Monday, April 25, 2011

GAY PRIDE IN PORTUGAL

IF YOU PLAN ON BEING IN PORTUGAL IN MAY, JUNE OR JULY HERE ARE THE SCHEDULED DATES FOR GAY PRIDE IN PORTUGAL.
2ª Marcha da Luta Contra a Homofobia e Transfobia de Coimbra 2 nd of March Against Homophobia and Transphobia Coimbra
Terça, 17 de Maio Tuesday, May 17



12ª Marcha do Orgulho LGBT de Lisboa 12th LGBT Pride March in Lisbon
Sábado, 18 Junho 17:00 Saturday, June 18 17:00



15º Arraial Pride, Lisboa 15 º Arraial Pride, Lisbon
Sábado, 25 Junho 16:00 / 4:00 - Terreiro do Paço Saturday, June 25th 16:00 / 4:00 - Palace Square



Marcha do Orgulho LGBT no Porto LGBT Pride March in Porto
Sábado, 9 Julho - Praça da República -> Praça D. Saturday, July 9 - Republic Square -> Square D. João IJohn I



Porto Pride 2011 Porto Pride 2011
Sábado, 9 Julho 22:00 / 8:00 - Teatro Sá da Bandeira Saturday, July 9 22:00 / 8:00 - Teatro Sá da Bandeira





AND FOR SOME OF YOU WHO WILL BE TRAVELING, HERE ARE OTHER DATES AROUND THE WORLD.

Late June to early July: Colombo Gay Pride/Sri Lanka Gay Pride.

Late June to early July: Helsinki Gay Pride/Finland Gay Pride.

Late June to early July: London Gay Pride.
Late June to early July: Toronto Gay Pride.

Late June to early July: Victoria Gay Pride (BC).
Early July: Chicago Black Pride/Windy City Black Pride.
Early July: Cincinnati Gay Pride.
Early July: Cologne Gay Pride.
Early July: Lindau Gay Pride (Germany).
Early July: Los Angeles Black Pride/At The Beach Los Angeles Pride/LA Black Gay Pride.
Early July: Madrid Gay Pride.
Early July: Marseille Gay Pride/Lesbian and Gay Pride de Marseille.
Early July: Nebraska Gay Pride/Omaha Gay Pride/Lincoln Gay Pride.
Early July: Tampa Black Gay Pride.
Early July: Vienna Gay Pride/Austria Gay Pride.
Early to mid-July: Bellingham Gay Pride.
Early to mid-July: Binghamton Gay Pride/Elmira Gay Pride/Southern Tier NY Gay Pride.
Early to mid-July: Bournemouth Gay Pride/Bourne Free.
Early to mid-July: Budapest Gay Pride/Hungary Gay Pride.
Early to mid-July: Central Coast Gay Pride/San Luis Obispo Gay Pride.
Early to mid-July: Derby Gay Pride (UK).
Early to mid-July: Warsaw Gay Pride (Poland).
Early to mid-July: Monterey Gay Pride.
Early to mid-July: Oporto Gay Pride (Portugal).
Early to mid-July: Prince Edward Island Gay Pride.
Early to mid-July: Prince George Gay Pride (BC).
Early to mid-July: Reno Rainbow Fest/Reno Art Town Festival (NV).
Early to mid-July: Santa Barbara Gay Pride/Pacific Pride Festival.
Early to mid-July: Sitges Gay Pride.
Early to mid-July: Tacoma Gay Pride.
Early to mid-July: Vancouver Washington Gay Pride/Saturday in the Park Vancouver Washington.
Mid- to late July: Brampton Gay Pride (Ontario)/Peel Pride.
Mid- to late July: Charlotte Black Gay Pride.
Mid- to late July: Colorado Springs Gay Pride.
Mid- to late July: Detroit Black Gay Pride/Midwest Black Gay Pride/Hotter Than July.
Mid- to late July: Frankfurt Gay Pride.
Mid- to late July: Kitsap Pride/Bremerton Pride (WA).
Mid- to late July: Margate Gay Pride/Thanet Gay Pride (UK).
Mid- to late July: Miami Beach African-American and Latino Gay Pride/Miami Beach Bruthaz Gay Pride.
Mid- to late July: Munich Gay Pride.
Mid- to late July: Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Gay Pride (UK)/Northern Gay Pride/Newcastle Gay Pride.
Mid- to late July: Reading Gay Pride (PA).
Mid- to late July: Rochester Gay Pride.
Mid- to late July: San Diego Gay Pride.
Mid- to late July: Tampere Gay Pride (Finland).
Mid- to late July: Tokyo Gay Pride/Japan Gay Pride.
Mid- to late July: Tri-Cities Gay Pride (WA)/Pasco Gay Pride/Mid-Columbia Valley Gay Pride.
Late July: Belfast Gay Pride/Northern Ireland Gay Pride.
Late July: Bismarck Gay Pride/Mandan Gay Pride/North Dakota Gay Pride.
Late July: Braunschweig Gay Pride (Germany)/Sommerlochfestival/Brunswick Gay Pride.
Late July: Burlington Gay Pride/Vermont Gay Pride.
Late July: Cincinnati Black Pride/Eyes Open Festival Cincinnati.
Late July: Copenhagen Gay Pride.
Late July: Erie Gay Pride.
Late July: Fort Wayne Gay Pride.
Late July: Halifax Gay Pride.
Late July: Huddersfield Gay Pride/Huddersfield Pink Picnic UK.
Late July: Hull Gay Pride/East Yorkshire Gay Pride (UK).
Late July: Harrisburg Gay Pride/Pride Festival of Central Pennsylvania.
Late July: London Gay Pride/Pride London Ontario Festival.
Late July: Norwich Gay Pride (UK).
Late July: Nottingham Gay Pride (UK).
Late July: Saarbrucken Gay Pride (Germany)/CSD SaarLorLux.
Late July: Stockholm Gay Pride/Sweden Gay Pride.
Late July: Vancouver Gay Pride.
Late July to early August: Brighton Gay Pride/Brighton Pride (UK).
Late July to early August: Divers/Cite Montreal.
Late July to early August:
Oakland Black Out/Oakland Black Gay Pride

