Thursday, December 23, 2010

Enchanting Chez Wadi---Buzios, Brazil

Lush Tropical Gardens Surround The Swimming Pool

By Roy Heale

Every now and then during my travels I am fortunate enough to stay in remarkable accommodations that have their own unique and memorable features. Such was the case when I walked though the front door of Chez Wadi Pousada in Buzios, Brazil. The aura of peace and tranquility was instantly apparent, but perhaps more importantly I immediately felt right at home. Located just about 100 meters from the Manguinhos Beach, Chez Wadi is the perfect place to stay and enjoy all that Buzios offers the LGBT traveler. Gay-owned and operated by Waldyr Abifadel, Chez Wadi is dedicated to perfection and ensuring that every guest experiences a flawless stay at his home. Certainly Waldyr's amazing hospitality is the reason that his pousada stands out from the crowd of accommodations available in Buzios.

The luxurious, yet warm and cozy, furnishings are complemented by Waldyr's personal collection of original artworks, mementos and sculptures from his personal global travels, and an extensive book collection. All of this combines together creating a very “home-away-from home” spirit throughout the property. The bold and rich color schemes combined with beautiful natural stone floors and wooden or leather furniture constantly encourage relaxing pleasure.

Living Area

A kitchen and bar with an outdoor patio plus swimming pool in the lush tropical gardens complete the amenities for total vacation enjoyment. A full buffet breakfast is served every morning on the garden patio and drinks and light meals are available throughout the day. Waldyr will even demonstrate his expert culinary skills and plan a special dinner upon request, with sufficient advance notice.

The eight rooms are large, modern and complete with every personal convenience. Each room is unique and several small buildings located at the rear of the property house the accommodations. They are well appointed and tastefully designed to complement the lush tropical environment so as to appear unobtrusive.

Guest Accommodations

The lush tropical gardens are manicured daily by the staff gardener and they provide the perfect environment for relaxing in a chair or hammock plus lounging poolside. Or the short five minute walk to the expansive Manguinhos Beach allows for surfside enjoyment in the hot tropical sun.

Strolling along the beach for about fifteen minutes will take you to the small Porto da Barra village and gastronomical center where you will find the fishermen's wharf, a fish market, the old pier, and several gourmet restaurants with ocean views. This is also the original location where the first vacation homes were built on the Buzios peninsula.

Chez Wadi is located a short fifteen minute taxi ride from the center of Buzios. This means it is very easy to head into town and enjoy the shops, cafes, restaurants, and bars that are the main attraction in the small seaside village. It is also very easy to travel around the peninsula in a rented dune buggie and visit the numerous beaches for which Buzios is world renowned.

After purchasing the land Waldyr designed and built his dream home. Shortly thereafter he began receiving his many friends as guests in his new abode. Because of his generous, perfect hospitality his friends encouraged him to add more bedrooms and begin offering his services to everyone. Thus Chez Wadi was born a few years later and now enjoys a reputation as the perfect pousada in Buzios.

A great location, luxurious living quarters, close to the beach and gourmet dining---what more do you need for a completely relaxing gay vacation or honeymoon?

Manguinhos Beach and Jetty

Although Waldyr welcomes all guests to his home, he also demonstrates the true essence of the meaning of “gay-friendly” accommodations. He strives for perfection in every detail around the pousada and, in my opinion, completely achieves his goals. If you are planning a trip to Buzios be sure and check out the availability at Chez Wadi where you are guaranteed to receive a big gay welcome for a perfect holiday.

For More Information Visit:

Friday, December 17, 2010

Penguins, Dolphins, and Welsh History in Patagonia, Argentina

Artist's Rendering of Penguin Colony
By Roy Heale

One of the most fascinating and enjoyable day trips from Puerto Madryn, Argentina is the journey south to visit the penguin reserve at Punta Tombo. With stops along the way for Dolphin watching and a traditional Welsh Tea in the historic town of Gaiman this is a full day of unequaled activities. The Flamenco Tour agency offers this day trip starting at about 9AM in the morning and returning to Puerto Madryn by about 6PM. With bilingual tour guides who are knowledgeable on the region and comfortable vehicles, this day trip is a must for those who enjoy nature and unique experiences.

Penguin Crossing

The small peninsula of Punta Tombo is on the Argentinian Patagonian coastline. Thousands of tourists gather here to be amazed, entertained, and educated by one of the most fascinating shows performed by nature at the Magellan penguin colony. Approximately half a million penguins come every year in order to breed. The first of them arrive in September and stay until about mid-March, but the best time to observe them is after November, once the babies are born. One of the greatest features of this Nature Reservation is the fact that you can actually walk among the penguins, follow them and learn their habits, see how they feed their babies, the rites of pairing, the fights for the defense of their territories, how they build their nests, and the unending walks they take to and from the ocean. This is a truly singular experience with wonderful photo opportunities. Penguins and their individual style of waddling and behavioral patterns are always entertaining.

Punta Tombo is also a paradise for other sea birds that have chosen this site to nest. Kelp gulls and dolphin gulls, skuas, two species of cormorants---the king cormorant and the rock shag---steamerducks, snowy sheathbills, and several species of terns and giant petrels all make their nests in this region. Be sure to bring your binoculars to enjoy the bird watching.

Dolphin Watching

At Puerto Rawson the boat tours head out to sea where the dolphin sightings are a major attraction.

Usually the Commerson's dolphins---called Toninas locally---and also known as bottlenose dolphins, can be observed year-round. This is one of the few places in the world where these dolphins may be watched in their natural environment. Semi-rigid boats leave from Rawson's harbor in the afternoon because in the mornings the dolphins remain feeding in the ocean depths. Theses dolphins are not at all shy and love to dart back and forth in front of the boats' bows and leap into the air performing a great show for the passengers on board. On one boat trip it is almost guaranteed that you will be able to observe numerous of these fascinating sea creatures having fun in their natural environment.

