Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Sunday Afternoon at the Feria de Mataderos

Zamba Folk Dancers
By Roy Heale

Many visitors to Buenos Aires are already familiar with the well known markets in San Telmo, Palermo, and Recoleta. But if you want a real South American experience, be sure to visit Mataderos to see the gauchos---Argentine cowboys---and their families, who come from the countryside with unique displays of horsemanship, handicrafts, live music, folk dancing, and delicious foods at the Feria de Mataderos. In 2011 this Fair of the Argentine popular handicrafts and traditions celebrates its 25th Anniversary.

This is one of the best-kept secrets in Buenos Aires, a weekly event that takes place during the spring, fall, and winter months on Sundays, from about 11am and until around 8pm---during January there is no Feria at all, and then in February and March they hold a down-sized version on Saturdays nights, starting at about 6pm.

Unique Vendors

All the fun of the gaucho fair takes place in one of the poorest sectors of the capital. Mataderos, and its neighboring barrio of Liniers, were once where cattle traditionally arrived from around the country, were slaughtered, and then shipped out as meat to other parts of the capital. The name Mataderos literally means slaughterhouses – and the area is also often called Nueva Chicago, because of the cattle-killing heritage it shares with America's ‘Windy City’. For this reason there is an interesting mix of cultures including gauchos, porteños, plus migrant workers from Bolivia and Paraguay. The fair represents this colorful combination of traditions, dancing, and handicrafts.

To get to the fair from other parts of Buenos Aires is about a 45-minute-plus adventurous bus ride on one of the following colectivos: 55, 63, 80, 92, 117, 126, 141, 155, and 180. Of these, the 55 and the 92 are the ones that bring you the closest, with the others you may have to walk a little bit. Just ask the bus driver to let you off at the fair (if you are following your map, with the 55 and 92 buses, the exact intersection you need to get off at is Av. Directorio and Av. Lisandro de la Torre).

Inside the Museum Criollo de los Corrales

Once you have arrived you can spend a few hours taking in the gaucho culture by watching the locals perform their folk dances known as zambas, accompanied by live musicians on a nearby outdoor stage. The zamba---not to be confused with the extremely different Brazilian samba---is a pleasure to watch. It is danced in pairs, a staged routine of flirtation in which the man and the woman dance toward each other and then quickly whirl away, waving scarves or handkerchiefs in flirtatious gestures. The dancers wear traditional Argentine costumes from the countryside, often in bright colors. When the men break into rhythmic step dances---which is similar to tap dancing with gaucho boots---  it is very impressive.

Stage Entertainment

With the live band playing folk music on accordions, traditional bombo legüero drums, folk guitars, and vocals, this is a true fiesta, a street party, and people might grab you by the shoulder and laughingly try to pull you into their dancing circle. Participation is the name of the game here and you will feel the friendly Argentine spirit instantly.

Some of the best local Argentine food specialities are available at the outdoor parillas and vendor's booths. Try the BBQ beef or chorizo (sausage) on a bun, fresh fruits, empanadas, and more! Plus the market vendors offer a wide selection of cheeses, meats, wines, pickles, and local produce at low prices. There are also many inexpensive restaurants---most with outdoor seating---offering up delicious Argentine regional treats such as locro, asado, tamales, and torta frita.

Traditional Meats Cooking on a Parilla

Street vendors proffer plenty of local handicrafts, and often these will be some of the best deals in Buenos Aires. Specialities of the Mataderos fair are leather goods, stone and silver jewelry, novelties and good-luck charms molded from clay or other natural materials, key chains, wind chimes, and unique items that make great souvenirs or gifts. Usually the price the seller gives you is what you are expected to pay, although if your Spanish is good bargaining is a possibility.

Perhaps the most fun, interesting event at the Feria de Mataderos is the Carerra de Sortija---the “Race of the Ring”. This usually starts at about 3.30pm along a stretch of the road Av. Lisandro de la Torre, and it is when gauchos race their horses at breakneck speeds towards a small ring hung onto a raised metal frame overhead. Each time a gaucho is successful in spearing the ring, the crowds go wild.

So round-up some companions and spend a Sunday afternoon at the Feria de Mataderos to experience provincial Argentine culture and relaxation. Enjoy the colorful music and dance, wonder at the gaucho horsemanship, try some of the foods, take some awesome photos, and don’t forget to find a singular souvenir to take home as a memory.

For Further Information Visit:

Local Handicrafts

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Gender Identity Law Makes Progress in Argentina

2010 Pride March Buenos Aires
By Roy Heale

Argentina's gay community has been aggressively campaigning for a new “gender identity” law for several years and following the Same-Sex Marriage act of July 2010 they increased the pressure on the national government. Under the motto “Let’s Go For More” Argentina’s gay and lesbian community have been campaigning for a “gender identity” law to enable individuals to change their gender on birth certificates and identity cards. The lack of a specific “gender identity” law has been causing transgendered Argentines difficulties when dealing with the government using documents that no longer matched their expressed gender.