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

FOLLOW UP ON PORTO

FOLLOWING UP ON THE POST ABOUT PORTO, HERE ARE SOME PLACES OF INTERESTS.




ACCOMMODATIONS

Pestana Porto Hotel, Praça da Ribeira 1. Tel: +351-223-402-300. Located in an historic building that is itself classified by UNESCO as part of Porto’s World Heritage site, this four-star property is one of the most charming and best-located hotels. The majority of the 48 rooms and suites have views of the Douro River, the best of which have French windows that open onto lovely little wrought iron balconies. www.pestana.com
 
Sheraton Porto Hotel & Spa, Rua Tenente Valadim 146. Tel: +351-220-404-000. Situated outside of the historic center, but close to cultural attractions such as Casa da Música and Museu Serralves, this modern glass, marble, and steel tower has 241 rooms and 25 suites, including an extravagant Presidential Suite boasting a private panoramic Jacuzzi and a grand piano. www.sheratonporto.com

Hotel Teatro, Rua Sá Bandeira 84. Tel: +351-220-409-620. Built on the site of an old theatre, this dramatic and contemporary four-star hotel has a playful theatrical vibe. A member of Design Hotels, there are 74 rooms and suites decorated in shades of bronze and gold, a bar with vintage furniture from the 60s and 70s, a restaurant, and a small gym. www.hotelteatro.pt

The Yeatman Hotel, 9Rua do Choupelo, Vila Nova de Gaia. Tel: +351-220-133-100. Open since August 2010 in an area known for its historic port wine cellars, this newly constructed five-star wine hotel has 82 elegant rooms and suites, a gourmet restaurant, extensive grounds, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and a Vinothérapie spa. www.the-yeatman-hotel.com

RESTAURANTS

Barão de Fladgate, at Taylors Port Lodge, Rua do Choupelo 250, Vila Nova de Gaia. Tel: +351-223-742-800. Located within the Taylor’s port lodge, this restaurant serves delicious local dishes accompanied by port wine and is open for lunch and dinner. You can enjoy spectacular panoramic views of Porto while you dine, and in summer it is possible to eat outdoors on the sunny terrace. www.tresseculos.pt
 
Casa de Chá Boa-Nova, Avenida da Liberdade, Leça da Palmeira. Tel: +351-229-951-785. Built right beside the Atlantic Ocean in 1963, this restaurant and teahouse was one of the earliest projects by acclaimed local-born architect Álvaro Siza. It’s still a wonderful, well-designed place to enjoy a lunch of fresh caught fish and shellfish. 

Galeria de Paris, Rua da Galeria de Paris 56. Tel: +351-934-210-792. A former textile shop dating to the early 1900s, much of the original interior has been retained, only the cabinets now display collectables and curiosities. The result is a unique space that serves an excellent value canteen-style lunch, and later becomes a trendy and casual bar/restaurant serving home cooked Portuguese food in a lively, candlelit environment. 

