gay beach, it is regularly frequented by gay bathers. The northern part of the beach is where you’ll find the nudists, and the nearby sand dunes and shrubs make for a popular cruise circle.

6. Lokrum, Dubrovnik: Croatia

This beach is located on the uninhabited island of Lokrum, surrounded by a rocky coast. Ten minutes from Dubrovnik by boat, this natural area in Croatia harbors a very popular gay and nudist beach. Lokrum beach is also pretty secluded and has a private atmosphere to really help you relax and unwind. When the heat is too strong, you’ll find a nice and fresh space to cool off under the forest of pine trees.

7. Beach Es Cavallet, Ibiza: Spain

The long, sandy and clothing-optional beach is located in the south of Ibiza. Showers and deck chairs are provided next to the sea (that can reach almost 30°C in peak season!). Don’t forget to visit the Chiringay bar for drinks or a bite to eat when all that sunbathing and splashing about gets too much!

8. Mako beach: Gallipoli, Italy

Near the peaceful town of Gallipoli, in Puglia, lies the beautiful Mako beach, the only gay beach in the region. With pristine water and breathtaking scenery, this beach is the perfect spot for sunbathing and swimming. Sunsets there are truly magical. As an added reason to visit, this undiscovered gem of the Mediterranean sea welcomes a four-day gay festival every September.

9. Maspalomas, beach N°7, Gran Canaria: Spain

The Spanish island of Gran Canaria is an expert in gay tourism. In the south of the island, Maspalomas is the gay destination that draws thousands of us from the global gay community every year. Indeed, the beach and its spectacular sand dunes attract beautiful men from all around the world the whole year through. Gays normally gather at the clothing-optional beach N°7, which is walking distance from the world-famous Yumbo Center.

10. Grand-Travers, la Grande Motte: France

For more than 30 years, Grand-Travers beach has been an iconic spot in the Montpellier gay scene in the south of France. The sand dunes appeal to a growing number of gay beachgoers. This is the perfect place to relax but also to make new French friends!

Luik, van de drukte in de rust!

Ik had mezelf een weekendje Luik geboekt: treinticket betaald, hotel
geboekt…. alleen wat moest ik bezoeken? Een mailtje naar de toeristische dienst van de Provincie Luik en snel schotelden ze me een fantastisch programma voor.

A ‘city walk’ in Luik

Het viel me op dat er weinig fietsers waren in de stad en het werd me snel
duidelijk waarom. De stad ligt in de Maasvallei en slechts 2 straten buiten het centrum zijn de straten zo steil dat zelfs een elektrische fiets het moeilijk zou hebben. En dat is mijn eerste tip: neem goede wandelschoenen mee, want die heb je zeker nodig!

Achter het stadhuis kom je in een andere wereld terecht. Deze van natuur en rust. Na 10 minuten klimmen heb je een prachtig zicht over de stad en sta je zowaar tussen de koeien. De toeristische dienst gaf me een geweldige Vlaamse gidse, Maria Lormans. Zij heeft me in de 3 uur durende wandeling prachtige dingen laten zien in en uit de stad. Want laat het duidelijk zijn, blijf niet in het centrum. Buiten de stad zie je natuur, oude vestingen en nog zo veel meer. Tip twee: boek een stadstour met een gids. Het is zeker de moeite waard.

De stad is bekend om zijn beroemde TGV station gebouwd door Calatrava. Deze architect is ondermeer verantwoordelijk voor het metro station in Valencia, ‘the turning Torso’ in Malmö en ‘the World Trade Center Oculus’ in New York. Ook nu weer kreeg ik een fantastische Vlaamse gids ter beschikking. Gilbert Schiepers woont al heel zijn leven in de stad en kent het station van binnen en van buiten. Hij vertelt je over de bouw, de verborgen plekjes en de technische hoogstandjes. Tip drie: boek ook hier een gids.

Wat te doen en wat te bezoeken?

Fan van cultuur? Ga dan ‘La Boverie’ bezoeken. Dit museum heeft naast tijdelijke tentoonstellingen ook een vaste collectie in de kelder. Klassieke en moderne kunst staan er mooi naast elkaar.

Een wandeling door het park of een boottochtje op de rivier brengt je tot bij ‘Cité Miroir’. Dit oude zwembad is omgebouwd tot een cultuurtempel met tentoonstellingen, muziek en film. Ze hebben ook hier weer vaste tentoonstellingen.