The visibility of the campaign increased on the Saturday following the 2010 Gay Pride parade when thousands celebrated Argentina’s status as the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage. The proposed law had been stuck in Argentina's senate since 2007, but there was greater optimism following the passage of the gay marriage law. “The gay marriage law helped open the doors to discuss LGBT issues in Argentina,” said Socialist Deputy Roy Cortina. “And that's going to be beneficial for the gender identity law”.

Argentina's Congreso

Earlier in November of this year a package of four bills, commonly referred to as the Gender Identity Law, successfully obtained a majority of votes during a joint meeting of the General Legislation and Justice committees of Argentina. Presented earlier this year with the full support of various LGBTQ and trans organizations, the four bills together would make it easier for transgender people to obtain accurate government documentation and services.

Stating that gender identity is an internal and individual experience that may or may not correspond with that assigned at birth, the law would allow name and gender corrections on all documentation through a simple procedure at the National Registry of Persons. Additionally, the text does not set specific requirements for the change of gender, except for the applicant’s request, thus bypassing the need for costly and medical, psychiatric, or surgical treatments.

Currently, transgender people who wish to correct their documentation must go through a lengthy legal process that includes medical and psychological examinations, with no guarantee of a favorable ruling.

“We hope for the rapid advance of the Identity Law in the National Chamber of Deputies, so that the right we currently obtain judicially can be a right for everyone throughout the country,” said Marcela Romero, Secretary General of the Argentine Federation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans people (FALGBT) and President of the ATTTA (Asociación Trasvestis, Transexuales y Transgénero de la Argentina). “We want equality and identity for the trans collective and the opportunity to advance strongly the guarantee of integral health care, which is one of the principal demands of our collective.”

On November 30th., 2011 The Lower House granted preliminary approval to the Gender Identity bill and sent it to the Upper House floor, where senators will continue to debate the new legislation. The much-debated Gender Identity bill, allows Argentina's citizens to officially change their name and sexual identity if they wish to do so, without the need to request a special permission from the courts.

The bill, drafted after four different bills coming from four caucuses in the Lower House, enables transvestites and transsexuals to officially change their name and gender identity no matter what their biological sex is.

As it became clear that the bill would receive preliminary approval, human rights activists and members of several homosexual, transvestite and transsexual rights organizations cheered as lawmakers voted in favour. Members of the Argentine Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals (FALGBT) were present during the Gender Identity bill debate and celebrated its passage through the Lower House.

In neighbouring Uruguay, a law on the right to gender identity was passed in 2009, but the name change procedure requires the involvement of a family court and an evaluation of the person in question by a multidisciplinary team at the civil registry office.

"In Colombia, people can get their names changed on their documents, but not their gender, while in Brazil rulings are being handed down in favour of the identity card change, but only for transsexuals: in other words, people who have actually had surgery," Romero said.

Argentina continues to take positive steps towards equality for its LGBT citizens.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pink Point Buenos Aires Enters Second Year of Service To LGBT Visitors

Patrizia and Erik from Pink Point

By Roy Heale

After the successful inaugural year for Pink Point Buenos Aires plans are now underway for the second year of operations. Pink Point is now the Official LGBT tourist information centre of the Buenos Aires City Government (ENTE de Turismo de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires). A provider of LGBT information, gay city maps, and passes to bars and discos, Pink Point also has Pride articles, excursions, and the regular City informational brochures. The overall aim of Pink Point is to unite gay and gay-friendly businesses to build a stronger community spirit for all LGBT locals and for international visitors, ex-pats, and tourists. In Pink Point's mandate these are the fundamentals for a real gay capital city.

This year Pink Point is selling annual memberships to individuals and businesses. Pink Point Buenos Aires does not receive financial assistance from any local government agencies and needs to raise its own operating funds. Without the support of visitors and residents of Buenos Aires they would not be able to maintain the Pink Point services. Pink Point is a non-profit organisation and needs the reinforcement of local gay businesses to continue providing their FREE visitor services.

Members will be posted in the Pink Pages---the LGBT version of the yellow pages---which is an online guide with listings of all gay related businesses and services (from plumbers to dentists, from doctors to wedding planners). Once a year---commencing in July 2012---a printed version of the Pink Pages guide will be distributed all over the city and in relevant places across the country. The Pink Pages will also be FREE to download from their website and also available for FREE as an App for Smartphones and Ipads.

Every two months a Pink Point Member's event (workshop, talk, function, etc.) will be held starting in March 2012. With expert guest speakers on gay related topics, networking, and social activities, these events will be educational and informative. Also, an Official Pink Point member sticker will be supplied for promotional use by members. A newsletter will be published every two months with the Pink Pages new member updates and local upcoming events and information. There will also be an invitation to the Members' Pink Point Ball, to be held annually during the last week of October commencing in 2012.

Corporate Memberships are only available when businesses agree with the rules of being gay- friendly---a Pink Point document which requires a commitment signature.

The new Pink Point LGBT guide and map to Buenos Aires will be published shortly in conjunction with ENTE de Turismo de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires. This map will be distributed at Pink Point and other tourism locations throughout Buenos Aires and beyond.

