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Cathay Pacific New York/Singapore

My love affair with Cathay Pacific was only made stronger with my trip with this week, flying New York-Vancouver-Hong Kong-Singapore, and then back Singapore-Hong Kong-New York (on their marathon 15 1/2 hour HKG-JFK nonstop, which was simply amazing).

Approaching Changi Airport, over Indonesia, with Singapore Strait at center and Singapore on the horizon:

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No trip would be complete without getting photo evidence of everything I ate:

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The sublime noodle bar at The Wing, one of Cathay’s lounges at Hong Kong International Airport, where I just had to try every option on the menu:

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Seen in Singapore

The view of Singapore from 57 floors atop the Marina Bay Sands (this photo does the skyline no justice):

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The view from my room at the Shangri-La, where I decamped to after a night at the mobbed Marina Bay Sands:

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ION Orchard, the most attractively designed of the 3,000 shopping malls on Orchard Road:

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Singapore Art Museum:

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The famed Raffles Hotel, completely overrun with tourists (in contrast to the lovely Raffles in Phnom Penh).

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Happy new year!

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New gay travel magazine, ManAboutWorld

My friend Ed Salvato – the ultimate gay travel guru – has teamed up with Billy Kolber (also no slouch in the gay travel department, as founder of Out & About) to create ManAboutWorld magazine, a new travel publication for the iPad. I’m thrilled to be contributing to it occasionally; here’s a piece on Vancouver I wrote for the November edition. For the full effect be sure to download the App and see the magazine for yourself!

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NOW/NEXT: VANCOUVER

The beauty of Vancouver can drive a grown man to cry. With its forest of glass towers nestled where the mountains of the Canadian West rise and fall into the Pacific, Vancouver is one of the world’s most beautiful spots – but somehow still off the radar of most travelers.

An influx of money and Asian immigrants has changed the look of Vancouver over the past three decades from self-described backwater to cosmopolitan global city. At its heart, though, it remains a genuinely down-to-earth place (the recent debut of “Real Housewives of Vancouver” notwithstanding) rife for exploring.

Befitting the region’s progressive reputation, Vancouver is also home to a sizable gay population, which hoists its rainbow flag in the Davie Village section of the West End (not to be confused with West Vancouver, to the north, or the West Side, to the south).

Get your bearings at ground zero, near the corner of Thurlow and Davie Streets, but don’t be alarmed if the crowds happen to be thin: locals in this outdoorsy place are as likely to be found at the neighborhood’s many lively watering holes as they are doing what Vancouverites do best – being out and active in their slice of paradise.

Exercise is religion here, but so is good food. A pair of upcoming events is perfect excuse (as if you needed one) to plan a winter visit. January brings the two-week Dine Out Vancouver Festival, touted as the largest food festival in the country, with more than 200 restaurants offering up their diverse menus on the cheap. The huge Vancouver International Wine Festival follows in February and is a tippler’s time to try the surprising fruits of the Okanagan, the wine-producing area in the province’s interior, and a variety of other vintners from around the globe.

Continue reading…

Paris

Without question, my travel weakness is Paris. It’s tough to go to Europe and resist its pull — so after a great Thanksgiving in Bavaria, I hopped the TGV from Munich to Gare de l’Est for a few days of proper R & R.

The only item on my agenda: check out the tea room terrace at the Grande Mosquée de Paris, the Paris Mosque, a great little hidden gem the New York Times wrote about once:

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Mosque courtyard:

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Inside:

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Centre Pompidou:

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Beirut artist Nadim Karam’s Trio of Elephants, outside Arab World Institute:

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Kids atop the Arab World Institute:

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Viaduc des Arts:

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Jardin des Plantes (Paris botanical gardens):

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Along rue de Rivoli:

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Munich for Thanksgiving

Last year I started a new tradition of going to Europe for Thanksgiving. Last year was Rome and this year was Munich to visit a friend, and to do two of my favorite things: stay at the Louis Hotel, and have lunch at the incomparable Brenner! Munich is a lovely city, especially this time of year. (But 24 hours is usually plenty of time for it.)

Marientplatz:

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The bar at Emiko:

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My room at the Louis:

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The freshest catch of the day (or so they say) at Viktualientmarkt:

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Around Abu Dhabi

I spent the week in Abu Dhabi, and unfortunately, even in October, the temperatures are so searing it’s hard to muster the motivation to go outside for very long. Since I last visited three summers ago, the pace of development has soared, with the cityscape along the seaside corniche almost unrecognizable. When a friend asked me what it’s like here, the only descriptor that came to mind was: “Abu Dhabi is living proof that money can, in fact, buy anything.”

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the world’s largest:

View from my hotel room to the building frenzy along Abu Dhabi corniche – with the under-construction St. Regis Abu Dhabi at center.

