One of the world's most popular men's lifestyle & hipster travel blogs with stories from around the world — gay city destinations & cultural experiences. This blog is your travel guide to the coolest things to do and see around the world, from an American hipster in Berlin
SPONSORED — Do you remember those days when the cards start arriving in the mailbox? Red, white, green, yellow envelopes. Long letters, printed photos, and short greetings. Reminders from relatives and friends you haven’t seen in years. The thrill of opening envelopes, skim-reading messages, and placing photos on the mantle.
Millennials are often blamed for the end of everything, but we’re also simultaneously responsible for bringing back a lot of’90s nostalgia. And I’m here to say: let’s bring back Christmas cards!
One statistic I found online says that over 2 billion Christmas cards are sent each December in the USA alone. Other stats include the fact that people send on average 20 holiday cards during the season. Any anyone with a new family is guaranteed to send out more than a few photos to anyone and everyone. But personally I’ve noticed fewer cards in my mailbox.
Instead, a lot of us write social media round-ups at the end of the year: our Instagram top nine, a series of Facebook posts detailing our favorite movies from the past year, a list of goals, or a mass email with 5 awkward photo attachments. It’s easy, but kind of boring. An actual Christmas card is just so much more meaningful.
Because (1), I’m lazy/busy, and (2) I’m obsessed with postcards, I’m using the trusty MyPostcard app to send out my cards this year. It’s quick, easy, affordable, and I can do it from my bed.
7 Reasons You Should Still Send Christmas Cards
It just means more
Sure, you can post that auto-generated Facebook video which shows you their pre-selected list of highlights from your timeline. And yeah, you can write an email and send it out, but that’s just like sending out a generic press release. An announcement not guaranteed to reach the people you actually care about. And when they receive it? They’ll know that actually mean something to you.
In this age of total digitalization, it’s easy to just feel like just a “Facebook friend.” Sending a Christmas card to someone, though, is a sign of honest interest in someone’s life—and sharing your own life. It takes more than a post to social media to create those kinds of meaningful connections.
Physical objects last longer
Yeah, yeah, yeah—sharing a status update is easy, but it’s also fleeting. Send a Christmas card to someone’s mailbox, though, and there’s no way they can avoid it!
A Christmas card is legally required to be put on display until the 26th at the very earliest, therefore a constant reminder of your connection/relationship/friendship with the receiver. That guarantees you at least a few weeks of everyday visibility in someone’s life—more than can be said of any social media algorithm.
The chance to brag
Here’s the open secret about Christmas cards. Yes, they’re meant to serve as a reminder to the receiver that they’re relatively important to your life. But honestly: Christmas cards are more about the sender than the receiver
It’s your chance to shine! To blatantly humble-brag, to share your amazing news from the year.
It’s actually really easy
Personally, I’ve avoided sending end-of-year updates the past several Decembers because (1), I’m lazy, and (2), I always thought it was time-consuming. Truthfully, sending Christmas cards doesn’t take too much effort and can be done in a single afternoon. And it’s especially easy using the MyPostcard app because it can all be done on the fly and then scheduled to send when you’re ready.
Better than an algorithmically created highlight reel
There’s no secret that I kind of love-hate social media, and I think a lot of us feel the same. Sure, social media provides the opportunity to get your message out further and reach more people, but it also means it’s less likely to reach those people that actually mean something to you. Hellllllooooo narcissism! Listen, it’s not awful (I guess), but this is that one time of year where you can actually reach out and share something meaningful with those that mean the most to you.
Every social media platform offers the chance to share your “best of the year” highlights—but that’s all created using their nefarious algorithms and engagement based largely on public activity. Personally, my Facebook Year in Review video from the year doesn’t show the things that really mattered to me this year. Same goes with my Instagram Top Nine, and yeah, even my Spotify Wrapped highlights isn’t really reflective of my true favorite memories and moments.
So much of our life is automated these days; we should take the time to honestly appraise our year and curate the best of it. And then share *that* because it just is going to mean so much more to ourselves and our loved ones. Write out a personal message reflective of your year and send a damn Christmas card.
The opportunity to say something important
Here’s something novel: use your end-of-year greeting cart to share something important, something meaningful. December is notoriously a lonely and dangerous month; share a message of love and hope and optimism with those that mean something to you. Everyone can use a bit of holiday cheer—and a semi-personal message in someone’s mailbox from a loved one can mean a lot.
There’s still time!
Plenty of people might argue that a card should be sent sooner rather than later, and while—yeah—that makes sense, it’s not an excuse to avoid the opportunity all-together. Christmas cards, holiday cards, and end-0f-year messages are perfectly valid at any point in December, and if you miss that deadline—a happy new year message is equally interesting. Plus, with the advent of plenty of ways to send cards online, it’s actually just really, really easy.