For More Informaton Visit: 
Location: Lavalle 669, local 24, Buenos Aires, Argentina or Phone Erik Hovenga:  (+ 5411)  4322-1343

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Guido's Italian Dining Experience, Palermo Chico, Buenos Aires

By Roy Heale

There are some well kept secrets in Buenos Aires and Guido's Cafe-Bar is one of them. This authentic Italian restaurant is well-known to local residents, but is off the beaten track for most tourists. With a kitsch atmosphere this wonderful Italian restaurant offers an array of home-cooked Italian specialties served by smiling waiters. The walls, which are covered with movie posters and pictures featuring a variety of old school Italian actors, gives it a fun edge and a real---if not slightly over the top---Italian feel. It is a small cosy place with a few tables outdoors for patio dining. Reservations are a must if you don't want to be disappointed when the house is full!

Although there is a small menu available, most guests opt for the chef's set meals which differ daily. Dinner is a five course affair, including wines and soft drinks for around US$40 plus gratuity. To start there is an array of hot and cold antipasto---including a wonderful cherry tomato and bocconcini salad---with new and old Italian favorites to choose from. This is followed by two different pasta dishes with fresh home-made pasta combined with local ingredients. Then comes the carni---meat dish---and on this particular night it was a wonderful veal tenderloin in a light, creamy tarragon sauce accompanied by the best french fries I have had in Buenos Aires! If that is not enough for most appetites, then the dessert tray will top off the meal. A selection of home made treats included a unique Tiramisu, chocolate gelato, a pineapple cake, and a chocolate surprise. Throughout the meal there were bottomless bottles of excellent red and white wine offered, plus soft drinks and bottled water. The service is friendly plus unusually fast and efficient compared to other local establishments.
I can't believe I ate the whole thing---a testament to the excellent chef!

Guido's is located in the elegant Palermo Chico barrio at República de la India 2843 facing the Zoo grounds. It is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner but it is recommended to call ahead and check on the opening hours as they have a tendency to vary, phone:(005411) 4802.2391. Dinner begins at 8:30PM which is perfect for those who do not wish to eat late at night, but be sure to allow about three hours to enjoy the many different courses at a leisurely pace.

For Italian food lovers and gourmands this is an absolute must during a visit to Buenos Aires and now my personal favorite Italian restaurant in the city. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

2011 Queer Tango Festival of Buenos Aires

Queer Tango Dancers From 2010 Festival

By Roy Heale

The Fifth Annual International Queer Tango Festival of Buenos Aires will take place from November 14 – 20, 2011. Without a doubt this is one of the best events on the gay and lesbian calendar in South America. The Festival will take place in the city’s principal tango venues and studios. There will be milongas and practices every day of the week, plus shows, orchestras, performances, and classes with renowned Argentine tango experts. Copenhagen is this year’s Honorary Sister City.

During the Festival there will be a salute to Copenhagen, Europe’s pioneer city in the fight for human rights, as the Festival’s 2011 Honorary Sister City. Gunner Svendsen and Tina Solveig Koch, organizers of the International Queer Tango Festival of Copenhagen, will be among the honored participants in Buenos Aires.

The Festival goal is to build a truly open tango community, encouraging new forms of expression within a living tradition of music and dance. Because of her longstanding, unconditional support and counsel, renowned dancer and tango teacher Aurora Lúbiz has been recognized since 2010 as godmother of the Festival.

On Tuesday, November 15, the celebrated Lidia Borda will open the International Queer Tango Festival for the second consecutive year at Milonga Tango Queer (Perú 571). On this occasion Borda will perform with the talented Ariel Argañaraz on guitar and Daniel Godfrid on piano. Borda will sing from her beautiful repertoire of recorded works and unreleased tracks, including Manzi, caminos de barro y Pampa, from her latest album. She is famous for her emotional and profound interpretations of the greatest writers. Rolling Stone Magazine described Lidia Borda as “the best tango singer of the present”. Borda is highly regarded as the foremost female voice in the last few decades, and she has been widely acclaimed. Although inspired by the pioneer interpreters of tango, at the same time Borda is a modern and original interpreter with a classic and unconventional repertoire which rediscovers beautiful pages of the genre, inexplicably forgotten.
Lidia Borda

For the second time, the Buenos Aires Queer Tango Festival will present the Orquesta Típica Los Reyes del Tango on Thursday, November 17, 2011 at Milonga Confitería Ideal (Tango Ideal – Suipacha 380).

The Quinteto Negro de La Boca was born as a band in the neighbourhood of La Boca in 2008. It is their members' intention to rejuvenate the cultural heritage of the community through the music of tango, featuring authors such Pedro Laurenz and Juan de Dios Filiberto. Not in vain was La Boca, one of the most important sites in the creation and development of tango throughout the ages. They will perform on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at Milonga La Marshall (Independencia 572).

Renowned Tango Artists Alejandro Andrián, Augusto Balizano and Claudio González will dance together for the first time in an unforgettable exhibition on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at the Festival’s opening milonga at Milonga Tango Queer (Perú 571).

