Singapore Day vs. Night

Singapore is one of those great Modern Asian Cities full of tall buildings with fantastic architecture, gigantic malls around every corner and lights on everything when the sun goes down. Singapore is equally as beautiful during the day as it is at night. Which do you prefer?

Both day and night were spectacular to see, however, to us the night takes the win! What do you think?

We are two en route exploring Singapore 

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GUEST BLOG POST: My Gay Night out in Frankfurt by Viaja Bi!

Germany is one of the most advanced countries in Europe and one of the most outstanding about acceptance to LGBT, specially its capital, Berlin. But the gay night in Frankfurt, though much quieter than Berlin, offers its options.

Note that there are two cities called Frankfurt in Germany. A not so well known is Frankfurt an der Oder, which borders the city of Slubice (Poland), in north-eastern Germany, near Berlin. The most famous one is the other, Frankfurt am Main, also known only as Frankfurt, It’s in the central-western area of the country and it is the one I’ll talk about here today.

I visited the city at the very end of January 2015, with my father, in a backpack trip through the four countries bordering the Czech Republic (Germany, Poland, Slovakia and Austria) and paying a quick visit to Hungary! All in 15 days! 

 Happiness on day one of the backpacking trip in Frankfurt!
Happiness on day one of the backpacking trip in Frankfurt!

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Frankfurt was our first stop and at the very first night, a Saturday, I left my dad at the hostel where we were (read here the review) and went to check the city buzz.

My father wanted to go along with me, but as we had arrived that day, walked all day and it was cold outside, he preferred to stay at the hostel and have a well slept night.

My Gay Night in Frankfurt, Germany

“Let’s shake that ass, baby! Ohhh, please!!!”

With a quick research, I tried to list what seemed to be the best options of the gay night in Frankfurt. I got the addresses, put the map on my phone, and there I was facing the German cold with courage. The gay district of the city is the center (Innenstadt), close to the street Alte Gasse.

Despite being a Saturday, do not expect from Frankfurt a very hectic scene. My choice was a circuit near Zeil street, the famous and posh shopping street in town. There’s a block there that brings together several bars and clubs for LGBT between the Alte Gasse and Elenfantengasse streets.

I started at the Central Bar (check the map). The bar was very small and I got the feeling that the people who go there are regulars. I ordered a drink and stayed a while there even though it was a “half dead” environment. It felt super weird. Not the bar itself, but it felt weird to arrive alone in a bar or club in a city where I didn’t live, not knowing the customs, and it turns out to be full of the “regulars.” 

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Gay night in Frankfurt: Kaiserstraße, the street from my hostel

The second bar was, literally next door to the Central Bar, but I cannot remember its name, nor found it in the research. Sorry, honey! As soon as you enter, you go down a staircase and the club/bar is below street level. It was not my scene, so, of course, I would not recommend.

Third place I stopped is called Tangerine and was more like a pub and was, perhaps, the most enjoyable of the three, having a more relaxed atmosphere, not so posh, but not so underground. I remember the clerk to be super friendly and the public more relaxed, although not so full.

It was pretty strange for me that nowhere was busy on a Saturday night, but from what I learned talking to the people there, gay night Frankfurt is really calm. Good for you to know before going out in Frankfurt, I didn’t.

Because I was looking for more upbeat, I felt a bit frustrated. I thought about going to Gibson, a club at Zeil and the most famous the city. It is not totally gay, but has a LGBT night called Delicious. Since it happened to be that night, I said to myself, “let’s go!”… But I was barred at the door! 😮

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It turns out that in Germany, it is common that the security guards standing at the door assess whether or not you can enter the club. I was in jeans and T-shirt, but on a more tidy footprint, and the sweater was smart casual. But he said I was not well dressed enough! It was an outrage, you know, but will I discuss in German? Of course not! My 1 year and a half of German classes helped me to order in restaurants, but not to argue how my presence was renowned and I would brighten up the place. Then I went away, right? LOL

What I had for the night was turn back to the hostel and rest well because Frankfurt is an amazing city (that I loved and want to go back), and has a lot to do during the day. 

Other Frankfurt Gay Night Options

You can’t get to know everything in such a short time, but in addition to the options already mentioned, on my fabulous research I found some other points around the city you can test if you’re there for a longer time. Shall we?

Gay bars in Frankfurt

You can try the Zum Schwejk, which is super traditional, or Babylon Frankfurt, which has karaoke on Wednesday nights. Lucky’s has karaoke on Tuesdays and is known for low prices. Halo is open every day from 8pm and has shows, warming up the gay night of Frankfurt. If your style is more of a pub, worth trying the Birmingham Pub, which is popular with gay clients.

But the Switchboard, besides being a café bar, is also a support site on HIV/AIDS, providing care to the public. On Sunday evenings, the locals usually go for coffee and cake there. During the year, there are some events and lectures.

Gay clubs in Frankfurt

Club 78 plays songs of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s on two floors and is recommended in the gay night for those who like to party, that’s why they organized a gay cruise last September.

