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Happy Canada Day 2015!
To celebrate this Canada Day, celebrated the 1st of July every year, here are some Canada Geese, hanging out by Burnaby Lake in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
I took this photo about two years ago now, as I went around the city with my friend Ryan trying to find new secluded places to hike and walk around the greater Vancouver area, before moving to the UK.
Happy Canada Day!!
June is here, and with it, the beginning of pride season, as pride festivals and events begin to pop up all over the world (mainly the northern hemisphere). No, this blog post is not about songs, despite the festive title (although singing to my favourite gay anthems shall happen this summer), but if you read through, you’ll understand the name of the post!
Pride festivals are meant to increase the visibility of LGBT people in our communities, and stand for gay+ acceptance and equality in rights. These pride celebrations have their share of fans (and a number of not-so-fans) in both the straight and gay communities, and to me they are an important part of gay culture and a way for everyone to have fun in a non-judgemental, colourful way. No, a pride parade is not everyday life for every gay and lesbian, but I see nothing wrong with a little celebration now and then!
The Ghost of Prides Past
Until two years ago, I had surprisingly only ever gone to one pride (albeit many times). This might come as a surprise to some of my friends, who perceive me as ‘very gay,’ hopping from one bar to another on any given Saturday night (which does happen, but not as often as it seems!).
For me, until 2013, it was all about the Vancouver Pride Festival, a week-long celebration that happens every year in the last week of July, culminating with a fabulous parade on the first Sunday of August (which happens to be a long weekend). To date, I have gone to Vancouver Pride six years so far (I skipped a few in between!), and being the great celebration that it is, I never even considered traveling anywhere to witness other cities’ pride celebrations. When I moved to the UK nearly two years ago, I decided I’d branch out. It was not that I didn’t want to see other pride festivals. It was simply that I didn’t feel the need to go out of my way to go to other prides, when a great one already happened at home every year. But this was a new beginning, and a new opportunity to try new things.
My first pride experience out of Vancouver was Pride in London 2014, a parade that to me, just wasn’t as good as it could’ve been. I wanted so badly to have a good time, but it was a combination of things seem to have conspired to make me not enjoy the event as I was hoping: I may have over-built the excitement of seeing a new pride parade too much; I may have compared Pride in London to Vancouver Pride just a little too much… like, through the entire thing; or maybe it was the fact that it rained buckets that day! – In any case, London’s pride just didn’t meet my expectations, and left me wanting a lot more. With the rain as a complete damper, my friends and I ended up skipping most f the parade and the post-parade festival at Trafalgar Square, and opting for pub drinks instead.
A month later, I headed over to my second pride festival in the UK, in the coastal town of Brighton. To put it bluntly, Brighton & Hove Pride 2014 blew Pride in London out of the water, and it surpassed my expectations a gizillion times. The atmosphere of the parade and the excitement of the people was so vibrant you could almost feel it in the air. The Brighton & Hove Pride is the UK’s biggest pride festivals and it’s definitely worth checking out, with an interactive parade that reminded me of Vancouver (both in the way it was well-organized and the geographical setting itself), and the post-parade festival at Preston Park, which was great fun with good music and loads of stalls to keep us entertained.
Lastly, I headed to my third pride festival of 2014 at Pride Cymru 2014, the official pride for Wales held in its capital, Cardiff. Pride Cymru is much smaller than Brighton, but it held the same fun atmosphere, although in a much smaller scale. The group of friends I went with (all Welsh) were great company through the entire day, watching the mini parade (twice, actually!), and dancing the day and night away in the post-parade festival Main Event at Coopers Field. Aside from a little incident in which I got punched in the jaw and lost part of a tooth for trying to stop a fight between two pride goers (welcome to Wales!), I had a great night!
The Ghost of Non-Prides
No, not an official ghost, but in between last year and now, I have attended two gay-heavy events that, although not official pride events, could easily compete with some of the best.
The first happened by pure un-planned accident in November 2014 as I happened to be in Cape Town, South Africa, on the weekend of Gay Day in Cape Town, a street party that works as a teaser to Cape Town’s official Pride, which happens in the middle of February. Gay Day was so much fun, with various streets around the gay area closed to traffic and turned into a huge street party, in which drag queens performed, and a combination of live music and disco tunes alternated between two stages. The atmosphere was fantastic, and the only sad part about the day was that I had to leave early-ish, as the place started to really fill up, because I was leaving Cape Town that evening!
The second event happened only a few weeks ago in May 2015, at the gay-inundated European music contest Eurovision, which Eamonn and I went to in Vienna, Austria. This is not an official pride, nor a gay event even, but with a large gay attendance, the party was full of rainbow flags waving about, literally and figuratively!
The Ghost of Prides Yet to Come
This summer I will once again be gaying it up by visiting three prides. I am also once again being an ambassador for #mygaypride, an initiative set up last summer by one of my favourite travel blogger duo Two Bad Tourists.
