Running routes in Lisbon

Lisbon is famously hilly… which is great news if you are into hill training. Unfortunately, for runners favouring a more gentle run, running in Lisbon can be a bit of a challenge. But there are some great running routes – so don’t despair! Here is a summary of my favourites:

Riverside: Baixa/Cais do Sodré to Belém
This is probably the most popular route for anyone visiting Lisbon: Running along the river Tejo/Tagus. It is completely flat, and the route is easy to follow much Praça do Comércio all the way to Belém and beyond. Most of the street works in the area are completed, which makes this route easy to follow – and you’ll be rewarded with some of the most amazing sights: From the breathtaking start in Praça do Comércio, along the port and reclaimed docks and passing April 25th Bridge, MAAT and finishing in Belém.
The full route to Torre de Belém is a little over 7 km – so a neat 15 km run for the weekend if you run around the Praça once or twice. For a shorter run, an alternative is to take public transport out to Belém – and return one way.

Riverside: Parque das Nações and Vasco da Gama Bridge
This is a much more modern scenery around the riverside on the other side of Lisbon: You can get to Oriente station, and run along the riverside (again, flat) to Vasco da Gama Bridge, then back up, and run to the other end of Parque das Nações – and back again to Oriente. The run is a bit shorter than the one to Belém: around 6km one way, 12 km by the time you return to Oriente.
The main attraction here: Modern Lisbon at it’s very best.

Town running: São Sebastião to Praça de Comércio
This is a pretty nice route for a relaxed run: Take public transport to São Sebastião (El Corte Ingles). You need to get up the hill at the start (to the oversized Portuguese flag) – but from there on it is an easy run almost straight down to Praça de Comércio along Avenida and Baixa. Amazing architecture, grand buildings and regular stops at intersections make this a perfect run for an easy start.
One way is 3.5 km.

This is far more hilly … but the rewards are great views over Lisbon. If you are serious about training up hill – this is probably for you. You can make up different routes as you go along. Overall, you could spend a long time running around here – or just run across the mountain: one way is around 5 km.
The highlight: The derelict old restaurant with the most spectacular view over Lisbon.

Serious running:
If you want to run (nearly) a marathon, the easiest way is to run from the Vasco da Gama Bridge all the way to Algés – and back. A less ambitious version: Take the metro to Moscavide and then run along the riverside one way, taking the train back from Algés. The full run is roughly 20km – and you get to see all of the stunning riverside of Lisbon (and a few more “up and coming places”) on the way.

Happy running… For more ideas about runs and different routes (although some going up steep hills), you can also check out the Nike Run LX facebook page. They post maps of their forever changing runs mostly starting at the Nike store in Chiado (Sadly only in Portuguese).
Have you got a favourite run in Lisbon? Please share your favourite running locations below!


Bacalhau – powering GayPortugal for 500 years

Love it or love it… there is no way you’ll escape Bacalhau in Portugal (yes, even if you go vegan, you can still get Bacalhau à Bras – in vegan form!). Agreed, the dried stuff you find in supermarkets and shops is probably not the most appealing in the unprepared form… it is a little smelly, hard and just not exactly great to look at. However, once gently brought back to life… things are different. It come to life in so many forms that it is virtually impossible not to love one, two or all of them. But even better than a nicely prepared bacalhau, it is a thoroughly healthy ingredient, too. Bacalhau is high on B-vitamins (especially B-6 and B12), niacin, omega-3 fatty acids… and protein. Quite a power pack!

To prepare it, you first need to water it for 24-36 hours. Change the water a few times during this time – and don’t smell the water (yes, I made a friend smell it … and she was very skeptical about what on earth I was trying to feed her. Bad start!). Once, it is de-salted you can use it in many different ways – essentially like fresh fish, just with a bit more taste.

Over Christmas, I made Bacalhau Com Natas for some friends, which is essentially bacalhau cooked in cream. I actually exchanged the cream for simple milk – and the result was much “lighter” and equally nice. This is a fairly simple recipe to follow if you want to try it. Remember, you don’t really need to go overboard with the cream if you are trying to recover from the Christmas period!

If you prefer your Bacalhau a little more “mediterranean” (with olive oil and olives), give Bacalhau à Bras a try… A simple and delicious recipe is this one. One trick with it: rather than spending lots of time cutting potatoes into little matchsticks and frying them, if you are in Portugal, buy “Batata Frita Palha”, ready-made fried matchstick potatoes. If you can’t get them and you still want to save yourself the trouble of over-chopping, simply use matchstick crisps (ready salted) or similar. The effect will be pretty much the same.

Other recipes to try: Nelson Carvalheiro’s Bacalhau, Croquettes from Bacalhau, … and a bunch more.

Bom apetite!


January Agenda in GayLisbon

These are the cooler and/or irregular parties happening in Lisbon in January 2017 as far as I could find them. The most noteworthy: the return of Maria Lisboa – the legendary lesbian and friends club (see below).