O Comercial, Palacio da Bolsa, Rua Ferreira Borges. Tel: +351-223-322-019. Situated within Porto’s landmark stock exchange building, this grand contemporary restaurant is perfect for a special occasion. The classic Portuguese food is beautifully prepared and presented, and the service is friendly yet discreet. At €25 per head, the seven course Menu Degustaçáo is amazing value. www.ocomercial.com


 

SHOPPING

Livraria Lello, Rua das Carmelitas 144. Tel: +351-222-002-037. Built in 1906, this magical little place is considered to be one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world. Its Art Nouveau interior seems untouched by time, and features a spectacular central staircase, beautifully carved cabinets, and a gorgeous stained-glass skylight. www. lelloprologolivreiro.com.sapo.pt
 
A Vida Portuguesa, Rua da Galeria de Paris 20. Tel: +351-222-022-105. Occupying a building dating to the early 1900s, this emporium is full of genuine and lovely Portuguese products that echo back to a bygone era, including toiletries, stationery, jewelery, food, handicrafts, toys, and gifts. www.avidaportuguesa.com

 


GAY & LESBIAN VENUES

Café Lusitano, Rua José Falcão 137. With original décor from the early 1900s, including chandeliers and wood paneling, this grand gay-mixed place is the perfect spot for a pre-dinner aperitif, or pre-clubbing drinks. The local cocktail, white port served over ice with tonic water and mint leaves, is recommended, but local beers including Super Bock are also served.
 
Boys’R’Us, 5Rua Dr Barbosa de Castro 63, Porto. Tel: +351-917-549-988. Open for over a decade in the center of town, this lively little place is Porto’s best-known gay venue. Open Wednesday to Sunday from 11 P.M., it is especially crowded on weekends when you can dance until 4 A.M. www.portugalgay.pt/pub/boysrus

Pride Bar, Rua do Bonjardin 1121. Situated just outside of the historic center, this fun and friendly place shows its true colors by displaying a rainbow plaque on its door. With occasional drag and stripper shows, it attracts a young and alternative gay crowd, and is also popular with lesbians. www.pride-bar.com

Zoom, Beco de Passos Manuel. Tel: +351-918-353-282. Housed in a former warehouse close to São Bento railway station, this is Porto’s current gay hotspot. Muscular go-go boys perform on metal bridges above the dance floor, and the DJ plays predominantly pop house. Open only on weekends, it’s busiest and best on Saturdays after 4 A.M.

ATTRACTIONS

Casa da Música, Avenida da Boavista. Tel: +351-220-120-200. Open since 2005, this irregular polygon-shaped building is Porto’s 1,300 capacity concert hall. Designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, it’s an innovative and critically acclaimed structure. www.casadamusica.com
 
Museu Serralves, Rua Dom João de Castro 210. Tel: +351-226-156-500. One of Portugal’s premiere contemporary art museums, this vast, white, contemporary structure by famous local architect Álvaro Siza sits alongside a pink Art Deco mansion in 45 acres of parkland. There is no permanent collection, instead the museum hosts regular shows by Portuguese and international artists. www.serralves.pt

Ramos Pinto, Av Ramos Pinto 400, Vila Nova de Gaia. Tel: +351-223-707-000. Dating to the 1800s, this famous port wine cellar is open Monday to Friday 10 A.M. to 6 P.M. for tours and tastings. Original prints of company’s famous advertisement posters from the 1920s are also on display here. www.ramospinto.pt

Sandeman Cellars and Porto Wine Museum, Vila Nova de Gaia. Tel: +351-223-740-533. Founded by a Scotsman in 1790, this renowned port wine cellar is open every day 10 A.M. to 6 P.M. for guided tours in eight languages including English and Portuguese. Entrance is €4 per person. www.sandeman.com

Solar do Vinho do Porto, Rua de Entre Quintas 220. Tel: +351-226-094-749. Operated by Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto (Port and Douro Wines Institute), here you have the advantage of being able to sample port wine from every single producer all under one roof, so it’s time efficient, and the port is very keenly priced too! Housed in a grand old mansion, there’s a bar-like vibe. Open 4 P.M. to midnight, Monday to Saturday. www.ivp.pt

Taylor’s Port Lodge, RRua do Choupelo 250, Vila Nova de Gaia, Tel: +351-223-742-800. Still a family-run firm after over 300 years, this port wine cellar is open Monday to Friday 10 A.M. to 6 P.M. for tours and tastings. There’s also a great on-site restaurant, as well as a luxury, new five-star wine hotel next door. www.taylor.pt

For a more opulent fine dining experience, you can’t beat O Comercial. Located within the Palácio da Bolsa, Porto’s grand neoclassical stock exchange, this upscale restaurant brings a cool contemporary vibe to the historic surroundings. It seems like a real privilege to be allowed to enter this impressive building after hours, and once seated at your table you’ll feel equally privileged when presented with a menu that includes locally inspired dishes such as ribs braised in Douro wine with celery, and shrimp bread pudding, but remember to leave room for what is called “the best warm chocolate cake in the world.”