On Wednesday, November 16, 2011 there will be a presentation of experimental dance theater at the Centro Cultural de la Cooperación Floreal Gorini (Av. Corrientes 1543, CABA). Works to be performed are: Appears, directed by Miguel Elías; Dual, directed by Gustavo Soto; SinFilm A staged composition in dance-theater, directed by Maestra Arena Belén and Maestra Celeste Gadea.

Los Reyes del Tango

Whether you are a dancer, a student of tango, or just an observer who is fascinated by this artistic dance form, the place to be is Buenos Aires for the 2011 Queer Tango Festival.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Historic Tramway In Caballito, Buenos Aires

Caballito Tram

Inside The Tram

By Roy Heale

Historically, the Buenos Aires barrio of Caballito was where wealthy Porteños would go on the weekend to kick back at their colonial-style mansions. Some of these mansions are still standing today on Avenida Rivadavia---for example, the house of the wine baron Ambrosio Lezica. One of the most notable things about Caballito these days is the presence of a faculty of the University of Buenos Aires. The students of the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters help to add character to what is otherwise rather a patrician and well-to-do district.

Former Weekend Residences

The main commercial area of Caballito is on Avenida Rivadavia, which is one of the city’s main thoroughfares and also one of the borders of this barrio.

For people who like to stroll around neighbourhoods and enjoy the sights, Caballito has plenty of interesting attrcations. Parque Rivadavia features an every-day street market selling books and music including vinyl records, music scores, and more. The other park, Parque Centenario, is also beautiful, and was very recently refurbished after some years of neglect. For tram buffs and history enthusiasts there’s the Historical Tramway Museum of Buenos Aires, and for architecture admirers there’s the English District, which features buildings from the late 19th century British style. The Mercado del Progreso, a historic and still-functioning market, is also impressive.

Tram Sheds

Buenos Aires grew at the side of the streetcar tracks, like most Argentine cities. Many neighborhoods were formed thanks to its services, and although in 1962 all trams were removed from the streets of Buenos Aires, there are countless memories and stories that still linger from earlier days. On November 15, 1980 the "TRAMWAY HISTORY OF BUENOS AIRES" opened, with support from the Association of Friends of the Tram, which brings together those who share the enthusiasm for this mode of transportation. Several old trams have been restored and every day free fifteen minute rides are offered to anyone who would like to journey back through time. Trams leave every twenty minutes from the only stop on the line, located at Emilio Mitre 500 (E. Mitre between the Board and Jose Bonifacio Avenue) and travel a road circuit of 2 km along the streets Emilio Mitre, Av Rivadavia, and Avenue Directory Hortiguera. During each trip, the traditional "motorman" and conductor give an outline of historical data and technical information. Members of the Association volunteer their time to run this service, including restoration and maintenance of vehicles, actively working to make this a free service. The tramway is just three blocks from the Subte station Emilio Mitre on Line “ E ”. This is an interesting introduction to the historic Caballito barrio.

Spend a relaxing time with the tram ride and strolling through the neighbourhood parks.
For More Information Visit:,_Buenos_Aires

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Beatles Museum in Buenos Aires

By Roy Heale

               It may not be the traditional Liverpool surroundings for the Fab Four, but the recently opened Beatles Museum in Buenos Aires boasts an amazing collection of memorabilia. Created by 53-year-old Rodolfo Vazquez the museum features thousands of items related to the famous foursome from England. The Beatlemania collecting obsession began for the Argentine accountant when he was just 10 years old.

"With the song 'In My Life,' on the Rubber Soul album I fell in love with the Beatles," Vazquez told The Associated Press. He holds the 2001 Guinness World Record for owning the world's largest collection of the legendary rock band's memorabilia. At that point, Guinness noted that he had 5,612 items in the attic of his home in Buenos Aires. His hoard has grown to more than 8,500 records, gadgets, puppets and games since then, more than 2,200 of which are on display in the Beatle Museum that just opened this year at Paseo La Plaza, Corrientes Avenue 1660, in an area of the capital city where tourists throng.

Museum visitors will be able to view items like a check signed by drummer Ringo Starr, a large collection of album covers, toys, figurines, and a brick from The Cavern Club, where the band was discovered in the 1960s.

There are Beatles museums in Liverpool, England, and Hamburg, Germany, that display memorabilia along with objects from the band members' lives, and other private collections as well. But this storefront museum stands out for the sheer quantity of pieces, carefully arranged in display cases and on the walls. There are objects for all tastes: a box of condoms with the name of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, a wig that says it adjusts to any head size, and signed pictures of the four musicians.

Vazquez also keeps accumulating objects, either buying or trading for them with other collectors around the world.

The Beatles broke up in 1970, but there's no letup in interest about the band: When their song list was added to iTunes last year, more than 2 million individual songs and 450,000 copies of Beatles albums were sold in the first week.

