Travel and Relationships: Should You Travel Without Your Significant Other?

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3 years ago, I never would have considered putting my life on hold for someone else. In fact, I swore I would be single until I was 30 and travel the world alone. I had a fear of commitment and another fear of feeling tied down. I just didn’t feel the need to be committed at 22.

2 years later, I met Asha, and everything changed. She was different, and I didn’t need to put my life on hold; she was not threatened by my need for freedom. But despite this, my travel perspective changed. No longer was I just considering myself before travel, I was considering my partner and our relationship together. It was now about both of us, not just me.

Relationships can make travel complicated. Is there a limit to how long one partner should travel without the other? What is a reasonable amount of time to be gone without causing strain (if any)? How long until your heart begins to ache for your partner? Is time apart a good thing or a bad thing?

I ask myself these questions every time I start planning a solo trip. Since I’m a teacher, I have a significant amount of vacation time compared to the average person. Asha gets hardly any vacation time compared to me, and even though I’d rather travel together, my need to travel yell louder and louder until I go.

I miss the fearlessness, adventure, and transcendence when I’m not traveling. I miss the new experiences, new smells, new colors, new people, and new sites. I miss overcoming my fears on a daily basis and facing myself in a mirror.

Virginia Beach - A Lesbian Suitcase

We dealt fine with 3 weeks apart this past summer with daily communication and lots of FaceTiming. While I was exploring the west coast alone, Asha was holding down the fort at home. Not that it was easy at all – it got tough especially towards the end – but it was manageable with a little effort.

This summer, I’m planning a trip with a best friend to Bulgaria. While I’m there, Asha will be reconnecting with a friend in Romania. Then, we’ll be meeting up in Greece to celebrate our birthdays and travel just the two of us.

For me personally, I think I would regret not traveling in my 20s and 30s and 40s and beyond. So even though I’m committed to a fantastic gal that doesn’t mean my travels get to stop. It just means I might take shorter trips and spend a significant amount of time on the road communicating with my girl. And travel with her as often as possible.

I’m really curious to hear your thoughts below. Tell me: what is the longest you and your bae have been apart? Did it bring you closer? How long is acceptable in your relationship to be apart?

 

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Gay Girl’s Dream: 5 Things to See in San Francisco

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Elegant architecture, sparkling water, historic cable cars – San Francisco has to be the most beautiful U.S. city I’ve ever traveled to. Walking through the city felt like an eerie dream complete with views of the ever so blue pacific at every hill top. I was even lucky enough to score a window bed at a hostel with a complete view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

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Your key to getting around San Francisco can be summed up in 4 letters – muni. That’s San Fran’s public transportation system that will take you virtually anywhere you want to go. Using muni was completely painless – just take a look at their website and you’ll find comprehensive maps and schedules. Once you get your handle on muni, you’re on your way to some great San Fran sites. The 5 below were my favorites during my stay.

Ocean Beach

I almost didn’t visit Ocean Beach because it was so far from where I was staying, but I’m so glad I did. This 3.5 mile beach is not a beach for swimmers as the temperatures are quite freezing (and waves quite treacherous), but it is instead the perfect place for spotting some gorgeous scenery or surfing some waves. Just make sure to bring a jacket! 😉

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Golden Gate Park – Japanese tea garden

Just a hop and a skip from Ocean Beach is the Golden Gate Park. Impossible to see everything in one day at this park, because this place is HUGE! While there, I was able to go for a stroll and check out the Japanese Tea Garden which I absolutely loved! The tea garden felt like zen paradise.

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Day Trip to Muir Woods & Sausalito

Muir Woods is a national monument about 15 miles north of San Francisco. Like something straight out of Lord of the Rings, the trees gape over 200 feet tall and have been around an average of 400-800 years (!) I think what surprised me most about Muir Woods was how large the trees actually were. I’m 5’10” and did not even come up to the full tree trunks. #crazy The sights were truly mesmerizing – an absolute must see!

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About 8 miles south is a little waterfront town called Sausalito. This quaint town is accompanied by little boutiques, shops, eateries, and coffee shops.

