Category Archives: Europe

It’s White Truffle Season!

Vineyard in Piedmont region in Italy
Photo: Davide Dutto/Ente Turismo Langhe Monferrato Roero

Each year, culinary connoisseurs convene in Northern Italy’s Piedmont region to honor the white truffle. This rare and very expensive type of mushroom is only available in this region a few months out of the year. From townies to top chefs, autumn is the season to celebrate the gastronomic treasure whose shavings transform any dish into a luxury item. 

Ongoing through November 24, the International Alba White Truffle Fair is one of Italy’s longest-running festivals, celebrating its 89th birthday this year. Held in the old town of Alba, a UNESCO Creative City for Gastronomy, the Fair initially focused on the food and wine of the region but has now expanded to include immersive experiences and cultural events.

White Truffle from Alba, Italy
Photo: Stefania Spadoni/Ente Turismo Langhe Monferrato Roero

Every Saturday and Sunday, the White Truffle World Market buzzes with exhibitors, purveyors, chefs and local wineries. Within the 2,000-square-yard market, you’ll have the opportunity to purchase truffles certified by the National Truffle Study Centre and hobnob with likeminded foodies, all gathered in praise of the seasonal favorite with the distinct scent and delicious flavor. 

A version of this article was first published in Travel Squire.

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Stay Fab While Traveling

Gay pillow fight

Traveling while fabulous has unique challenges. We all want to feel welcome. Now, a new hosting platform is removing all “coming out” awkwardness from short-term rental bookings.

FabStayz.com guarantees LGBTQ+ travelers a hospitable host. 

“Travel is about fun and exploration, coming out to a stranger is no way to kick-off a vacation,” says Robert Geller, Founder and CEO of FabStayz. “Be your ‘FabSelf’ wherever your travels take you. No more scouring listings for clues if the host is LGBT+ welcoming, an ally or member of our community. FabStayz wants to take away all the guesswork for the LGBT+ traveler.”

According to Geller, property owners listed on FabStayz must meet the platform’s criteria of seven months minimum hosting on another major platform (like Airbnb, Vrbo, Booking.com, TripAdvisor and HomeAway), with at least 10 great to excellent reviews. Additionally, all FabStayz hosts agree to FabStayz diversity and inclusion statement.

Within weeks of launching, FabStayz had quintupled its hosts and featured a castle in France, tiny homes in Portland, a vintage RV in Los Angeles, and rental listings throughout the United States, Brazil, Canada, Greece, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands and the U.K., among others. 

Fab your stay at FabStayz.com

Rv on hillside on FabStayz.com

Photos courtesy of FabStayz.com

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Filed under Canada, Europe, Gay/ LGBTQ, Hotels, Mexico, Travel News, U.S.A.

LGBTQ Monuments Around the World

Stonewall Inn in NYC. Birthplace of the Stonewall Riots Uprising that ignited the LGBTQ rights movement.
Photo: Brittany Petronella/NYC & Company

This month marks the 50th anniversary of New York City’s Stonewall riots, the June 1969 uprising that galvanized the LGBTQ rights movement in the United States and beyond. Each year, Pride honors those who stood at Stonewall, as well as countless others who have fought for equality throughout history. 

But beyond the rainbow-themed summer parties, parades, and marches that usher in the June festivities, the rich and complex stories of LGBTQ history are honored at permanent sites around the world. Make plans to visit these eight monuments to a heroic heritage…

*Read the full IQ article published in National Geographic

Ivan Quintanilla is published in National Geographic

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Filed under Europe, Gay/ LGBTQ, Publications, Travel News, U.S.A.

A Queens’ Museum in Great Britain

QueenEngland

There is more than one Queen in England.

And soon their histories will find national representation.

Queer Britain is working to establish the UK’s first national LGBTQ+ museum.  With an anticipated opening in 2021, the brick- and-mortar museum will host permanent and temporary exhibits, with an innovative digital presence.  It will feature objects and records from the worlds of art, fashion, film, literature, TV, theatre, news, music, diaries, letters, photographs and legal records.

According to London Mayor Sadiq Kahn, “As Mayor, it’s so important to me that London is seen as a city where LGBTQ+ people feel valued, happy and safe – this sends a clear message to the world that London is a beacon of diversity.”

Queer Britain hopes its museum extends beyond celebrating  modern-day gay London and creates historical context.   As its website further explains, “Many young people now have a strong sense of freedom about identity, but not how these were formed or the lives of those who came before them. A healthy plant needs deep roots.”

For more information, visit QueerBritain.org.uk.

QueerBritainIMAGES COURTESY OF BISHOPSGATE INSTITUTE / (CC) LSE / NAPOLEON SARONY / JANE MCCORMICK SMITH / BEX WADE / ROBERT TAYLOR (via Queer Britain)

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A Nightlight at the Top of the World

Aurora Wilderness Camp 6 190318A new hotel concept in Finland features the Northern Lights as the ultimate nightlight.

Three private cabins on skis have been stationed deep in the Arctic Circle, for a glamping experience like no other. The glass-roofed cabins for two include a bed on which to lie back and enjoy the night sky, a table, dry toilet, and gas heater and stove.  Together, the mobile rooms create the Aurora Wilderness Camp, near the Finnish Lapland town of Kilpisjärvi.  Now available to book through Off the Map Travel, the camp is welcoming guests through mid-April of this year and will reopen in January 2019.