Maak je een wandeling door de stad om te shoppen, stop dan even bij ‘Le Pot au Lait’. Het is gelegen in de straat ‘Soeurs de Hasque’, een wandelstraat in hartje Luik. Je bent verbluft van de plek. Je wandelt binnen in een sprookjesachtige sfeer. Elk stukje van de bar is kitscherig, feeëriek of scary. Verbluffend!

Luik culinair

Zeg nooit tegen een Luikenaar dat de Luikse wafel overal hetzelfde is. Hij zal verbolgen zijn. Proef hem en je weet dat hij daar net iets beter smaakt. Maar waar ik echt naar op zoek was waren de ‘Luikse balletjes’. En dan is er maar één plek: Café Lequet. verwacht geen ‘fancy’ restaurant en opgedirkte obers. Het is net een bruine kroeg waar de baas zelf je bord komt brengen en waar je zit aan houten tafels. Maar de balletjes met een saus van Luikse stroop is o zo lekker. De beste lunch in lange tijd. Wees er op zondag wel snel bij. ‘La Batte market’ is beroemd en net naast het restaurant. Vol is vol!

‘Carré Noir’ is bekend om zijn artisanale pralines. Mélanie Lemmens won een zilveren medaille voor haar ‘Vietnam’ praline in London. Trakteer jezelf op een doosje. Van elke hap blijf je genieten.

Heb je wel zin in een gezellige, donkere kroeg, maar dan niet zo’n ouderwets geval alwaar de tapijtjes op tafel liggen en nostalgische muziek uit de luidsprekers schalt? De oplossing heet ‘het jeneverhuis’ ofwel ‘La Maison du Peket’; een moderne bar in een eeuwenoud pand vol gangetjes, kleine kamers, trappen en zelfs een waterput! De Luikse jenever is zeer bekend en je kan er een schaal bestellen met 12 verschillende soorten jenever. Genieten maar!

(Gay) uitgaan in Luik

‘s Avonds een stapje in de wereld zetten? Dan moet je in de wijk ‘Carré’ zijn. Met zijn smalle straatjes en zijn vele barretjes is het de place to be. Maar verwacht geen vroege vogels. De meeste bars gaan pas open om 22 uur en sluiten in de vroege uurtjes. Rond middernacht is er geen doorkomen meer aan. Iedereeen staat op straat te genieten van zijn of haar drankje. Het is ook de ontmoetingsplaats voor de andere Waalse stadsbewoners. Het is ook daar dat je het kleine LGBTQ life ontdekt. Luik heeft een aantal gezellige bars, een sauna, een cruising bar en een fetish bar. Dus voor elk wat wils.

Wat een onbekende wereld leek, eindigde in een prachtig avontuur in een mooie stad. Ik keer zeker terug… nu jij nog!

If you are wondering to go to Cuba

By: Andrés Yunior Gómez Quevedo.

Cuba is a different country, mostly because of its history and the actual consequences it and for that reason it is now at its best! If you are going for the first time,having a tour guide with you to show you around and explain a lot of thingswill enrich your experience on this great island.

To enjoy the country and understand its rhythm and its sights it is better if you have an idea of all the history and gossip that this island has behind buildings, streets, landscapes, food, cocktails, behaviors, words and people.  

If you know Spanish get ready for a challenge  because the Castellano, which is the Spanishwe speak here, it is really fast and has many words that in other LatinAmerican countries and even in Spain does not  exist or have different meanings.

In Cuba, people laugh at their own problems and anything can inspire a joke, a song, a dance or whatever that means joy. The crazy Cuban sense of humor has been the lifeboat of this society for centuries, and words like Negro, mulatto, fat and crazy are not derogatory. There are not sexual harassment accusations because people look at each other’s attributes all the time, and the men whistle when the ladies pass by, and the ladies throw pick-up lines to the boys and to show affection people can call you “my negro” even if you are white, the young ones greet with a “what’s up crazy?”, and you can see and sense how carefree this people is inspite of all the problems and necessities and struggles.   

Again, Cuba is a different country full of fun and a sense of freedom to enjoy every minute with no rush.