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Gayborhoods

San Fran’s official gayborhood is Castro, but its equal partner is Mission. Castro might be the most openly gay neighborhood decorated with rainbow crosswalks and gay flags on every corner, but Mission had the most queer lady friendly bars, cafes, and shops that I saw. Both neighborhoods border each other, so it was easy to spend an afternoon exploring both of them. My absolute favorite was Delores Park in the Mission neighborhood.

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Delores Park

Castro Gayborhood

Castro Gayborhood

Coit Tower & Little Italy

A trip to San Francisco was not complete without a trip to Coit Tower, which showed 360 views of San Francisco. The surrounding neighborhood – Little Italy – mirrors an Italian style with cute patio cafes and coffeeshops.

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Now tell us: have you ever been to San Francisco? Would love to hear your experience in the comments!

48 Hours in Baltimore, MD

Hi! Did you miss us? Life has been busy lately with work and life and the holidays but we’re back! Asha has been busy building up her side business while I have been busy with doing what teaching is which is working crazy hours around the clock (teacher followers – you know what I mean) and trying to change lives or something. 😉

In one of our recent romantic getaways before the hustle and bustle of holiday stress, we visited Baltimore, Maryland. Baltimore felt like a sweet haven for artists and other creatives, with a phenomenal art scene and foodie culture with food trucks galore. We felt right at home in Baltimore, which had a similar vibe to our home in Richmond, VA.

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A Lesbian Suitcase

Stay

Lord Baltimore Hotel

Queer-o-meter: 9 out of 10

Race-o-meter: 10 out of 10

The Lord Baltimore Hotel is located in the inner harbor side of Baltimore. The hotel is near restaurants, bars, and the waterfront, and features an indoor bar, restaurant, and coffee shop & bakery. The hotel was diverse enough to cater to a wide variety of people from top execs to young couples and families. The room design was chic and masculine, but small. The hotel was within a 1-5 miles from everything in Baltimore.

The hotel also featured a lobby bar with phenomenal drinks and a reasonable selection for bar food.  The Lavender Martini is a must! But brace yourself – for a martini named lavender, there was nothing soft about it 😉 The main downside was the breakfast selection. For a breakfast buffet, it was overpriced and lacked in variety and quality. Conversely, the coffee shop selection catered to a wide variety of diners. For parking, be prepared to spend an additional $15-30 per day to park in a garage nearby.

A Lesbian Suitcase - Lord Baltimore Hotel

Lord Baltimore On-Site Restaurant, The French Kitchen

 

Do

Baltimore Visionary Art Museum 

Queer-o-meter: 10 out of 10. We witnessed a gay wedding taking place in the museum, too.

Race-o-meter: 10 out of 10

This is an absolute must. From a homeless artist who made sculptures completely out of toothpicks to art made completely from bread, this art museum was both moving and innovative.

A Lesbian Suitcase - Baltimore Visionary Art Museum

Made completely out of bread!

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A Lesbian Suitcase - Baltimore Visionary Art Museum

Made entirely of toothpicks!

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A Lesbian Suitcase - Baltimore Visionary Art Museum

My favorite piece – “we must forgive to be forgiven”

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Eat

The Salt 

Queer-o-meter: not sure

Race-o-meter: not sure

Not your typical dive restaurant and bar, this American restaurant featured a modern rustic feel with green lights with brick walls in a small cozy setting. Be careful if you have allergies though – list them twice! The food was an innovative glimpse into the chef’s imagination.

A Lesbian Suitcase - The Salt Baltimore MD

 

Next time – I want to check out more of the many art museums, neighborhoods, quirky coffee shops and bookstores. 48 hours was not enough time to see everything. Now tell us: have you ever been to Baltimore? What are your favorite perks?