There’s no excuse! Give yourself an hour and send some cards this month. And if you need that extra bit of motivation, try my discount code TRAVELSOFADAM for the chance to send a free postcard with MyPostcard.
A quick and easy way to send Christmas cards with MyPostcard:
Eindhoven is a city that might not be on your list when you plan a trip through Europe, with most people visiting other cities in Holland such as Amsterdam, The Hague, or even Rotterdam. It’s the type of place with its hidden cafes and beautiful streets, with its chill and diverse atmosphere that makes Eindhoven a hotspot for creativity and innovation. And its artistic heritage and innovative spirit make it a friendly and open destination for all types of travelers.
Since my first visit to Eindhoven, I’ve fallen in love with this little European city. It’s cozy, convenient, easy to wander, and there are so many amazing design shops and cool cafés, affordable restaurants, and great art. I’ve been the past two years to Eindhoven during Dutch Design Week—an annual event when thousands of artists, designers, and creators flock to the city to discover the best of what’s new in the design world. It’s always a great event and a sign of the city’s commitment to creativity.
THE WEEKEND GUIDE TO EINDHOVEN
Getting to Eindhoven
It’s only an hour+ train ride to Eindhoven from Amsterdam, with trains just about every 25 minutes all day, every day. With an all-day Holland train pass, you can get there and back (and stopover where ever you like) for under 40€—a great deal for high-speed train service. But Eindhoven is also well-connected around Europe with its airport servicing hundreds of other European cities with direct routes from budget airlines like RyanAir and easyJet.
Things to Do
At the heart of creative Eindhoven is the Strijp-S district: the former home of the electronic Philips factory. The former headquarters and warehouses have been transformed into residential units, with a local market, street art and surprising architecture (with plenty of street art murals and graffiti, too!).
The Strijp-S is one of Eindhoven’s most important cultural districts—easily reachable from the city center with a short bike ride, a 20-minute walk, or a 5-minute bus ride. The area transforms into a designer’s paradise each autumn during the annual Dutch Design Week—a celebration of international design and designers.
One of Eindhoven’s top cultural attractions is the Van Abbe museum. Open to all type of publics (even remotely with digital access online), the museum frequently hosts queer exhibitions and artworks that invite you to reflect about sexual freedom, diversity, and gender politics. When visiting, guests are invited to wear colorful kimonos and to smell paintings—a way to make the museum more interactive. The museum café is architecturally beautiful with huge windows decorated with colorful art.
In Eindhoven, it’s impossible to separate the creative and the innovative character of the city from its passion for design. One of the most interesting venues where this comes together is the Kazerne, a restaurant that changes its menu according to season and comprised not only of local makers and producers but a building that doubles as an art gallery with works by local artists. Kazerne is at the same time a lab, a gallery, and a fine dining restaurant.
For more design shopping, don’t miss the Piet Hein Eek showroom (and restaurant) just on the outskirts of the city center.
Where to Eat, Drink, and Party
Eindhoven’s city center is great for shopping, dining and wandering. You can sit in a café in one of the many plazas, but the Markt Eindhoven is frequently the best to visit, with young and sexy people drinking wine or beers and enjoying the sunny days at the restaurants and bars around the plaza. Pallaz is Eindhoven’s most popular gay hangout—good for dancing, drinking and chatting with the locals, but almost every café, restaurant and bar in Eindhoven is open to all types of people.
Eindhoven’s creative spirit shows through in every aspect in the city. Look out for the independent makers and craft breweries. The Stadsbrouwerij Eindhoven and Van Moll are great options for trying new craft beers and buying drinkable souvenirs for home. Don’t miss the Down Town Gourmet Market—a collection of food trucks serving everything from Tex-Mex to dumplings, as well as a few local craft beers in the outdoor bar. (There’s also indoor seating for colder nights.)
As a pretty young and hip city, you’ll find lots of late-night eateries, too. The city was even the first in the Netherlands to get a Taco Bell (don’t judge me), which opened in 2017. For more fine dining, however, the restaurant Usine offers a hip hangout with a great variety of food.
The bistro and bar Calypso, in the city center, is an affordable option during the day with great café options and light snacks—and in the evenings, it turns into a chill hangout with events, occasional live music, and a relaxed crowd.
Where to Stay
Steps from the Eindhoven central train station, the Student Hotel operates a multi-story hotel that dominates the skyline. While it offers long-term housing for students, the upper floors also operate as a hotel. A ground-floor lobby, bar, and restaurant serve as a fun and funky lounge with bright lockers and art books scattered amongst the design furniture. Rooms are comfortably sized and come with condoms available for free in the room. While the Student Hotel is great for young travelers, it offers a fun escape for a weekend adventure.