As a tour guide, I always welcome my future friends at the airport, I know that my country has been on an unfair blacklist for so long and to have a smiling face welcoming you at the airport can be very cheering.

And to be honest, I love the idea of waiting for complete strangers that I’m going to be with for days. The adrenaline of not knowing how it’ll be like.

 I try to go with an old American car with AC to make the experience even more interesting. Havana it is a like a live museum of cars, and we are all so used to see them going around, but I know that people also come to Cuba to live the contrast of the old 40ies and 50ies with the influence of modernity that seems to be entering in the country more and more every time.

One of the first things I make clear it is that living and being in Cuba is a big exercise of patience, because there are many things that are hard to find easily, a lot of stuff must be getting with old fashion means, you are going to be offline most part of the day and to be online you really have to want it because you have to get a WiFi card and go to a WiFi spot. Things here are not like you know themat home. Cuba in many ways seems to have stopped in time and closed the door,but left the window open and there is a lot coming in through that window.

In Cuba, you’ll have more time to actually live, like we all used to do years before, interact, meet and talk to people old school style, go with the flow of the country that it’s very easy to follow because all seems to be about chilling out and drinking and learning too.

After the accommodation and a cocktail and depending on the time of the arrival I try to show first the Old Havana. It is a walking tour with stops in very cool places full of history and fun, like La Bodeguita del Medio, El Floridita, the four main squares of the old town with the explanations of the sights and the culture, including some information about the culture of cocktails in the country, religion, art, society and politics. Some stops will be longer depending on the people’s interests and the people around, the music, the weather, the drinks, whatever that makes the stay better.

Some people have asked me “don’t you get bored of saying the same thing in the tours everytime?” and the answer is no, because the interaction makes it different, thefeedback and the individual interests make a change and the information mightbe basically the same, but again, the interaction does its magic.

For smokers and drinkers, Cuba is like a paradise since here you can smoke and drink almost everywhere. For those who love music and dance, it is the same, in fact, there will be a time in which you’ll long for silence because there is music all around. For coffee lovers and organic food lovers Cuba is awesome too, but vegans and vegetarians might have a hard time finding the proper meal for the Cuban diet is full of meat, we even use sausage and pork to make the beans.

If you like jogging you can choose the sunrise or the sunset when the weather is cooler and do it through El Malecon with the Ocean on one side and the city on the other side, take little breaks seating in the same Malecon surrounded by fishermen, guitar players, people in love, friends laughing, old cars passing by, sellers,tourists, locals, all type of people, and the best thing: it is really safe.You can even walk around after midnight in the Old Havana without fear.

Part of the classic tour is to get an American car, can be a convertible or not(convertibles are more expensive and they don’t have AC) to take the two or three hours ride through El Malecon to Miramar (the old rich neighborhood, well,still nowadays since diplomats and embassies are there), Fusterland, The forest of Havana, the Revolution square (where I explain more about the revolution)Vedado neighborhood and Central Havana, to end up crossing the tunnel of the Bay to see the Statue of Christ, the Fortress and the amazing view of the city from there.

For nightlife there are options that can’t be missed like The Factory of Cuban Art, well, we call it just the Art Factory, if you like Cuban music and Jazz, La Zorra y el Cuervo is the only bar that plays real Cuban Jazz every night from 10 pm to 1or 2am, also the Jazz Café. The gay bars, and if it’s a weekend you’ll have more than 3 options, you can also do some kind of gay hopping since two of them are near each other in the gay friendly neighborhoods and the one with the latest show it is ironically placed in front of the Revolution Square.  There are other options like the EFE bar, King Bar, and eventual concerts or activities of last minute, because in Havana somethings can happen just like that, and you can suddenly find a concert or aparty going on anywhere.

I love the Cuban Symphonic Orchestras and try to take the ones who love this type of music to the places where they have concerts, they are old churches with the right magic to season those rhythms…something to see, and also, the artistic quality is really good. The same with the Cuban Ballet. Access to art in Cuba is not expensive and it is so worthy.

We try to have two or three days in Havana, and also save one of them for an Art tour in the museum of Cuban Fine Arts along with visits to private galleries and studios, and also save a piece of day for the gay beach Mi Cayito.