 

Gay San Francisco: 4 Attractions to See

Gay San Francisco

I just got back from San Francisco, and I’m trying to prevent the after travel depression that often happens after a really great travel experience. I was living in a world with perfect public transportation, gay pride everywhere, outdoorsy getaways, quirky shops, and thriving queer nightlife. I saw rainbow painted streets, people reading trans liberation books on the metro, stores with rainbow flags, and queers holding hands. Needless to say, San Francisco was pretty much a gueer gals paradise. If not for the incredible cost of living here, I might pack up my bags and move today. Here are 4 great attractions I saw:

GLBT History Museum

Gay San Francisco: GLBT Museum

Where:  4127 18th Street, 1/2 block west of Castro Street Cost: $5; Get there: Metro lines K, L or M to Castro Station, then walk one block south to 18th Street

This is a small museum, but definitely worth a trip. Learn about the beginnings of lesbian activism, listen to queer Asian Pacific Islanders stories, read about historic gayborhoods in San Francisco, and learn about the pioneer HIV/AIDS activism beginnings. The museum also features a small gift shop with proceeds that go to the GLBT historical society of San Francisco.

Dolores Park & Mission Neighborhood

Gay San Francisco: Dolores Park

Where:19th & Dolores St Get there: Muni J, M, L, 14, 49, 48, 67, 53, 22, 26, 27, 33

Dolores park was probably my favorite spot in all of San Francisco that I visited. Dolores park is an urban park with high hills and green space bordered by the Mission and Castro neighborhoods. The hills feature breathtaking views of the whole city. Go there to sleep, tan, read, or people watch. The Mission neighborhood is a bordering gayborhood, where you can stroll the streets and explore the quirky shops, bookstores, and coffee shops.

Castro Neighborhood

Gay San Francisco

Where: The Castro, San Fran Get there: Muni L, M, 35, 21, 37, 33, 38, 35

Castro neighborhood is the historical gayborhood of San Francisco. This neighborhood was the most outwardly “gay” of all the neighborhoods I visited. Rainbow flags were on every street corner, pedestrian crosswalks were painted rainbow colors, even bank ATMs had rainbow backgrounds in some areas of this neighborhood. I was pretty much floored. I had never seen a neighborhood with more rainbows. Just for this aesthetic appeal, Castro is worth the trip. Other perks include numerous shops, gay bars, coffee shops, the GLBT history museum, and cute boutiques.

El Rio

Where:3158 Mission St Get there: Muni 12, 14, 14L,  26, 49, 67

El Rio is a popular queer bar in the Mission neighborhood that features cool happy hours, dancing, events, and live music. Seriously, check it out. Whole lotta queer fun.

 

Have you ever been to San Francisco? What are your favorite queer attractions?

 

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Why You Don’t Need to Quit Your Job to Travel the World

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Photo cred: Adopted from Guillaume DELEBARRE via Flickr

“One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.” — William Feather

I read a lot of full-time travel blogs. I love them. And I tip my hats to the authors of these blogs who manage to support themselves and travel the world at the same time. Sometimes I fantasize about this kind of a life: how cool would it be to drop routines, structure, my dependable city, and the 9-5 and head of into the sunset with my babe forever? It’s a nice fantasy.

However, it’s not a reality for many of us. Many of us work full-time jobs that we either love, hate, or fall somewhere in the middle. Our careers don’t give us the ability to move abroad and travel full-time. Some of us have families and other commitments that make it a bit more complicated to get up and move spontaneously. I work as a middle school Math and English teacher, and happen to love what I do. I love developing my teaching skills, networking, and trying to reach new career goals. Although I could potentially teach abroad, now is not the right time. I coined the phrase for myself “full-time teacher, part-time traveler” because I both love what I do with my career AND love to travel, so I try to do both. If you’re anything like me, you either don’t want to or don’t need to either. And that’s completely okay.

Travel is a state of mind

Many of us get hung up on a view of travel that has to include traveling to a different continent; it doesn’t seem possible that travel could be a little bit closer.  However, there is something really liberating about viewing travel as an attitude as opposed to a destination. Let me explain.