The initiative #mygaypride, started up last year by Two Bad Tourists, is back again this year and will see a bunch of real travel bloggers (not wannabes, like me), gay website Gay Star News, and many more ‘ambassadors’ (that’s me!) spread the hashtag #mygaypride on social media, as we visit a multitude of Pride events this summer, all over the world. The hashtag is a way of uniting gay and gay-friendly individuals world-wide as we celebrate diversity and promote equality everywhere through sharing our experiences in and out of pride events.
To start up my 2015 pride season, I will be giving Pride in London a second chance, and I promise I will go with a clean slate and no preconceptions. I am hoping this year’s parade and celebrations will completely blow me away and I will have nothing but good things to say about it. My boyfriend Eamonn will also be walking the parade with his company, so I also have him to look forward to!
Secondly, I will once again return to Brighton & Hove Pride on the first weekend of August. A small group of friends will be going with me this year, and I know that I’ll have a great time making the mini-trek (aka the gay pilgrimage) down to Brighton in the morning, and enjoying what has become one of my favourite places in the UK, pride style! Brighton & Hove Pride is celebrating their 25th anniversary this year, and to add to the excitement, the after party at Preston Park has a fantastic line-up of artists and DJs, including Fatboy Slim, Hercules & Love Affair, Freemasons, and Bright Light Bright Light, so it’s sure to be a fantastic festival as a whole!
To end 2015’s pride celebrations in style, this year I will be heading over to pride in no other place than…. Reykjavik! That is right, my boyfriend Eamonn, two friends and I will be visiting Iceland for a few days, staying in Reykjavik and exploring some of the island from there. We planned to go over the pride weekend so we could experience the pride atmosphere as well as the country’s natural beauty. I am very excited to see pride in a country that, although quite small and fairly secluded, has been historically very strongly gay-friendly – can’t wait!
I hope all my LGBT and gay-friendly readers are looking forward to the summer pride season, and maybe you’ll be enjoying some of these festivals yourself… if so, please let me know, I’d love to hear! And don’t forget to tag all your photos under #mygaypride to keep connected!
What is the favourite pride festival you’ve been to?
A few months ago, my good friend Erik Carlson, a real estate agent in Vancouver, interviewed me about my experience living in London England, vs my life in Vancouver Canada as part of his quarterly newsletter.
It’s a pretty nifty interview if I do say so myself, so I figured I’d share it with you!
Name: Claus Gurumeta
Where I Live Now: London, England, UK
My ‘Must-Do’ List:
- London has an impressive array of museums to satisfy everyone’s interests: from art (classic, modern, contemporary), to natural history, to historical jewels, weaponry, and fashion, you’ll find a museum in London. Most impressively, most museums are free of charge!
- Explore one of London’s many markets, whether it is the weekend markets in Brick Lane, or the daily markets of Brixton or Camden, they are a must-do!
- London’s pub-culture is impressive, with a multitude of different pubs anywhere you look. Definitely try out a few, and taste the local room-temperature ales for a change!
Insider Tips: If you plan to catch a musical in the West End, pre-buy your tickets to get the seats you want! Yes, you can sometimes buy discounted tickets on the day of the show, but you’ll end up with the worst seats in the house, and still pay for it. Also, don’t be afraid to walk off the main tourist areas and try a local pub for lunch (or for beers); there are so many great options around the city that there is no reason to stick to the tourist traps. If you see a recommendation in your Lonely Planet guidebook, do yourself a favour and skip it!
My Biggest Struggle Here: Shopping for specialty groceries. It is impressive, despite being such similar cultures, how hard it is to find certain ingredients which are easily found at home!
In Vancouver I Lived In:North Vancouver
What I Miss Most About Vancouver: Sushi! Other than Japan, every other destination I’ve ever lived in / visited disappoints when it comes to matching Vancouver’s amazing sushi.
Favorite Place(s) To Wine, And To Dine, In Vancouver: I really like Italian Kitchen on Alberni St for a nice dinner, but mostly you’d find me chowing down on cheap eats and some beers at The Fountainhead Pub on Davie St. On a summer day, nothing beats the patio at the Cactus Club on English Bay.
Where would YOU live if you had the opportunity to move abroad?
Happy Canada Day 2014!
I still hold the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics as one of my favourite memories of Living in Vancouver. I still remember the excitement circulating in the city during the entire two weeks of the Olympics. Most dramatic was Canada’s winning the Gold medal on the hockey game over the USA. The excitement!
As Canada prepares to battle for gold again, four years later, at the Sochi Olympics, I am rooting for my country from the UK. Go Canada!
Last week my friend Samantha and I went on our first helicopter tour. The ride took us around Burrard Inlet, all the way along the coast of the North shore, before turning around and going all the way to UBC, and Jericho Beach., before flying over False Creek, circling the downtown core.
