Friday, 18 October 2013

Lisbon, Portugal - gay guy hanging out in the city: I love you Lisbon

Lisbon Lisbon Lisbon - I love you Lisbon!.

I didn't know what to expect before I made plans to go to Lisbon. Okay, I lie, I had started to develop some expectations. My friend and business partner, Flavio, has lived in Lisbon for many years - raving about it all the time. My university housemate was also living there for a few months, and perhaps her silence by email and Skype was enough of indication to know there was more to Lisbon than meets the eye.

Transport

Prices during the summer were extortionate, EasyJet was the best deal all round, however at nearly £200 I knew I had to leave it until the kids returned to school, at which point October proved the best time to visit at just £100. The return flights on a Sunday are pretty late, so I booked space at AirParks for the car - and plus petrol, only worked out a few pounds more than going by train - and much quicker.

Lisbon Airport is connected by the developing metro station, and took me to Rato within 45 minutes.  Just West of the City, Rato is just a 40 minute walk to the centre, and easily accessible by the Tram number 28. Plus its spitting distance from the main gay scene. It's not long before you're in Bairro Alto to start your night, and then head to gay Rato and crawl home.

Exploring
Tram, Metro, Bus, Taxi and by foot. Lisbon isn't that big and you can really get around on foot, but be fit - as there will be a lot of hills to climb and its all on cobbled streets. When the cobbles get warm, their smoothness becomes slippery and you can find yourself slipping down the roads.

Visit the National Art Museum, walk along the river front and head to Centrale.  It's that simple.

You will however, get lost in Bairro Alto and surrounding areas, as the streets have no shape and order to them. So whether you have a printed map or a SatNav, I assure you, you will have navigational issues!

Food & Drink
It's so cheap! Whoop! Seriously! Look forward to that.

An average meal in the evening: expect to pay about €12 - 15.
This included for me, Grilled Sea Bass, Chips, Salad, 2 glasses of wine, beer, coffee

An average lunch: expect to pay €3 - 7
If you just want a basic sandwich, or opt for the famous Portuguese cheese and ham toastie, with a drink/coffee, this will set you back just €4.

I generally had breakfast at my friends apartment, simple bread, yoghurt and coffee to kick start the day.

You need plenty of water with you while exploring the city. It's pretty much always nice in Lisbon. It gets cold November - March but certainly nothing like Germany or the UK. In Middle of October the temperature was 28 degrees and blue skies for all days.

SuperBock - the most served beer. It's simple and easy to drink, but nothing to get excited about - but of course I did, since this was my first taster! Love discovering new beer!

Chapito - head to this multi-use venue. There is a restaurant overlooking Lisbon, with an exquisite sunset! We enjoyed a few beers and Green wine here. But the food looked excellent and there seemed to be no complaints from the diners. During the day you can find circus acts here who are practicsing, and it's apparently used by other groups of local people.

Traditional Portuguese Restaurant/ (cafe to the British).
Perhaps the best place to get food. They are small and squeeze a lot of people into the space, but the food is incredibly well priced, it's quick and very good!

Discovering the Gay Area
Don't do this by day. Do it by night, it is much easier to figure out where the bars are. It's all incredibly discreet during the day. The bars don't tend to open until 9/10pm, so have patience. Find out more in my Gay Guy Guide. Main bars include Les Marais, Woolf, Trump, Bar 106, Tres, Lux

Visit a Flea Market
I was told the flea market is open pretty much every day until 4pm. We arrived about 1.30pm to discover a large flea market. Some of the items were extraordinary, and probably could fetch a good price, and some items demonstrated the desperation of the poor. Portugal is suffering financially, and its residents are pretty poor.

Belem
Spend an afternoon in Belem. Here you can explore Jerónimos Monastery, its a real beautiful building!
Grab yourself a Custard Tart while here, it is worth the 15- 20 minute queue wait. Also, enjoy some ice-cream, the flavours are brilliant!






Costing
Flights - £100
Accommodation: Double room hostel €70 for 2 nights