For a change of pace the next stop is a visit to the town of Gaiman where the first settlers arrived in 1865 by boat from Wales. These immigrants were escaping from the English domination of their homeland as well as from the attempt of the latter to impose their culture upon them. They were looking for a virgin territory to be able to establish the "New Wales" where they could follow their own rules and customs without being attacked. Patagonia offered this safe haven. Today much of the Welsh culture is still apparent in the historic buildings, architectural style, and street names. Even the Welsh language is still spoken and taught in the schools, and real Welsh Tea Houses are open for all to enjoy a traditional Welsh Afternoon Tea. The Welsh village essence and small farms retain the charm and character created by these original settlers even in today's modern society. This is a bona fide step back in time with historical overtones for an incomparable Patagonia experience.

Welsh Tea House Gaiman

From wildlife to local history this day trip from Puerto Madryn is a fascinating education of the local culture and yore. The gay and gay-friendly staff at Flamenco Tour agency will be happy to arrange this journey for your enjoyment and will also ensure that you learn from your time spent with nature and yesteryear.

For More Information Visit:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sun, Surf, and Fabulous Beaches---Buzios, Brazil

Sarah Mar  Restaurant at Ferradura Beach

By Roy Heale

Just one hundred and twenty miles north of Rio de Janeiro lies a small peninsula known as Armação dos Búzios. It is only eight kilometers long and adorned with over twenty magnificent beaches which are bathed in brilliant sunshine year-round. Some beaches are small and accessible only by short hikes or water taxis and others are expansive, sandy stretches of shoreline with restaurants, cafes, and bars. The diversity and options which these beaches offer creates the perfect setting for vacations in the sun with fun outdoor activities. No wonder this small Brazilian paradise has already been discovered by numerous LGBT travelers seeking the perfect relaxing gay-getaway.

Buzios has a long history as a small fishing community and holiday destination. But in 1964, when Brigitte Bardot---super model, actress, and icon of the sixties---posed for photographs in Búzios wearing a bikini swimsuit, which was a new rage at the time, the peninsula gained a new reputation. Naturally a beautiful screen goddess in a skimpy swimsuit declaring this small fishing village to be an “aphrodisiacal wonderland” proved to be more than enough to launch an entire industry of tourism which is still thriving today. In her honor you can stroll along the Bardot Cove and on the Orla Bardot you will find a statue of her sitting on a suitcase and gazing out to the ocean. Sunset is the best time here to experience the magic of Buzios and understand the mystique which captivated Bardot in the sixties and lives on today.

With a resident population of about 25,000 people this is a truly international community. The locals have a long history in the community going back several generations. But many of today's residents came to visit Buzios on vacation and then returned later to make this Nirvana their permanent home. Perhaps this is the reason why the peninsula enjoys a reputation for tolerance and acceptance of all visitors including the LGBT traveler. Although this a very typical Brazilian cultural community there is also a strong European influence which leads to comparisons with the French Côte d'Azur towns like Saint Tropez. In the main center of Buzios the narrow cobblestone streets and unique architecture housing restaurants, cafes, bars, and boutiques emanates a sophisticated flair while the countryside offers rich tropical vegetation, rolling hills, spectacular views and, of course, sandy beaches.

Narrow Cobblestone Streets

Although the main attraction here is water sports and beaches, Búzios is also an ideal place for people who appreciate fine dining. There are French, Italian, Moroccan, Thai, and other restaurants to please the most discerning tastes. The influx of foreigners who relocated here is partially the reason for this diversity, having brought the recipes and spices from their native countries. Fish and seafood remain the favorite local dishes because Búzios is surrounded by beaches on all sides and an ocean plentiful with a variety of seafood. The popular Brazilian “Buffet By The Kilo” is well represented in Buzios by Boom Restaurant where the choices are incredible from salads, to local hot entrees, or meats cooked to order on the assado. At Chez Michou there is a wide range of sweet and savory crepes which are perfect at any time of the day. For gourmet dinning at night be sure to visit Patio Havana for great food and entertainment accompanied by ocean views. Almost every restaurant offers a Catch of the Day but the real delight is at the Fish Shanty on the promenade where the catch is literally direct from the ocean, to the grill, and to your table. Or perhaps some Argentine beef at Don Juan is an option from seafood delights. Whatever you are craving it is all available in Buzios and always with a different view.

Almost every accommodation on the peninsula is gay-welcoming but during my visit I was fortunate enough to experience two of the gay and lesbian owned pousadas. First I stayed at Chez Wadi where the gay owners strive for---and achieve---perfection in making you feel right at home from the moment you walk through the front door. Located just 100 meters from the expansive Manguinhos Beach, Chez Wadi offers ten air conditioned large rooms in a tropical garden with a swimming pool and artistically furnished common areas. This quiet location and carefully manicured lush tropical flora is the perfect place to relax and yet still be close to all the other attractions of Buzios. Secondly, I stayed at the lesbian owned Our House which is the only exclusively gay resort in Brazil. Located just a ten minute walk to downtown and about the same distance to the popular Ferradura Beach, Our House offers eight rooms with ocean views, a large swimming pool, a rustic cafe area where breakfast is served, an entertainment lounge, and more. Owners Maria and Giselle endeavor to provide a safe and comfortable place for gay vacationers to enjoy exclusive privacy and relax in a totally gay environment. They also offer a wide range of hiking or biking eco-tours along some of the peninsula's most beautiful trails and countryside. This is a great location, with great views, and perfect hosts.