There are places in the country that are so worthy to see, and two of them are Viñales and Trinidad.  Viñales it is like one of the most beautiful country sides of Cuba, and even if you are not into cigars that are the main industry of that area will be hard not to fall in love with the sights and the tranquility, the pure air, the food and even the nightlife which is way different than Havana.

Trinidad it is a city that never changed its looks, the colonial architecture it’s original, nothing fake, and the accommodations will be full of the best and more beautiful from the vintage and the best from nowadays for the tropical weather, AC and showers. From Havana it is two hours to get to Viñales and 5 to get to Trinidad. You can do Viñales in one day and go back but Trinidad you have to stay, and it is so worthy.

Of course, these places are touristy, but in Cuba all the best is touristy since not much locals can afford any of these simple pleasures, there are a few places the locals use that tourists find interesting sometimes, but those eventually become touristy too. The good thing is that the locals mingle with the foreign very well and the American influence in the Cuban culture through history until nowadays it is very alive.

Gay life in Cuba it is not something forbidden anymore, and you’ll find amazing how supportive people can be. Most of the more popular restaurants and bars have gay owners ora story related to a gay character or gay waiters, so you don’t have to be in a gay-friendly neighborhood to enjoy, in fact, it is more likely that you’ll have more fun in a mixed place than in a gay bar. Farewells are always hard and the feeling of becoming friends can come so easily in Cuba, maybe it’s the weather that makes us like that, because even the tourists become more friendly, it can be the alcohol with the music and the heat, you don’t know until you know, but there is a magic in the air of this little country that makes people happy, and believe me, you’ll go home or wherever you are going next feeling luckier and better. I partner with Charles Kimball in the USA at to make this all happen. If you want to know more from the USA or anywhere please contact Charles Kimball at or call him in California at 707.266.8235.

Berlin, A pink pillow city!

Early in the morning, I landed at Tegel airport. Pink Pillow Hotels and Visit Berlin invited us for one of the biggest gay events in Europe: the 40th edition of CSD. I was thrilled to visit this vibrant city and his LGBTQ life!

The Pink Pillow Hotels

VisitBerlin and Berlin’s hotels want to make the city an even more attractive destination for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersexual people. They’re collaborating in setting new standards for hotel hospitality with the “Pink Pillow Berlin Collection”. It is a way of bringing together hotels that believe with all their heart that all guests should be welcomed exactly as they are!

The hotels in the ‘Pink Pillow Berlin Collection’ welcome gay and lesbian guests with professional and relaxed service. All participating hotels have signed that all guests are treated with the same courtesy, dignity, and respect. To contributing actively in a social project, to create a work environment of respect and tolerance, to offer their guests information about the LGBTI scene and participate in visit Berlin’s semi-annual LGBTI information days.

Scandic Berlin Kurfürsterdamm and HENRI hotel had invited us to explore the benefits of the Pink Pillow hotels and of course the city of Berlin! Both hotels are close to the biggest Gay area. The rooms are spacious, the breakfast is delicious and in Scandic, you can enjoy a great wellness and Gym. But the most important thing: the staff. They helped us in every way. Loved the place!

Berlin’s kitchen

A simple snack, an easy lunch or a fancy dinner. Berlin is a city of cultural food for every budget. There is one place where you can find the food and drinks of all these cultures: ‘Bikini Berlin’. Awaiting hungry guests is an innovative food experience with a perfect, vibrant mix of 13 international eateries: Italian, Mexican, fusion, cocktails, Israeli food, tapas and sweet. Choose your budget, pick up your meal and enjoy.

For a real cultural lunch, try ‘Kanaan’. Kanaan is a vegan-vegetarian and Israeli-Palestinian culinary brand that was established by Oz Ben David, 35, an Israeli entrepreneur and marketing businessman and Jalil Debit, 34, a Palestinian Arab descendent of the Samir family that own the famous “Humos Samir“ in Israel and Palestine. Kannan offers gourmet and end with products such as organic tahini, a variety of salads, their baked goods and pieces of bread, spices, olive oil and much more. I’m not a culinary specialist, but I tasted a delicious kitchen I never tasted before. By good weather, you can enjoy the delicious food outside and have a look at the beautiful setting and neighborhood of the restaurant. I placed it on my ‘come back-list’ to try the other food on the menu.

