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Travel Picks: Top 10 up-and-coming gay wedding destinations

A slew of countries and states have recently voted to legalize same-sex marriage, which means new gay and lesbian wedding destinations are popping up around the world. Some of the latest locales to honor gay marriage are also some of the most picturesque and romantic places for couples to exchange vows. That’s why online travel advisor Cheapflights.com (www.cheapflights.com) has come up with its list of the Top 10 up-and-coming gay wedding destinations. Reuters has not endorsed this list: 1. Newport, R.I., United States

Rounding out the northeast corner of the United States, Rhode Island became the final New England state to legalize gay marriage with same-sex weddings expected to start in August. Situated along the state’s 400 miles of coastline about an hour south of Boston, Newport, R.I. gives couples looking to book a summer wedding the chance to declare their love against a backdrop of spectacular beach scenery. With a lively downtown area, a stretch of famous mansions that once played summer hosts to wealthy families and three vineyards to visit, this resort town caters to out-of-towners making it an ideal warm-weather wedding destination. 2. Queenstown, New Zealand

Gay marriage won’t officially become legal in New Zealand until August 2013, but Kiwis are already prepping for an influx of tourism from same-sex couples, specifically those hailing from their neighbor to the north,Australia. New Zealand will become the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to officially legalize same-sex marriage, which means gay and lesbian couples will now be able to exchange vows in places like Queenstown. Already one of New Zealand’s most desirable wedding destinations, Queenstown is a four-season town offering spring flowers, summer warmth, fall foliage and a winter wonderland. Indoor and outdoor wedding venues are plentiful and its reputation as a resort destination means it’s accessible and ready for plenty of visitors — including wedding guests. 3. Montpellier, France

Often dubbed France’s unofficial capital of gay culture, Montpellier offers couples a beautiful wedding destination on the southern shore of this romantic European country. Situated along the Mediterranean Sea in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, Montpellier has a vibrant arts scene and a young vibe. From wandering among medieval architecture to taking in a show, couples and wedding guests won’t be at a loss for cultural experiences here. The city’s sunny, Mediterranean climate and its proximity to some of France’s finest vineyards don’t hurt either. 4. Copenhagen, Denmark

While Denmark previously allowed short blessing ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples, the country made formal church weddings available to same-sex partners last year. The capital city of Copenhagen is teeming with history and romantic scenery. Plenty of canals, parks and narrow streets give the city an intimate feel for couples looking for a more private affair. Award-winning restaurants are turning Copenhagen into a respected foodie destination and the beer scene is booming with microbreweries popping up across the city. With one of the highest numbers of restaurants and bars per capita in the world and watering holes that often stay open until 5 or 6 a.m., couples won’t be at a loss when it comes to taking the celebrations into the wee hours of the morning. 5. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Gay marriage is only legal in some parts of Brazil, but the state of Rio de Janeiro officially invited gay and lesbian couples to walk down the aisle inside its borders this year. The people here know how to celebrate. Known for its colorful carnival festivities, mountainous scenery and famous landmarks like Ipanema Beach, Sugarloaf Mountain and the Christ the Redeemer statue (one of the New Seven Wonders of the World) atop Corcovado Mountain, Rio de Janeiro offers plenty of experiences for wedding guests. And you can be sure they’re prepared to host a wedding celebration; after all, the city is preparing to play host to athletes and spectators from around the world during the 2016 Olympic Games. 6. Camden, Maine, United States

When gay marriage became legal in Maine in December 2012, 14 same-sex couples flocked to Portland’s City Hall to get marriage licenses — five of those couples married on the spot. For those looking to host a larger, less spontaneous celebration it’s worth traveling about an hour and a half north by car to Camden. This affluent coastal town sits on Penobscot Bay along the Pine Tree State’s 3,478 miles (more than California) of picturesque coastline — a romantic scene for any summer wedding celebration. Guests will have a chance to connect with nature at Camden Hills State Park, which features 5,500 acres of trails, picnic spots and lookouts delivering beautiful views. Friendly people, plenty of bed and breakfast inns and an open-arms type of hospitality make Camden a popular tourist spot. From casual clambakes to more formal affairs, weddings run the gamut in Camden, offering couples many venues to choose from (an amphitheater, anyone?) and the chance to set whatever tone they want for their celebration. 7. Montevideo, Uruguay

