After four months of stay-at-home sanctions coupled with the closure of clubs, festivals and live music for the foreseeable future, many people are leaping at the chance to jet away on a summer vacay.
But while the number of cases has dropped substantially in Europe in recent weeks, the threat of a second wave still looms large.
Portugal was widely-praised for its successful containment of the coronavirus in the early months of the outbreak, however the country’s recent bid for inclusion as one of the UK’s restriction-free “travel corridor” destinations was rejected due to a spike in cases in June.
Non-essential travel is currently being discouraged by the UK government, however as of last week, those travelling from mainland Portugal will not need to quarantine for 14 days upon their return.
With new rules and restrictions being put into place every week across Europe, be sure to refer to the government guidelines before travelling abroad in order to prevent further disruption and risking the health of yourselves and others.
Violet, DJ and record label owner
Next up: Lisbon, as curated by Portuguese DJ and naive record label owner Violet. She is also the co-founder of Radio Quântica, an NTS-style community radio station committed to diverse and inclusive programming that highlights the city’s broad range of creative voices.
Topline stats: Portugal declared a “State of Emergency” on 18th March and initially began reopening shops, services, restaurants and museums on 3rd May, though over 1 million residents of Greater Lisbon were forced into lockdown again on 1st July after a spike in cases. The restrictions have now been lifted as the city moves from a “State of Calamity” into a “State of Contingency”, though social distancing and curfews remain enforced city-wide.
Finally, do not travel if you’re displaying any Covid-19 symptoms, wash your hands and wear a mask. Simple.
What phase of lockdown are you currently in and what does it look like?
At the beginning, the pandemic was quite soft on Lisbon, because most of the cases were happening in Porto, in the North. But in June, a new spike particularly affected some of the poorer districts, where there are factories and a lot of people working together. So because of this, we are under special measures.
What safety precautions are in place?
People can go back to work, but everyone has to wear a mask to the shops and stuff. There was a big thing in Lisbon last week where the government decided that bars and clubs could open, but without a dance floor, and under the same laws that cafés work. I think they can’t even sell alcoholic drinks, and it’s forbidden to drink in the streets – so you can only drink at restaurants. And we also have earlier curfews or closing times for restaurants, now — they have to shut at 8:00pm.
How has this affected people’s social lives?
It was a big thing over here, because the people connected to electronic music and the club world were like, “how can we operate like a café until 8:00pm?” It makes no sense to them.
I lost my main source of income when lockdown was enforced, but luckily I still have a lot of things to do – like running the record label and Radio Quântica. We started a festival last year focused on marginalised identities (women, queer people, trans people, people of colour), and we just did a charity compilation donating to anti-racism organisations.
What’s your public transport system like at the moment?
There have been reports of overcrowding in some of the underground lines, but the trams in Lisbon work pretty well. The old ones you see on the postcards are small, but we have the big modern versions, too.
You have to wear a mask on public transport, or you’ll be fined. I think it’s 30 Euros. But you can walk around easily, and the weather is the best you could get in Europe, especially during spring and summer.
Where can we get a music fix?
Clubs and bars are still not operating properly, but there’s some music programming run by local promoters at gardens and parks and other DIY community spaces in the daytime.
Filho Único has some wonderful programming every Friday in August at the Museus do Chiado gardens, and every Friday in September at the Galeria Quadrum garden. They feature a variety of underground Portuguese artists, and I’ll be performing a naive showcase on September 4 alongside two of my favourite local artists, Odete and BLEID.
Immerse yourself in emerging Portuguese music by supporting labels on-or-offline: I recommend Troublemaker Records, Príncipe and Paraíso. Record shops like Carbono, Flur and Sound Club are all really good.
List your favourite restaurants open for a bite to eat.
Tambarina near Bairro Alto is an authentic and friendly spot for Cape Verdean speciality cachupa, a delicious bean, corn and meat stew. Their coconut desserts are also incredible!
Nearby is Cantinho da Paz, a classic that’s been around for decades but not too many people know about it. Food from Goa in a cosy, family atmosphere.
Tascas are Portuguese no-frills food restaurants. O Prado in Belém is amazing for seafood rice or açorda, available on weekends. Os Barões near Santos is a classic go-to for all kinds of local dishes with different specials each day. For grilled meats, Chu Chu near Marquês is the bomb. These are down-to-earth, not-fancy-at-all and perfectly-executed – my type of vibe!
Legumi in Graça is a vegan sushi place where the chef comes up with different, super-imaginative specials each day. It’s honestly some of the freshest, most delicious sushi I’ve eaten, vegan or not – huge, huge tip.
Lupita in Cais do Sodré is a new-ish pizzeria that blew me away. It’s tiny, and hard to get a table, but worth it even if for takeaway. Their pizzas are really unexpected, I recall one with lemon zest, egg and green asparagus that’s off the hook.
If you’re after seafood, catch the ferry from Cais do Sodré to Cacilhas, turn right out the station and you’ll see O Farol, where you can have mariscada (seafood platters) for less than you’d pay in Lisbon, with an amazing view over the city from across the river. It’s perfect for early evenings to catch the golden hour.
Where are the best outdoor spots for walks and boozy picnics?
The Tapada das Necessidades park is beautiful. It’s near a really nice, and never overcrowded viewpoint of West Lisbon.
If you have a car, take a 40-minute drive to Serra da Arrábida, where beaches like Galapinhos and Portinho da Arrábida are beautiful and one of a kind. Just look at the pictures online and you’ll see what I mean. There’s also a fun gay beach at Praia de Bela Vista.
And Sintra – Quinta da Regaleira lives up to its fame – a complex estate full of mystic symbols, tunnels, cascades and incredible flora. Parque de Monserrate and Convento dos Capuchos are both incredible too.
Another picturesque park is Parque Marechal Carmona in Cascais, a 30-minute train ride from Lisbon.
Any good retail stores open?
Fábrica Sant’Anna, in my neighbourhood, for mesmerising hand-painted local tiles.
Not a physical shop, but do check out POC/queer-led clothing brand Kahumbi — their new collection is dope and you can order via Instagram.
Thrift shops and markets are aplenty in areas like Martim Moniz, Alamedas, Anjos and Arroios. I wouldn’t miss Feira da Ladra – a big flea market where you can find just about anything.
What about galleries and museums? Any good exhibitions we should catch?
Rua das Gaivotas6 is back in September – a multifaceted, independent cultural hub run by Teatro Praga, a theatre company. It hosts all manner of exhibitions, performances and multidisciplinary art, and features a beautiful arts library. It’s also where the studio of Radio Quântica operates.
The Museu Calouste Gulbenkian and CCB/Berardo museums both have really solid collections and a‑m-a-z-i-n‑g surroundings and gardens. These are popular, and staples of the city but in my opinion not to be missed.
And there’s an exhibition that explores ecofeminism at Galerias Municipais de Lisboa that’s on until October. It was recommended by my friend Diana Policarpo, a multidisciplinary artist and performer from Lisbon. She’s also curating Odete at galeria Bardo.