Forno Beach
Naturally the beaches and water activities are the main attraction and Buzios offers everything imaginable including snorkeling, surfing, kite-surfing, fishing, ocean kayaking, windsurfing, sailing, fishing, hiking, and more. Of course simply relaxing on the beach and swimming in the crystal-clear blue waters is a must! On one side of the peninsula the waters are slightly cooler with stronger waves for the surfers and the other provides calm, warm water for less strenuous sea sports. Whatever the preference for activities, the diversity of more than twenty large and small beaches offers beach-goers of all ages the perfect place to spend the hot sunny days.

No visit to Buzios is complete without at least one boat trip onto the Atlantic Ocean coupled with visits to the secluded beaches and scenery that is not readily accessible by land. I was fortunate enough to spend four hours at sea with BuziosNauta hosted by their experienced sailors and tour guides. During this cruise we stopped at four of the more secluded beaches where swimming and snorkeling or relaxing on the beach were enjoyed by all. The boat was well stocked with both alcoholic beverages---mostly Brazilian Caipirinhas---water and soft drinks. Plus in the afternoon our short stops included visits from kayak or boat deliveries of Pizza and fresh prawns. A truly blissful time in the sun on the oceans gentle waves with cool breezes.

Getting around Buzios is easy on foot, by inexpensive taxi, or you can rent bicycles or dune buggies to explore more of the peninsula's beaches and lush tropical scenery. However, make sure you have a map and good navigator as the narrow, winding and curved country roads require careful maneuvering.

With a close proximity to Rio and the very gay-friendly atmosphere I could easily understand why Buzios is rapidly becoming increasingly popular as a new favorite South American gay vacation destination. What could be more gay than amazing beaches, calm and clear ocean waters, gourmet dining, gay accommodations, and late night clubs, bars, and entertainment? All of this at reasonable and affordable prices with a tropical climate for surf and sun gay get-aways. Make sure you add Buzios to your upcoming vacation plans and you won't be disappointed.

For More Information Visit:                 

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Valdez Peninsula---An Open-Air Zoo

By Roy Heale

Located about 1400 kms south of Buenos Aires in Patagonia, the Valdez Peninsula is an astonishing sanctuary of wild life, unique in the world. It is protected by a group of National and Provincial Parks know as the Reservations of Punta Norte, Caleta Valdés, Punta Delgada, Punta Pirámides and the Isla de los Pájaros (The Birds Island). It is home to an important breeding population of the endangered southern right whale as well as the southern elephant seals and southern sea lions. The orcas in this area have developed a unique hunting strategy to adapt to local coastal conditions.

The Peninsula is connected to the mainland by the narrow strip of land 35 kilometers long called Ameghino Isthmus with the Gulf San Jose on one side and the Gulf Nuevo on the other. Here you will find the entrance to the Park and an Interpretive Center where you can learn about all of the wildlife on the Peninsula before you begin the 400km journey around the coastline. The Valdez Peninsula has been called an “open-air” zoo where the close-up observation of wildlife is a unique experience. Around the Peninsula the land is flat, very arid and desert-like, with shrubbery and wildlife. But along the coast are white limestone cliffs dropping down to the clear blue Atlantic Ocean. This creates a spectacular rocky coastline with beautiful beaches where the sea mammals are in abundance.

Punta Piramides Coastline

Puerto Piramides Village

The town of Puerto Madryn is just 200kms from the Peninsula and is the acclaimed center for all of the tours and excursions available for wildlife observation. The gay-friendly Flamenco Tour agency with English speaking staff are experts when it comes to planning your time around the Peninsula. They organize daily tours for whale-watching, observing the sea lions, and learning all about this wildlife reserve. They can also assist with gay-friendly accommodations and other regional tours.

A typical day trip organized by Flamenco Tour begins at about 8AM with a pick-up at your lodgings. Your tour guide and host for the day will be fluent in English and Spanish plus they will be extremely knowledgeable on everything the region has to offer its visitors. The first stop will be the Interpretive Center to prepare you for the wildlife spectacle ahead. From there you will proceed to Puerto Piramedes which is the only village on the Peninsula and is the boarding point for the whale watching boats. Once aboard your Zodiac vessel the next two hours will prove to be an incredible experience as you will see the Southern Right Whale close-up and playful.

 After your boat ride you will enjoy lunch at the Quimey Quipan---Friendly Welcome---ocean side restaurant, where you can enjoy authentic local cuisine plus of course the catch of the day! The view here is relaxing and peaceful with excellent home-cooked meals.

Next stop on the tour is Punta Delgada where a short walk down the cliffs is rewarded by Sea Lions and their cubs stretched out along the beach enjoying the sunshine. Then at Punta Cantor you will see more of these enormous mammals followed by the Magellenic Penguin Colony at Caleta Valdes. If you are lucky---as was the case on my tour---at Punta Norte you will catch a glimpse of the very rare Orcas.

Sea Lions At Punta Delgada

 This Flamenco Tour excursion is about eleven hours where the wonders of nature will constantly amaze you plus the beautiful cliffs and beaches will delight you. No wonder it is called an open-air zoo as the sights of so much different wildlife in its natural environment is truly unique to this region.