When u have a bigger budget to spend, try the ‘restaurant Faubourg‘, next to the Sofitel hotel.  They serve the real French kitchen. Mostly I’m not a big fan of this kitchen because of the small portions… but this restaurant changed my mind. In a beautiful setting, I had a delicious dinner. So, in for a romantic dinner? Well, this is the place to be.

CSD on the Spree

As Belgian and Antwerp gay guy I have melancholic thoughts about ‘Navigaytion’, the party on the water. 10 boats with DJs and party people on the river.

So, I was excited about the Berlin version: ‘CSD on the spree’. 16 boats were ready to take off with enthusiastic party people… like me. Two hours on the river with all the ingredients: a party boat, lot of party people, alcohol, a great DJ who played the real party music, a theme by every boat  (Berlin Pride, Visit Berlin, the fetish boat, dikes, and divas,…) and colorful pompoms. And at the end of the tour… an afterparty! It was nice to see how the Berliners enjoyed the fun from the many bridges and streetside. A perfect start of CSD.

40y CSD: 50y of stonewall

On Saturday we could enjoy one of the biggest prides of  Europe… CSD Berlin. The first impression: whole Berlin had the rainbow in their hearts: children, parents, shops, party people. For one day, Berlin was LGBTQ.

In 2019 we celebrate 50y of stonewall. The place in NY where the fight for our rights begun.  After the usual speeches, it was time to start the parade. And what a fun! Even when u not like parades… you were sucked into the enthusiasm and atmosphere. Hours of walking, hours of watching to color full people, celebrating with the Berliners in the street.

The parade ended on the ‘Brandenburger Tor’. We could enjoy the speeches, the great artists or just take a snack or a drink. Meat, fish or vegetarian… everyone found his or her snack.

Gay Berlin

Many LGBTQ people love to party or having a nice drink with friends. But where to go in this amazing city with his big choice of bars, gay-friendly restaurants, and shops? I asked it Henrik Tidefjärd. He is a Swede with Russian and Finnish blood who loves the nightlife of Berlin. With his experience of many years living in the Queer city, he is for sure the specialist in giving tips.

Berlin has 4 different areas. Every area has his kind of crowd. Here is a small guide to know where u have to be.

West Berlin or Shöneberg Berlin is ‘the cliché gay scene’. Many commercial bars, darkrooms, gay-friendly restaurants, and fashion shops. You find there a more older crowd and also the fetish scene.

Prenzlauer Berg is the place for the hipsters and bohemian chic with also bars, café’s and restaurants.

Friedrichshain is the place for the alternative people: party, not so clean places gay bars and clubs. But still with dark rooms.

Kreuzberg and Neu Köln is a little bit special. You find the bars next to Turkish places. But not in an aggressive way. Everyone lives together in a respectful way. This area has a more international crowd.

Still looking at a good gay map, you can find it in your Pink Pillow hotel, at the Visit Berlin info desk or in one of the gay bars. Like to know the Queer scene with a good guide? ’Berlinagenten’ has his own Queer tour of 3 hours. Henrik will show you the best places in this city. Take a look on the website for other tours like culinary, lifestyle and cultural tours.

How to visit Berlin?

Berlin is an amazing city and you need many days for just seeing a little part of the city. Are you looking for a cultural trip, finding some amusement or look for child-friendly places, the office of ‘Visit Berlin’ will give you good advice.
But the city is big… very big! So buy the Berlin welcome card. With this card, you can enjoy the trams, buses and the U Bahn without an extra cost for the days you are there (even at night you can go back to your hotel). With the city guide, you have different discounts on f.e. tours, musea, and restaurants.
A short time in Berlin? Then take the hop on-hop off bus: easy and quick to see the places you always wanted to see.
After 3 days of fun, I took my plane back to Belgium… and for the first time, I took my agenda. With a smile on my face, I thought… Berlin Ich Liebe Dich!

Beyond the Eurovision Song Contest, Lisbon’s hotspots!

Let’s go back to Saturday 13 may 2017. Portugal wins the biggest music festival of the world for the first time. The whole country gets crazy! Portuguese people just love music and the Eurovision Song Contest and they love to show that to the rest of the world.

In May 2018 Lisbon will be the center of the world for 3 days.  The city where thousands of fans will be. Time to see Lisbon’s hotspots, taste the great Portuguese food and enjoy the friendliness of the Portuguese people.