Same-sex marriages are expected to start in July in Uruguay, 90 days after the law is promulgated. With a relaxed atmosphere and beloved beaches, this South American country offers plenty of sights and activities for wedding guests. Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo, where celebrations broke out following the vote this spring and street parades are a regular occurrence, is a laid back port city featuring picturesque beaches, captivating colonial architecture and a lively nightlife scene — a perfect place for couples to relax and celebrate. The country is relatively small, making Montevideo an easy jumping-off point for day trips — a helpful feature for guests traveling from a distance and looking to explore. Trek to the southwestern area of the country to see Colonia del Sacramento’s historic district — a UNESCO World Heritage site. 8. Rehoboth Beach, Del., United States

A long-time summer tourist hot spot and gay friendly beach town, Rohoboth Beach takes couples and wedding guests back in time. Complete with a boardwalk and an amusement park, this seaside locale gives the feeling of stepping into an old-fashioned summer vacation — an interesting juxtaposition to the state’s more progressive adoption of gay marriage. The first gay and lesbian couples will be allowed to marry in Delaware this summer and Rohoboth Beach is one of the state’s most popular summer vacation destinations. Located only a few hours away from major U.S. cities like Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, Rehoboth Beach features plenty of restaurants, places to stay, golf courses and even tax-free shopping for those last-minute wedding necessities. 9. Saba, Dutch Caribbean

The number of tourists flocking to this tiny island in the Dutch Caribbean has increased dramatically since gay marriage was legalized here last year. Though the Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalize gay marriage, officials gave the country’s islands some added time to integrate the law. But Saba has long been considered a gay-friendly destination — an approach that paved the way for its newfound popularity as a hot spot for gay and lesbian weddings. Secluded and peaceful, the island is known for its scuba diving, hiking, nature experiences and friendly people. Even though Saba is surprisingly lacking in beaches, it offers plenty for adventurous couples and any pair that wants to exchange vows away from the hustle and bustle. 10. Seattle, Wash., United States The state of Washington voted to make gay marriage legal at the end of 2012 (Diablo 3 Gold Kaufen ), opening up the city of Seattle as a gay wedding destination. Foodies can get their fill at Pike’s Place Market (don’t wear good clothes — you’ll have to experience catching a fresh fish from a fishmonger!) and the original Starbucks coffee house. There are plenty of neighborhoods to explore — each has its own personality — and a trip to the top of the city’s iconic Space Needle is also a must for couples and wedding guests alike. Same-sex couples who journey to Seattle to exchange vows may have to contend with the city’s notoriously high amount of rainfall, but they’ll celebrate surrounded by Puget Sound and beautiful mountain ranges.

Travel agent Jimmy flew bookies, lands in Ahmedabad cops’ net

Big fish like bookies Jitu Tharad and Dinesh Khambat may have eluded the Delhi police special branch. But the latter has managed to net Jimmy, not so small a fish either. A travel agent based in Ahmedabad, he was allegedly involved in booking a majority of air tickets of almost all the bookies like Ramesh Vyas, Chandresh, Jitu Tharad and a few others. And, the money was easily transferred to Jimmy through the Hawala route.

Sources in the Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) confirmed that Jimmy was nabbed from the city and handed over to the Delhi police for his alleged role in booking tickets for bookies.

Jimmy, police believe, has the potential to turn into a key witness as he was familiar with the bookies and their travel plans during IPL 6. DCB sleuths arrested Jimmy from his hideout on Monday and handed him over to the Delhi police, which had sought their help to nab him.

Sources said Jimmy used to book tickets on the basis of just a call. “It has been found that he had booked many domestic and international tickets in lieu of a heavy commission,” a police source told dna.

Police found that the bookies had a busy schedule during the IPL 6 season and had to travel, most of the time unplanned, from one city to another. “All they did was to call Jimmy, who took the pain to make all the arrangements in both cities,” a police source said.

Police had also found that it was easier for the bookies to book the tickets from Ahmedabad compared to any other city as the Hawala transaction here is far easier and safer than elsewhere. “He used to book the tickets through credit cards and getting the cash through Hawala,” said a source.