Although major chains like the luxurious Sheraton Porto Hotel & Spa are present here, Porto also has a good selection of smaller and more individual hotels that are full of flair and personality. The Pestana Porto Hotel is a lovely, traditional-style, boutique option that enjoys possibly the best location in Porto. Situated right on the Ribeira waterfront, the majority of rooms in this distinctive, butter-colored historic building have views of the Douro River, some complete with charming little balconies. If you prefer something more contemporary and closer to the gay scene, Teatro Hotel Porto makes a bold statement by curtaining out natural light from most of its public areas to suggest the dramatic ambience of a theatre. A reception desk disguised as box office and rails of theatrical costumes add to the illusion—drag queens will love all the drama and draped velvet! The rooms themselves are spacious and modern, with fixtures and furnishings that all have a lovely golden hue. Built on the site of a revered theatre that was destroyed by fire in 1888, this brand new hotel was created by Portuguese-born architect and designer Nini Andrade Silva, and is a member of Design Hotels.

 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

PORTO PORTUGAL

Spring is here, and the sun and warm temperatures here in Portugal are livening things up. So.... I wanted to give all of you a good description of Porto.  As I said before Lisbon is not the only Gay destination in Portugal..... Read on!!!



Porto, the second largest city in Portugal, is as robust and intoxicating as the fortified wine that is produced here. Port wine has been aged, bottled, and distributed from here for over three centuries, and the historic port wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia on the southern shore of the Douro River are major tourist attractions.
 
There is more to enjoy in Porto besides a glass of port but, like a splash on a crisp white tablecloth, port has left an indelible mark on the city. At the heart of Porto is the historic Ribeira district. Designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 1996, it’s a heap of tall medieval townhouses that clamber up the steep north bank of the Douro all the way to the vast Episcopal Palace and imposing 12th-century Porto Cathedral. It’s easy to lose yourself amid the narrow, winding alleys that traverse this atmospheric and slightly seedy neighborhood—and as you do, you should remember that Porto’s rich architectural heritage of medieval tenements, baroque churches, iron bridges, and art nouveau stores, is evidence of the wealth that came to this city thanks to its pivotal role in the port trade.

Although much of Ribeira is muddled and muddy due to ongoing renovations, the riverfront promenade Cais da Ribeira, with its parade of colorful balconied houses, medieval arches, and a host of lively restaurants and pavement cafés, is one of Porto’s most photogenic spots. It’s also a perfect spot to sample a glass of port.
Moored along the quayside you’ll see several grand, old, wooden boats. Known as a Barco Rabelo, this type of flat-bottomed, square-sailed boat first entered service in 1792 when they were used to carry port here from the vineyards high up in the Douro Valley. Nowadays, they’re used primarily to ferry tourists across the river to visit the wine cellars on the opposite bank.



An alternative way to cross the river to the cellars is via Ponte Luís I. This impressive, two-tier, iron bridge dates to 1886, when it was the longest arch bridge in the world. Road traffic now uses just the lower deck, while the lofty upper deck carries electric trains from Porto’s new Metro system alongside a pedestrian walkway. The view from up here is spectacular, but it’s best avoided if you’re acrophobic. If you think there’s something je ne sais quoi about its arched iron construction…something reminiscent of the Eiffel Tower in Paris…you’d be correct, because this bridge was in fact engineered by one of Gustave Eiffel’s pupils, Téophile Seyrig. Indeed, Eiffel and Seyrig together engineered Porto’s Ponte Dona Maria Pia railway bridge a decade earlier, in 1877, which stands upriver from here.

Port wine is ubiquitous even on a night out in Porto’s small but lively gay scene. Starting the evening at gay-mixed Café Lusitano in the trendy Clérigos neighborhood, I asked for a caipirinha, the Brazilian cocktail omnipresent in the bars and clubs of Lisbon, but here I was told they didn’t have that. Instead I was offered a local alternative of white port served over ice with tonic water and mint leaves. It was deliciously refreshing. With its chandeliers, wood-panelled interior, velvet upholstered chairs, and marble topped bar, there’s a grand air of the 1900s about Café Lusitano, an illusion broken only by the 21st-century collective of students, hip young locals, and handsome gay guys who today colonize this place.
 
