Thursday, December 10, 2009

Palermo---Why I chose it for my new home...

Buenos Aires, Argentina

By Roy Heale

One of the great joys in relocating to a different city is the time spent discovering one's new neighborhood. My choice to live in the Palermo community of Buenos Aires was based on a number of different criteria. But probably the biggest reason was my close proximity to the wonderful parkland which skirts the region and extends to the banks of the River Plate. This is like being close to Central Park in New York or Hyde Park in London, but with a distinctly European flair and variety of landscapes in a much larger green space than either of those parks can claim. One of the reasons this massive parkland exists in the heart of Buenos Aires is because it was an enormous private estate until the middle of the 1800s.

It has been said that Palermo has the feel of a park where some people happen to live---in the midst of this miles-long expanse of green open space the towering high-rise apartment buildings re-enforce that expression.

My home is just two blocks from the main entrance to the parkland area which begins with the Botanical Gardens and the Zoo Gardens. So naturally I try to spend as much time as possible enjoying an island of green space in the heart of this metropolis, usually commencing with an early morning walk. To fully enjoy this peaceful haven I need to own a bicycle, but for the time being I settle for long walks before the afternoon sun becomes too fierce.

Recently I decided it was time to explore the Rose Gardens about which I had heard many glowing reports from my new neighbors and friends. What gay man doesn't love flowers? It was a sunny Sunday morning and I thought my early start would avoid the crowds. However, after a short ten minute walk to the garden's entrance, I discovered the roads were closed to allow joggers and cyclists to enjoy an energetic Sunday morning workout. Despite the night-owl culture of this city's residents, the park was already humming with Portenos. But once inside the Rose Gardens there was a distinct air of tranquility as everyone took a moment to stop and smell the roses!

This park within the park was ablaze with the sights and scents of almost every variety and species of roses known to horticulturists and much more. The fountains, lakes, ornate bridges, pergolas, patios, gazebos, statues, and even the collection of International Rosas Nuevos, were neatly laid out and cultivated perfectly for a relaxing stroll through the manicured gardens. Even though the park proved to be very popular on a Sunday morning there was never a time when it felt crowded. Everyone was enjoying a leisurely stroll through one of mother nature's wonderlands!

Each time I venture out to enjoy a different slice of the Palermo pie I am not disappointed by the choice of my new main course for the future.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Mendoza---Argentina's Wine Capital and Much More......

By Roy Heale

Nestled in the foothills of the Andes, about 1000 meters above sea level, is the charming city of Mendoza. Known largely for being the capital of Argentina's wine making industry----especially the renowned Malbecs---Mendoza is also the center for skiing in the higher Andes peaks during July, August, and September. Plus the year-round natural hot springs just a short drive from town along with the beautiful parks and lakes in the city are fashioning Mendoza as a popular new vacation destination especially for budget-conscious travelers.

The city is the perfect place to call home while taking short excursions, day trips, or even overnight journeys to explore the numerous different vacation activities in this diverse region. Filled with tree-lined avenues, beautiful plazas, historic architecture, and artisan markets Mendoza offers a relaxed pace of life in a bustling urban environment. The heart of the city pulses in the main square called Plaza Independencia, while the Parque San Martin offers a multitude of relaxing outdoor activities in a lush green environment, and the Area Fundacional is a trip back in time to the city's early settlement days. And of course the annual “la Fiesta de la Vendimia” in March is the renowned wine festival for which Mendoza is now renowned worldwide.

Finding accommodations in Mendoza can be challenging with a multitude of options and price ranges. Every style and size of hotel is available from major brand name chains to small independent pensionnes with everything in between. But the gay-owned and operated Deptosmendoza offers two alternatives for suite rentals in the heart of the city at reasonable rates with a variety of styles and sizes to match with every holiday budget. The Modigliani Art and Design Suites are eleven modern contemporary, comfortable, spacious apartments with complete facilities and a Galeria de Arte on the top floor. Coupled with the Dot Suites---a boutique resort, with only five unique units, minimalist design, with an emphasis on architecture, art, design and lighting---any vacation requirements and budgets can be accommodated by Deptosmendoza. The English speaking staff are extremely friendly and knowledgeable about the whole region and can assist with all holiday plans for time in the city or excursions around the region. A surprisingly “big-city” gay welcome and experience awaits the smart gay traveler in this cozy mountain retreat town.

The dry desert-like climate almost guarantees hot sunny days for enjoying outdoor activities coupled with warm nights where outdoor dining is the perfect end to a high-altitude day.

A sophisticated local culture blends with a simpler, unhurried lifestyle for a perfectly relaxing vacation. Great sights and experiences by day plus restaurants, bars, and cafes offer a multitude of nightlife entertainment options including gay and gay-friendly establishments. Late at night the Aristides Villanueva is the street for dining out and of course the action starts at about 10PM as with all Argentine dinners. Here you will find a festive atmosphere with large patios full of locals and tourists indulging themselves at restaurants offering every International culinary delight imaginable plus, of course, the renowned Argentine Parillas, where beef is a heavenly delight especially when accompanied by a local Mendoza vintage red wine. All at prices lower than almost any other major vacation destination in the world today!

After dinner a leisurely stroll, perhaps some refreshingly cool Crema Helada---ice cream---and a visit to a local gay bar will be the perfect end to a fun-filled day. Either Queen or La Reserva Pub---the major LGBT bars in town---located in the heart of downtown Mendoza will be open and waiting to entertain you until dawn, or perhaps even later. On the weekends the city is very much alive at sunrise and as some people end their day almost as many vacationers are making an early start to theirs!

It's easy to understand why so many smart gay travelers are including a visit to Mendoza on their South American holiday adventures. Suddenly it's being recognized for much more than just the annual wine festival in March.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Court Overturns Ruling That Authorized Gay Marriage

Courtesy of the Buenos Aires Herald
A Judge ordered to suspend the first gay wedding that had been scheduled for December 1st in Buenos Aires City after the ruling that authorized the marriage was overturned.
The head of the Civil Court---85 Marta Gómez Alsina---ordered to suspend the wedding of Alex Freyre and José María Di Bello.
Buenos Aires City General Attorney Pablo Tonelli said that the "Civil Registry where they were supposed to get married has already notified us of the decision by the Judge to suspend it."
The wedding of Freyre and Di Bello had been authorized by a ruling ordered by Judge Gabriela Seijas.
Supreme Court Justice Carlos Fayt said Argentina's highest tribunal is currently analyzing a ruling on the possible legalization of same-sex marriages, as the first gay wedding was suspended following an appeals court ruling. The case now awaits a final decision in the hands of the Supreme Court.
Gay activists were demonstrating on December 1st in Buenos Aires in a move to press the authorities to go forward with a law draft to legalize homosexual marriages.
Judge Gabriela Seijas issued a second ruling in favour of the same-sex marriage, thus confirming her first ruling allowing on the legalization of gay marraige.
There is no indication as to how long the Supreme Court will take to reach a conclusion for this appeal.