For More Information Visit:

Flamenco Tour Office in Puerto Madryn

Friday, October 29, 2010

Where Nature Is Close At Hand---Puerto Madryn, Argentina

Puerto Madryn's Expansive White Sandy Beach

By Roy Heale

Named in 1865 by the original settlers in honor of a Welsh Baron, the Atlantic coastal town and seaside resort of Puerto Madryn is renowned as the whale watching capital of Argentina. It is also the gateway to the Peninsula Valdes World Natural Heritage sanctuary since 1999 and a major wildlife conservation area. The region encompasses approximately 50 kilometers of beaches and most ocean bays are overlooked by dramatic white limestone cliffs which accentuate the blue Atlantic waters. Every kind of outdoor activity imaginable is available including scuba diving, windsurfing, sport fishing, mountain biking, hiking, rafting, sea kayaking, white water rafting, and of course wildlife excursions. The beaches themselves are a major attraction during the hot summer months for relaxing days on the shores and cooling swims in the Atlantic Ocean. No wonder that LGBT travelers have discovered this eco-friendly outdoor playground. Flamenco Tour agency of Puerto Madryn has specialized in discovering gay or gay-friendly accommodations and activities in this area.


Penguin Colony

Located about 1400 kilometers from Buenos Aires in the Patagonian Province of Chubut, Puerto Madryn is currently the fastest growing city in Argentina. Although tourism plays a major role in the local economy the aluminum and fishing industries are the major economic engines. The deep sea port is one of Argentina's primary merchant vessel destinations along with cruise ship stopovers during the warmer months. The thriving community is bustling with activities during the months of October to May when tourists can enjoy an outdoor vacation full of wildlife and natural adventures for unforgettable sights and unique photographic safaris for documenting their travels.

The townsite is also the major hub for daily tours into the wildlife sanctuaries for whale watching, sea lion observations, visits to the penguin colony, Welsh Tea in the Rio Chubut valley, dolphin watching, and all the extreme sports activities. The large Gulf Nuevo is skirted by a sandy beach approximately five kilometers long creating the main attraction in Puerto Madryn and a beautiful promenade extends from one end to the other. Along this ocean boardwalk there are many statues, sculptures, the town's main pier, sand dunes, and of course restaurants on the beach with spectacular views. Across the street with uninterrupted ocean views are shops, hotels, apartments, tourist services, restaurants, and more. But the natural coastline has not been spoiled with a constant string of high-rise buildings as is the case in so many other resort towns with large beaches and ocean views. Everything about this community seems to have been designed with nature in mind and the industrial areas are located far from the natural landscape. Rainfalls are scarce in the almost desert-like environment so a hot, dry holiday in the sun is almost guaranteed!

Sea Lion Colony

A wide variety of hotel accommodations or apartment rentals are available in Puerto Madryn and some of the surrounding towns have smaller, limited capacity, hotels. The gay and gay-friendly, English speaking staff at Flamenco Tour agency can assist you on where to stay, which tours to enjoy, bookings for any sports activity, and general local advice such as where to dine. With over three decades of experience Flamenco Tour is the only travel operator in town specializing in LGBT travel. They have pre-selected gay friendly hotels, tour guides, and local vendors in order to ensure a positive gay experience when visiting this outdoor adult resort area.

Ocean View Dining

So if you are looking for where to go and experience nature close at hand then Puerto Madryn is your gateway to eco-tourism and a very unique outdoor gay vacation by the ocean. This is nature's own seaworld without the carnival side-shows offered at most wildlife parks. Experience mother nature's wonders in their inherent environment, but where you can almost reach out and touch the whales and dolphins.

For More Information Visit:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Buenos Aires Lovers Locale

Torcuato & Regina, Bar-Bistro

By Roy Heale

Latin lovers are world renowned for their passion and intimate love affairs. Perhaps the most famous of these romantic couples was Juan Domingo Peron and Maria Eva Duarte de Peron---more commonly known as Evita. But prior to this historic coupling the 20th President of Argentina, Maximo Marcelo Torcuato de Alvear, met with a stellar Portuguese opera singer, Regina Pacini, whereupon another great love affair began. The latter couple is less renowned globally but equally immortalized in Argentina's political history. Now Buenos Aires is home to a meeting place named in their honor Torcuato & Regina Bar-Bistro where lovers come together---including same-sex partners---for great dining and casual encounters over cocktails.

Located on the edge of the Plaza San Martin with its magnificent, mature Ombú trees and adjacent to the historic facade of the Circulo Militar building, the Torcuato & Regina Bar-Bistro is conveniently located at the Plaza San Martin, Linea C, Subway station. The sidewalk cafe tables plus the huge windows provide a perfect view for relaxing and dining, or simply meeting for drinks. Close to the downtown business district, many historic sights, and the bustle of the Florida Street pedestrian mall, it is also the perfect respite for a break from strenuous activities affording time to stop and smell the roses in an otherwise frenetic day.

In keeping with the tradition whereby Torcuato showered Regina with bouquets of red and white roses during their courtship and throughout their marriage, a red rose is a predominant theme at this Bistro.

The décor throughout Torcuato & Regina offers a bright and airy, yet cozy atmosphere. A classic French chateau effect is created by the use of rich-colored polished wood, red and white accents of floral patterned wall coverings, a decorative high ceiling, chandeliers, and light tomato-red veiled drapes. The grand curved oak, paneled bar with a white marbled counter-top is the perfect place to relax and sample the extensive wine selection, enjoy a coffee break, or be refreshed by one of the nine different brands of bottled water. All of this is served by handsome bartenders and waiters eager to make your experience an enjoyable one. The bistro side of the complex offers casual and intimate dining with a diverse international menu also offering traditional Argentine cuisine with a modern flair. From hot and cold appetizers, plus light salads to pasta and pizzas plus assado meats or grilled fish, the extensive menu offers a gourmet selection for any dining occasion. Then there's also the desserts with perfect taste sensations to satisfy any sweet tooth craving. But perhaps the specialty of the maison is the extensive wine list prepared by the sommelier and General Manager, Alejandro Pagani, who will be pleased to guide you through your wine selections.