On fine summer evenings, stake a claim outdoors at the bars on nearby Rua da Galeria de Paris. They are certainly worth a visit. Dating to 1903, this narrow street was originally conceived to be a chic Parisian-style arcade, but the planned glass roof was never built. Although the ornate art nouveau buildings fell into disrepair when the area fell out of fashion, they’ve recently been “recycled” as bars, restaurants, and specialist shops, and have become fashionable once again. Of particular note is Galeria de Paris. The original cabinets of this former textile shop have been retained and now display an insane mix of antique oddities, including vintage radio sets and model boats, making this a unique place to enjoy a drink or good and inexpensive Portuguese home cooking. It’s a very informal set-up, so grab a candlelit table when you can. There’s often live piano music, or a set by a local DJ, and come midnight, it gets as packed as a can of sardines.

The proper gay scene starts on weekends after 1 A.M. Having any gay scene is a relatively new phenomenon here. Even though Porto first celebrated Gay Pride in 2001, there wasn’t a proper Gay Pride march until 2006, but Porto’s gays and lesbians still know how to party. Flashy little Boys’R’Us is Porto’s best-known gay venue. Open for over a decade in the very heart of town, it’s always a lot of fun. A bit farther out, Pride is favored by a slightly younger and alternative crowd, and the DJ has a more varied playlist that embraces 80s disco classics and Portuguese pop as well as current club anthems, so it’s worth the extra effort. Both have occasional drag shows, and both attract a small smattering of lesbians. On Saturdays from 4 A.M., anyone who is still standing will migrate to Zoom. Occupying a former warehouse, this is Porto’s current gay hotspot, and with muscular go-go boys, huge mirror balls, and booming house music, it ticks every box.

It’s not only venues like Café Lusitano and Galeria de Paris that have lovely interiors echoing the 1900s. Continue to explore the Clérigos neighborhood and you’ll find what is rated as one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world. With a neo-gothic façade and an interior that has remained unchanged since 1906, Livraria Lello is a magical place. Built as the flagship store for one of Portugal’s most prestigious publishing houses, I could easily envisage this as Dumbledore’s private library in the Harry Potter films. The amazing, attention-grabbing central staircase twists and recoils up and down in every direction like a two-headed art nouveau snake, while the books themselves are kept preciously in carved, glass-fronted cabinets. As if bewitched by a spell, famous Portuguese literary figures peer out from bronze bas-reliefs on the pillars. As well as being top-class architectural eye-candy, Livraria Lello also stocks some hard-to-find English translations of Portuguese literature, plus a wide selection of books all about Porto. There’s even a cosy four-table café at the rear, illuminated from above by a gorgeous stained-glass skylight, where you can chill with coffee or a glass of port.
 
Reminiscent of a general store from a bygone era, nearby A Vida Portuguesa laughs in the face of globalization by carrying a range of Portuguese products from yesteryear that, although still in production today, have resisted the urge to change with the times. Open since 2006 in the premises of an old-fashioned cosmetics warehouse that dates to the late 19th century, this retro emporium is a vast treasure trove of nostalgic household items from Porto and beyond.

Beautifully displayed in original fixtures and fittings, treats in store include hand-made Claus Porto soaps, individually wrapped in tissue paper and packaged in gorgeously patterned boxes, the designs of which have remained unchanged for decades; crisp Emilío Braga notebooks, each one bound with a hand-sponged black and white “cloud” patterned cover, exactly as they’ve been since 1918; and Bordallo Pinheiro ceramics with designs dating back to 1884, the range includes plates, bowls, tureens, and serving platters in whimsical, natural shapes like cabbage leaves, strawberries, and fish. You’ll also find cans of olive oil, handmade chocolates, hand-woven wool blankets, nostalgic children’s toys, traditional aluminium cookware, and handcrafted jewelry, all produced in Portugal in the same way, and boxed in the same packaging that they always have been. Although you may be familiar with some of these items (Claus Porto soaps are exported to the United States, and Oprah is said to be a huge fan), there’s plenty more to discover.

I learned that one product, Couto toothpaste, is not only popular because it retains its original retro logo and strong minty taste, it also scores on its ethical credentials. Formulated by Dr. Alberto Ferreira Couto in Porto in 1932, it’s favored by vegans because it’s a natural product that was never tested on animals. Similarly, grand old grandmothers come here from all across Portugal to stock up on Ågua de Colónia Lavanda or Benamor cleansing cream, products they’ve used and loved since they were girls. For us, it’s a fabulous place to shop, but for many locals it’s a proper nostalgia trip.

This neighborhood takes its name from the ornate Baroque Clérigos Church whose tall bell tower, Torre dos Clérigos, was the tallest structure in Portugal when completed in 1763. Today the tower is a popular tourist attraction, and for €2 you can climb up 240 steep steps to enjoy the view from the top.