Jimmy, according to police sources, could prove to be a vital witness to nail people associated with the bookies, their travel plans and their connection with S Sreesanth, Vindoo Dara Singh and others as they were also using Vyas’s network to book tickets. Vyas has already been arrested by the Delhi police.

Summer Travel Bargains, Available Now During Brief Buying ‘Sweet Spot’

Summer travel season is right around the corner but exciting travel opportunities are often limited by price. There are plenty of places to go, but they are often priced out of reach. Still, with some research and timing, summer travel bargains are out there right now. Why? Sellers of travel want occupancy and booking levels to be at a certain target number right about now. If the numbers are not where they want them to be, they bring on the discounts to shore up summer season bookings. Here are some we found as standout bargains.

Disney World, Discounted
Summer is usually a popular time to visit Florida’s Walt Disney World and this year is no exception. Many families have to do vacations during the summer, when kids are out of school, most often driving prices up. Still, with hotel capacity running a bit ahead of reservations, deals are out there. Savings of 30 percent on select Disney hotels on Disney property, free dining with a hotel and ticket package, and more can be found at Disney’sSpecial Offers webpage.

Hike the Blue Mountains in Jamaica
Strawberry Hill is offering guests 25 percent off rates for stays through October 31 with its”Discover the Blue Mountains” package. The three-night stay includes two hikes on Gordon Town Trail and Settlement Trail, daily breakfast, a fruit and cheese welcome amenity, dinner with a bottle of wine, daily Blackwell Rum cocktail and a spa treatment. Don’t come home without a pound or two of that Blue Mountain coffee.

Summer for Less at Nantucket Island Resorts– Nantucket, Massachusetts
Nantucket Island Resorts is offering 30 percent off room rates at White Elephant Village, The Wauwinet and the White Elephant Hotel to guests who book five consecutive nights July 7-19. Rates start at $2,500 for five nights. Visit nantucketislandresorts.com/hotel-deals for more.

Pick A Cruise, Any Cruise
Practically every cruise line sailing has felt the sting of recent widely publicized events so prices have gone down. Some lines are advertising like never before, others have quietly justnot raised pricing as they might have normally done at this time of the year, choosing instead to go for maximized occupancy. Best deals can be found in the Mediterranean where prices can be as low as $75 per person, per day. Short Caribbean and Bahamas sailings are also showing fall-like pricing for summer sailings. That never happens.

Cheap Not Good Enough? How About Free?
Ultra-luxe cruise line Crystal Cruises is allowing kids ages 17 and under to sail free when sharing a third berth stateroom with two adults. Families can choose from seven- to 15-day voyages in the Mediterranean, Western Europe, North Cape, Baltic, British Isles, Canary Islands and across the Atlantic from May-December aboard Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony. Book by June 28, 2013.

Take A Road Trip, You Will Not Be Alone
Compared to many summer travel options, a road trip is still a standout winner for budget-minded vacationers. A timely YP survey published in TravelPulse compared driving versus flying and found that Americans believe they have a greater flexibility in schedule (35 percent) and sight-seeing (33 percent) when driving vs. flying. They also liked having the ability to easily take more stuff with them (11 percent), avoiding crowds and security lines (9 percent), and the ability to more easily take pets (7 percent).

Arizona Memorial Day weekend travel to drop slightly

Memorial Day travel in Arizona is projected to dip slightly this year, according to AAA Arizona.

This weekend, which serves as the unofficial kickoff to the summer travel season, more than 701,000 Arizonans will head out of town, representing a 0.4 percent drop from last year.

AAA attributes the drop to a pullback in air travel. But auto travel will help bolster numbers.

“Memorial Day travel is a mixed bag this year,” said Amy Moreno, director of travel services for AAA Travel. “A decline in air travel has pulled overall travel down below year-ago levels, but auto travel remains strong and is up slightly. This is consistent with AAA booking trends for the year.”

In Arizona, nearly all projected travelers are expected to hop into an auto. More than 618,000, or 88 percent, of Memorial Day travelers plan to drive, which equates to a 0.4 percent increase from last year. With lower pump prices, drivers will be able to enjoy their three-day weekends a little bit more.

