May 19 2008

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Tolerant Vancouver a top gay travel destination

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Vancouver
By Matthew
Link

During my first Vancouver vacation, I was sick with food poisoning
(from a breakfast burrito ingested at the Portland airport, don’t ask). Then I
joined the festivities for the gay ski week at nearby Whistler, only to throw my
back out snowboarding down a mountain and was laid up for a couple weeks
afterwards. Let’s just say during my most recent travel to this gorgeous Northwest
city, I left with much better memories!

This trip, I was escorted by my
good friend Aefa, a lesbian travel writer who has called Vancouver home for
several years, and she showed me a much more fun time! The city is going through an
economic boom (unlike most of the U.S.), real estate prices are climbing, the
adjoining province of Alberta is flush with oil revenues, and the influx of
wealthy immigrants, especially from Asia, has added a sophisticated flair to
this metropolis of two million plus.

Vancouver is blessed with moderate weather
(well, moderate compared to the rest of Canada!), and tolerant West Coast
attitudes towards diversity. In fact, it is home to Canada’s largest LGBT
population west of Toronto. Of course, gays and lesbians have been allowed to
marry in Canada since 2005 (the fourth country in the world to grant full
marriage rights)! It was a welcome
relief from the conservative trends in the lower 48.

I stayed right on
Davie Street, the gay heart of the city where rainbow banners adorn the
lampposts and straights just adore frequenting the gay-popular bars,
restaurants and shops. Vancouver’s signature glass tower apartment buildings
rose up all around, overlooking the panorama of harbor and snow-capped
mountains. No wonder the film industry uses Vancouver (aka Hollywood North) to
film tons of movies and TV shows, including The L Word. There’s an
electricity in the air as the city prepares for the 2010 Winter Olympics, and
major spending on infrastructure and general sprucing up going
on.

Vancouver’s populace is friendly and mellow, far from the rush rush
of the East Coast. (Bette Midler once quipped "I’ve never seen so much coffee in
all my life. And still nothing gets done any faster!")  Vancouverites also
embrace the outdoors, and even in early spring I saw joggers, kayakers, and
soccer players enjoying the city’s lush green spaces — namely scenic Stanley
Park
, one of the world’s largest urban parks at 1,000 acres.

We also spent time
at Granville Island, another must-see filled with eclectic eateries and a
thriving theater scene. The weather wasn’t quite warm enough for me to drop trou
at Wreck Beach, one of the most famous nude beaches in the world, but I intend to do just that on my
next Vancouver vacation!

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Matthew Link is the Editor At Large for The Out Traveler magazine, as
well as a contributor to Newsweek. Having been to over 60 countries and
all 7 continents doesn’t keep him from getting on the next plane away
from his home in New York City.

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Posted on: May 19, 2008 | Tags: , , , | Category: Gay travel

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