Although the Beatles never performed in Argentina, people here seem to have a soft spot for them, ensuring that cover bands have regular gigs. Many such bands play in Vazquez's "The Cavern Pub," a bar next to the museum named after the Liverpool nightclub.

Vazquez claims he doesn't know the total value of his private collection, which also includes record covers, autographs, toys, original pictures, concert programs, and cups and plates with Beatle images. Other rarities are four music boxes with figures of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Vazquez even has certified copies of their birth certificates. Rarities include a hunk of the stage of Hamburg's Star Club, a strip club where the musicians worked as the house band, at that point with Pete Best as drummer. A pair of drumsticks signed by Best, who was replaced by Ringo Star in 1962, is in the Buenos Aires museum.

There's also a piece of the floor of Strawberry Fields, a Salvation Army orphanage near Lennon's boyhood home whose name inspired the 1967 psychedelic rock tune "Strawberry Fields Forever."

Getting the chance to show his treasures to fellow fans is immensely satisfying to Vazquez and thousands have already rushed to the museum to relive Beatlemania at its best!
Paseo La Plaza, 1660 Corrientes Avenue, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Clarifying Argentina's Same-Sex Marriage Act

By Roy Heale

Over six months have passed since the Argentina Federal Same-Sex Marriage and Adoption Act was signed into law on July 22nd., 2010. A predominantly Roman Catholic country, Argentina is now at the vanguard of gay rights in South America and is one of only a handful of countries globally which allow gay couples to wed. Although actual statistics are not available, estimates claim that already over 1000 same-sex couples have taken advantage of the new law and tied the not in Argentina last year.

However, there is some confusion and uncertainty as to whether LGBT tourists from other countries may also visit Argentina for their wedding and honeymoon. But there is no ambiguity when it comes to declaring Argentina as the most gay-friendly and gay-welcoming country in South America after taking this bold step forward towards equality for its gay and lesbian citizens.

Within the text of the new law it states that same-sex “residents” of Argentina may marry and this is where the double meaning of the new law has caused some misunderstandings. There are two ways to qualify for residency in Argentina. The first is to apply to the Immigration Department for permanent residency which is a lengthy, complicated process and, if you qualify, usually takes up to six months. Secondly one can obtain a domicile-certificate from the local police department which costs about US$8.00 and takes about forty-hours hours to complete. But only the official residency from the Immigration Department is currently acceptable for marriage in Argentina. It is possible for a non-resident to marry an Argentine citizen or official resident but this involves another complicated and lengthy application process.

On December 17th., 2010 Argentina's Minister of the Interior, Florencio Randazzo, agreed to issue a disposition soon clarifying that non-resident aliens will be allowed to get married in Argentina since most Civil Registries are not currently allowing this to happen. No indication was given as to when this clarification will be issued but the local LGBT community leaders are optimistic it will be sooner rather than later.

It should be noted that same-sex marriages are being treated in the same manner as heterosexual couples when it comes to the application process for a wedding license. According to immigration lawyer Hector Gabriel Celano, of Celano & Associates, the paperwork for any marriage license in Argentina can take about two weeks to process and in the cases involving foreigners several documents have to be officially translated into Spanish and notarized. A blood test is also required and must be conducted at a recognized clinic in Argentina. Approximately one week after the wedding ceremony a marriage certificate is issued. So even if two non-residents are allowed to marry in the future it will require a minimum three week stay in Argentina and may require assistance from a local expert to ensure that the application process goes smoothly without any delays.

So while Argentine citizens and official residents can take advantage of the new same-sex marriage act, foreigners and tourists will have to be a little bit more patient.

Having said that, an unconfirmed rumor claims that a same-sex couple of tourists were married in Mendoza. Must have been under the influence of the local Malbec wines!

But one thing is for sure---a very gay-friendly welcome is waiting for LGBT visitors to the South American gay mecca of Buenos Aires and throughout Argentina.

For More Information Visit:

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dining Out----Buzios, Brazil

Cafe Havana, Buzios, Brazil

By Roy Heale

With over twenty fabulous beaches, great nightlife, and the best gourmet dining in Brazil it is little wonder that Buzios has developed a reputation for fun, relaxing gay vacations. Located only 120 miles north east from Rio de Janeiro, the small peninsula of Armacao de Buzios is becoming renowned as the up and coming gay-friendly resort destination in Brazil. The gay-owned accommodations and resorts of Chez Wadi and Our House provide the perfect gay places to stay and after a hot day on the beaches the nightlife sizzles with gourmet dining plus great nightclubs.

An important part of every vacation is the question of where to dine and this is where Buzios really excels. Throughout the peninsula, in the central town, on the beaches, or amidst the small villages, are great dining options. Whether you enjoy dining right on the beach, or on the boardwalk with a view of the ocean, or a patio table in town for people watching, then Buzios can satisfy your needs. Of course, fresh seafood is a local specialty and readily available on almost every menu is the Catch of the Day.

Ocean View Dining, Buzios, Brazil

During my recent visit to Buzios I enjoyed several different restaurants around the peninsula and I have compiled a list of some of my personal favorites, each with different menu offerings. However, the most fun part of your vacation in Buzios will be discovering your own list of special places as you experience for yourself the vast selection of dining spots. Either way you won't be disappointed by the gourmet dining available here.

