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July 2006

So, this past week I was in London and Key West. Two location that couldn’t be more different from each other, but both offering distinct advantages for both the wise & weary traveler. My main purpose for London was to catch a series of shows that the Red Hot Chili Peppers were doing at Earl’s Court Arena, all while doing some slack-jawed gawking at how weak the US dollar is while shopping in Knightsbridge.

Key West was relaxation, plain and simple. Spending some time at the Island House (one of the few gay guesthouses left there) and basically just bumming around the city for a few days.

Getting to London was pretty seamless, as I left San Antonio early, got into NYC at a reasonable time and spent most of the day in the Apple My flight to Heathrow wasn’t until around 10pm that evening, so there was some time to cram a slice of pizza and then work it off at David Barton (a chain of gyms) later that day. I had the pleasure (or lack thereof) of working out at their Chelsea location, so the overall vibe was more ‘Hey Gurl!’ than ‘Hell Yeah!’ Luckily, their equipment was good, but it was just strange working out at a gym that had automated club lighting, dance music and looked as if it had been decorated by a ‘Trading Spaces’ designer on crystal meth.

The flight over was keen, as it was on a Virgin Atlantic 747. Wider seats, bigger aisles, better bathrooms and with a nice tailwind, a pretty quick flight. Their Upper Class suite is a good product, but if you’re not used to sleeping on a very firm mattress, this might not be the best way for you to fly. I think a heaping helping of featherbeds would help ease things. Also be aware that not all of VS’s fleet is outfitted with video-on-demand capability. They’re working on getting everything redone, but it’s there yet.

The Clubhouse at London Heathrow. If you’re flying with Virgin you’ll have access to it. The most amazing lounge i’ve ever had the pleasure of being in. Jaw-droppingly well designed.

London was, weather-wise, beautiful. This time instead of insane highs in the mid-90s, things settled down to a balmy 72 and a nice breeze. The UK just isn’t equipped to handle intense summer heat, so it’s always a real issue when the mercury goes above 85.

The official hotel this time was Claridges. It’s a beautiful old gal and one of the only hotels I’ve stayed at with so much natural light streaming into it. It’s recently been re-done, but the overall deco feel has been kept intact, truly transporting you back in time when young men actually wore something other than flip-flops.

It was out to Browns for Tea (muy excellente!) and then to the arena for the Chili’s first show.

They were amazing: Sold out crowd of 30k, nice mix of old and new songs, awesome energy, a Cameron Diaz sighting and three solid encores. Totally worth the trip and I’m stoked that the Chili’s are now headed back to the states to begin a stateside tour. Life is good.

Had dinner at The Wolseley and tempted fate with a really fresh plate of steak tartare. I figured I had already seen the first concert, so if I suddenly came down with a fetching case of Mad Cow, I’d die a happy man.

The following night I ate again at The Ivy, which is batting two-for-two as one of the best places I’ve eaten at in London. Great service and they’re consistent in serving innovative food that’s neither fussy nor overpriced. It seems to be one of those ‘see and be seen’ places, as the paparazzi has a permanent post outside the restaurant, but it’s not uncomfortable in any way. I browsed for clothing (Richard James, Diesel, Yamamoto), but didn’t find anything that was worth spending so much money on. When push comes to shove, I’d much rather spend my money on paying down debt than creating it.

Overall, London was fantastic. I was also psyched that my Blackberry worked as well. LOL.

Key West, while very different from the first time I visited, is still a very fun (and naughty) place for the gay tourist. It’s even naughtier if you’re staying at a gay guesthouse, which can range anywhere from luxuriously accommodating digs to extended-stay bathhouse. Luckily, the Island House is on a quiet street, deep set into lush surrounding and an upscale slice of heaven in the live-and-let-live attitude of the Conch Republic.

I had been there before (see this blog) and thought it was the cat’s pajamas then. Nothing had changed for the worse and the property was even more beautiful this time, with the staff doing a really bang up job of accommodating without being overbearing. One particular bartender impressed me quite a bit, as he was fast & efficient (and flirty) without coming across as a total whore who’d bang you if you asked. See, I like a carefree, flirty attitude, but when that migrates into a desperate plea to get laid by any means possible, I’m uncomfortable. The whole complex centers around a very swank pool area, where the massive mounds of men can find solace in the summer sun.

I love the fact that Island House’s gym allows you to workout in just about anything, as long as you’re wearing proper athletic shoes. Seeing as I’m working to build muscle, I much prefer working out shirtless and in what amounts to running shorts. It allows me to see each muscle group contracting and know that I’m isolating properly. While it’s somewhat distracting to see half-naked guys walking around a gym, it does make for a better workout.

One cool thing about shacking up at Island House is that you can usually satisfy any carnal urges you might have, day or night. During the day I’d get in a workout or two in their gym, leave the evening for some fun on Duval Street and then back to the House late night to see who was still awake. I got to satisfy one of my long-standing fantasies of fucking around in nothing but a pair of sneakers. HOT. That was definitely a jock-on-jock, in-public session. I’ve always gotten turned on by wearing cross-trainers without socks (weird, eh), so getting to do this out in the open was by far a massive turn-on.

A BN-Exclusive: Reeboks make me moan!

I also got to cum on a guy’s face. That was fun 🙂

Strangely enough, a few times while gallivanting in Key West gay nightlife, I was recognized by readers of this blog. Very shagadelic! With over 200,000 hits a week, it’s not surprising that it’s happening, but it’s still a very surreal thing for me. I