The Gay and Lesbian Travel Center
Getting friendly in Portugal
by Jimmy Im
I’m sitting on a vintage sofa as my host Tiago
cooks me dinner wearing only black briefs. Sure, I just met him but,
in the tradition of all good Lisboners, he’s making sure I feel
right at home. A ‘celeb’ of sorts in the European performing-arts
world, Tiago comments on the delightful weather, which is only one
of Lisbon’s best features. Sausages are fired up. And then we eat.
As naďve as I usually am, I soon understand what
he means: as the maddening, mixed crowd thirst, their eyes wander to
me. “It’s only because we see the same people every day,” Tiago
continues. “You’re new here, and everyone wants to talk to you. We
love tourists.” And he’s not kidding. I’m offered several different
drinks and winks, and the dark-haired, long-lashed denizens of
Lisbon compete for a word with the newbie. It’s an unusual moment
but strongly reflective of the gays, who are friendlier than
clergymen (give them a drink or two and you’ve got it in the bag).
Just east of the Bairro Alto along the Tagus River, it’s quietly burgeoning—a few trendy boutiques have already set up camp. Santa Apolonia’s claim to fame is John Malkevitch’s nightclub Lux where, at 4:30 a.m., the line of cabs emulate 5th avenue during rush hour. Inside, I tour the three levels then park on the spacious rooftop where a handful of drunks sit inside the 10-foot structure of a stiletto and gaze into the panoramic view of the Tagus.
Tiago tells me, “A lot of people come out here
after dancing and watch the sunrise,” which will commence shortly.
Some partiers even head to the gay beaches of Costa da Caparica.
Either way, its good to know Lisboners have fierce stamina. As the
whole lot of cracked out partiers assemble along the deck to watch
the sun peak from beyond the hills, I’m already wondering what
Tiago’s going to cook me for breakfast.
Money: The dollar is pretty limp compared to the virility of the Euro, but Lisbon is inexpensive and won’t burn holes in your pocket.
Language: Speaking Portuguese earns you 5 stars, Spanish earns you 4. Most Portuguese speak English and love practicing it with you.
Taxi: Relatively cheap and easy to find. Don’t get taxi-scammed at the airport; it’s less than 10 Euro to get downtown.
Sintra: You know you’re in the quaint neighborhood when you smell the eucalyptus. Romantic, and cornered by lush landscapes, it’s a must-see excursion.
Ritz Four Seasons: If you feel like splurging, shack up at the Ritz. A full-service spa with 1,500-square-meter heated pool, panoramic view atop the roof, and top-notch service will make you feel like a prince (or princess). Rua Rodrigo da Fonseca, 88, www.fourseasons.com/lisbon
Clube de Fado: (www.clube-de-fado.com)
You won’t want to miss the Fado experience (Portuguese tradition of
singers lamenting about heartbreak and longing) and Clube de Fado
offers a traditional menu that will make your own taste buds
Trump’s: (Rua Imprensa Nacional, 104 B) This hot spot for college students has two floors and two free drinks with the ten Euro entrance fee.
Finalmente: (Rua da Palmeira 38) Glam-trash heaven with hot boys, drag shows and stiff drinks.
Lux (www.luxfragil.com) Pretty much the whole city packs in this nightclub from 4 a.m. to sunrise. It’s three floors, so the adventure of getting lost just means finding a way out.
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