Located where all the action is and in the heart of Buzios Centro town are the following suggestions:

Rua Manoel Turibio de Farrias, 110 Tel: 2623 6254

Boom Restaurant

One of the great dining traditions in Brazil is the “Buffet por Kilo”where you pay for your meal by the weight of the food on your plate. This is an excellent way to satisfy your appetite without ordering too much food and Boom offers an upscale version of this popular concept. The buffet includes hot and cold selections of local specialities, salads, fruits, or vegetables. Plus there is a sushi option, a selection of pizzas, and a parilla for those who would like some grilled meats. Amazingly the hot dishes remain hot and the salads remain fresh---not always true of buffet meals--- due to careful planning by the chef and kitchen staff. The atmosphere is cool and relaxed with tables outdoors for those who want enjoy the bustle of the pedestrian street. Highly recommended for lunch or dinner to satisfy any sized appetite or culinary tastes at reasonable prices.

Chez Michou
Av. Jose Bento Ribeiro Dantas, 90 Tel: 2623 2169

Chez Michou

Here you will find the best crepes, either sweet or savory, that have been a Buzios success story for over fifteen years. This open air cafe is considered to be the soul of Buzios and is open all day and most of the night in a central location where the night-time party crowd loves to hang out. The menu offers the largest selection of crepes which I have ever seen and the prices are very affordable but the quality is first class. By night the brassy music, the open-air relaxed environment, and great food is conducive to a great party-time. There is always a large crowd here and it is renowned throughout the peninsula for a fun time and great crepes.

Patio Havana
Rua das Pedras, 101 Tel: 2623 2169

Built in 1998 with stunning ocean views, here you will find a taste of Cuba with amazing multi-level architecture and unique design features. With an emphasis on seafood, there is a wide menu selection including prime beef, Italian pastas, snacks, and pizzas. With five different settings, a cigar store, nightly entertainment, a vast wine cellar, and more, Patio Havana is one of the hottest spots in Buzio for dining and entertainment in a unequalled environment. Open every day from Noon until the last client leaves!

Estancia Don Juan
Rua das Pedras, 178 Tel: 2623 2169

Estancia Don Juan

An outstanding restaurant in a great location, the Estancia Don Juan has been a Buzios tradition since 1994 offering the best imported beef from Argentina and an outstanding wine cellar. With exotic architecture and charming decorations this is one of the coziest places in town for dining. The extensive menu also includes pasta dishes and exotic desserts. On selected nights Tango dancers and musicians will provide entertainment while you dine. Open every day from Noon until the last customer leaves!

Tartaruguina Fish House
Avenida Jose Bento Ribeiro Dantas, 440. Tel: 2623 6978

Located on the ocean boulevard with a great view of the bay. The daily feature here is obviously the local fish dishes exquisitely prepared and served with flair and style. It is also popular for Happy Hour drinks, light snacks, and simply relaxing by the ocean. With over twenty years of experience entertaining and satisfying their customers, the owners and staff know how to please. You're bound to return here.

The Fish Shack
Seafood Platter at the Fish Shack
Located on the Promenade at Armacao Beach

This is a simple outdoor cafe where the BBQ is outside and you can watch your fish dinner being cooked and served directly to you. It is a real local diner where the fish is direct from the ocean, to the BBQ, and to your table. The food is simple---fresh fish, salads, rice, and vegetables---but accompanied by a cold beer or glass of wine, it is an amazing feast of Fruits de Mer which will prove to be unforgettable. No fuss, no fancy place settings, just casual drinks and dining, but the prices are extremely affordable and the location is shaded by large trees with a great view of the sea and fishermen's boats. This is a must for seafood lovers!

The Aquarium
Avenida Jose Bento Ribeiro Dantas

The Aquarium Restaurant

This small, all glass restaurant---hence the name---is perched on the beach with spectacular ocean views. Specializing in seafood, the prices may be slightly higher than most places, but the excellent seafood and views make this a worthwhile investment for a special evening.

For a little sand between your toes and great seafood located right on the popular Ferradura beach are the Sarah Mar and Capricornio outdoor restaurants. The fresh seafood offerings vary daily but sandwiches, salads, and cold drinks are always available. The location is perfect for enjoying the beach and the ocean while dining whenever the appetite demands. At Capricornio I saw the biggest ever mouth-watering lobster tails on the grill! Along the expansive Ferradura beach are numerous options for enjoying a variety of different foods but mostly seafood served in numerous ways to suit every palate.

Sarah Mar Restaurant, Ferradura Beach

So enjoy the  amazing beaches and scenery by day and experience the international cuisine and culture at night on your gay-friendly vacation in Buzios.

For More Information Visit:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gay Mendoza, Argentina

Mendoza Winery

By Roy Heale

Located in the Andes mountain range of Argentina, Mendoza is a year-round vacation destination. Renowned globally for being the capital of Argentina's wine making industry----especially the renowned Malbecs---Mendoza is also a center for skiing in the higher peaks during July, August, and September. The annual Vendimia wine festival in March is the highlight of the year with festivities for all ages and a special Gay Vendimia Festival.

