Why John Waters’ zany Baltimore is an overlooked East Coast LGBTI gem
Ahead of Baltimore Pride this weekend (Saturday 16 – Sunday 17 June 2018) I spoke to some prominent LGBTI figures from the East Coast city to find out why the Maryland seaport needs to be next on your gaycation bucket list.
Avoid the crowds and explore this gorgeous slice of Australiana
I am embarrassed to admit that, before I visited Australia, I had never heard of the rural region of Gippsland. Despite a massive chunk of my guidebook covering Victoria, there isn’t even a footnote on Warragul, the ‘wild dog’ town that I came to love after just a few days.
My cousin Richard and his wife Leanne emigrated from the UK – where I live – to Gippsland in 2005 and, eager to see them after several years, I planned my first trip to Australia for March this year.
After a few days in Sydney over Mardi Gras, I flew to Adelaide for the Fringe before making my way along the Great Ocean Road to Melbourne and then on to Warragul. Ticking off some of Australia’s most iconic sights en-route, I was now excited at the prospect of tasting real life Down Under with my family.
How an Australian adventure helped me get my groove back
To say I wasn’t looking forward to attending Mardi Gras was somewhat of an understatement.
It was meant to be the holiday of a lifetime; my fiancé and I had spent a year saving to visit Sydney, Adelaide, the Great Ocean Road and Melbourne. Everything was booked and paid for and then, just two days after Christmas last year, he told me he didn’t love me anymore – and that he’d cheated on me.
Understandably, I was crushed and my whole world crumbled around me, with a bright future suddenly seeming very bleak. We’d been together for five years, have a house – even a dog – together and with everything to sort out as a result, both physically and emotionally, a holiday Down Under was the last thing on my mind.
Get ready for take-off on an eclectic city break in France’s aviation powerhouse
While ‘la Ville Rose’ (the Pink City) may not enjoy the same international status as Paris or evoke the glamour of the French Riviera, Toulouse actually gives both a run for their money in the bucket load. Plus, when we spotted flights from London Stansted on Ryanair for less than a meal out, it seemed rude not to give France’s fourth-largest city a whirl.
Toulouse really does have something for everyone, which made narrowing down a ‘top 10’ list really difficult. However, after careful deliberation, below are my favourite places, attractions and places to eat and drink in Toulouse.
1. Place du Capitole
Instantly recognisable from its pink brickwork, the grandiose Place du Capitole makes for an obvious location to start exploring Toulouse. With its eight rosy marble columns, the square is dominated by the Capitole, named after the 12th century administration of the city and remains as the home of its local government. From just one glimpse of its impressive 135 metre-long neoclassical façade, it is easy to see how Toulouse became the official capital of France’s Languedoc region in the 16th century and has maintained that status under today’s newly-formed Occitanie super region.
I’ve tried to like golf, I really have. Despite evenings spent at the driving range swinging until I am dripping with sweat and it being a hobby with one of the best wardrobes going, I’ve just never been able to grasp its appeal. However, when you throw a cocktail bar, scrummy street food and a fistful of dildos into the mix, then suddenly, I am interested.
After being a success in Liverpool, Ghetto Golf has recently made its Birmingham debut at the Custard Factory in Digbeth and is creating quite the buzz. It was only fair then that my fiancé, one of our close friends and myself met for a post-work game and gossip in this adults-only venue to see what all the fuss was about.
Pristina in Kosovo is a moderately-sized capital city that makes for a great base to explore the wider country. Having said that, it’s worth spending a day or two here to soak up a number of important sites that really help you better understand the unique culture and recent history of Europe’s youngest capital city.
Known as ‘Pristina’ (English), ‘Prishtina’ (from the Albanian ‘Prishtinë’) or ‘Priština’/‘Приштина’ (Serbian); the very fact it goes by several names clearly alludes to it being the largest city in a disputed territory. However, we felt nothing but safe here and were met by warm locals eager to put the past behind them and leave us with fond memories of a city with a bright future.
Staying in the basic-but-fine-for-the-price Hotel Kika, we started our tour of Pristina proper by passing alongside the Brotherhood and Unity monument. A memorial for all fallen fighters and victims of the Second World War, this gigantic concrete clothes peg was inaugurated in 1961 under the authority of Josip Broz Tito, President of Yugoslavia, with Kosovo being one of the communist country’s two Socialist Autonomous Provinces.
Making the most of a stay in Albania’s capital city
Although the spectre of communist dictator Enver Hoxha may still loom large over Albania, its capital city is confidently shedding its isolationist past to reveal an exciting destination bursting with culture, cuisine and colour.
From the architectural mashup on display around Skanderbeg Square to the dizzy heights of Mount Dajt, Tirana delights from its centre all the way to the outskirts, with warm welcomes offered throughout from people eager to embrace international guests and proudly showcase the best their country has to offer.
Indeed, Tirana makes for a great city break in its own right or as the starting point for exploring one of Europe’s least-visited countries – yet one which also boasts dramatic scenery, a gorgeous coastline and some truly unique historical sites.
1. Skanderbeg Square
Named after the Albanian nobleman and military commander who led a rebellion against the Ottoman Empire, Skanderbeg Square’s central location and significance makes it the perfect place to begin exploring Tirana.