For an annual overview of events, see annual LGBTQ+ events in Lisbon (useful if you are planning a trip to Lisbon!). To make sure you receive next months list – and all the blog posts in a neat and easy to read format – sign up to my newsletter here (it’s free… and I won’t ever sell your address! Promised!).

Conga Club:
Sorry… you missed it (on the 30 December) – check their Facebook or Instagram Page for details of the next party (likely early Feb).

Lesboa Party:
Decadence avec Elegance
25 February
– check their Facebook page for details.

Maria Lisboa
NYE Party – return of the iconic Lesbian and friends party legend.
Tonight: 31 December
Check their Facebook page for details

Spit ’n Polish:
– no current date announced – Check @ Ministerium Club

Centro LGBT:
More details on their Facebook page (in Portuguese)

LGBT Meetup:
Wednesday Social
04 January
– check the Lisbon LGBT Social Meetup group for more details.
Sunday Drinks (Valentine Special!)
22 January
– check the Lisbon LGBT Social Meetup group for more details.

For the regulars, like Finalmente, Trumps, Construction and Co: check Lisbon Gay Circuit here.
And Comunidade Queer & Friends on has an agenda of various other activities.
Got an addition? Get in touch!

Agenda for GayLisbon in 2017

Planning your next getway to Portugal?… Here are some of the LGBTI+ events taking place (as far as I can find them) in and around Lisbon in 2017:

25 February: Lesboa Party – not just for women 😉

31 May – 5 June 2017 Lisbon Bear Pride

17 June: Pride March Lisbon – the actual march
TBC: 24 June: Arraial Lisboa Pride – Pride festival on the Terreiro do Paço – 12 hours party on Europe’s most iconic square. Don’t miss it! [Date to be confirmed!]

Early July: Hot Season Festival – Trumps Club [Date to be confirmed!]
13-15 July: Pitch Beach – Rugby, Volleyball, Swimming, Football Sports Weekend
Late July: Summer Action [Date to be confirmed!]

August – stay tuned!

15 – 23 September: Queer Lisboa – Film festival
18-15 September: La Demance – The Cruise

Others that come and go: –
Lisbon has quite a few cool but irregular parties every month, in addition to the regular parties which can be found in Lisbon Gay Circuit .
Conga Club – irregular parties – tends to be 1st Saturday of the month, but varies sometimes
Spit & Polish – irregular parties at Ministerium

Check monthly updates for details – or get the dates by subscribing to the newsletter!

So… what are Portuguese guys like?

“Now that you are in Lisbon… what are the guys like?” seems to be the popular first question I get asked a lot by friends… let’s see if I can cobble together some very unscientific, personal, tongue-in-cheek and totally non-generalisable answers based on my first few months here… Continue reading “So… what are Portuguese guys like?”

Looking to meet new people? Try

If you haven’t tried it yet, is a great platform to meet all sorts of interesting people (gay, straight and all). It is a pretty popular platform in London, where you can join (I’m focusing on the gay/LGBTQ+-groups here) anything from naked yoga groups to learning to speak French.

Sadly, in Lisbon it isn’t quite as big and varied… but it is still a great, free resource to connect with others in town (not just LGBTQ+ folks). On the “comunity” side, there are at the moment basically two main groups:

The Comunidade Queer & Friends-LGBTQIA Portugal is a VERY active group that combines many events, not all of them LGBT-events. The group offers you the chance to connect to many people from all across the LGBT spectrum in Lisbon – and many events are arty and cultural in nature – and really showcase queer life in the city. Don’t be afraid if you don’t speak Portuguese – most of the events are more than happy to welcome non-Portuguese-speakers.

For alternative, arts and community LGBTQ+ events in Lisbon check out this meetup:… Click To Tweet

Lisbon LGBT Social Meetup Group has been a little dormant recently, but the new organiser (cough, cough, yours truly) is trying to revive the group at the moment. The idea for that group is to be more social and international, so doing things like bar crawls, brunches and regular drinks.

For drinks and socials in #gayLisbon with an international touch, check out… Click To Tweet

Please bear in mind that you don’t really to choose between the two groups: membership to is free for people joining one, two or twenty groups – so you can simply join both. So, whether you’re visiting Lisbon – or staying here for good … remember to come along and make some new friends 🙂 !

Lisbon In Books: The Two Hotel Francforts

It was actually quite a coincidence that I picked up this book… Wandering into the lovely Daunt Bookstore in London, which orders books by the place they are set in, I stumbled across The Two Hotel Francforts. The cover was intriguing, as it showed a couple in the 1940s on Rossio Square – a time that I find quite fascinating for all sorts of reasons (including the fact that my mother happened to be living in Lisbon at that time). Not knowing too much of the book (and the cover not being much of an enlightenment), I decided to give it a read – originally thinking it would be some sort of detective story or spy story, which seemed quite appropriate given the time it is set in.