So now the LGBT community of Buenos Aires and visitors to the city have a gay-friendly place to meet and enjoy conversations in a tranquil atmosphere with the light strains of Latin jazz music in the background. It is also becoming a gathering place where---in keeping with the traditions of Latin romances--singles might begin their own love affair after that perfect same-sex encounter. Whatever your reason for a visit to Torcuato & Regina Bar-Bistro it is guaranteed to be a perfectly memorable experience and you will probably fall in love with the place.

Location: Avenida Santa Fe 772, Buenos Aires, Argentina, C1059ABO
Phone: +54.11.4312-9410/3349
Hours of Operation: Mon – Fri 8:00 am - 1:00 am
                               Sat: 9:00 am - 1:30 am
Visa, Amex, Mastercard Accepted
For More Information Visit:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Latin American Spanish Classes and More in Buenos Aires

Historic Buenos Aires Architecture

By Roy Heale

There are many reasons why LGBT tourists are flocking to the new Latin American gay mecca of Buenos Aires, Argentina for vacations and the recent numbers from the Argentine Ministry of Tourism indicate a 30% increase of international travelers since this time last year. During today's global economic restraints one of the most important reasons for this increase is the lower costs for most vacations in Argentina. But many other factors have also contributed to the higher volume of travelers and they include niche market holidays for cosmetic surgery, dental enhancements, Botox treatments, tango dance lessons, and Spanish lessons. The latter of these is becoming a new growth tourism industry as the Spanish language is becoming more important globally and the Latin American dialect versus European Spanish is more desirable for practical purposes back home.

Although many companies offer a variety of travel services in Argentina, there is one very gay-freindly company---myArgentinahome---which specializes in custom designed holidays which include the accommodations, tours, transfers, Spanish lessons, and more. Owner Max Gotz speaks English fluently---in fact you would think it was his mother language---plus French. Gotz operates his company with a high standard of efficiency not always common in Latin America's laid back lifestyle. He and his staff will plan a vacation from start to finish with all the personal touches for individual needs.

Morning Coffee in La Boca Cafe

The accommodations offered by myArgentinahome are vacation apartment rentals in the most popular Recoleta and Palermo gay-friendly communities of Buenos Aires and other Argentine cities. Most of these apartments are real homes for Argentine residents which they rent to visitors. This is unlike other vacation apartment rentals which are more like hotel rooms with kitchens. Each apartment home comes complete with all luxuries including cable TV, WiFi, full kitchens, and more for a perfect home-away-from-home experience. If you are also studying Spanish this makes for the perfect quiet, peaceful environment for your class assignments and extra studies. This also ensures a genuine Argentine experience while visiting this Latin American mecca.

For the past seven years myArgentinahome has been working with LGBT foreigners to create the perfect visit to Argentina and also to assist those who have decided to purchase real estate in Argentina or relocate to this South American country. Property management, legal, and tax accounting services are a cornerstone of the business and allows Gotz to provide a complete turnkey package for any requests made by visitors or investors.

With the increase in demand for Spanish lessons Gotz has developed relationships with the best schools for beginners, intermediate, advanced, and conversational Spanish classes at reasonable prices offering a variety of course durations to fit almost any individual requests.

Interior of Historic Cafe Tortoni

The website offers a comprehensive listing and photos of the apartment rentals, tours, cities, and other details of the services which they can provide. Whether it be a tour of a local estancia, the Iguazu Falls, the Tigre Delta Islands, or a visit to the wine country in Mendoza, the expert staff at myArgentinahome are ready to assist with any plans and ensure a hassle- free visit to this spectacular and vast country.

So for those who have already heard about the Paris of South America and are ready for dazzling gay nightlife, Spanish Classes, a Nip 'n Tuck, or just a relaxing holiday in gay-friendly Buenos Aires then myArgentinahome is the answer to all the travel needs for a flawless visit.

For More Information Visit:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Buenos Aires Gay Pub Crawl

Out & About Staff at Amerika
By Roy Heale

When you are visiting a city which is the size of Buenos Aires with a population of over 13 million then the nightlife is bound to be overwhelming and full of choices. With so many bars, clubs, cafes, and restaurants in several different neighborhoods it's a veritable smorgasbord and for the newcomer this can be a real challenge. For this reason the expert and friendly staff at Out & About have created the Thursday night Buenos Aires Gay Pub Crawl. If you join this group you will meet other tourists from all over the world and be guided safely through the nightlife maze by local experts. It's a great introduction to what this gay mecca has to offer at night for LGBT visitors.

Every Thursday the group meets for registration at the initial location---which may vary from week to week---for the first hour of mingling, getting to know each other, complimentary wine or beer, and tapas. At this gathering you will learn the itinerary for the night's adventure ahead and what to expect on the guided walking tour.

Usually the evening will include three pub or bar venues and then one major night club for the final stop. On my particular Pub Crawl we began at 10 Mil y Pico Bar in Palermo. Here in a cozy atmosphere the tapas were great, the drinks flowed, and everybody got to know each other very quickly. The Out & About staff are amazingly welcoming and they make it their business to see that everyone is enjoying themselves. This sets the tone for the perfect evening which lies ahead.

Kyle, Danny, & Jared (from Left)

Kyle, Danny, and Jared from Out & About are great hosts and obviously love there job introducing visitors and locals to the vibrant Buenos Aires club scene. Even though it was Kyle's last Pub Crawl before he headed back to his home town for a while, his enthusiasm was infectious. We moved on to Quiroz, Koh Lanta, and Sitges before our final stop at Amerika. Each with its own unique style and atmosphere including the entertaining drag show at Sitges.