The Glow Hotel Eindhoven is a small boutique hotel property on the eastern edge of the city, walking distance to most of the main sights and even closer to the Kazerne restaurant and bar. Even though there is no restaurant on sight, the hotel offers breakfast in a nearby café each day and a lovely view over the city’s downtown skyline.
For a more luxury hotel experience, the new Hotel NH Collection offers an incredible property with panoramic views and well-designed rooms. In the city center, it’s convenient to reach most major attractions. Rooms are spacious with floor-to-ceiling windows. Corner rooms are especially nice with designer furniture, and up on the top floor is a restaurant and bar with 360-degree views.
SPONSORED — This summer, the 10th annual Gay Games took place in Paris. Over 10,000 athletes from 70 countries competed in the event and thousands more of other paricipants swarmed the city. With 10 days of events, Paris (already the city of love) proved itself as a capital of LGBTQ culture. Sporting events, cultural activities, parties and festivals took place across the city during the games, with thousands of spectators and volunteers participating.
I had the chance to visit on a trip with Atout France and Visit Paris Region, and participate in some of the Gay Games events (and parties!). A weekend of love, diversity, croissants, and athletes—Paris never seemed so gay!
Gay Games in Paris - YouTube
Promoting Equality Through Sport
The Gay Games is a worldwide sporting and cultural event which actively promotes acceptance of sexual and gender diversity. With tens of thousands of LGBTQ+ athletes participating in the quadrennial event, it’s one of the world’s largest sporting events.
The first games were held in 1982 in San Francisco, and its American roots have always meant the Gay Games have had large American delegations (including a vast amount from San Francisco specifically), but still over 70 countries participated in the 10th annual games.
The 2018 Paris Gay Games (official website) were only the 3rd time they took place in Europe (having previously been in Amsterdam and Cologne). The 11th annual Gay Games will take place in 2022 in Hong Kong.
The 10 days of events and activities in Paris during the 2018 Gay Games were a celebration of love and diversity. Over 15,000 athletes, spectators, volunteers, and other participants brought a message of love and equality to the city of light.
International Rainbow Memorial Run
Since 1990, every Gay Games has included a memorial run to start off the week+ of events. The friendly and social morning event pays tribute to the memories of artist Keith Haring, lesbian activist Rikki Streicher, Dr. Tom Waddell, the founder of the Gay Games, and to all family members whom the Gay Games have lost, especially due to AIDS and breast cancer.
It’s often one of the largest events of the Gay Games and this year, the International Rainbow Memorial Run started in front of the Paris City Hall at Hôtel de Ville and went along the River Seine.
The event started with speeches from the Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo—a longtime supporter of LGBTQ rights in Paris—and other local politicians and international visitors. A memorial quilt was displayed on the Hôtel de Ville plaza with guests invited to add names of lost loved ones. It was a moving event and an important way to remember the past while celebrating the future—the perfect way to start the Gay Games.
The biggest event of the Gay Games is the opening ceremony, which took place at the Jean Bouin Stadium, an impressive venue that filled up with 15,000 athletes and spectators. The march of nations into the stadium was a fun way to experience the diversity of the event.
With people visiting Paris for the Gay Games from over 70 countries, it was an ebullient event—crowds in the audience cheering and photographing whenever their country or city delegations entered the stadium. By the end of the march of nations, during which presenters interviewed select athletes, the stadium was buzzing with energy and the sun was setting.
Live music, comedy, and performances filled the night.
Following the Opening Ceremony, a gala took place at the beautiful Grand Palais, one of the most prestigious Parisian monuments. While it was a paid ticketed event, the Grand Palais didn’t take long to fill up with the international crowds visiting Paris during the Gay Games.
DJs played all night and with food and drinks available, it was a fun way to let loose before the games officially got started the next morning. While the Gay Games are about sport, it’s also an important event for celebrating LGBTQ culture, and the opening gala was a fun party opportunity to meet other participants.
Hanging out at the Marais
The central Parisian neighborhood, the Marais, is the city’s unofficial gay neighborhood and it’s where many of the after-hour parties and celebrations took place following award ceremonies and sporting events during the Gay Games.
For the weeks leading up to the games, and of course during the games, the Marais was a bustling meeting spot for everyone in the LGBTQ community. The LGBTQ community center showcased a queer photo exhibition and offered support and free travel guides for locals and visitors alike, and the bars and clubs hosted daily events and specials.
While the Marais is always super gay and super fun, during the Gay Games (with an extra 15,000 people in town!), it was especially hopping! Rainbow crosswalks, chalk drawings, and pride flags filled the streets.