There are always places in your city/town/suburb that you have not explored (or if you have explored everything, there is a town next door that you haven’t yet). Lez Backpack wrote an awesome post about this on her blog in which she coined the phrase “get out there.” A travel state of mind means viewing your current city through the lense of a traveler, or with a sense of adventure and enthusiasm.  You DON’T even need to go past your back door to find this!

Career growth and other practical things

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If you’re anything like me, maybe you don’t picture yourself with a travel-esque career. Maybe you work for an inspiring start-up in your hometown that thrives in your local community, maybe you work for a large company and are learning valuable knowledge from your superiors, or maybe you’re a teacher like me and don’t see yourself leaving your school community any time soon. By not traveling full time, you can really invest in your local career, right where you are. You can also save a whole lot of money by staying in one place. By focusing on spending less money on airfare and other faraway travel expenses, you can instead spend money on items right in your city or neighboring town, and save up for larger trips less often.

You can still travel a lot

There is such a misconception in the travel world that you can’t really travel unless you do it full time. To the contrary – you just need to become a little creative about it.

  1. Max out your vacation time. Take a good chunk of your sick or personal days off for a trip whether it’s one day or 10 days.
  2.  Make use of your weekends and add a Friday off every now and then for weekend getaways. Look at that town an hour away you’ve never been to and rent an Air B&B room for the weekend. Grab your camera and travel like you mean it for 3 days.
  3. Use your new found travel state of mind in your hometown at random times: during the week, the weekend, or even during vacation time. Explore your hometown like you don’t live there.

Making the most of both worlds

Staying stationary AND traveling when you can can be the best of both worlds. It allows you to build a real community in the town/city/suburb where you live, support local businesses, and support local causes while also traveling to other places whether these places are near or far. You can make a difference in the local community while still satisfying your thirst for wanderlust, it just takes a little creative thinking and crafting.

Now tell us: would you rather travel full-time or part-time?

 

Part-Time Traveler; Full-Time Teacher

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School’s out for the summer, and I just finished moving into my new classroom for the upcoming year. As teachers everywhere can attest to, the 10 months of long hours and stress-riden weeknights now welcome the two months of bliss, commonly known as summer.

Although I work pretty long hours during the school year, I love teaching because not only do I get to expel my love of learning and interact with people, but I also get a significant amount of vacation time. I’m gearing up for two different trips in July: one to the west coast and the other to a meditation retreat in Massachusetts. Until then, my days are filled with luxurious reading in coffee shops, day trips around Richmond, short trips to visit family and friends, and of course extra time with bae.

Here’s what I’ve been up to lately:

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Hike to Belle Isle

Hike to Belle Isle

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Now tell us: what do you get into during the summer months?

5 Destinations in Virginia That We Love

Virginia is supposedly for lovers, and also somewhere I’ve traveled a fair bit. Born and raised in the area right outside of Washington D.C., I’ve taken my fair share of roadtrips, attended school here, and fallen in love in Virginia. Come along for the ride of some of my favorite cities and towns.

Williamsburg, VA

Although not necessarily the most gay friendly, Williamsburg is a cute college town with a lot of history, culture, and cute eateries. I ended up living here for a whole year while working on my master’s degree, so I ended up getting to know the area very well. My favorite thing about Williamsburg was the accessibility to little waterfront getaways. The year I lived here, I was often stressed due to my strenuous program, and these getaways provided the perfect place to unwind and breathe.

Be sure to see the different James River overlooks, Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown Beach/Colonial Parkway, and Merchant Square. For drinks, be sure to check Dog Street Pub, and for coffee check out Aromas Coffeeshop. This town is perfect for a weekend waterfront gettaway.

James River Overlook in Kingsmill

James River Overlook in Kingsmill

Yorktown Beach

Yorktown Beach

Arlington, VA

Arlington is an overlooked city less than 10 minutes from Washington D.C. Arlington has many similar perks to large cities with just a hop and a skip away from DC itself. It has quirky coffee shops, eclectic nightlife and karaoke hits,  and delicious brunch spots.

Be sure to check out MOM’s for organic groceries and eats, Whitlows on Wilson for brunch and a scrumptious bloody Mary, and Northside Social for coffee, wine, and intimate acoustic music.