Despite Porto’s undeniable historic heritage, this is not a city trapped in the past. In fact, whenever Porto does look to the future, it does so with enthusiasm and success. Thanks to the city’s status as European Capital of Culture in 2001, audacious Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas was commissioned to design a concert hall, and the result of this bold decision is Casa da Música. Completed in 2005, it’s an angular, precision-molded, white concrete structure that looks a bit like a meteorite that’s crash-landed from the planet Krypton. It’s a statement building that was applauded by the international design community (the New York Times hailed it as one of the most important concert halls built in the last 100 years) and, more importantly, by the people of Porto.

The 1,300-seat auditorium is unique in that it’s the only concert hall in the world to have two walls made entirely of glass. Terrible in terms of acoustics, glass is mostly avoided in such buildings, but here Koolhaas has used double layers of corrugated glass to produce a dazzling space that’s both acoustically sound and flooded with natural light. The inaugural concerts, featuring American rock musician Lou Reed, celebrated classical pianist Alfred Brendel, and Portuguese pop-rock band Clã, set the tone. Since then, everything from classical concerts by Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto to jazz to fado to hip-hop have been performed here. There’s generally something on the program that’ll appeal to a gay audience too, such as a screening of The Wizard Of Oz accompanied by a live classical score, or a concert by Antony and The Johnsons. If you don’t have concert tickets, for €3 you can take a guided tour, which is perhaps the surest way to guarantee access to the exclusive sixth-floor VIP room, where cutting-edge elements like polished aluminum floors and rippled glass panels contrast with decorative walls of azulejos, traditional hand-painted blue and white ceramic tiles portraying idyllic pastoral scenes. It’s a very intriguing place.

Fans of contemporary architecture should also seek out buildings by local born architect Álvaro Siza. Like Koolhaas (who won in 2000), Siza was 1992’s recipient of the Pritzker Prize, considered one of the world’s most prestigious architecture accolades. Excellent examples of Siza’s work include the University of Porto’s inspiring Faculdade de Arquitectura complex, and serene white Museu Serralves, which when it opened in 1999 was Portugal’s first large-scale contemporary art museum. My personal favorite is one of his earliest projects, the Casa de Chá Boa-Nova. Built in 1963, this restaurant and teahouse is dramatically set amid massive boulders right by the Atlantic Ocean in Leça da Palmeira, a 20-minute drive out of Porto. Although there are fashionable seaside restaurants closer to Porto in Foz do Douro, I think this one is worth the extra distance. If the mid-century modern-style mix of concrete, white masonry, and rich red Afzelia wood isn’t enough to lure you, maybe the promise of a lunch of baked cod, seafood feijoada, or clams cooked in a traditional Portuguese cataplana, enjoyed overlooking the ocean on the restaurant’s peaceful outdoor terrace, will persuade you.

For a more opulent fine dining experience, you can’t beat O Comercial. Located within the Palácio da Bolsa, Porto’s grand neoclassical stock exchange, this upscale restaurant brings a cool contemporary vibe to the historic surroundings. It seems like a real privilege to be allowed to enter this impressive building after hours, and once seated at your table you’ll feel equally privileged when presented with a menu that includes locally inspired dishes such as ribs braised in Douro wine with celery, and shrimp bread pudding, but remember to leave room for what is called “the best warm chocolate cake in the world.”

Although major chains like the luxurious Sheraton Porto Hotel & Spa are present here, Porto also has a good selection of smaller and more individual hotels that are full of flair and personality. The Pestana Porto Hotel is a lovely, traditional-style, boutique option that enjoys possibly the best location in Porto. Situated right on the Ribeira waterfront, the majority of rooms in this distinctive, butter-colored historic building have views of the Douro River, some complete with charming little balconies. If you prefer something more contemporary and closer to the gay scene, Teatro Hotel Porto makes a bold statement by curtaining out natural light from most of its public areas to suggest the dramatic ambience of a theatre. A reception desk disguised as box office and rails of theatrical costumes add to the illusion—drag queens will love all the drama and draped velvet! The rooms themselves are spacious and modern, with fixtures and furnishings that all have a lovely golden hue. Built on the site of a revered theatre that was destroyed by fire in 1888, this brand new hotel was created by Portuguese-born architect and designer Nini Andrade Silva, and is a member of Design Hotels.

Of course you can’t visit Porto without sampling a glass of port, can you? Port wines aren’t actually made here: the grapes are harvested and fortified in the vineyards of the Douro Valley, then sent down river to age. As many date to the 1700s and 1800s, these cellars are fascinating places to visit.