Fly to… the Eurovision Song Contest 2018

TAP, the national airline of Portugal is the best way to enjoy the Portuguese friendliness. Enjoy a comfortable flight to Lisbon and get a snack on board with a good glass of wine or watch a movie on long haul flights. This, all with the Portuguese smile of the crew.

Enjoy a good stay in Lisbon

If you stay the full week of the contest, you need a good bed.  Lisbon has a staying for every budget. You can easily find a great hotel close to Lisbon’s hotspots.  If you like luxury for a good price, A good choice will be the 5 star Altis Avenida Hotel. After a long walk in the city, you can enjoy a nice room, a good dinner or enjoy the wellness in the Altis Grand hotel.

But why not stay at the Late Birds hotel. This all male Gay urban resort lies between the two gay areas of Lisbon.  The Late Birds Lisbon is housed in a completely restored, late-18th century building with twelve very comfortable climate-controlled rooms, lounge, beautiful garden and UV-treated swimming pool. It’s an oasis after a long day of visiting the city. Regarding nightlife, the guesthouse is less than a 10 minute-walk from all gay venues (Bars, Clubs and Saunas) and the most famous and typical restaurants of Bairro Alto, Chiado, Principe Real, Santos and Cais do Sodré.

For the real fans who want to enjoy the atmosphere of the Eurovision song contest, stay at Myriad hotel. This beautiful hotel, close to the water, is at walking distance of the big concert hall. For sure, you will meet a lot of artists in this hotel.

Walk, walk and walk

The best way to enjoy the city and the many quarters is by foot. But wear good walking shoes. The streets of Lisbon go up and down and do not forget to count the many stairs of the city. But if you get tired, make a stop for a snack or a drink. For the short timers, just take one of the old fashion trams. They bring you to all the places you like.

What you see is what you get: the hotspots

If you stay a whole week, go visit the city. Lisbon has great things to offer.  You maybe decide to stay some more days after the contest. Let’s start with some interesting museums.

MNAA, the ‘Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga’ is the main museum. It’s housing the most relevant public collection from the 12th till the 19th century: painting, sculpture, silver, gold and jewelry. Take your time, because you need several hours to enjoy all of this. And take a look to the beautiful architecture of the building. It’s amazing.

Next stop is the ‘Museu da Agua’. It manages and promotes a group of buildings and monuments built in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. They mark an important period in the history of Lisbon’s water supply. You can follow a ‘museum route’ or make an underground walk with a guide. It’s magnificent and special.

Lisbon Story center is a space dedicated to the city of Lisbon that combines knowledge and technology. It offers a 60-minute journey through time travelling across 20 centuries of history of the capital, from its foundation to the present day. A must to see.

International Lisbon

Love the Brooklyn Bridge? Then visit the ‘Ponte 25 de Abril’. It was built by the American Bridge Company, which constructed the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge, but not the Golden Gate.  With a total length of 2,277 m, it is the 32nd largest suspension bridge in the world. Until 1974, the bridge was named ‘Salazar Bridge’. The name ‘Ponte 25 de Abril’ commemorates the Carnation Revolution. You can get in ‘Pilar 7’ and visit the open view point. You not only can see the traffic of the city, but imagine that you are in Rio. Enjoy the big ‘Jesus Christ statue’.  But in the first place experience an amazing view from the platform.

Lisbon is an example for the world how to use ugly walls of buildings. They just make art of it with amazing street art. Buy the guide of all the pieces and enjoy magnificent paintings through the whole city. Some of them are from ‘Berdalo II’ and were used in a street art festival.  You need at least 2 days to see them all.

Trendy Lisbon

Lisbon has many points of view like ‘Pilar 7’. For the Eurovision song contest fans, go lunch at ‘Myriad hotel’ and then take ‘Telecabine Lisboa’. It brings you to ‘the Park of Nations’, the latest area of Lisbon. You have an amazing view of Lisbon and the concert hall. Maybe you will spot one of the artists of the Eurovision song contest.

At the end of the ride, you can visit ‘Oceanario de Lisboa’. It’s an example how an aquarium should be. The amazing central aquarium, that symbolizes the Global Ocean, hosts about a hundred species from four oceans. Surrounding this big aquarium, four marine habitats create the illusion that there is only one and single ocean. You see corals, sharks, penguins, sea otters and the most beautiful fish of the world. Take your time between the rehearsals because you surely need several hours to visit this place.

