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Exclusives | Ask the Travel Expert, October 2007

Exclusives | Ask the Travel Expert, October 2007

Dominican Republic; Montreal; Rio’s Carnaval; New Orleans

Ed Salvato is Corporate Director of Travel Media at PlanetOut Inc.--responsible for,, and the editor-in-chief of the award-winning Out Traveler magazine.

Ed speaks often as a gay-travel expert and is frequently quoted in the press. He writes a monthly syndicated travel column and appears regularly on radio and TV.

Ed knows gay travel, and he proves it by answering your questions.

Looking for the perfect romantic gay honeymoon? How about budget recommendations, gay-friendly guesthouses or the best gay nude beaches on earth? Worried about an unfriendly reception in an anti-American country, or wondering about incidents of gay-bashing or the gay- or lesbian-friendliness of a Caribbean island? Ask Ed! (Note: Depending on the volume, he may not be able to respond to every question.)

What suggestions do you have for a weekend escape to the Dominican Republic? Is it gay-friendly at all? If not, any other suggestions in that area that might include a nude gay beach?

Thanks for your mail. The Dominican Republic, the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, is one of the largest Caribbean nations and, accordingly, offers a diverse array of vacation experiences, from colonial history tours to all-inclusive beach getaways. For various debatable reasons, the Dominican Republic has traditionally been much more popular with Canadian, European and Latin American vacationers than with U.S. travelers. The capital city of Santo Domingo is the only place to find extensive gay nightlife, but sand and sun line the coast.

Puerto Plata, on the north coast, has some beautiful beaches and resorts but little gay life. Sticking closer to Santo Domingo, Boca Chica Beach, near the airport, as well as la Matica beach, are popular gay sunspots.

Have a great trip!

I am a New York City man looking to get away for a fun and relaxing weekend in October. I think that I will be traveling alone because I need a break. Any suggestions?

Why don't you head north -- and go to Montréal? It's close and a fabulous destination for a single guy. You can easily make it a relaxing weekend or an energetic one -- or even a mixture of the two.

October events include Bad Boys Club Montreal's Black and Blue festival, a hot run of parties ( Oct. 3-9, 2007.

The hottest address in town is the Opus Montreal (, just newly opened by the people behind Vancouver's Opus.

Have a great trip!

I'm planning to go to Rio de Janeiro's Carnaval next year, and I need some ideas on budget, places to stay, safety, etc.

I would appreciate your comments.
Roberto P.

Thanks for your mail.
Rio underwent a major facelift for the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development a few years ago, making now one of the best times ever to visit. A renovated airport, a speedy new route from airport to city, a bicycle path along the beachfront, spruced-up parks and an increased police presence in tourist areas are the major improvements.

Of course, Rio is famous for its Carnaval. Besides the fantastic spectacle of the parade itself, there are lots of street parties and balls during the days before and after the main event. The gay ball is O Grande Gala Gay (official gay ball). This was once the gay event to go to, but it has taken a turn to the more commercial side, attracting a mostly straight audience in search of the exotic drag queens and transvestites that fill the ball to capacity. There are a lot of other alternative gay neighborhood parades (Blocos and Bandas) such as Banda de Ipanema and Banda da Carmen Miranda, that wind around the Suburb of Ipanema, a dazzling cacophony of samba bands, exotic drag queens and beautiful Brazilian men and women.

Gay life, like all life in Rio, is integrally connected to the beach, and there are two gay beach areas here. The Ipanema gay beach, at the foot of Rua Farme de Amoedo gets a more upscale crowd. The Copacabana gay beach is found at the foot of Rua Fernandes Mendes in front of the Copacabana Palace Hotel. The gay crowd here is earthy and lively, with a sprinkling of transvestites.

For more on Brazil's hot, hot, hot beach culture, see Mack Friedman's article from The Out Traveler.

Have a fantastic trip!

I am looking for a honeymoon spot for myself and partner near my area, which is Shreveport, La. The problem is that my partner has been hurt in an accident and can not travel far. He needs a getaway, as I do.
Do you have any suggestions?

Thanks for your mail. The obvious one near you is, of course, New Orleans. Galveston, Texas, is another option. Lots of bars, gay-friendly restaurants and a reputation as the Provincetown or Key West of the third coast. Try the Lost Bayou Guesthouse (409-770-0688;, a grand Victorian with a deck with gorgeous water views and a dry sauna.

In Baton Rouge, there's a men-only B&B called Brentwood House (225-924-4989;; from $69).

North of New Orleans, in tiny Folsom (about 20 miles east of I-55), the Woods Hole Inn ( is gay-friendly. It's secluded and perfect for a getaway.

Hope that helps!
Have a fabulous honeymoon!

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