Sitges Drag Show

Each venue had prepared a special complimentary welcome shooter for the group and offered special drink prices to each tour member. Also, the group is treated as V.I.P.s and there are no long line-ups for nightclub admission. This is not a tour where you want to have any plans for the next morning! Especially as Amerika allows you to dance and party until dawn!

If you happen to be in town on your birthday then this tour is FREE! Just bring a copy of some ID to the registration venue and you will have the best birthday party you can---or cannot---remember. With a price tag of approximately $35US this is remarkably good value for an escorted night on the town and a non-stop party.

Relaxing at Quiroz

Tickets are available form Out & About (0054 911-3036 1361) or they are on sale at Pink Point Buenos Aires.

Let the local experts at Out & About get you started on the right path with a sampling of the dazzling nightlife available in this renowned gay mecca of South America---Buenos Aires.

For More Information Visit: or

Friday, October 1, 2010

Santiago, Chile---A Metropolis Nestled in the Andes Mountains

                                                   Cerro Santa Lucia Park Entrance

By Roy Heale

Like a Wild West wagon train forming a circle at night time, the snow-capped Andes Mountains form a natural circle around the city of Santiago, Chile. Nestled in these peaks the city has a metro population of just over 7 million people and is situated just a short one hour drive to the Pacific Ocean coastal towns of Valparaiso and Vina del Mar. The Republic of Chile is a long, narrow strip of coastal land wedged between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean---rather like a large snake--- which has some of the most beautiful beaches in South America and the capital city of Santiago is very gay-friendly.

During the past decade homophobia has all but vanished in Chile and same-sex relations have been legal since 1998. Currently the Congress of Chile is considering a law allowing civil unions between same-sex couples and several notable media celebrities have come out and declared their support for gay rights. This has led to an increase in the number of gay businesses especially in Santiago.

The urban renewal of Santiago is obvious as magnificent new office towers rise above beautiful centuries old estates and Spanish colonial architecture. The CTC Telecommunications Tower is literally the world's largest cell phone and dominates the Santiago skyline contrasting the nearby Bellavista neighbourhood with narrow streets and artsy boutiques of the city's bohemian quarter. This is a very clean, safe city and affords many enjoyable walks in the different tourist and residential neighborhoods or expansive public parks.

CTC Telecommunications Tower

Any visit to Santiago should commence by riding the funicular to see the Statue of the Virgin atop the hill of Cerro San Cristobal and observe the city below. Many of the gay discos and bars are located in the Barrio Bellavista at the foot of Cerro San Cristobal. The nearest Metro station is Baquedano in Plaza Italia from where you cross Avenue Providencia and then over the Rio Mapocho bridge placing you in the Barrio. Local restaurants, colorful cafes, bars and night clubs can all be found here and it is one of the most fun communities in Santiago for both straight and gay visitors alike---it's no gay ghetto, but rather a truly integrated district. The other concentration of gay bars can be found in the downtown area a short walk from the beautiful park Cerro Santa Lucia and close to the pedestrian shopping streets. Recommended by some local residents for late night clubbing the Bokhara, Bunker, and Fausto are worthy of visits. The clubs don't usually get going until about 1:30AM and then the party can last until dawn.

Whether you start your day early for exploring or sleep until noon, the city of Santiago has much to offer for sightseeing and entertainment. The Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino is Santiago's finest museum, with a beautifully presented collection of pre-Hispanic art assembled from the whole South American continent. Highlights include elaborate Meso-American incense burners, Andean textiles dating back as far as 3,000 years, and Maya carvings---not to be missed for any reason. Or you can try a fresh-as-it-comes seafood lunch at the stately Mercado Central, surrounded by market stalls packed with glistening sea bass and salmon, buckets of salt-crusted oysters, mussels or clams. La Chascona is the former house of Pablo Neruda---Chile 's Nobel Prize-winning poet---which is packed to the rafters with bizarre and beautiful objects, from Victorian dolls and African carvings to music boxes and paperweights. Preserved as a museum, it makes for a fascinating visit. Without a doubt the best place to hunt for souvenirs is the lively Los Dominicos market, where you'll find a huge range of beautiful handicrafts as well as antiques, books, fossils, a restaurant, and live music with dancing on weekends. Plus the many Spanish palaces, castles and historic buildings are a photographer's dream come true.

Two historic barrios are worthy of a visit to enjoy a journey back in time and experience part of Santiago's history. The Barrio Londres and Paris is a little bit of Europe in the heart of South America with narrow, cobblestone streets and 1920s commercial architecture. Whereas the Barrio Concha and Toro is of the same era but with mansions and large residences from the early 20th Century centered around the main Brazil Plaza and fountain. Both barrios offer several cafes and restaurants plus resting places for a leisurely visit.

Barrio Concha & Toro
Barrio Londres & Paris

Throughout the city a variety of restaurants and bars will serve authentic local dishes to delight any discerning palate. The papa fritas---fried potatoes--- are a Chilean specialty, particularly in a dish called Chorillana where the potatoes are combined with eggs, onions, beef and sausage. Just remember that the ketchup comes in a green container and the chili sauce in a red container!

Accommodations throughout Chile range from back-packer's retreats to modern luxury hotels and everything in between---all at very reasonable prices. However, exclusively gay accommodations are hard to find. In Santiago the gay-owned and very gay-friendly Boutique Apartments Belles Artes offer a wide range of apartment rentals in the heart of the Belles Artes district. For very reasonable rates these apartments are luxurious with all modern conveniences and make the perfect home during your visit to the city. They are ideally situated in the heart of the city close to the GLBT nightlife, the subway, and the beautiful Cerro Santa Lucia park. The very gay cafe Tomodachi is also just around the corner from these apartments for an enjoyable time with fascinating people watching on their street side patio.