According to Arctic travel expert and Off the Map Travel founder Jonny Cooper, “The wilderness surrounding Kilpisjärvi is known for its remote and uninterrupted Arctic tundra… giving guests the best possible opportunity to experience the Northern Lights and simply enjoy the silence of the Arctic plains.” Statistically, the Kilpisjärvi area boasts more clear nights than any other place in Finland, with more than a 70 percent chance of seeing the Northern Lights.

Your adventure starts at 6pm when an experienced guide transports you by snowmobile to your private cabin.  After your guide teaches you how to make a campfire and grill local meats, you will have the camp–and the Northern Lights–to yourself.  Evening drinks, snacks and next-day breakfast are included in the experience, along with use of the cabin’s snowshoes and kick-sleds for exploring the icy tundra.

This hotel concept delivers a distinct new brand of adventurous comfort:  the opportunity to tour the Arctic wilderness and hunt for the Northern Lights from the peacefulness of your warm bed.

For more information and tailor-made itineraries, visit offthemap.travelAurora Wilderness Camp190318Photo credit: Kilpissafarit

 

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Top Travel Tops for 2018

It’s the season of resolutions–the time to plan this year’s travel, uncover new destinations and fantasize about exotic trips you may or may not ever take.  But with so many “top travel lists” how do you focus your exploration?  Fear not. Traveling IQ has combed the pages, clicked the links and collated the suggestions from the most trusted travel publications, to find the ultimate destinations for IQ’s 2018 Travel Top Trilogy.

New Orleans

Rex_CherylGerber_3e47f27e-e498-4955-8ff7-e98e6a4dc42e

NEW ORLEANS – Photo courtesy of NewOrleans.com

New Orleans leads the pack as the American city most recommended by travel publications.  Celebrating its tricentennial in 2018, the Big Easy promises to make its 300th birthday party a year-long event.  And you’re invited! Whether you chomp on po’boys or savor fine Creole cuisine, guzzle Hurricanes down Bourbon Street or sip craft cocktails in hotel lounges, saunter through historical walking tours or dance along with extravagant parades, New Orleans requests the honor of your presence.

Malta

MALTA

MALTA – Photo courtesy of Flickr/DRAS

Malta is stepping into the spotlight in 2018.    The small island country off the coast of Sicily has a “vibe that is Mediterranean with a North African twist,” says Travel & Leisure.  Already a popular European beach getaway, this year, the world’s artists will descend on Valetta, Malta’s capital, named a 2018 European Capital of Culture.  Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, Valetta boasts Baroque architecture, prehistoric temples and the enviable characterization as “Europe’s sunniest city,” with more than 300 days of sunshine each year.

South Korea

Winter Olympics PYEONGCHANG

PYEONGCHANG, KOREA – Photo courtesy of Flickr/Korea

South Korea will be on full display as PyeongChang hosts the 2018 Winter Olympics next month.  Now an easy commute with the launch of a high-speed rail connecting the resort town to Seoul in 70 minutes, you can tour the Olympic village, attempt your own Triple Axel, and still make your dinner reservation in Seoul’s trendy Hannam neighborhood.  After dinner, don’t forget to stroll through Seoullo 7017, the city’s new high-line park, lined with 24,000 plants atop an elevated former highway.

(These destinations were chosen from the top lists of the New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure, CNN, Frommers, US News & World Report, Lonely Planet, Afar, the Guardian, Rough Guide, LA Times and National Geographic.) 

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Germany: Lock Your Love in Cologne

Open your heart to me, baby
I hold the lock and you hold the key
Open your heart to me, darlin’
I’ll give you love if you, you turn the key

This Valentine’s Day, let Cologne hold the lock and the Rhine hold the key.

Join the Köln tradition by engraving both your names on a padlock and locking your love along the pedestrian pathway of the Hohenzollernbrücke Bridge.  Then throw the key in the Rhine River.

In addition to connecting east and west Cologne, the Hohenzollernbrücke also symbolically links thousands of lovers.

(To learn more about Cologne, Germany… read my article on Travel Squire or listen to my radio segment on Proud FM)

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Let’s Get Visual: East London

The Traveling IQ vault is packed with travel photos that have never seen the light of day. They’re lonely and want to say hello.

Here’s a little photo tour of East London, from my November 2011 visit.

East London has undergone a dramatic change over the last decade. The once isolated area beyond the Tower of London, is now home to trendy shops, cafes, art galleries and open-air markets.

During my visit last year, I explored the area with my trusted “insider” Urban Gentry guide and stayed for the grand opening of the Aloft London Excel Hotel–all as the city was prepping to host the London 2012 Olympic Games.

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Let’s Get Visual: Valencia, Spain

The Traveling IQ vault is packed with travel photos that have never seen the light of day.  They’re lonely and want to say hello.

Here’s a little photo tour of Valencia, Spain, from my summer 2011 visit.

Spain’s third largest city beautifully blends the old and the new.  On a short walk you can easily encounter 2,000 years of history and architecture.

To learn a bit more, read my article in the Washington Post or listen to the radio interview on Portland’s KPAM.

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IQ on Proud FM: Cologne, Germany

Cologne, Germany

Ivan Quintanilla is the featured travel expert on Toronto’s Proud FM Radio “Your Morning With Richard & Chris.”

Click on the link below to hear IQ and the boys talk about gay travel to Cologne, Germany:

Ivan Quintanilla on Proud FM-Cologne  (6 min.)

To learn more about Germany’s fourth largest city, and one of the its most popular gay destinations, read the IQ articles published on Travel Squire and Out Traveler.

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