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Sure, take a Pride vacation
by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

Wondering what to do with that stimulus check and additional days off? Take a Pride-cation. Since you had so much fun at Seattle's recent Pride festivities, roasting in 90-degree weather to boot, it makes perfect sense to strut that new tanline at another city's annual events. I've rounded up information on five upcoming Gay Pride weekends from Frankfurt to Reno, complete with the easiest way to get there and hotel tips. All you have to do is call your travel agent or go online and book your reservations. Then pack your bags, work those extra pounds off at the gym (yes, ice cream does that to you), and re-stock your party kit, because I hear those boys in San Diego can really turn it up a notch. Here's where to get your Pride on (again) this summer.

America and close by

San Diego Pride - San Diego
July 19-20
www.sandiegopride.org

Emmy-winning comedienne Kathy Griffin, who just added a third night at Seattle's Paramount Theatre in November, is scheduled to headline this year's Pride festivities in San Diego. The recent California marriage ruling will certainly be a plus factor for the Southern California city, which affords daytrips to nearby Tijuana. The parade on July 20 starts at University Avenue and Normal Street, then winds along Sixth Avenue to Upas. Chris Cox and Manny Lehman DJ on separate decks for Saturday's big Harbor Cruise, while DJ Abel, Ralphi Rosario, Wayne G and Phil B rotate the mixes on Sunday evening at the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Getting to San Diego from Seattle is a cinch, considering Jet Blue (www.jetblue.com) just launched direct flights between the two West Coast cities. You can work a full day at the office on July 18, depart SeaTac at 6:35 p.m. and land in San Diego at 9:23 p.m. in time to catch Kimberly S spinning at The Abbey. I recommend staying at Hotel Solamar (www.hotelsolamar.com), W San Diego (whotels.com) or the new Ivy Hotel (www.ivyhotel.com), all trendy boutique-style and Pride-preferred by this year's organizing committee.

Vancouver Pride - Vancouver, Canada
August 1-3
www.vancouverpride.ca

Hundreds and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Seattle folks make the two hour-plus drive to Vancouver in early August for Pride weekend each year. Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2008, Seattle Gay News is proud to be among those taking part in the weekend-long festivities up North. For non-drivers, take Amtrak (www.amtrak.com) for a no-hassle trip to and from Vancouver or carpool with friends (see Craigslist, too). The parade begins at Robson and Thurlow, where you can grab a latte at Starbucks just before it starts, and snakes around Denman Street to its finishing point, the very scenic Beach Avenue. Less political and more festive than other urban-hosted parades, the Vancouver event is a blast to attend and those clean-cut Canadian boys are quite hospitable to American visitors (wink). Parties throughout the entire weekend, especially at Celebrities and Odyssey, are another reason to make the short trek up to Van Pride. My hotel picks are Moda (www.modahotel.ca), Opus (www.opushotel.com), Westin Grand (www.westingrandvancouver.com), Pacific Palisades (www.pacificpalisadeshotel.com) and this year's host hotel, Marriott Pinnacle Vancouver (www.marriott.com). Stay glued to Seattle Gay News for exclusive coverage of Vancouver Pride 2008.

Pride in the Park - Reno
August 16
www.renogaypride.com

Those who love the sound of a slot machine at 2 a.m. and would rather see Las Vegas reduced to size can head directly to Reno in mid-August for "Pride in the Park." Yes, it'll be dang hot but it'll be a dang hoot as well. The one-day event is highlighted by a parade that leads off at Fourth and Arlington at the Sands Regency, then continues to the post-festival at Wingfield Park - admission to the festival is $5. A kickoff party on Friday, August 15 at Club Cal Neva will treat guests to complimentary appetizers and Barefoot Wine. Alaska Airlines (www.alaskaair.com) offers several daily nonstop flights from Seattle to Reno, including 8:15 a.m., 1:25 p.m., 6:10 p.m. and 9:20 p.m. - total flight time is two hours. Hotel suggestions are Harrahs (www.harrahs.com), Silver Legacy (www.silverlegacyreno.com) and the Eldorado (www.eldoradoreno.com). For a daytrip or overnighter, Tahoe is very close and would be a cool place to visit if you're into hiking or camping.

Around the world

Christopher Street Day - Frankfurt, Germany
July 18-20
www.csd-frankfurt.de

Thanks to Lufthansa (www.lufthansa.com), you can fly direct to Frankfurt from Seattle and avoid a head-splitting layover at Heathrow. You'll depart Seattle at 2:25 p.m. and arrive 10 hours later in Germany, and on the return flight you'll leave Frankfurt at 11:15 a.m. with a next-day arrival in Seattle at 12:35 p.m. The actual Pride parade in this Rhine-Main region metropolis, set for July 19 with a noon kickoff, is incredibly long, beginning at Romerberg Street and finishing at Hauptwache Street, where Gay and Lesbian tea dances are a weekend ritual. Highly recommended, though not inexpensive, is the Steigenberger Frankfurter Hof Hotel (www.frankfurter-hof.steigenberger.com) for accommodations near all the action. The much-known "Bermuda Triangle" is a terrific meeting spot for non-hetero locals. Be prepared to drink lots of strong beer and see men in leather shorts (don't ask), and add trips to the German Architecture Museum, Staedel Art Gallery and Goethe House to your itinerary.

Amsterdam Pride 2008 - Amsterdam,
The Netherlands
August 1-3
www.amsterdam gaypride.nl

Thank heavens Air France (www.airfrance.us) now flies direct to Paris from Seattle, because not only can we reach Charles de Gaulle (CDG) in nice hours and still have energy left for a baguette at the Luxembourg Gardens, but we can also get to Amsterdam much quicker than connecting through Copenhagen or London. Your flight on Air France (and they serve the best food of any airline I've ever flown) departs SeaTac at 2:05 p.m. and arrives in Paris the following morning at 8:50 a.m. with an 80-minute connecting flight to Amsterdam, and on the return flight you'll connect to CDG via Schiphol departing France at 10:15 a.m. with a same-day arrival into SeaTac at 11:35 a.m. (crossing several time zones en route). The Dutch are known for their size, and I'm sort of talking about their shoes, yet they're also known for being Europe's biggest Gay mecca. Amsterdam, which hosted the Gay Games 10 years ago in 1998, will celebrate Pride on the first weekend of August with the traditional huge parade along Canal Street on Saturday afternoon. Sandwiched between the parade are sizzling nightlife opportunities, like the Gay street party at the Reguliersdwarsstraat on Friday night and the enormously popular Rapido closing circuit party with dancing until 2 a.m. and an after-hours shindig that stretches into brunch the next morning. Hotel Vondel (www.hotelvondel.nl), The Dylan (www.dylanamsterdam.com) and Radisson SAS (www.radisonsas.com) are each offering Pride package deals.
Picture: San Diego
 

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