The party Atomic, which takes place on the second Friday of each month at the club Nachtleben, offers a more indie/pop party for a mostly younger audience. Admission is €5.

Delicious, in Gibson, mentioned before, only happens 3 times a year and is your highlight if you want to know the selected people from Frankfurt. Each party has a unique theme with spectacular shows and outstanding production! The dates are posted on the official website.

Not totally gay but still fabulous

The Alte Oper Frankfurt is a historic building in Frankfurt. It is a venue used for musicals, concert and other posh events. Great for a sophisticated gay night out. Also, it doesn’t hurt that it’s very handsome! 😉 

 Alte Oper, Frankfurt, Germany
Alte Oper, Frankfurt, Germany

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And that’s not all! If you want to know more about the gay life and other attractions in Frankfurt, here is the translated version of what I told about Frankfurt at Viaja Bi!.

Hope I had helped you all and thank you guys for inviting me to write here! Loved it! See ya!

Rafael Leick is a Brazilian travel blogger at Viaja Bi! and Viagem Primata. Communication specialist and more than 30 years-old, have lived in London and São Paulo. Follow at Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.

How We Balance Down Time and Tourism

Have you ever felt more tired after a vacation? We sure have!

Being on the road we are constantly in new places with new sights to see and it is easy to fall into the habit of constantly go-go-going. We have found that it is important to balance the continual urge to see it all with the need for down time. Much like being at home, we sometimes need breaks during the day, relaxing evening, a good night sleep, and “weekends” to unwind from a week of doing.  

 Relaxing on the Black Sand Beach, Vík, Iclenad, 2016
Relaxing on the Black Sand Beach, Vík, Iclenad, 2016

We have learned how significant regular breaks during the day can be. Not only do we get to rest our feet, but we get to rest our minds. An easy way for us to do this is to find a café, have a cup of coffee, and people watch. Sitting in silence and letting our mind slow down gives us a second wind for more sight-seeing. 

 Coffee Date. Oslo, Norway, 2016
Coffee Date. Oslo, Norway, 2016

Every night cannot be a night on the town.  Sometimes the best remedy for a long day is a relaxing evening. Dive into a good book, relax in a park, binge watch a tv show, or even nodding off into an early sleep. 

 Kevin relaxing while listening to a good book. Ålä, Sweden, 2016
Kevin relaxing while listening to a good book. Ålä, Sweden, 2016

Another way we have learned to balance our downtime with our tourism is by allowing ourselves to not set wakeup alarms and simply sleeping in. Before traveling the world, we always heard how not getting enough sleep can effect many aspects of your life and it is very true. A good night’s sleep is essential for a good day of sight-seeing.

 Seeing the sights after a good night sleep. Iceland, 2016
Seeing the sights after a good night sleep. Iceland, 2016

Too many consecutive days of being on the go can lead to getting burnt out. After a few weeks of not having a day off from traveling and sight seeing it was time for us to take a weekend. Two consecutive days of hanging around with nothing planned was pure bliss. It reinvigorated us. From that point on we decided that allowing ourselves to have weekends was one of the most important ways of balancing downtime with our tourism. 

 Enjoying a weekend with nothing planned. Copenhagen, Denmark
Enjoying a weekend with nothing planned. Copenhagen, Denmark

We had to let go of being on a schedule to see everything, rather, experience the place we are visiting. A good way to do this is to balance being a tourist with simple being someone living on the move.     

We are two en route for balanced travel.

Sleeping in Airports

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One goal we set for our RTW trip is to make our money go as far as possible and to live within a new means. This meant making compromises along the way and even being uncomfortable at times. We started our trip by testing how far we could test our limits, asked ourselves if these limits were unrealistic, and even hoped that the edge we would walk up to might somehow continue to be pushed further and further out making what would have seemed uncomfortable not so bad. Our journey to the starting point did just that.

We are no strangers to public transit, so dropping our car off at my dad’s work, putting on our backpacks, and navigating DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) to the airport was a breeze. Once we arrived at the airport it was like second nature to us going through security and making it to the gate hours early in anticipation of heading out.

 Goodbye Dallas from the DART, 2016 
Goodbye Dallas from the DART, 2016 

Storms started to roll in just as we were supposed to board the plane. This was not a big deal; we had left plenty of time for our layover in Boston. We finally make it on the plane, which had been delayed nearly an hour, only to find out that the pilots and some crew had not made it because of delays on their end. After another 20 minutes, the crew was there and we pulled away from the gate. Off we go to start our adventure!

 On the Plane, DAL > BOS, 2016
On the Plane, DAL > BOS, 2016

It was past midnight by the time we landed in Boston and by this point we were tired. Not knowing what Boston’s policies are, Kevin asked an employee if Boston was a 24-hour airport. Turns out it is, however, you cannot sleep inside the security area after they close security lines around 2am. We quickly got online to look for sleeping accommodations and found out that getting a “quick hotel” would eat up way more of our daily budget than we were comfortable. Kevin strolled back to the employee and asked, “are their places to sleep outside of security checkpoint that are still inside the airport lobby?” to which the man replied, “yes, but all of the cots have been passed out.”

