BEACH, DISCO OR DRAMA?
THE RED SEA, ISRAEL
Best for: Partners who enjoy daring places that might be risky but are worth the adventure.
Attractions: There’s something quite magical, if not politically staggering, about the town of Eilat, resting gingerly on the Israeli side of the Red Sea. Peering across this seawater inlet, the Gulf Of Aqaba, is the Arab country of Jordan, while further along are Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Eilat is not just history in the making, but made for history buffs.
The other appeal of the Red Sea is its plethora of water sports (stop sniggering at the back!), duty free shopping, and year-round warm temperatures. The Red Sea is named after the dazzling red sunlight dappled on the mountains surrounding what is the world’s northernmost tropical sea. Distractions: While Eilat itself hasn’t been subject to much in the way of terror activity compared to other parts of Israel, this is a volatile geo-political region at the best of times. Always check on the Middle Eastern security situation leading right up to your trip. That said, when you forget about where you are, The Red Sea is awe-inspiring.
Romance Factor: Swimming with dolphins, scuba diving or snorkelling on coral reefs, amazing breakfast buffets and thousands of years of history staring you in the face… now there’s a Facebook bucket list photo album to brag about.
Gay or nay? For all its transgressions, Israel is the only place in the Middle East where being gay is legal, and the only country where we can safely walk around as gay men holding hands together. Toda.
Best for: Grooms who don’t plan on sleeping much or being monogamous. Attractions: When it comes to towns with party reputations, nothing, nichts, comes close to the German capital. It’s not just the European HQ of clubbing, it’s arguable the global epicentre of club culture. While Berghain topped DNA’s poll a few years back as best dance venue in the world, there are so many others, and good ones at that. If you didn’t come to party, Berlin is a city with a unique historical duality: capitalism and communism, Weimar liberalism and Nazi brutality, East and West Germany. If you venture out in daylight, visit the Globetrotters Reichstag, the Holocaust Memorial, the Siegessäule looming over the Tiergarten and the gorgeous Wannsee Lake. Distractions: Since Berlin is where the world comes to dance, you may need to pace yourselves when it comes to partying. Like London, NYC and Sydney, Berlin is dealing with the chronic aftermath of “PNP” culture, with countless chem sex casualties. Be safe, be good to yourself and make sure you know what you’re taking if you’re taking something.
Romance Factor: While Berlin lacks the picturesque charm of Paris and the grandeur of London, it breeds a tough, bohemian attitude, much like the local men. This is truly a city that’s seen it all… and has invented quite a few new things, too.
Gay or nay? Berlin is so queer it eats slings, leather jockstraps and boots for frühstück. Classic West German gay life pivots around Nollendorfplatz (home to nightclub Ficken 3000, which translates as Fucking 3000), whereas Mitte in the East has a postreunification wild-child style. The word for gay in German in schwul. Berlin is über-schwul.
Best for: Rewriting Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy as Romeo And Julius… with a happy ending.
Attractions: What’s not to love about this belissima northern Italian city, sandwiched between Venice and Milan? It has managed to concoct a tourism industry from its connection to Shakespeare’s Romeo And Juliet. Not only can you visit the “real” Juliet’s balcony, but you can touch the nipple on a statue of Juliet that allegedly casts a romantic spell upon your life. Ignore the fact that Romeo and Juliet were not real people, Shakespeare never went to Italy, and the young lovers’ “romance” ends with them both dead!
Extra attraction for water sports buffs: Verona boasts a huge, stylish waterpark on its outskirts called Caneva, that we rate as the best in the world. Bring your speedos! Distractions: Yes, this is a very hetero setting but bring some homo love to town by holding hands in front of Juliet’s balcony. Wander this picturesque town full of delicious views, food and men. If you’re in need there’s a quaint gay bar and, less quaint, a gay cruise bar, Liquid Club, specialising in the sort of bawdy mischief the likes of which Will Shakespeare himself would’ve approved.
Romance Factor: While it’s big on hetero romance, add a gay twist by writing your names on the wall to the entrance of Juliet’s balcony to stake a queer claim on love. Gay or nay? Verona is a mere hour’s drive from Lake Garda which, for our money, might just be the most gorgeous location on Earth. Then again, there is Venice an hour in the opposite direction where you can snap the ultimate romantic selfie.
Best for: Avoiding the straight honeymooners swooning around Santorini like they own this thing called love (and marriage).
Attractions: Crete, which is the fifth biggest island in Europe is also the largest and most populated of all the Greek islands. Some well-informed folks believe it was another isle, Mykonos, which saved Greece’s economy. If you’ve recently visited this overpriced Greek island, so favoured by the gays, you’d have undoubtedly experienced severe financial hardship, too! Historical hotspot Crete, by contrast, is reasonably priced, less crowed and less cruisy, which are all positive things if you’re on a gay honeymoon, right?! Distractions: Okay, we need to talk seriously about this for a minute. The local Crete men, with their swarthy, smouldering complexions and steely-blue bedroom eyes, are not just a huge distraction they may derail your honeymoon altogether.
While tourism is the main business here, the island also supports itself through agriculture – the only island in Greece to make such a claim. A few years back there was a decision to build a huge container port on Crete but, mercifully, thanks to the dire Greek financial situation, that appears to be on permanent hold.
Romance Factor: Gorgeous white sandy beaches? Check. Clear, warm turquoise water? Check. Handsomely rugged terrain and gift-from-the-Gods’ ancient ruins? Check. Since 2015 Greece has recognised same-sex civil partnerships and hopefully will soon go the same way as EU counterparts Germany and Ireland with marriage equality.
Gay or nay? This is the country that invented Greek love! How much gayer do you need? Okay then, Lady Gaga and Rihanna both visited here recently, though not on their honeymoon!