Charlottesville, VA

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Monticello: NCinDC via Flickr

Asha and I ended up taking a weekend trip to Charlottesville for Valentine’s Day last year. Charlottesville is your typical mountain college town with quirky shopping, restaurants, and venues for its small size, in addition to wineries, hiking, and great live music. Be sure to see Monticello for history buffing, the downtown mall for shopping and eateries, and Skyline Drive for hiking.

Blacksburg, VA

Home of the Hokies, you probably won’t find another college town in Virginia with more school spirit and pride. Surrounded by mountains and filled with a wholesome local attitude, a phenomenal farmer’s market, and eateries with distinct personalities, Blacksburg is a must visit for those stopping through Virginia.

Eat at Gillies for phenomenal vegetarian food and The Cellar for local comfort food;  explore the Virginia Tech Campus and hike the Cascades during the day; and chill at Shesha Lounge in the evening for live music and a laid back atmosphere.

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Walk to the top of the highest VT parking garage, and you get this view

Richmond, VA

You knew I wouldn’t possible forget the best small city in Virginia, right? Richmond is a quirky artsy city with a great music scene, hipster culture, and community feel.

  • For you outdoorsy queers – check out a hike along Belle Isle, a famous island right off the James
  • For you hipster coffee queers – check out Lamplighter Coffeehouse
  • For you shopping queers – take a stroll down Carytown
  • For you dancing queers, check out Babes or Goddfrey’s clubs
  • For you 3 in 1 queers, check out downtown Richmond (Shockoe Slip) for nightlife, used bookstores, and quirky shops
  • And for a longer more detailed list, check out my Queer Guide to Richmond.
Downtown Richmond, Canal Walk

Downtown Richmond, Canal Walk

Belle Isle

Belle Isle

 

Now tell us: what are your favorite places in Virginia?

Queer Lady Guide to Richmond, VA

RVA LADIES GUIDE

Photo credit: Jeffrey McKee via Flickr

Set along the beautiful James River, Richmond (RVA) is a small city most beloved for its local breweries, coffee culture, and community conscious citizens. Often overlooked as a queer travel destination, Richmond is a little hidden gem. Asha and I have been lucky enough to call Richmond our home for the past 2 years, and still have loads to explore. Come along for a ride as we walk you through our favorite perks so far.

Queer friendly neighborhoods

The Fan 

This neighborhood is named after its “fanning” streets. It’s perfect for the queer lady who wants some quiet but also wants to be close to the action. It’s in walking distance to several shops, restaurants, cafes, and coffeeshops. It’s very close to Carytown, which is Richmond’s premier shopping and restaurant strip. Carytown houses Richmond’s only lesbian bar and club, Babes.

Museum District

Like The Fan, but a little less expensive. This neighborhood gets its name from the bordering museums. It’s also close to Carytown and a myriad of restaurants and shops. This neighborhood caters mostly to young professionals and young families

 

Downtown/Shockoe Bottom/Shockoe Slip

Downtown is the central urban part of Richmond, featuring coblestone streets, bars, and restaurants. This part of town lies right along the river, and features several loft style apartments and condominiums. Perfect for the lady queer who wants to be close to city action. This part of town also hosts the infamous Folk Music Festival each year.

Church Hill

Arguably the best neighborhood to watch for its emerging foodie scene, Church Hill is Richmond’s actual first neighborhood, and the neighborhood Patrick Henry delivered his “give me liberty or give me death” speech. Quieter than its counterparts, Church Hill is perfect for the queer who wants to be close to some restaurants and cafes but wants some peace and quiet too.

Scott’s Addition 

Scott’s Addition is the place to be if you want some boozin’ in your hood. Scott’s Addition is another neighborhood to watch for its emerging cideries and breweries.

 

Queer friendly coffee culture

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Photo credit: Craig Sunter via Flickr

Richmond is known for its coffee culture. There are coffeeshops all over the place, but these are a few of our favorites.

