Tuesday, March 08, 2011

[The Life of Shaun #427] Big, Big, Big

I meant to post some pics from my Big Gay Cruise in the week after I got back, but fatigue and jetlag beat out ambition. I am home on this sunny(!) and warm(!!) Tuesday afternoon, so thought I could manage one semi-productive adventure (other than lunch), so I've posted some pics:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=344601&id=713081334&l=a81d3ac13f

(There are more party pics than necessary, but I have some friends who're keen to peek at them.)

Attached are a few of my faves from the bunch.

The cruise was a lot of fun; it reminded me a bit of the March on DC insomuch as it was this bubble of a week where the World was gay. Yes, there was a party every afternoon (The Gays love their tea) and night and early morning and sometimes beyond. But going to breakfast, having a stroll, a tipple or a nibble or a show, everyone was gay/gayphilic. And without sounding too insular, it really is a nice atmosphere when everyone's on the same pink page. When We (capital intentional) go on holiday, We're all in the same mindset - everyone just wants to have a good time, drops the attitude, and doesn't stress. Several staff told us how much more they were enjoying our cruise as we weren't complaining and everyone was smiling and just having fun*.

Still, for me it wasn't such an exceptional experience to justify the price tag again. Maybe that's because I live in London and a hedonistic weekend in Berlin is an hour and £50 away, but I'm not convinced I'd do another one, given holiday and fiscal restraints. If I do, I'll do a smaller boat - 2,500 is certainly enough to pick from, and the smaller cruises are half the price. But excursions like India, South America, the Arab world and Africa have a more pressing claim on my limited travel pounds in the immediate future.

The Big Gay Cruise was followed by three much-needed relaxing and recharging days with Natasha and Chris. It was perfect to see them again, and I really realise how much I miss them.

Next was the Big Apple; it'd be overkill to talk yet more about New York, but I got to see all the people I wanted to (who I miss also), got to eat Taco Bell and Pongsri Thai and saw seeds of my New York's revival below 14th, so all is good on the enchanted isle.

The last Big owes thanks to Alexi: a tour of Big Ben (or more precisely, the Great Westminster Clock Tower). Unfortunately, pics were strictly verboten, but everyone knows what it looks like. It was really quite cool to be feet from the bells as they chimed their hourly tune, and Big Ben as it chimed out twelve hours, to feel the vibrations in the ironworks and hear the harmonics in the reverberations. The clock faces are smaller than I supposed and are lit only by a collection of 80-watt (yes, 80!) bulbs. From the top I was able to see my building, which was a nice reversal of my normal view.

Post-holiday glow is over and am I am back in and enjoying London life. Lots of weekend pleasantries in the upcoming months, including forays to Berlin and Madrid, but mostly within the Circular, so I won't be giving my British passport much of a workout just yet.

Cheers from East London,
Shaun


*As long as the alcohol was flowing - which was always. An acquaintance who worked for a cruise line said the gay cruises go through 1/3rd the amount of food and six times the amount of alcohol as a normal cruise. In addition to all the set bars, they had cocktail waiters and mobile bars everywhere; I don't think we were ever more than a ten second walk from a bottle of vodka.


The Oasis of the Seas, home of the Big Gay Cruise, the world's largest cruise ship

Russ in our room

Me on our balcony, with the beautiful Ft. Lauderdale skyline behind

On gay cruises, people decorate their doors so passers-by know who's inside. This was ours.

One of the daily tea dances

Me at the dog tag dance

Gay cruisers also put up boards to leave and receive messages. Most of ours weren't appropriate for public consumption, but this is one from midweek.

A plane landing at Maho Beach, next to the airport. From Wikipedia: "The short length of the main runway at Princess Juliana International Airport, and its position between a large hill and a beach causes some spectacular approaches. Aviation photographers flock to the airport to capture pictures of large jets just a few metres above sunbathers (who are often blown away by the jet blast if they are standing in its path) on Maho Beach."



_________________________________________________________________________________
Shaun H. Coley | Shadwell | Tower Hamlets | London | UK | www.nocirc.org

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