The Gay Games Village at Hôtel de Ville
A sign of the city’s true dedication to its LGBTQ population, for the entirety of the Paris Gay Games, the city hall plaza at Hôtel de Ville hosted the Gay Games Village. Community support groups, activist organizations, and others opened stalls daily to serve as a meeting point for the athletes and other attendees. An outdoor bar and café provided sustenance when needed and regular speeches took place on the main stage.
And, of course, the sporting events…
From cheerleading to water rugby, there were hundreds of sporting events. Attendance in the events was pretty straightforward. The Gay Games spreads a message that self-improvement is more important than your nationality or your performance, and that was reflected in the all-ages events.
The Gay Games message for support and diversity within the community was equally welcoming and inspiring. To see athletes of all ages participating and joining with one another for a wide variety of sporting events—it was one of the most comforting feelings to know that to be LGBTQ is to be part of a wider community of love and acceptance.
Last weekend, the newest round of the 29Rooms exhibition from Refinery29 opened in Brooklyn. The 29Rooms exhibition is described as an “immersive festival of culture and creativity where artists, visionaries, and partners bring ideas to life through interactive installations, performances, and activities rooted in storytelling and self-expression.”
But, truthfully: it’s just an Instagram thing.
The experience was first launched in 2015 and it’s become one of the media company’s defining events—and one of Instagram’s most popular hashtags. Essentially, artists are invited to create interactive spaces designed for photographers and aspiring “models” to pose in front of themed rooms, walls, and spaces.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the night, but I had a rough idea. I’ve been to other art installations around the world which have seemingly been designed for the perfect Instagram—and, well, that’s what 29Rooms is designed for.
• • •
This new 29Rooms Brooklyn exhibition opened last weekend during New York Fashion Week under the theme “Expand Your Reality.” The new tour is meant to be more thought-provoking than previous editions, and of the 29Rooms, there was a noticeable slant toward the political.
You get three hours to wander through the space. Some of the rooms explicitly state “no photography” and there are even a few where you’re blindfolded during the experience. At the entrance to each room is a large poster explaining the purpose of the room, the artist/creators and the brand sponsors.
A lot of the spaces are noticeably “cool.” They’re perfect made-for-Instagram photoshoot booths. And staff are on site to help take your photos. It’s a lot of queuing and waiting for crowds to dissipate so you can get that “perfect shot.”
Here’s what I noticed, though: a lot of people didn’t read what the rooms were about. With your limited timed ticket, everyone was in a mad rush to see as much as possible. Personally, I found it all pretty overwhelming to watch people move through art created purely for commercial promotions and Instagram modeling.
Don’t get me wrong: art is important. And people need to see it, to feel it, to be surrounded by it. But 29Rooms didn’t feel like art. It felt like capitalism on some kind of drug. Sure, there were artists there, but their work was being traipsed over, no time for visitors to take it in, to understand, to stop and think about it. There was this pull to take photographs and not just photos of the art, but photos of you standing in front of the art, or behind it, or through it, or inside of it.
The focus wasn’t on the art, it was on each of us. Pure narcissism fueled by capitalism. There was a room created by and for Moxy Hotels which included a bar set up with fake plastic props to take silly selfies and photos. What was the thought there? How was that supposed to touch me as a viewer?
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Already over 100,000 people have visited one of the 29Rooms around the USA since it began in 2015. And thousands more will see this year’s event. Tickets are $39.99 + fees for general admission; special weekend evening “starlight” tickets are available for $129.99. And 100% this is all for fueling each of our own Instagram obsessions. To each their own, but I don’t honestly think it’s worth the cost.
Yes, you can take some cool, original photos (that 100,000 other people will take). And yes, influencers can use the opportunity to sell clothing and whatever other props. Or you could buy a ticket to the MoMA, or the Met, or any other kind of art museum, for far less money. And the opportunity to see, feel, and (yes) sometimes even touch art. And outside the confines of a place designed for pure capitalism or narcissism or some strange trend we’re in the midst of where our lives are defined by the photos we share.
I love art. I think it’s an important part of our lives, often overlooked and under-appreciated. And unfortunately, 29Rooms isn’t sharing its art with us. It’s simply a background or a prop, and oddly, a place for us to promote brands.
It’s weird. It’s a little wild. And it’s disappointing. But I took the photos anyway. And I’ll share them, and you’ll like them. And I’ll be encouraged to do it all over again. But if you do decide to visit 29Rooms, take a moment to talk to the artists. To read their artist statements, and to stop and breathe and look (really LOOK) at what’s on the wall. We can find and create art anywhere; you’ve just got to see it.