Before I'd met Bohoken, I was planning a 10-day Eurovacation: London (for World Pride), Amsterdam (for the orange) and Berlin (for the fucking). But Bohoken had never been on a cruise and wanted to try one out. I have a thing about not wanting to have the same travel experience twice before I see most of the world, so I resisted at first, having already done an Atlantis cruise in the Caribbean. However, a friend of mine told me about a company called La Demence. They're a party promotion group out of Brussels mostly known for their club events, but in 2011, they'd done their first gay cruise. I figured I could justify a Mediterranean cruise with a European company as a unique experience. As we went into planning our trip, Bohoken became the director of operations while I took on the creative director role.
Now, not to brag, but flying business class was a whole new experience for me! And Bohoken knew I'd need the extra space for any hope of sleeping on our 6-hour overnight flight. We'd planned 4 days in Paris before the cruise (we'd be too tired to enjoy it after), so we flew Air France.
|two of my favorite things: travel and alcohol!|
There was no wait to check in (for some reason, they wouldn't let us check in online), and our checked luggage (we couldn’t fit our costumes for the theme parties in carry-ons!) were tagged as priority. No idea if that makes any difference, but it sure felt special!
Me: "Excuse me, is this the business class security line?"
TSA: "Yes, just this way."
Bohoken: "Wow, there's a separate line?!"
Me: "Duh! And see how much shorter it is?"
Bohoken: "Man, you're really milking this."
Me: "Those few times I've actually had to wait in a security line, I've always envied those business-class bitches. Our turn not to wait!"
You'd think nobody would be at the airport for an 11:30pm flight, but the Mexican and Italian airlines were packed.
After we zipped through security, the gate agents pointed us to the Air France lounge. We rounded the corner to a romantically lit space with chairs and tables and plugs in the floor. Along the wall: an assortment of hors d'oeuvres, liquors and mixers. I went for the bottle of champagne chilling in the fridge.
Delayed boarding? Who cares!
It was all I could do not to play with the lie-flat seats as we waited for everyone to board the plane. But the glasses of champagne they were practically hurling at us made for a great distraction. For dinner, I had some sort of lobster dish that was actually good!
2 Benadryl and a few glasses of champagne later, we were about to start the final descent.
We zipped through customs with no questions asked of us and no forms to fill out. The terminal we walked (a long-ass way) through was marvelous (it looked like a huge wine barrel). And after all that luxury and special treatment, Bohoken had me sitting on a non-air-conditioned
car train that looked straight out of Ben Kingsley's Ghandi.
After multiple transfers (with that heavy bag), we finally arrived at Les Jardins du Marais, our hotel. Apparently, hotels aren't so abundant in La Marais, the gay/chic area, so this one with a 10-minute walk to the main drag would have to suffice. Our room was notably small, but it was nice and had everything we needed except for a full-length mirror.
Bohoken suggested lunch just down the road in the Bastille area. We settled on Falstaff, a touristy place right on the traffic circle and a prime spot for people-watching. All the outdoor seating at the cafés faces the street to facilitate my second favorite activity (which is one reason I'm sure Europeans are such better dressers). Sipping more champagne, we were serenaded by a guy playing a sort of combination electric guitar/bass instrument with a slim-rectangular body. From what I heard, I thought he was 2 musicians before he moved in front of our restaurant.
|champagne + red wine = balanced meal|
Btw, as far as I’m concerned, the determining factor for a restaurant outside the US is not the food selection or quality: it's the presence of WiFi. But the seafood salad I had was great! Speaking of great, you should have seen the photos this Parisian on Scruff sent us. After a bit of back-and-forth, he suggested we meet up for a drink in La Marais after he got off of work.
Side note: whenever you see a French name in these posts, read it in your head with an exaggerated Pepe LePew accent. It's much more romantic that way.
Bohoken walked me around La Marais and to some other landmarks like the Pompidou Center. We had a drink at Open Cafe, a gay bar on a busy corner of La Marais with no WiFi. When you walk by this place, you can feel the eyes of the dozens of men who fill the outdoor tables on you. I hand mixed feelings at first, but I started smiling and winking at them by the second day.
We arrived at Cox earlier than our planned rendezvous, but they actually had WiFi. A good thing, too, because our drink date totally flaked. No biggie, tho. The bartender was very nice, even if the clientele was a bit standoffish. The scene was mostly on their roped-off sidewalk and full of smoke, and it doesn’t help that I don't speak French. I was happy to sip a few drinks, watch the bears cruise (making up subtitles in my head) and play on Scruff and Grindr.
After a disco nap, we hit up Raidd, the most suggested of the bars in Paris from my social-media askings. Raidd’s dance floor is about the size of Barrage without the bar.
The Paris scene seems to have similar timing to the NYC scene, so we arrived at midnight to a packed bar. One thing that the Paris scene doesn't have: vodka. In the US, we're used to about 6 flavors of Absolut and at least 3 flavors of a top-shelf brand in addition to a well brand, several regular call brands and at least a few regular top shelf brands. From what I observed: you had Belvedere and well. Perhaps plain Absolut. This was no-Citrón-and-soda situation. Raidd only had shitty well vodka, so we went with the house white wine, which was surprisingly good and only 4 Euros.
Oh, and there's no free-pouring in Europe. You have to ask (and pay for) a double to get a decent drink. Even the wine is measured pours from an automatic pourer in some bars!
We got lucky with ordering from the bar because our timing put us front and center for one of the legendary shower shows. A strikingly handsome multiracial man in his mid-20s with a great body put on quite a show for the cheering crowd, which was rewarded with a sizable outline in his wet boxer-briefs and just a peek at the tip of the girthy monster that made it.
|hold me closer, giant dancer.|
We bade our dance partner farewell and headed home around 430. After I got a very tired Bohoken to bed, I fired up Grindr for shits and giggles.