But the trendiest place is for sure ‘LX Factory’. Take an old factory site and transform it to the best place to visit: it hosts a Hostal, bars, trendy shops and restaurants. You still see the remains of the old factory. They used them in the different locations. The many rooms of the factory are used for small companies. I loved this place and worth a visit!

After a long day walking, take one of the old trams in the city to see the hotspots on an easy way. A special way to visit trendy Lisbon is by ‘Tuk Tuk’. They are Eco and bring you to one of the new trendy breweries of the city.

Enjoy the food of Lisbon

Lisbon has many places to eat and depending on your budget, you will enjoy the Portuguese specialties.

Use the app of ‘the Late Birds hotel’ and find the best cantinas of Lisbon. These restaurants for small budgets give you delicious meals in the places where people of Lisbon go eat themselves.

At the ‘Terreiro do Paço square’, the main square of Lisbon, you find ‘Can the Can’. This beautiful place with terrace offers you great food and an amazing view. It’s a typically Mediterranean cuisine, one defined by the use of natural, healthy ingredients as made the most of of Mediterranean peoples for more than 5,000 years.

The dishes are so healthy because they are based on a combination of fresh vegetables with quality canned fish, a product, rich in Omega 3 oils and without the need of preservatives.

But they do not just serve conserves. They use the best conserves within a concept of Mediterranean gastronomy. They elevate the conserves we use to the level of exclusive gastronomic products, at the same time as innovating in their recipes, joining fresh ingredients and placing a premium on quality of preparation and presentation.

If you like to try the great gastronomy, then visit the restaurants of Chef Jose Avillez. He stands out for his enterprising spirit and his willingness to always go one step further. He has several restaurants in Lisbon like ‘Belcanto’, ‘Bairro do Avillez’, ‘Mini Bar’, ‘Cantina Peruana’, ‘Cantinho do Avillez’, ‘Café Lisboa’ and ‘Pizzaria Lisboa’.

‘The Palacio Chiado’ is an elegant palace built in 1781 with beautiful architecture. In one place you have several restaurants and bars. You can order from all of them: meat, fish, and sushi. The architecture of the building is amazing! So enjoy during your dinner.

But Lisbon’s national product is ‘Pastel de Nata’. It’s a Portuguese egg tart pastry. Taste it and for sure you will love it.

For lunch, try the Portuguese tapas: ‘Petiscos’. The best place is close to Altis Avenida Hotel.

Gay Lisbon

The gay life is divided in 2 parts. One with the LGBT friendly bars and terraces. The other one for the bars, discos and cruising places. Again, take the app of ‘Late Birds’ and know the best places to go.   But first take a nap after a day of walking. The fun starts late in the weekend. So enjoy the city and make new friends. You surely come back!

So, let the best win the Eurovision Song Contest and come back to see more of this great city… with TAP of course!

Celebrity, a cruise with a heart for LGBT’s

October 2017, Touristicogay goes aboard the Celebrity Reflection. The next 11 days we will visit beautiful cities in the Mediterranean and notice the gay friendliness of this cruise agency.

The ship and the cabins

Celebrity Reflection is a Solstice-class cruise ship and with more than 3000 guests on board it’s a floating city. One of the goals of Celebrity is affordable luxury… and they show that with the big X in their logo.

We recommend taking at least a cabin with a balcony. Enjoy the sunset or drink a glass of wine when  you reaches one of the beautiful destinations. When you take the upgrade to the concierge class or suite class, the crew spoils you every day with snacks, drinks and special events like a sail away on the helicopter deck…. an incredible experience.

The cabins and bathroom are spacious, the beds comfortable and the sheets and pillows are blessed to sleep. Your personal attendant cleans your room 2 times a day and helps you with a smile when you have a question.

The restaurants

We only eat in the complimentary restaurants: buffet and main restaurant. The buffet restaurant is very spacious and a lot of different kitchens you can try. We were a little bit worried that after 11 days, we always would taste the same food, but the crew tried to bring every day something new. You also have different food stations… so no long queues.

The breakfast was varied and also here, many choices like eggs of your liking. They also had a healthy breakfast on the terrace.