Jumeirah at Etihad Towers lobby:

Emirates Palace Hotel:

Gold vending machine in Emirates Palace lobby:

Etihad Towers, the exciting new development housing my hotel and a new luxury mall (as if the Gulf needed another):

Flying British Airways New York – Abu Dhabi

My friends know no trip is complete without me documenting the meal service…

Pre-flight dinner in the British Airways Lounge at JFK:

Dinner JFK-London:

Lunch on London – Abu Dhabi (complete with bright beetroot hummus):

London – New York breakfast:

From one 747-400 to another on a rainy morning at Heathrow:

Abu Dhabi International Airport:

Reflections of New York

“A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.”
-Joan Didion

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Around London

It was a spectacular weekend to be in London with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-70s! A few photos from around town:

“Search for Enlightenment” at One Hyde Park, the fabulously expensive and coveted development in Knightsbridge:

The Mandarin Oriental:

Soho Square:

Comptons on Old Compton Street:

Sloane Street:

Belgravia:

National Portrait Gallery:

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My obligatory meal shots from flying with British Airways this week:

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Keep The Lights On

I have such ADD that I rarely watch films. But this week I saw a screening of Ira Sachs’ “Keep The Lights On” — hosted by Out Professionals — in advance of its New York and LA opening next week, and I was gripped. I simply have not been able to shut up about it since.

The film mirrors so much of the story told by Sachs’ ex-boyfriend Bill Clegg in Portrait of an Addict, the story of their relationship and Clegg’s descent into crack addiction. Far more than a gay drama, though, the beautifully shot film seems a universal story of confusion and obsession in love. The music, by Arthur Russell, is haunting and perfect. The last ten minutes of the film is perhaps one of the most incredible sequences every shot; I promise you’ll go to bed contemplating what happened with the lead characters, Erik and Paul!

Summer in Maine

It wouldn’t be summer without North Haven — my 30th year there! — and this week’s trip was nothing short of spectacular!

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Saying goodbye at dawn:

Hurricane Island

One day in Maine last week, we took a boat trip to nearby Hurricane Island, a remote quarrying site that once boasted a community of 1,000 and that vanished literally overnight in the early 20th century. Its granite riches helped build some of the most impressive structures in the Northeast, including the Custom House in New York, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Suffolk County Courthouse in Boston.

View from the top:

Relics of the past:

Family time in Maine

Contrary to what one might think based on my tendencies to be a wanderlust, I do have a family and I do see them occasionally! This weekend the whole gang got together in Maine and had a great time…

My incredibly cute niece and nephew playing with their soon-to-be-eaten lobster:

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With my sister-in-law in my new floppy hat:

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Flying Icelandair

Yesterday I flew Icelandair from Paris-Reykjavik-New York (Why not? Air France was full and transiting via a rock in the North Atlantic makes for a fun story!). It turned out to be a blast!

Here’s their 757 Saga Class cabin:

CDG-KEF routing:

Lunch service CDG-KEF:

Approaching Keflavik Airport:

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Keflavik Airport Saga Lounge:

Local treats in the lounge:

Appetizer from KEF-JFK:

Dinner service, KEF-JFK:

Bastille Day 2012

One of my newer travel traditions is Bastille Day in Paris – and once again, it did not disappoint as jets screamed over the city at frighteningly low altitude:

Hotel de Ville (city hall) after the parade:

Jardin des plantes (botanical gardens):

Institut du monde arabe (Arab World Institute):

Centre Pompidou:

Luxembourg Garden:

Left Bank shop:

The super cool big board at Charles de Gaulle (CDG) Airport:

Flying Qatar Airways

I love Gulf airlines and this trip opted for Qatar Airways for my trip from New York to Thailand and Vietnam. Added bonus: Qatar has fifth freedom rights to fly passengers between Bangkok and Hanoi, and I jumped aboard that quick 90-minute hop. Quite simply, it was spectacular. The airline far exceeds the experience its “World’s 5 Star Airline” slogan promises.

Doha Airport:

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Doha Premium Terminal:

Onboard:

Incredible staff:

Lovely food:

Vietnamese cuisine

I was always convinced that the best Vietnamese food was found in Paris; it turns out Vietnamese food in Vietnam is pretty darn good, as well:

Hanoi, Vietnam

Like many younger Americans, my image of Vietnam was shaped not by a war I wasn’t alive for, but by a TV show I loved – “China Beach“! So, quite frankly, I didn’t know quite what to expect when I was landed in the capital of Vietnam this week as part of my 30th birthday extravaganza. I ended up falling in love with Hanoi – a place whose frenetic pace seemed calmed by its wealth of French colonial architecture and gorgeous lakes and parklands.

Approaching Hanoi from Bangkok, the views were spectacular — and made one wonder how a war was ever fought in this terrain:

If you’re going to stay in Hanoi, it absolutely must be at the famous Metropole Hotel. It was a spectacular retreat from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi, and so rich with history (who doesn’t love a bunker under the pool bar?).

The incredible Presidential Palace, once home of the governor-general of French Indochine, and then of Ho Chi Minh (though he refused to live here, opting instead for what might pass for a shack in the backyard).

Speaking of Ho Chi Minh, there is no escaping the lingering memory of the revolutionary leader. Here is the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, where we got to stand 15 feet from the man’s embalmed body, and the Ho Chi Minh Museum, which told the story of the Vietnamese people’s revolt against colonial influence.

There’s no denying the French built this city; the Hanoi Opera House is modeled after the Palais Garnier in Paris, and one church looks rather like Notre Dame. N’est pas?

National Museum:

The gentleman who showed me around Hanoi on his cyclo (aka bicycle rickshaw):

Bikes, bikes, everywhere!

More photos of Hanoi



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