There are numerous cellars to choose from, but my recommendation is Casa Ramos Pinto, founded by Adriano Ramos Pinto in 1880. Himself a notable young artist, he commissioned renowned artists and designers of the era like René Vincent, Leonetto Cappiello and Leopoldo Metlicovitz to produce stylish advertisement posters that portrayed Ramos Pinto port as an alluring nectar. In one example, the serpent tempts a nubile Eve in the Garden of Eden with a delicate glass of Ramos Pinto port; in another, a smirking cupid uses a glass of port to seduce an about-to-kiss couple. Clearly, Adriano Ramos Pinto was a genius marketing guru who understood that sex sells, making Ramos Pinto an international success. The company quickly conquered the Brazilian market and by the beginning of the 20th century was responsible for half the port wine exported to South America. Indeed, reproductions of those posters are still as popular as ever.
 
Today, Ramos Pinto is owned by French-based Roederer Group, producer of the luxury Champagne, Cristal. The wine cellars have been open to the public since 2002. Guided tours explain how port is made, and you’ll be rewarded with tastings and have an opportunity to shop at the end of the tour. Buying vintage port bottled in the year you were born is a wonderful souvenir (but the older you are, the more costly a gift it will be). What makes this place stand out from the rest is the fact that you can visit the historic corporate offices as well as the cellars. Unchanged since the 1930s, they’re a time capsule of paneled wood, brass, and stained glass, with a large and fascinating archive of those lovely old advertisement posters.

Port is probably favored most of all by the British. In fact, Britain’s Army, Navy, and Royal Air Force use a glass of port to toast the Queen at every formal dinner. It’s therefore not surprising that many of Porto’s most famous port wine cellars, like Sandeman and Taylor’s, are British in origin.
Although now owned by Seagram’s of Canada, a Scotsman, George Sandeman, founded Sandeman in 1790. In the 1800s, “brand” names were largely unheard of, but Sandeman wanted to give customers a guarantee of quality. So, in 1880 they became the first port wine cellar to export bottled and labeled port wine. Like Ramos Pinto, Sandeman’s stature increased in the 1920s thanks to its use of bold advertising posters: the most notable being the cape-clad silhouette of the now-iconic Sandeman “Don,” designed in 1928 by another Scotsman, George Massiot Brown.

Set halfway up the hill, Taylor’s takes a bit more effort to get to, but comes with the added benefit of a great onsite restaurant, Barão de Fladgate, which provides wonderful panoramic views of historic Porto from its sunny terrace. The menu focuses on local specialities, such as slow-cooked roast kid with turnip tops, and monkfish rice with prawns and rose shrimps, and the waiters happily recommend which wine, or indeed which port wine, goes well with each dish. One recommendation is the refreshing but curiously named Taylor’s Chip Dry white port.

At the end of 2010, the owners of Taylor’s opened a brand new luxury hotel here on the hillside of Vila Nova de Gaia. Its proximity to Taylor’s port wine caves means that guests of The Yeatman Hotel will never go thirsty. Among the five-star amenities is a Vinothérapie Spa, incorporating a tepidarium, hammam, Roman bath, and an indoor panoramic swimming pool. Using natural beauty products from French company Caudalie, treatments maximize the anti-oxidant qualities of the grape and include a red vine barrel bath, Merlot body wrap, the signature “Pulp Friction” massage with fresh grapes, and the “Premier Cru” facial—together proving just how good wine is for you.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

HOTEL FORTE S. JOÃO


HOTEL FORTE S. JOÃO

I found this awesome hotel in a small beach community called Vila do Conde, just 20 miles north of Porto.  It is an actual fort located right on the beach.  Check out their website.



This four star gemis not Gay owned or operated, but the staff is very friendly and accommodating. Rooms are around 100€ a night, which is expensive for Portuguese standards, but very well worth it and very class.

It is mostly active during spring and summer with several different activities, such as summer theme parties.  It also caters and welcomes wedding parties.




The Fort St. João is a charming hotel, fully decorated by architect Paulo Lobo. This hotel operates on a stronghold of the seventeenth century with spectacular views. It offers seven rooms which consist of living room and bedroom equipped with all amenities. The presidential suite is distinguished by generous spaces and isolation in relation to other dwellings. 




ESPLANADE RESTAURANT with the concept of cuisine from local market, which includes a ORIENTAL BAR,  SHISHA & Oyster Lounge, bar, cafeteria and reading areas. It is very suave and cozy and the food is very good with a large variety of fresh seafood.