Lamplighter – This is the most well-known queer friendly coffee shop. It is a hipster mecca with many tattoo clad 20 somethings and delicious coffee. Ignore the pretentious service at the main location, as there are two other locations way less pretentious.

Cafe Zata – This less-known coffee shop is a hidden jewel. Housed in the forrest hill neighborhood, it styles a spacious two story shop with a full menu and ice cream. Cafe Zata’s second loft level has comfy couches to sit, read, and drink coffee. My absolute go-to coffee shop, hands down.

Crossroads – Another coffee shop with ice cream  in the Forrest Hill neighborhood, but smaller than Taza. It often has live music and is poppin’ on the weekend.

Alchemy Coffee – Alchemy Coffee is a fantastic little shop that actually started as a coffee cart. It hosts a simple design with simple industrial tables.

Sub Rosa Bakery – If you like pastries with coffee, look no further. This charming little spot in Church Hill has some of the best pastries in Richmond.

Queer Friendly Eats

Richmond is all about independent local eats, particularly farm to table spots. The following are some of our favorite places.

Union Market – Cute and wholesome market with an attached eatery. Amazing sandwiches and amazing salads. Very vegetarian.

Ipanema Cafe – Hipster vibe vegetarian and vegan focused small restaurant. Amazing food but pretentious service. They don’t even have menues, you have to read it from one chalkboard. Can you say hipster?

Sticky Rice – Asian fusion sushi. Just delicious. I dare you to try it.

Nacho Mama’s – Delicious Mexican food with strong margaritas. Could you ask for more?

821 Cafe – Another great vegetarian friendly eatery, with craft beer and tattoo clad servers.

Harrison St. Cafe – This two-story cafe features delicious vegetarian food and great work spots. The cafe caters to a lot of VCU students and is hence a good choice for getting some quiet work done.

Get your queer dancin’ and boozin’ on

Babes  – The only lesbian bar and club in Richmond, Babes is a small club with a food menu and an outdoor volleyball set that houses casual community lady pick-up games in the warmer months.

Club Colours – This gay club caters to the Richmond queer ladies of color. It’s a little more upscale than its counterparts and features a VIP lounge and arguably better music than the others.

Godfrey’s – A medium-sized gay club that houses a diverse mix of parties for dancing, drag shows, and drinks.

Barcode – This gay bar caters predominantly to older gay men, but can still be fun to go for drinks and laughs with lady friends.

Buskey Cider – Trust me, this place is awesome. I didn’t think I liked hard cider so much, but this new cidery is where it’s at.

Hardywood Brewery  – The most well known Richmond brewery and for good reason. This brewery also hosts food trucks every Thursday evening in their lot, which include food from different restaurants in Richmond. Beer and food? Yes please.

Legend Brewing Co – Another notable brewery with an expansive view overlooking downtown Richmond.

The Great Outdoors

Belle Isle – The hottest place to be especially when whether gets warmer, Belle Isle is right along the James River. The perfect place to lounge, hike, raft, and even swim when it gets warm.

Maymont – 19th Century estate and mansion with beautiful walking trails and gardens.

Byrd Park – Beautiful urban park featuring lakes, walking trails, and picnic areas.

Botanical Gardens – A bit of a drive from the city but worth it – expansive gardens that stretch for acres. The botanical gardens also host live music which is a plus.

Libby Hill Park – A small hilltop park overlooking downtown Richmond and the James River.

Queer Cultured Life

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts – Wonderful diverse art museum that also hosts a cute cafe with an excellent happy hour.

The Valentine – Private museum that focuses on the history of Richmond. This museum is incredibly gay friendly and even hosts an exhibit about RVA’s  LGBT families.

Social Activism

Partying in NYC, 2010

Photo credit: Lotus Caroll via Flickr

ROSMY – ROSMY is focused on LGBT  youth. They offer 3 support groups: one for middle schoolers, one for high schoolers, and one for trans identified youth. ROSMY also hosts an LGBT prom and partners with other organizations in Richmond.

Diversity Richmond – Diversity Richmond is centered around LGBT adults in the community. They offer discussion groups, periodic classes, special events, and supports for LGBTQ adults.

