Circuit – Barcelona.

The Circuit festival in Barcelona – otherwise known as the annual collection of the world’s best 8-packs – has long been a favourite of mine. I mean who wouldn’t love a yearly ten-day event that consists primarily of sweaty parties with mountains of muscular men. Indeed, the city is flooded with handsome homos in an amazing swell of gay pride…. well there are lots of things that swell up, let me tell you.

I was a little late coming to the party as far as Circuit is concerned. In fact, I didn’t even know about it when I first visited Barcelona six years ago. We just happened to be there at the same time and noticed the posters for the parties everywhere and the ridiculous amount of hot, gay men about the place.

We have since been back more than a few times, increasing our party attendance – and fun – with every season. Of course, we are then usually forced to spend a week to recover from all our merriment in Sitges…. another delightful bastion of homoerotic wonder just up the coast from Barcelona.

Birthday Blowout…

Ever since I spent a rather unfortunate birthday working at a job I hated and generally having an all-round miserable day, I decided that I would never again suffer through such a trail. From that fateful day onwards, I have always ensured the anniversary of my birth was full of noting but agreeable activities and marvellous merriment. Frankly, I’m surprised that everyone doesn’t take a similar position, as it makes life ever so much more pleasant and the process of edging one year closer to the cold embrace of the grave almost bearable.

Granted everybody has their own version of what constitutes a perfect birthday but hopefully mine shall provide inspiration for any of you perhaps lacking in ideas. First off, I can’t think of a grander start to the day than the consumption of a hearty breakfast – full of champagne and pancakes. Not only does it give you a lovely buzz but it also provides the fortification you need to get through a hectic day of pampering and partying.

Dolce Sitges

Usually I love to stay with friends in a foreign country, so that I can get the feel for life as a local and have a less ‘touristy’ experience. Failing that the five star hotel experience suits me just fine, which is exactly what we have enjoyed, several times now, at the lovely Dolce Sitges. Not a gay hotel, as such, it is located in one of the gayest towns I’ve ever visited – well during the summer at any rate.

The hotel is absolutely lovely, handily situated midway between vibrant downtown Sitges and two naturist beaches…everything is only a short jaunt away. All in all, our every need was catered to, from the buffet breakfast on the terrace overlooking the Mediterranean Sea to the extremely attentive staff – some would say overly so considering they were changing our towels and sundry sometimes twice daily. Honestly, I shudder to think of what they thought we were up to in there.

Friendly Society

I’ve always been a fan of coming across pleasant surprises in dark alleyways and the Friendly Society is certainly no exception. I first stumbled into this charming bar a few years back, when I lived in merry old London town, and have been a fan ever since. Hidden away, just at the end of Old Compton Street in Soho, it combines two of my favourite things – alcohol and sociable strangers – and has provided me and countless others with many an enchanting evening.

A Coffee By Any Other Name…

I’m a changed man I tell you.  After many years of resistance I have finally succumbed to the heady allure of coffee.  Admittedly I had long been opposed to indulging in said beverage due to its bitterness – my fondness for sweetness being well renowned. Fortunately, as is the case with red wine, I have managed to acclimatise myself to the taste, albeit with a generous helping of milk and sugar. Added to the coffee rather than the wine you understand, although given my past experimentation with flavours I wouldn’t put anything past me.

My coffee revelation came about as I was searching for a hot beverage I could substitute in occasionally for a nice pot of fortifying tea, but that would still give my brain a spark. So I decided to start trialling various caffeinated combination – regular lattés with an obscene amount of sugar and so on. During my quest I came across not one but two likely contenders for my tastebuds’ approval. The first being an existing brew, a Dirty Chai – chai latté with a shot of espresso – and the second a concoction of my very own invention – the Speculatté™!

Beresford Hotel

Sunday afternoons at the Beresford in Sydney have become something of an institution, as the gays have sought out one venue or another to while away the last of the weekend. In the notoriously fickle gay world it’s always refreshing to see when a venue has staying power and manages to avoid the trap of being yet another passing fancy.

Indeed in my time living in Sydney I remember a blur of successive venues – Tilbury, Beauchamp, Green Park and so on – each wonderful in their day but only lasting a year or two before being knocked of the golden pedestal to be replaced by the newest flavour.

Now of course you can’t go past the Beresford Hotel on a Sunday afternoon, with it’s $5 happy hour specials – I rather adore the pints of cider – guaranteeing a happy buzz in no time. This does tend to make everyone even more eager to be sociable. All one need do is head to the back courtyard and it shan’t be long before you shall make all manner of new friends.

Benedict.

There are so many wonderful things about Tel Aviv – the heat, the men, the beaches, the food, the…. everything really. Being a selfless devotee of breakfast no matter the time of the day, I can’t even tell you how happy I was to encounter the brilliant Benedict restaurant. Offering a round the clock breakfast menu it’s like a delicious dream come true. Indeed I wish all cafés had such an option – although I’d probably be in danger of eating nothing else.

Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in three handy locations, they are an absolute must visit. I would, however, recommend against arriving at traditional meal times as its popularity can mean a bit of a wait.  One can even travel the world with their breakfast options – Israeli, English, French and Texan to name but a few. My personal favourite being the white chocolate espresso pancakes – so sweet even I, with my seemingly insatiable sweet tooth, was in danger of a cavity.

Forbidden Planet.

Wanting to indulge your inner geek? Then you simply can’t go past the most marvellous Forbidden Planet. Full to bursting with books, comics and assorted memorabilia, it caters to the excitable child in all of us. No matter your proclivities, you’re bound to find something to tickle your fancy. Honestly I could spend hours – not to mention hundreds of pounds – on all the wonderful paraphernalia to be found there.

This self-proclaimed cult entertainment megastore could peak the interest in even the most latent of geeks. Indeed I have taken many a friend there who previously didn’t think such a thing would interest them terribly and then lo and behold they end of leaving with carrier bags fuller than mine.

Peter Pan Donut and Pastry Shop.

Now it’s no secret that I am something of a sweet tooth but it’s usually a vice I tend to keep in check lest I eat myself back to the shameful blimp-like shape of my teenage years. On my recent sojourn to New York, however, things may have gotten a tad out of hand. I’m man enough to admit when I have a problem: My name is Jimi and I’m a Red Velvet Cupcake-aholic.

It all started innocently enough with just a quick mid-morning nibble here and an afternoon delight there – yes I am still talking about food. In fact it was all rather manageable until I was told that I simply must go to the Peter Pan Donut and Pastry Shop in Brooklyn.

Le Kitch

If it’s deliciously divine cocktails you’re after then Le Kitch is the place for you. I was introduced to this cosy little gem by a dear friend many moons ago and it’s been one of my favourites ever since. Hidden away in the 11th, not too far from the lovely pedestrian mall at Republique, this rather snug bar very much lives up to its name, with retro bric-a-brac attached to every available surface. Their marvellously priced five-euro happy hour concoctions are all ridiculously strong and guarantee a pleasant buzz in practically no time. The truly wild and wacky menu ensures there’s something there for everyone, Personally, I don’t think that you can past the ‘Shrek’ – minty perfection – or the ‘Tiramisu’ – exactly how you’d imagine an alcoholic cake shoved in a blender would taste.