The experience was unbelievable, and the views of the city and the mountains on a clear summer day were outstanding! Here are some photos I took during the helicopter ride!
Helijet tours start at CDN$99 per person for the 10-minute tour, based on how many people are in your group. Standard for a couple is CDN$300 for both.
The Pacific National Exhibition fair is back in Vancouver at its usual home, in the grounds of Playland in East Vancouver.
The fair experienced some cut backs this year (the one I was most sad about wad the Pyrotechnic Spectacular nightly show, which was worth the entry price alone!). With these cutbacks, the fair is able to provide goers a 20% discount over last year’s prices, so you can now visit the fair for only CDN$16 (CDN$14 if you pre-buy online!).
The usual attractions are still intact, including the popular Superdogs, the hilarious pig races, as well as the breath-taking Peking Acrobats. The summer night concerts have a number of popular singers gracing the stage at night, and tribute bands also play at night.
You can also walk around the agricultural stages and take a look at the horses, cows, pigs and sheep (yes, that sort of stuff is interesting to city folk like myself!).
New this year is the Sportacular musical / sports show, which was very cool (especially the motorcycle tricks!), and the short but sweet 80’s Forever dance show. These shows combined don’t add up to the canceled Pyrotechnic Spectacular, but they are a great time.
The rotating exhibit this year is about Mongolia’s historic leader Genghis Khan; admission to the exhibit is CDN$3 per person. I found the exhibit to be quite interesting, showcasing a collection of artifacts and weapons that are centuries old.
If you want to go on the rides be prepared to spend extra as the rides are not included in this ticket (you can either pay for a few rides or get an all-in pass). Also, be prepared to spend quite a bit on food, as the usual suspects (wiggle chips, mini donuts, sno-cones, kettle corn, and cotton candy) can get a little pricey. Tip: Make sure to bring a water bottle to refill along the day, as even water costs CDN$4 at the park!
Check out the official website of the PNE to see what shows are playing when, so you can plan your trip to the PNE. Also, note that the park will be closed using both Mondays of the run of the PNE, to aid in the cost cutting.
The Sea to Sky Highway, which connects Vancouver to the resort town of Whistler, is one of the most scenic highways I’ve ever traveled.
The ride takes just over one hour since it was renovated for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, but there are plenty of view points that will allow drivers to stop and really take in all the scenery in.
A couple of the stops look out into the ocean and the gulf Islands, but my favourite stops include Shannon Falls, near the town of Squamish, and Brandywine Falls, which my friend Ryan and I only just discovered on our latest drive up!
Vancouver’s iconic urban Stanley Park turns 125 years. An oasis of calm bordering the downtown of the city, Stanley Park is bigger in area than New York City’s famous Central Park, and is one of Vancouver’s most popular attractions, with over eight million visitors per year!
Stanley Park is surrounded by a large portion of Vancouver’s famous Seawall. The park is also home to other popular attractions in Vancouver, including the Vancouver Aquarium; the summer outdoor theatre series Theatre Under the Stars; horse-drawn carriage tours, the Stanley Park Train (which hosts the Christmas Bright Nights and the Halloween Ghost Train), and the summer outdoor movie series Fresh Air Cinema.
The park also boasts three beaches and a public swimming pool, as well as plenty of gardens, open spaces, picnic spots, and trails.
Last weekend, Vancouver dressed up in rainbows to celebrate LGBT Pride once again. Vancouver’s Pride celebrated their 35th anniversary in the city, and this was by far the most incredible Pride I’ve ever been to. From the events leading up to the parade (my favourite being Picnic in the Park, the weekend prior), to the amazing 2013 parade, Vancouver Pride did not disappoint.
Here are some photos of the Pride parade itself, the Pride Marketplace and beer garden party at the end of the parade, as well as random displays of pride around Vancouver’s West End.
The 5th of August 2013 is British Columbia Day, a celebration of the province I live in. It really is simply an excuse to have a holiday (there are no special celebrations for the day). However, how about I share some photographs I’ve taken of the beautiful scenery from around my province?!
We’ve had beautiful sunsets all week long in Vancouver. One of my favourite sunset-watching spots is at English Bay, in downtown’s West End.
Yesterday I couldn’t resist the beauty of it, and ended up jumping in the water with my friend Steve. First time I swim in English Bay in YEARS… and it was amazing!
Spring is one of my favourite parts of the year, whether I am home or away. This year, Vancouver treated us to a dry, sunny and warm Spring that was very unseasonal (it has now started raining and gotten chillier, after two weeks of blissful weather).
During my breaks at work, I sometimes like going around for a walk around downtown Vancouver’s West End, and was able to get some beautiful shots of the area with cherry blossoms in full bloom!