With a population of approximately one million residents in the metro and surrounding areas, the gay businesses and nightlife are thriving. Mendoza has become the secondary vacation choice for LGBT travellers in Argentina after a visit to Buenos Aires.

The grape harvest is celebrated annually throughout the month of March with the famous Mendoza Wine Festival. Festivities officially commence the first Saturday in March and occur throughout the region at all of the vineyards with special events in the city of Mendoza. But there is also the Fiesta de la Vendimia Gay which is held each year in conjunction with the main Festival. This is perhaps the most significant gay event in Argentina outside of the annual Buenos Aires Pride celebrations. It is supported by many sponsors and the local government making it an official part of the grape harvest festival. The crowning of the “Queen”---drag of course---is a much anticipated local event and a major theatrical production enjoyed by all of Mendoza's LGBT community and other citizens of this gay-friendly city.

Mendoza 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. The Area Fundacional is a trip back in time to the city's early roots of the settlement days.

In the heart of downtown is the gay-owned and operated DeptosMendoza apartment rentals of Modigliani Art & Design Suites and Dot Suites. Renting an apartment in Mendoza is the best way to enjoy the local scene. Theses suites are perfect for any vacation or business trip to Mendoza with a large variety of sizes and styles available. The English speaking staff are friendly and helpful with any travel needs or excursions. The apartments are large, spacious, luxuriously furnished, with designer appeal. The central location is very convenient for all activities in Mendoza with apartments priced to suit any travel budget.

The Staff at DeptosMendoza

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. Residents of Mendoza observe the very civilized custom of afternoon siestas and most businesses are closed from 1PM to 4PM with the exception of some restaurants.

After a hot sunny day the gay Alternative Spa can offer relaxation and stress relief. It is open from 3PM to 11PM offering whirlpool, sauna, lockers, solarium, relaxing areas and a bar to unwind and mingle. Situated in the downtown core, this is a very popular place for locals to hang out and mix with out-of- town visitors.

Two gay-friendly Resto-Bars---348 and Casa 3---are located on San Lorenzo Street and very popular with the gay community. But the Aristides Villanueva is the major street for dining out. Here you will find a festive atmosphere with patios full of revelers indulging themselves with every International culinary delight imaginable. Plus, of course, the renowned Argentine Parillas, where beef is a gourmet experience 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!

Outdoor Patio Dining in Mendoza

Dining out is a major part of Mendoza's nightlife and be sure to try something unique in Mendoza and very gay at Los Chocos restaurant. It's a gay-owned and operated restaurant serving a gourmet six or eight course dinner in a private home, similar to the Paladares in Havana, Cuba. Special local Mendoza meats and produce are complemented with perfect Malbec wines. Dining with wonderful company and amazingly creative gourmet dishes is a holiday treat, and all for only US$60 per person. Incredible! This gourmet restaurant is in the home of Martin the Chef and his partner Martin who assists with the entire dinner. It's located in the heart of downtown, on the 5th floor of a classic residential apartment building. You can have the whole place to yourself, giving it a familiar and comfortable feel. Reservations are essential as each dinner can only accommodate up to eight guests.

After dinner is the perfect time for a visit to a local gay bar and conclude a fun-filled day. On Wednesdays La Reserva-Queen pub offers a fun Drag Show. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays Estacion Miro is the hot gay nightclub for partying until dawn. Both are located in the heart of downtown Mendoza just waiting to entertain you until dawn, or perhaps even later.

So whether it is during the Vendimia Festival or at any other time of the year, make sure you include gay-friendly Mendoza in your itinerary for a gay vacation in Argentina.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Exclusively Gay Our House, Buzios, Brazil

View From Our House Guest Rooms

By Roy Heale

No visit to Brazil can be considered complete without a visit to Armacao de Buzios which is just a short two hour drive from Rio de Janeiro. This fabulous peninsula was discovered in the 1960s by French supermodel and movie actress Brigitte Bardot when during a vacation she was trying to escape from the paparazzi in Rio. Since that time Buzios has earned a reputation for its beautiful scenery, over twenty beaches, laid-back attitudes, and very gay-friendly welcome towards LGBT tourists. In fact the gay-owned and operated Our House Pousada is the only exclusively gay and lesbian resort in Brazil. Located just a ten minute walk from Ferradura Beach or the center of Buzios downtown, Our House is the perfect place for a very private, relaxing gay-getaway where you are guaranteed to spend your vacation in the company of like-minded travellers.

Our House co-owners Maria and Giselle purchased the property in 2002 and then spent three and a half years in a labour of love renovating and remodelling in order to create the perfect gay home-away-from-home for their future guests. They opened in December 2005 and immediately LGBT vacationers came flocking to their new gay resort paradise which is a hetero-friendly and adult---over 18---only venue.