Phone: 252 240 600
Fax: 252 240 609
E-mail: contact form
Address: Avenida do Brazil
4480-659 Vila do Conde





Thursday, March 3, 2011

CASA AMARELA

CASA AMARELA

 

Guest House - Gay & Lesbian
Rua D. Luís de Castro e Almeida,
7645-317 Vila Nova de Milfontes - Portugal
Telephone number : +351 283 996 632 
















Located on the Algarve Coast, at the mouth of the Mira River, Vila Nova de Milfontes is a region praised by bth Portuguese and foreign tourists, with great white sand beaches and crystal water. La CASA AMARELA is situated in the town centre, in a quite courtyard. A 100% travel-oriented, cosmopolite et friendly atmosphere with bedrooms for 2, 3, 4 and 6 people and also dorms for groups of young people.

Rui travelled the world and understands the needs of other fellow travellers. He will welcome you in his guesthouse and in this region he particularly loves. 




Facilities and services
Garden
Terrace / Solarium
Computer with free internet access
Video room
Access possible for disabled people
Non-smoking premises
Private car park




















Bedroom amenities
TV
DVD player
Private bathroom




Additional assistance and services
Kitchen at guests' disposal. Free internet. 




Localisation
In the centre of Vila, 5 minutes walk from the beach. 200 kms south of Lisbon.


Rates
Single rooms from 25 to 35 €
Double rooms from 35 to 55 $
Triple room from 50 to 70 €
Payment in cash (€ - in the local currency)

Monday, February 21, 2011

LISBON RESTAURANT

I wanted to recommend an awesome restaurant in Bairro Alto in Lisbon




Les Mauvais Garçons

Rua da Rosa 39 1200  Lisbonne

open from 12:00 to 24:00
Métro : Baixa / Chiado
Tél : +351 213 433 212

Bistro-cafe in Parisian style and with ... Mediterranean cuisine. Mixed clientele, relaxed atmosphere, pleasant staff. Free Wireless Internet,  situated in the heart of Bairro Alto.

A small inexpensive restaurant with excellent cuisine.  The manager/owner  David is terrific, speaks Spanish, French and English was born in Spain, lived in France and about 3 years ago he moved to Lisbon.

He owns the building and also rents nice apartments.  Bairro Alto is the Gay hang out and the restaurant is minutes away from all the Gay bars.

But, I’ll review and write about the rooms in a future post.


Les Mauvais Garçons is a very popular spot in Lisbon. It’s a small, cosy ”très-chic” cafe/restaurant. They serve delicious Spanish dishes like gaspacho and tortilhas, Italian (lasagna, spaguetti, also vegetarian) and Portuguese dishes inspired by the French cuisine.
In the afternoon. You can relax in the deep leather armchairs, or bring your laptop (wi-fi internet connection). Try their Portuguese cakes: tarte de maçã com gelado de baunilha or bolo de dois chocolates.






Wednesday, February 9, 2011

CASA MARHABA IN LAGOS

ANOTHER GREAT GAY GUESTHOUSE IN THE ALGARVE REGION



CASA MARHABA
Casa Marhaba is a friendly and private guest house in the sun. Set in one acre in a pleasant rural area, we are just 1 km from the nearest beaches, with the nearest towns a 5 km drive away – Carvoeiro on the coast and Lagoa inland. And of course, the Algarve is full of restaurants offering not only variety, but quality and value too – some close enough to walk to.

All bedrooms are doubles – some with single beds. All rooms have en-suite bathrooms with showers. All rooms are accessed directly from the garden.

There is a comfortable Guest Lounge with satellite TV and video facilities, a small library and a selection of games.




Their extended Continental Breakfasts are substantial – freshly squeezed orange juice, yogurt, fresh fruit, cheese, ham, fresh breads and pastries, tea or coffee – served on a terrace overlooking the pool and garden.

And after breakfast you can relax around the private pool, tan on one of the sun terraces, walk around the gardens, take a soothing soak in the jacuzzi, or sit in the walled garden with the tinkling waterfall in the background.

They  are open from April through September.
the rates for the 2011 season are as follows:-

Apr & May

Jun to Sep

Occupation
Per Night
Per Week
Per Night
Per Week

One Person
50 Euros
300 Euros
56 Euros
343 Euros
Two People
65 Euros
390 Euros
75 Euros
448 Euros
Three People**
85 Euros
540 Euros
99 Euros
595 Euros

*   minimum stay of 3 nights
** The Triple Bedroom has one double and one single bed
For reservations, enquiries or any further information please write, telephone, fax or email:
Casa Marhaba, Rua de Benagil, Alfanzina, 8400-427 Lagoa, Algarve, Portugal
Tel/Fax: + 351 282 35 87 20
Email: tony@casamarhaba.com
http://www.casamarhaba.com