It is important to note that many visitors to Chile are required to purchase an entry visa for a cost of approximately US$120.00 (credit cards accepted) which is valid for the life of your passport. However, this entry fee is more than offset by the very low cost of living and extremely inexpensive dining and entertainment throughout Chile.

So in the longest and narrowest country in the world renowned for copper, salmon, and excellent wines, be prepared for a uniquely gay South American experience and a vacation full of hot Latin memories.

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Pink Point Buenos Aires Opens Its Doors

Preparing for Opening Day

Opening Night Celebrations

By Roy Heale

Recently the Argentine Ministry of Tourism announced that international visitors to this country have increased by 30% year-over-year based upon numbers for June 2010. It is almost certain that many of these travelers are from the global gay and lesbian community. The capital city of Buenos Aires is the number one popular destination in Argentina and recently it has been dubbed the new “gay mecca” of South America. So it seems appropriate that the FIRST Pink Point LGBT Information Centre in South America opened its doors in Buenos Aires during September 2010. Following hot on the heels of Argentina being the FIRST country on the continent to legalize same-sex marriages nationally, the timing of this launch could not be more appropriate. Argentina is truly joining the ranks as one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world.

Modeled after the successful Pink Point Amsterdam, which began during the Gay Games in 1998---since then has been expanded into Barcelona and London---Pink Point Buenos Aires is a convenient ground floor store-front location in the heart of downtown near the intersection of the renowned Florida and Lavalle pedestrian streets. Initially it will be open daily at the Galeria Luxor, Lavalle 669, from 10:00 to 20:00 HRS (Sundays 16:00 to 20:00HRS) and staffed by multi-lingual employees.

Erik Hovenga Diaz

“We wanted to bring together all the gay and gay-friendly businesses in Buenos Aires under one roof and provide a venue with information about the city's LGBT social life,” says Erik Hovenga Diaz, Director of The Royal Family and main instigator of the Pink Point Buenos Aires. “Visitors will be able to pick-up brochures, gay maps, ask questions, and learn about the vibrant Buenos Aires gay community,” continues Hovenga Diaz. They will also be able to book real gay tours of the city and surrounding attractions hosted by knowledgeable local gay residents, join special Pink Point excursions, learn about all of Argentina, and purchase appropriate gay souvenirs or tickets to shows. Future plans include an art gallery focusing on the works of local LGBT artists. The information center will also be hetero-friendly and inclusive in the information provided.

Pink Point Buenos Aires is a member of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association ensuring that all visitors to the center are connected to the larger global family of LGBT travel specialists.

All of these information services are offered FREE to the tourists and all the hand-out brochures, maps, etc., are provided by the local businesses and tourism agencies. There is also an extensive website providing a great deal of information for tourists to use for research prior to leaving their home town. This could well be the most extensive and comprehensive LGBT information source in Argentina and it is anticipated that additional gay and gay-friendly businesses throughout South America will want to be represented at the center in the future.

Luxor Galeria

In a city with 13 million residents there is a thriving LGBT community, but it is not always easy to find your way around Buenos Aires when you are an international visitor---now the Pink Point center will make this task a little easier. No gay visit to Buenos Aires will be complete without stopping at the Pink Point center upon arrival in the city to ensure that you learn everything that this gay mecca has to offer for the complete LGBT experience in Buenos Aires and beyond.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

A Buenos Aires Tradition---INSIDE Resto Bar

By Roy Heale

The famous Follies Bergère cabaret of Paris led the way in risqué entertainment in the late nineteenth century. In England “The Full Monty” became a household expression in the 1990s. But today in Buenos Aires one of the renowned main attractions for tourists and locals alike is the dinner and dance at INSIDE RestoBar. This is where, during dinner, the dance is not Tango but rather it refers to some hot, Latin male performers who slowly peel off all their attire with audience participation as the main course.

Visitors to INSIDE RestoBar whether tourists or portenos---as the locals are affectionately known--- all seem to agree on one fact: it's the overall ambiance that makes it a fun place for a unique night out in Buenos Aires. Commencing with the warm and friendly greeting at the door, to the attentive service, the intimate pepper “ritual”, the hands-on entertainment, and good food at modest prices, this has developed into a singular Buenos Aires night-life tradition. For just over seven years INSIDE RestoBar has entertained many satisfied guests from Argentina and around the globe. Known simply as INSIDE to the portenos, just one visit and almost everybody is in agreement upon the uniqueness of the INSIDE experience.

In a city filled with unique attractions this is no small undertaking to achieve such recognition. Just over seven years ago Diego and Matias were working together at Tacla Restaurant, where they had initiated the concept of dining with dancers, when they decided after five years it was time to move on. At first they had both planned to follow other career paths outside of the restaurant industry, but later they decided to open their own restaurant and bar. An extensive real estate search resulted in the current location for INSIDE and the rest, as they say, is now history. During this time they perfected the INSIDE ambiance and friendly tone with amazing staff and cozy décor. After six years Matias decided to move on and spend more time with his family, while Diego has continued on as the sole proprietor to maintain the INSIDE tradition.

Upon arriving at the magnificent, tall carved wooden entrance doors the pleasures awaiting inside are not apparent at first glance. But one step through this narrow entrance and the soft lighting, with a low-key red and black interior, immediately exudes an aura of warmth and intimacy. The lower level includes a friendly small bar and about twenty tables, while the upper mezzanine level is a smoking section---including special air conditioning--- with another dozen or so tables and chairs. The two rooms are surrounded by flat screen televisions for entertainment and closed-circuit video. Altogether the maximum capacity is less than one hundred patrons ensuring a comfortable closeness for all to enjoy.