Our House Grounds

Located on a hillside overlooking the ocean, all eight affordable rooms at Our House have an ocean view. Plus the large swimming pool is surrounded by lush tropical gardens, a BBQ where “If you bring it we will cook it”, and a rustic bar where breakfast is served daily from 8:00 to 10:00AM. This simple yet sophisticated gay resort is the perfect place to enjoy everything which Buzios offers to the LGBT tourist.

As members of international groups and movements promoting environmental policies, Our House strives to preserve the fragile Buzios eco-system. Owner Giselle is also a partner in a joint venture for Eco Bike Tours where you can bike and hike around the peninsula enjoying the natural environment, hidden beaches, and beautiful countryside. These eco-tours are offered free to registered guests of Our House with a reduced rental charge for the bikes. Tour groups are from four to twenty participants and the journeys range from easy to difficult terrain varying in length from just over two hours to full day trips. This is an excellent way to experience the diverse landscape of this small peninsula.

If you would like to plan a special holiday dinner at the resort then co-owner Maria is a professionally trained and qualified chef who will plan a gourmet menu for up to sixteen people. Enjoy the relaxing surroundings, a cocktail by the pool, followed by a gourmet dinner in the rustic cafe, and watch the sunset over the ocean from your room. With advance notice Marie can prepare all of this to suit your budget and tastes, but of course seafood is a local speciality!

Lush Tropical Gardens

The resort also includes a lounge area with comfortable sofas, a television, and computer work station for those who want to stay connected with the outside world.

So if you are planning a trip to Brazil make sure you spend some time at Our House, enjoy a totally gay escape from the world, frolic on the spectacular beaches, and in the warm ocean. It is a paradise which will reward every gay traveller with some great vacation memories.

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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Puerto Madryn, Argentina Vacation Essentials

Puerto Madryn

By Roy Heale

Located at the heart of one of Argentina's most popular eco-tourism destinations is the port city of Puerto Madryn. From this central point eco-tours depart daily for whale watching, visits to the sea lion colonies, the penguin settlements, wildlife parks, dolphin watching, and much more of the local wildlife. The region is a popular breeding ground for many species and has been recognized as a World Natural Heritage Site since 1999. The clear blue waters of the Nuevo Gulf and the Atlantic Ocean coupled with numerous sandy beaches has made this an extremely popular summer vacation destination in Argentina. The expert gay and gay-friendly English speaking staff at Flamenco Tour agency have researched the local market to find gay or gay-friendly accommodations and attractions with special rates to suit any travel budget.

Here are some of their hotel recommendations:

Hotel Piren
Hotel Piren:

Located in the center of town on the main ocean boardwalk many of the rooms have ocean views. The staff are bilingual and a buffet breakfast is included in the room rates. There are standard, junior, premium, and senior rooms to choose from with a total of 91 rooms.

The Rayentray:

This relatively new hotel is located overlooking the waters of the Nuevo Gulf and has 170 rooms plus convention facilities. The facilities include a bar, restaurant, indoor heated swimming pool, sauna, sunbeds, and whirlpool plus a Casino. All rooms have ocean views and choices include junior, superior, suites, and special configurations for family groups.

Hotel Rayentray Reception

Territorio Hotel
Territorio Hotel:

This boutique hotel offers 36 ocean view rooms and suites of different sizes with one especially designed for disabled access. The spa and health cub located on the top floor offers massages and special services plus a gymnasium. The main floor lounge, cafe and restaurant also have beautiful ocean views.

Flamenco Tour agency also offers a luxury two bedroom apartment in a residential neighborhood 100 meters from the ocean and a ten minute walk into town. This is a perfect home base to relax after your outdoor adventures or days spent on the beach and comfortably sleeps four people. It has a well equipped kitchen, WiFi, lounge area, and more. It is ideal for a gay vacation which combines beach days with the city nightlife or day tours of the countryside.

During my five day visit to Puerto Madryn I soon learned that dining out in this town offers a gourmet experience comparable to much larger cities. My personal favorite was dining on the beach at the Vernardino Club del Mar with a spectacular view and a cafe style menu with extensive choices for lunch or dinner. When craving seafood Los Colones or Cantina El Nautico are the best places and both are located in the center of the town and close to the beaches. Cafes like the Lizard Cafe or the Bodegan Bienvenidos offer simple fare at reasonable prices and the Lizard Cafe specializes in pizza for dine-in, takeout, or home delivery. Be sure to visit the Quimey Quipan---meaning “Welcome” in English----in the town center or when heading to Puerto Piramedes for whale watching and enjoy local Patagonia creations with seafood or meat dishes.

Los Colonos Restaurant

Ocean View Dining

Whatever you are looking for on your gay vacation be sure to consult with the expert staff at Flamenco Tour agency and they will point you in the right direction to find local gay-friendly businesses. This seaside town and surrounding countryside offers a very unique eco-friendly experience for every outdoor enthusiast or nature lover. Combine mother nature with great gourmet dining, beach relaxation, and first class accommodations for the perfect gay get-away in Argentina's spectacular Patagonia region.

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