Well.. I was pretty wrong: what the cover doesn’t give away is that it is actually very much a gay story, albeit of two married men, set in Lisbon. This came as a bit of a surprise to me – although the author has previously written extensively about this (and maybe I should read a review next time before starting to read a book… or does that spoil the fun?).

The basic premise is that two American couples meet in Lisbon. They are refugees fleeing the Nazis via the last open port in Europe – and by coincidence end up in the same café, though living in two very different, but named the same, hotels in Lisbon (yes, there actually were two hotels Francfort in Lisbon – see here for more information and pictures [in Portuguese]).
Just when I wondered where the plot was heading (still expecting a few spies to pop up), on a “boys night out”, the two husband start an affair – all against the backdrop of both couples trying to secure passage out of Lisbon and to America with their wives – and not entirely happy to leave the old continent behind.

I’m not trying to give too much of the plot away, only to say, it does take a lot of unexpected turns. But it is not just the love (or sex?) story that is intriguing and well written… it is also the backdrop of 1940s Lisbon live among people trying to escape – and the description of the atmosphere surrounding this extraordinary situation and time in this city.

As you might expect, this book is not much about Portuguese – nor does it venture much beyond the refugee circles and their life, as none of the characters interacts with locals. Of course, this is very much the story line, and although this could be read as somewhat disappointing, it would only be so if you expect a character study of the Portuguese. Don’t expect much in terms of local habits or local psyche… even Salazar and his policies only appear in very small doses. If you see the book as an atmospheric description of life as (very wealthy) refugees in this strange neutral country – then you will love it… if you happen to read it in Lisbon, you’ll be even more intrigued as it talks about some of the places which are still here, taking into account how they were at that time. For example, there is a lot of talk about Pastelaria Suiça… the way the author talks about it is very much how my mother talked about it. If you look at what I’d call one of the worst tourist traps on Rossio square today, you wonder why anyone would want to be there – but those were different times, and the author does well in reviving them.

Overall, if you are interested in any of these:
– Lisbon in the 1940s
– wealthy people fleeing the Nazis
…or just want to read a gay (I’m not sure I’d call it love-)story…
this is your book. If all three interest you – you’ll have trouble putting the book down.
And although it had no murders and spies, as I originally thought, I definitely enjoyed reading it tremendously.

David Leavitt (2013), The Two Hotels Francfort, New York: Bloomsbury USA

Uber vs Taxi in Lisbon

Today is a day where the taxi drivers in Lisbon will be on slow go to protest the proposed legalisation of Uber (and Cabify) in Portugal. This dispute is extremely bitter and has been going on for a while now (see these reports about it – in Portuguese).

To be honest… I’m in a bit of two minds about this.. on the one side I really don’t like the Uber’s business model, and therefore have always avoided taking them in London (or other places I have traveled). On the other hand, four out of five times I have been in a taxi in Lisbon I have been taken for a ride… which really doesn’t endear me to the Lisbon taxi drivers.

It is true that in Lisbon the taxis are relatively cheap, so even if they take you for a ride, it will not usually break the bank. That said – it can be quite a bit more expensive, and I’m definitely not happy about such behaviour. In fact, if you read some price comparisons, it seems Uber is sometimes slightly more expensive than regular taxis (and by that I’m talking with someone who is Portuguese in the back seat). However, as cheap as the taxis may be when they go directly from point A to B, the more complicated it can get when you have to explain to a taxi driver where he should go. To make it easier and avoiding having to explain where to go, I simply  pick a big building or square … and ask to be dropped off there. However, at least in Lisbon that doesn’t seem to be a recipe for success: When I tried that with Praça de Espanha the taxi driver completely ignored this – and drove off on a dual carriage way to somewhere else… It took a lot of shouting to get him to stop and I eventually made my way back to the place I wanted to be on foot. And really, Praça de Espanha is not that easy to miss or not know…
Another time, a taxi driver decided that the quickest way to go from the Airport to the Parliament Building was to first head to Parque das Naçoes … and then loop all the way around. In the latter case the damage wasn’t really so bad as being in the middle of nowhere because a taxi driver can’t locate a quite massive intersection in Lisbon, that said, it was notably more expensive than it should have been (still not really expensive, but about 25% more or so).

So far with Uber, on the other hand, I never seemed to have any problems. Firstly, because I guess the application seems to automatically guide the driver to wherever you tell it to go. That is a massive convenience (it also means I can rely on the person dropping me off where I want them to, rather than going somewhere nearby). Also, without exception, the Uber drivers I have met seem to be friendly, genuinely happy to have you on board and all seem to speak very good English.

I know this doesn’t really make up for the issues surrounding the company as such… I know that maybe I have just been unlucky with regular taxi drivers… but  to be honest, from my experience at least, Uber seems to have the upper hand in Lisbon – and while I’m sure there are some really honest and hard working cabbies out there… unfortunately, some taxistas seem to enjoy taking the scenic route a bit too much.