As we made it out of the airport secured area, sure enough, we noticed a lot of people sleeping on a number of things, cots being one of them. We decided to leave the current terminal (Terminal A) and walk to the international terminal (Terminal E). Along the .5 mile walk, each terminal had its own slew of sleeping patrons. When we walked through Terminal D’s baggage claim, we say a pile of cots on the wall not yet claimed. We found our beds for the night!

 Our Cots for the Night, BOS Airport, 2016
Our Cots for the Night, BOS Airport, 2016

Settling in at Terminal E for the night was a new experience for us since neither of us had even stayed overnight in an airport. Time to test out pushing our limits. We knew we would not be getting much sleep because there was a large tag on the cots saying they would be picked up at 5am and by the time we locked our bags up and settled in it was nearly 1am. Between the stiff cots and the lady on the PA system announcing the next flight to Hong Kong, it was a rough night trying to grasp a few hours of sleep. At 5am, we woke up, tried to compose ourselves to the best of our ability, and wandered like zombies trying to figure out what we wanted to do for the next 14 hours. Figuring out next steps out was quick, we both wanted to find a bench to nap on, so we did. Airport lobby bench seats are much more comfortable than those cots, but only if you are lucky enough to find a bench without fixed armrests. Lesson learned.

 Brad Sleeping, BOS Airport, 2016
Brad Sleeping, BOS Airport, 2016

After a few hours of sleep, we feel refreshed! Testing our limits is a baby-step process. First sleeping in airports in Boston, next we will be sleeping in our rental car in Iceland, and then maybe on the floor of a train station. Not every limitation we test will be worth it in terms of our comfort, but every tested limitation will be a worthwhile lesson learned about ourselves.

We are two en route to mastering airport sleeping.

Choosing The Backpack

When we chose to live on the road for more than a year we realized one of the most important items we would have was the pack on our back. After some initial online research we knew this was something we would need to purchase in person.  We would need to try it on, feel the quality of the interconnections in the zipper, how the materials felt between our fingers and all the other feel goods the internet can’t offer.  For us that meant a trip to REI.

 Photo from  Preston Hollow Advocate
Photo from Preston Hollow Advocate

Since we are mainly “urban backpacking” those large monstrosities of outdoor hiking bags were immediately eliminated. Which unfortunately, is most of what is on the market. When it came to what options were still available, we initially had thoughts like, “there is no way we can live in anything less than 70 liters each.” Between needing outfit options, creature comforts, electronics, and toiletries, we felt 70 liters was even going to be hard. Keeping in mind that we plan to live out of this bag for over a year we wanted to have room for everything we would need, but also knew carrying extra unnecessary weight was going to quickly get old (and painful). It was time for us to do some serious research to figure out what was going in our bags before making a final decision.

Most people we spoke with and blogs we read had a general consensus that 20 lbs (all-in, filled to the brim) was the target weight for a pack. In order to stay around that weight, we knew 70 liters would be too big.  Filling 70 liters to the brim gets you well past 20 lbs, ouchies. Now that our backpack was shrinking, another question came up; did we want to have a carry-on size pack? We decided that this was a must. Not only would this make it easier to carry on our back, it would be easier on all forms of transit. As an added bonus, often times carry-ons are free while checking a bag costs extra and the more dollars we save the more days we travel.

Since we are going to be taking all forms of transportation in many different countries, another key feature we felt was a must was security. We wanted to make our packs appear to be hard to try and break into or steal especially since everything we own will be inside. Security features we looked for were tear resistant fabric, high quality construction, and lockable zippers.

  Image from REI website
Image from REI website

With so much security built into one bag, we wanted to make sure the bag was still easy for us to use. The last thing we want is to be in a situation where we need something quickly and are not able to get to it with ease. Some great features we saw on bags was being able to open them like a suitcase so you could quickly and easily get to everything,  smaller compartments to help with organization, and the ability to attach and detach a removable day pack for when you just need a few things with you and can leave the bulk of your items stuffed away someplace safe (not on our backs).

After we looked at what different backpacks offered and compared them to our must have list, we chose the Osprey Porter 46. It is a carry-on size, 46 liter pack with a suit-case style full zip opening for ease of use, great security, and the ability to attach a 13 liter day pack (Osprey Daylite). As an added bonus, the Porter 46 even has compression sidewalls that help keep everything snug and secure no matter what’s inside. Packs purchased!

 Image from REI website
Image from REI website

As is often the case, before committing to something long term it is a good idea to give it a short term trial. We purchased the Porter 46 and Daylite to take with us to New Zealand in April.  This allowed us to make sure the packs fit well, held up, and actually fulfilled our wants and needs. From storing them overhead on the plane to only taking the Daylite with us around town, they did great.

 Piha Beach with only the Daylite, New Zealand, 2016
Piha Beach with only the Daylite, New Zealand, 2016

We are two en route to backpack the world.