Arizonans will fill up for an average of $3.43 a gallon this holiday weekend, compared with $3.77 a year ago.

Up in the skies, 57,000 Arizonans will fly over Memorial Day, a drop of 6.3 percent from 2012.

For travelers headed in and out of town by air, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is offering 40 percent off on garage parking from May 23 to 30, which translates to $15 a day compared with the standard $25. Download the coupon at http://www.skyharbor.com.

The average round-trip distance Arizonans will travel this holiday is projected to be just over 800 miles, according to AAA. Nearly 50 percent of Arizonans, however, will travel 700 miles or fewer.

AAA says median spending this Memorial Day weekend is expected to be $730, 30 percent of which will go to food and beverage and another 20 percent to fuel. The remaining 50 percent will be doled out to accommodations (14 percent), entertainment (13 percent), shopping (10 percent), other transportation (7 percent) and miscellaneous costs.

Mark Hunt Receives Visa to Travel, Fight with Dos Santos on at UFC 160

The long wait for Mark Hunt to travel to the United States appears to finally be over and the heavyweight slugger should be on a plane either Sunday or Monday headed for Las Vegas to fight at UFC 160.

Hunt has been waiting for two weeks to receive his travel visa to be able to come to the United States, but because of an arrest that happened in 2002 involving the former K-1 fighter he’s been delayed and unable to get on a plane thus far.

While Hunt was never actually charged with a crime in the incident, he was unable to secure a travel visa for the past couple of weeks and there was some worry his fight at UFC 160 against former heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos was in jeopardy.

Fortunately for Hunt the red tape that was preventing his travel was cut down over the weekend, and as promised by UFC officials as of last week, the New Zealand fighter will be on a plane headed to the United States shortly (Hunt is expected to be on a plane this evening with an arrival time in the U.S. on Monday).

Hunt first confirmed the news via Twitter on Sunday

Representatives from Hunt’s camp also confirmed via email to Bleacher Report that the fighter would be on a plane very soon traveling to the United States.

The good news is that Hunt will be able to fight and the UFC won’t have to scramble for a last minute replacement for the co-main event on a major pay-per-view card.

If there is a downside however it’s the fact that Hunt will be traveling halfway around the world only four days before his scheduled showdown with a former UFC heavyweight champion.

Hunt’s trip was supposed to take place two weeks ago to allow him time to acclimate his body to the time difference, food and other variables that can affect a fighter leading into a bout. Several competitors from countries like Japan have noted in the past that long travel schedules that see them arrive close to a fight date can be a factor when it comes to their performance.

Hunt has traveled long distances for fights for most of his professional career so hopefully this late notice trip to the United States won’t stop him from putting on the best performance possible when he faces Dos Santos on Saturday night in Las Vegas.

Travel Essentials | The Fairgoer’s Guide to Venice’s Other Attractions

Osteria di Santa Marina
This respected (and pricey) osteria, just steps away from Marco Polo’s house, could have a Michelin star but balks at the idea. The tiny two-room eatery started as a modest blue-collar lunch spot serving simple sandwiches and pastas. Today, the menu looks something like this: scallop carpaccio topped with foie gras shavings and sauterne jelly. A far cry from its humble roots, but worth every penny. Campo Santa Marina,  

Enrica Rocca Cooking School
Learning authentic Venetian cookery is more about finding the best regional ingredients than knowing how to fry a fish. This is the fine point that Enrica Rocca, a Venetian countess and lifelong chef, likes to stress in her lessons. Her classes begin with shopping tips at Venice’s Rialto fish and produce market and end with a jolly cooking tutorial in her home. After a few casual yet highly informative hours spent with Ms. Rocca, guests leave with a knowledge of lagoon ingredients, a little culinary wisdom and, without fail, a full belly. Dorsoduro 568/A;  

Ristorante Quadri
The Alajmo family take cooking seriously, which is why both of their restaurants — Le Calandre in Padova and Ristorante Quadri in Venice — are studded with Michelin stars. For this year’s Venice Biennale, Ristorante Quadri opens its doors to pavilion-weary visitors, offering aperitifs that include chef Max Alajmo’s riff on classic Venetian cocktails, like the Verdini, a Bellini made from centrifuged apple and celery juice and topped with Prosecco. Piazza San Marco 