Now tell us: what are some of your favorite queer friendly cities and towns?

 

A Travel State of Mind in Richmond, VA

I’m a big fan of the travel state of mind. Let me explain. Travel doesn’t have to involve adventures to far away places, uncharted seas, or otherwordly lands. Of course, it’s wonderful when it does include these things, but for many, this isn’t a regular realistic possibility all of the time.

The travel state of mind means viewing your current residence from the perspective that a traveler would, with child-like enthusiasm, excitement, and enchantment. It means exploring the new parts of the city or town with excitement, or even viewing the old ones from a new fresh perspective. It means checking out new businesses, coffee shops, and quirks that you’ve never really explored. It can be as simple as going to a different coffee shop than you usually go to or changing up your typical Sunday brunch spot.

Asha and I live in Richmond, VA which is a small city/large town in Virginia and also the capital of Virginia. It’s known for its historical roots, community feel, and hipster vibes. Richmond has a large percentage of water, and housed right along the James, so there’s a multitude of waterfront spots. Due to the small size, it’s a city that still has a small town feel. There’s many local businesses, start-ups, and community festivals that take place any season of the year.

I’ve taken an oath to continue exploring Richmond like I’m a traveler, by exploring new businesses, festivals, restaurants, waterfront spots, and gay attractions. Here are a few of my favorites so far:

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Carytown is Richmond’s quintessential shopping and eatery strip

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RVA Street Art is all over the place, a huge piece of its hipster vibe

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Canal Walk is housed in the downtown Shokoe Slip part of RVA, which is another nightlife spot

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Church Hill Overlook is housed within the quirky Church Hill neighborhood of Richmond

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Belle Isle is probably what Richmond is most known for. Can you blame them?

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Libby Hill Park features a beautiful city and river view, from way up above it all

 

Now tell us: Where does your travel state of mind take you in your own city or town?

Lesbian Travel Worldwide: 5 Friendly Cities on My Bucketlist

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Although many parts of the world are becoming more LGBT friendly, the sad reality is that many LGBT identified travelers face additional challenges when planning to go abroad. Many of us ask crucial questions prior to traveling:

How does this city treat women? Lesbians? Gay men? Transgender identified men and women? Interracial friendships/relationships? Will I be safe?

Fear shouldn’t stop us from travel, however. I’m determined to continue making my mark on the map regardless of the world’s attitudes towards my relationship and identity. The following are a few lesbian friendly cities that are on the top of my bucketlist:

San Francisco, USA

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I’m excited to cross this city off my bucket list in July (finally!!). San Francisco has a thriving LGBT reputation, stunning oceanfront views, and an interesting culture. As someone who loves coffee culture, I was interested to find out that there are over 300 coffee shops in San Fran, and that Irish coffee was actually invented in San Fran. Who knew?

Items to check out for sure:

  • Alcatraz Island – famous prison housed on an island – you need to take the ferry to get there.
  • Muir Woods – Aka the place with big trees. Muir Woods are home of the redwood trees, which can grow up to 379 feet tall!!
  • Golden Gate Park – Houses 1,017 acres that include gardens, lakes, picnic groves, trails, and monuments. Need I say more?
  • Point Reyes National Seashore – Just look at these views. And more views.

LGBT NIGHTLIFE

I keep hearing about El Rio. But, supposedly you need to get there at 6pm to beat lines?? For more spots – see Autostraddle’s complete guide of clubs, thrift shops, coffee shops, and even health centers.

Berlin, Germany

I met a really interesting couchsurfer from Germany last year who raved to me about Berlin. We talked for hours and then went ballroom dancing for the heck of it, which it turns out, is a big part of German culture. He was a phenomenal dancer, while I couldn’t stop tripping over my feet. He talked to me about German culture; classical music, going to the theater, and academics in general are big. He could really hold a conversation and had a very analytical and academic way of looking at things.