Diego is a hands-on owner who spends much of his time waiting on tables and greeting customers. His own very warm, Latin personality exudes friendliness and generous hospitality which has become infectious to the other staff members who all follow his lead and have learned from the “master” how to keep their customers happy. “It is always difficult to find good staff for any restaurant. But once you find them and train them, then you have to make sure that they enjoy their work. This way they will stay with you for a long time and get to know the regular customers. Both patrons and employees must enjoy seeing a regular face when they are at INSIDE,” says Diego when asked how he is able to find such wonderful employees and keep them for such a long time in an industry notorious for employee mobility. Diego's successful formula is apparent right from the very first time you visit INSIDE.

An extensive menu with French and Italian influence offers a wide variety of appetizers, a selection of meats, fish, and pasta entrées plus tantalizing desserts. Amazingly all of this is offered at regular competitive prices without the normal surcharge which one would expect at venues where entertainment is included. “I don't believe a premium should be charged for entertainment. It should be just a part of enjoying the INSIDE experience and included in the price of dinner and drinks, yet still remain competitive,” says Diego. A complimentary glass of champagne, lemon liqueur, or coffee rounds out the perfect evening. Menu changes are made on a monthly basis ensuring that regular customers always have fresh dinner choices to accompany the ever changing entertainment offerings. Without a doubt this is one of the best values for your vacation entertainment monies to be found amongst Buenos Aires nightlife.

And then there's the dancers... To use an old phrase, this has to be the icing on the cake! Normally any male dancers would be performing up on a stage and out of reach from the audience. But here at INSIDE this is a truly hands-on experience as the hot, sexy, Latin men roam around the room flaunting their perfect bodies and table hopping with their intricate dance routines and high-energy movements choreographed seductively with audience participation. This brings new meaning to the old phrase “strip tease” with a truly unique INSIDE recipe. Commencing around 11PM several dancers will each perform up to three different numbers culminating in their own Buenos Aires' style Full Monty. “Normally a new dancer will attend with a co-worker who is performing that night and observe the shows before deciding to become a member of the INSIDE roster of performers,”says Diego, when asked how he recruits such unique male talent. “It takes a very special male dancer to join our team and it is not every performer who can meet the INSIDE standards,” continues Diego. The entertaining result is indeed a truly singular INSIDE brand which has gained worldwide recognition.

The only truly gay restaurant in Buenos Aires, INSIDE RestoBar is located at Bartolomé Mitre 1571 in downtown Buenos Aires very close to the Congreso building. It is just a few blocks from Pena or Congreso stations on the Subte Line A. Now it is also open at 8AM for breakfasts and lunches with the main attraction being dinner and dancing until closing time in the wee morning hours. Reservations are recommended for dinner, especially Thursdays through Sundays, by calling 4372 5439 at any time.

So the insider's secret is out---INSIDE RestoBar is one of the main attractions for dinner and dancing in the gay Buenos Aires nightlife scene. It's a main attraction not to be missed when visiting Buenos Aires---the Paris of South America. Move over Follies Bergère as Buenos Aires is making gay entertainment history in several different ways.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Tango Buenos Aires Festival 2010

Tango in La Boca

By Roy Heale
Despite the chilly winter weather at this time of year nothing can dampen their spirit as thousands of dance enthusiasts converge on Buenos Aires for the annual Tango Festival. Recognized as the Tango birthplace, Buenos Aires offers a year-round Tango extravaganza but every year the last two weeks of August provide an in-depth experience of this Argentine cultural and historical identity. This is the global Mecca for dancers who enjoy watching or performing milonga and tango plus the opportunity to meet and observe the masters of the art form as they compete in the Dance World Cup.

Tango knows no boundaries as young and old join together in celebrating their dance heritage. Throughout the city nine different official venues host a variety of musical, dance, and educational performances during the nineteen days of festivities. These buildings themselves are a part of Buenos Aires history and include Teatro Ribera, Galileo Planetarium, Recoleta Cultural Centre, Teatro Coliseum, and much more. Each year a Meeting Point is created which is open every day of the festival holding Tango classes, a permanent art exhibit, a main entertainment stage, and a marketplace. In 2009 the Meeting Point was the historic Harrods store on Florida Street where passers by could window gaze at dancers in action. This year the Meeting Point is the historic Art Deco former El Hogar Banco building at Bartolome Mitre 575 in the heart of downtown Buenos Aires.
Meeting Point 2010
Meeting Point 2009
With exciting performances like the concert with 87 year-old Juan Carlos Godoy performing tango songs from the 1920s and 1930s or the Tango Music under the stars at the Galileo Planetarium and the special children's shows at the Meeting Point it is a true festival for all ages. Plus all over the city and particularly in La Boca, San Telmo, Recoleta, and Palermo local bars, cafes, restaurants, and small theaters celebrate dance in all forms.

The Dance World Cup commencing on August 23rd will award the best dancers in the categories Salon Tango and Stage Tango with over 400 couples from around the globe competing for the prizes.

In addition numerous special activities including conferences, book presentations, films, workshops, exhibits, and more provide something for all dance fans to enjoy.

For all of these reasons the Tango Buenos Aires festival is renowned as the ultimate celebration of dance and music in the world. In 2009 UNESCO recognized the festival as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In the 2010 event---the tenth annual fete---approximately 150 programmed activities with over 500 artists will be staged during the nineteen days of activities.

Tango Buenos Aires is without a doubt one of the most awaited and anticipated events of the city's cultural calendar. During these nineteen days the locals and visitors are treated to the most diverse Tango jubilation of songs, music, and dance. With or without your dancing shoes come and live this unforgettable Tango experience!

Stay tuned for details of the Queer Tango Festival to be held in November 2010

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