The main restaurant is still with a first and second seating. If you are solstice class or higher, you can chose… but a reservation is necessary. Every day you have a new menu and we tried many of them. But many guests on the ship are American, the food too…

European’s have a different taste and sometimes you get crazy combinations like a shrimp cocktail with ketchup. In Europe we also have different kind of pastries and the European food was not always made like we know it. Is that bad? No, and the waiter will surely listen to the way you like your food on the plate. The same problem you will find in the buffet. Some European dishes are made the American way, so sometimes we had a strange taste.

If you like something special, just take one of the specialty restaurants. You get offers almost every day in your room.

If you’re staying up late, other companies serve food 24 hour, here only untill 1 am. So be sure you eat enough before partying.

The bars and entertainment

Celebrity is a modern luxury company, so no water slides here or big parties. Relaxing on the pool, enjoy the hot tub or the sauna, read a book or take a drink on the bar with live music. That’s why you go with Celebrity. We (and many other guests) liked the Martini bar (with an ice bar) where the Asian boys entertained the guest every evening with great cocktail shows. Loved it!

The most dance events took place on the floor of the grand foyer: special dance shows, parties, etc. The party goers can party at the sky lounge with a great dj and the theater is the place to be for wild entertainment.

Celebrity is not a party company, but despite that we had great shows in the theater and they even had their own productions. But… do not think you can party till 4 am. You are sailing with older guests, the bars close at 2am at the latest.. (maybe different during the summer holidays).

Every day you get a newsletter with the program of the day. Also here, you are not on a party ship. You find enough to do while at sea, but its smaller than for example on Royal Caribbean.

The LGBT friendliness on the cruise

Celebrity is mentioned as one of the most gay friendly cruise agencies in the world. LGBT people choose this kind of cruise because they do not like the big party cruises like ‘Atlantis’. They like to meet other LGBT people on the ship and enjoy a nice time either alone, with their partner or a group.

On the first day Celebrity organizes a LGBT social hour at the main bar. They announce it in the daily newspaper. The other days of the cruise you can find the LGBT social hours on the message board at guest relations. For sure, it’s a good idea of organizing this event to meet other LGBT people on the cruise… but the main bar is so crowded at that time that you not can socialize with other LGBT guests. You do not even know who is gay or not. Other cruise companies organize this event the first day with a member of the staff. Not everyone is so assertive to talk to strangers. A staff member can break the ice.

The gay-friendly destinations

But you chose this company for the destinations. And in this cruise many LGBT friendly  cities to visit. We make a selection of it.

Spain has been known as a gay-friendly country. In our program was the beautiful city of  Barcelona with an overnight stay. During the day you can enjoy the beauty of the city with the Ramblas, Sagrada Familia and the delicious food. But in the evening the city is known for its huge and vibrant gay life. Barcelona, a city that never sleeps!

A famous destination is Nice at the Côte d’Azur. You arrive at Villefrance. With the bus or the train you can visit the beautiful city in less than 30 min. Take a walk in the shopping street  before you enjoy the hot weather at the beach and its nice boulevard. But before you leave to the ship go visit the tourist office and ask for the gay map. The next time you are in Nice you will definitely visit the vibrant gay life of this city. Also visit their website for the latest events.

Malaga has been known as one of the most beautiful cultural cities in Spain. For the short time you are there visit the house of Picasso and make a walk on the promenade. The next time you come back just take the metro and in 30 min you are in Torremolinos. This beach city has an amazing gay life and 2 gay beaches.

When you arrive in Cartagena take a tour to Murcia. The historical city is fascinating and known for its Casino and Cathedral. But try to come back for the nightlife. Many LGBT’s visit the city for the gay life.

Ibiza is a vibrant island during summer. When you are a party animal, come back! After summer you better take a tour to see more of the cultural part of this island.

Celebrity or Royal Caribbean?

Many people ask me which company is the best: Royal Caribbean or Celebrity? First, they are both LGBT friendly and Royal has been chosen as the most gay friendly cruise agency of 2016.

But it all depends what you like on your cruise. For partying, water slides, shows, big entertainment and a younger crowd Royal Caribbean is the number one cruise. They even have the biggest cruise ships in their fleet. But if you like a little bit more luxury, a long stay at the destinations and a great kitchen then Celebrity is the cruise for you.