Bucketlist items:

  • Brandenburg Gate and other classical music things – Berlin is well known for its classical music influence, not to mention the Brandenburg Gate which is a stunning piece of architecture. 
  • Berlin Wall Memorial
  • Tiergartin – Urban park with some stunning views
  • East Side Gallery – A section of the Berlin Wall that is a memorial for freedom. These pictures say it all! The section features 105 paintings of artists from all over the world!

LGBT Party Time

Yelp has more than 2,000 results for lesbian clubs in Berlin which speaks to the thriving gay life there. Elan Fleisher from Timout reports that gay life is “pretty much a non-stop party, with the saunas, darkrooms, bars, clubs, cafés, festivals, balls, carnivals and gay parties making it a hedonist’s paradise, a sensualist’s haven, an aesthete’s delight and a raver’s Mecca, all in one package.” Sounds pretty good to me – for the complete list of spots see HERE.

Tel Aviv, Israel

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Tel Aviv is the second most populated city in Israel. It houses 42% of the population. Interestingly, it is faster to get around by bike than by car due to traffic. Tel Aviv has over 25 miles of bike paths (aka a lesbian stereotype heaven). Fun fact: calling someone a “tzfoni” in Hebrew  which translates to “northy” is shorthand for saying the person is a materialistic snob. North Tel Aviv is where the “snobbier” hang out.

Things to see:

GET YOUR LGBTQ ON

Some big nightlife names that stuck out in my research are:

  • Lima Lima
  • Big Boys
  • Tip Top

I didn’t find many lesbian themed clubs – if you know of more let me know in the comments 🙂

Madrid, Spain

Madrid is the capital of Spain and the third largest city in the European Union after London and Berlin. Madrid is also the most visited city in Spain. Fun fact: Madrid has the oldest standing restaurant in the world: Restaurante Sobrino, founded 1725. Say what?!

Must-Visit Attractions

  • Royal Palace of Madrid – official residence of the royal family but open to the public often.
  • Queen Sofia Art Center – modern art gallery that features 20,000 works of art!
  • Museo Cerralbo – both a historic house and an art gallery, Museo Carralbo preserves both the historic environment of the house and the art it held.
  • Palacio de Cibeles – Labeled as one of Madrid’s “post card images,” Palacio de Cibeles has exquisite architecture that looks like something straight out of Disney.
  • Paseo del Pradobeautiful urban park that is close to other attractions in Madrid.

LET’S GO OUT TONIGHT

Madrid is supposedly a more female-centric city, so I expected to find a multitude of lesbian catered bars , clubs, and spots. Here are a few I found:

Amsterdam, Netherlands

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Netherlands most populated city, Amsterdam is a top LGBT travel destination. Interestingly, there are 165 canals in Amsterdam, adding up to about 60 miles. Amsterdam also has over 1,000 bridges and over 800,000 bicycles. Sounds pretty much like a lesbian dream. Watch out though, because supposedly countless bicycles are stolen every year. So be careful with your bikes, lesbians.

Things not to miss

  • Anne Frank House – Because who hasn’t read The Diaries of Anne Frank as a young book nerding lesbian?
  • Van Gogh Museum – Yes, Van Gogh is good for more than the cutting off of his own ear. This museum features some amazing pieces.
  • Vondelpark – You can tell I have a thing for urban parks. Here’s another one – you’re welcome.
  • The Jordaan – A Beautiful waterfront neighborhood in Amsterdam that I’m pretty much image obsessed with.

LGBT LYFE

Amsterdam has a multitude of LGBT friendly options for clubs, bars, and cafes. Some highlights I found include:

  • Vivelavie – lesbian cafe
  • Prik – gay bar
  • Soho – gay pub
  • Saarein – Lesbian bar

That’s it – go excuse me while I indulge in some travel fantasies in these amazing cities.

Now tell us: what’s the best lesbian friendly city you’ve ever been to? Are there others on your travel bucketlist?

Photo credits: Title image – Bob Suir via flickr,   San Fran – Vincent Moschetti via flickr, Tel Aviv – Florent Lamoureux via flickr, Amsterdam – Allie_Caulfield via flickr