L’Arco

Locals go to Venetian Baccari, or snack bars, to fuel up on tasty morsels of baccala pâté and mini prosciutto sandwiches while shooting the breeze with strangers. This daily ritual usually includes a glass of wine. Nowhere are these satisfying snacks — orchiccette., as they are called — more toothsome than at L’Arco, a family-run baccaro beloved by Venetians and visitors alike. Calle Arco,  

SHOP

Palwer
The former Ungaro creative director Alessandro de Angelis’s new Venice jewelry boutique, Palwer, isn’t easy to find, but that shouldn’t deter anyone from looking for this little gem near San Marco’s Palazzo Grassi. Palwer’s signature pieces are dainty diamond-studded leather bracelets with gold and platinum clasps. But his collection also includes show-stopping pendants, rings and necklaces set with rare rubies, emeralds and precious stones and glass. Call for a private viewing of the collection. Salizada San Samuele  

NAPE’
Glass shops in Venice seem more ubiquitous than Starbucks. But give this boutique, on the two-minute stroll between Venice’s Academia Museum and The Peggy Guggenheim Collection, a chance. The owner Filippo Gambardella doesn’t knock out legions of cheap souvenirs; instead, he curates the work of mid-century Venetian glass masters, from Barovier to Seguso to Venini. While there is some contemporary glassware here (Mr. Gambardella is very picky), the bulk of the objects are rare or limited-edition works from another time. Dorsoduro  

Cips Club is a short boat ride away from Hotel Cipriani.Tommy PiconeCips Club is a short boat ride away from Hotel Cipriani.

DRINK

B Bar
The B Bar at the Bauer Hotel is the only late-night locale where Biennale attendees can really let off steam. The Negronis are coma-inducing, and the D.J. sets aren’t half bad either. But the biggest reason the art world’s glitterati (and their groupies) flock here is because it’s the only bar in town with a license to operate until 5 a.m.
Cips Club
To reach Cips, a casual dinning spot attached to Hotel Cipriani, you can catch a (Wow Gold ) private boat shuttle from San Marco that leaves you in front of the hotel. The menu is delightful (if spider crab linguini makes an appearance, order it), but even more impressive is the outdoor terrace with its cripplingly beautiful views of Venice. Because the wine list is so vast and so expertly curated, if dinner isn’t in the cards, spend an aperitif hour here with the sun setting on the water in front. Cips Club only has evening

Travel-weary Red Wings look forward to extra day off, recharging before Game 2 vs. Blackhawks

The Detroit Red Wings logged more than 12,000 air miles in three round trips to the West Coast while playing every other night in the first round of the playoffs against Anaheim.

They were grateful for the extra day off before the second round. And they’ll gladly take their additional day of rest before Game 2 against the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday afternoon.

They will look to get refreshed Thursday, after faltering Wednesday in the final two periods of a 4-1 loss in the opener of the Western Conference semifinals. They’ll practice on Friday and hope to have much more jump in Game 2 Saturday afternoon at the United Center.

“We got to get up to speed because we haven’t played like that in a while,” coach Mike Babcock said. “So just getting some energy back in us.

“We thought we were actually playing (Tuesday) and we really felt the break was going to help us and the way this series is set up we have no reason not to be very good next game. So we got to get back at ‘er and playing at a high tempo because obviously they were playing at a (high) level (Wednesday).”

The Blackhawks made one short trip to Minnesota in the first round and earned a five-day break between rounds.

“Maybe it had to do something with the rest, (but) it seemed like after the first period they had their legs and we didn’t,” Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard said. “We have tomorrow off, take full advantage of it and then get a good skate on Friday.

“We played a lot of hockey in the last little time and with a lot of travel. The day off and sleeping in our own beds will do us well.”

The Red Wings have dropped Game 1 in each of their past four series. All have come on the road.

“We’ve been in this position before,” Howard said. “We were in this position last series. It’s one game. They definitely played better than us. Saturday we have to respond.”

Said Damien Brunner: “It’s good for us to get a day off. We came off a seven-game series. That’s not an excuse. But, I think we take that day off.”