Author Archives: lisbonned


That started a while ago. I was studying abroad, in Madrid, for 6 months. During that time my parents came to visit me and wanted to come to Lisbon. I had always wanted to come to Lisbon too. So, we came and I really, really loved it. Later on, like two weeks later, I came back. Because I liked it so much! And after that second time I said: “I’m going to live here some time”. That was in 2011. Then, as I was going on my last year of the university, I decided to take Portuguese. So, I took Portuguese and started looking for jobs in Portugal, and one of my professors was, actually, helping me, but I didn’t find a job then.


So, I went to Chile for 9 months with the winery that I work for, plus I worked in another startup company in Chile. There I met my boyfriend, who is Italian. He was going to come back to Europe, so, I decided to leave Chile a little bit earlier, and I said to my boyfriend: “I’m going to Lisbon, you can come there, if you want”. So, he came here and we were here for a month and a half, and then we had to move. So, he went to Italy for 7 and a half months, and then I moved back to the US for like 6 months. And then he moved here, and then we met here in June of 2014. I finally made it here, hooray!! It was a long and convoluted journey, it took me around 2 years.

Why Lisbon? I liked that it was such a beautiful city and that it’s so bright. There is a lot of light, it shines. It’s a european capital city, but it’s still sort of… not perfect. For example, Rome is pretty chaotic, but it’s much more polished and more crowded. There is a different sort of an atmosphere, it’s kind of rough around the edges, and I really like that. I like that it’s not perfect, but it’s still so super beautiful. It seems like it’s under-appreciated.

Now I know more about the city, about its history, because I took classes in my last year of the university: about the discoveries, Camões, and I feel like it helped to fill a lot of the gaps. I feel like now Lisbon makes even more sense: the way it is, the history and what it became.


I don’t know, if I will stay here forever. I definitely think that I could live here for… I think that I could live here forever. But I don’t know if it’s going to work out so easily that way. I travel to a lot of places, but, honestly, I can’t think of any other city, where I would rather live right now. I’ve finally got to my goal, which was to live here, so it doesn’t seem like there is any point in going somewhere out. But even if I leave, I will come back at some point.

Another thing that’s amazing to me in Lisbon is that, unlike the other european capitals, people ask me: “Why would you come to Lisbon?”, and I’m like: “Are you serious? Because it’s amazing, beautiful and it’s such a cool place”. It’s so funny, maybe it’s the humility that the people here have. Even compared to Madrid, where I lived before, it was so shocking, because people here are so nice. After leaving Madrid, I was asking myself: “Is this real? Are these real people? How is everyone so nice?” It is shocking, but I love the people here. Sometimes, it’s sad, because they should be more proud of their city, but it also makes Lisbon that sort of casual, so into themselves sort of a thing.


Have you ever heard about the Creativity Gym? It’s a gym, founded by Rafael Ribeiro in collaboration with his friend Filipe Pereira, where with their help people train their creativity skills and creative self-expression. Rafa is from Brazil, but he is living in Lisbon for the last 9 years and calls it home.

“Since I was 22, I was trying to understand the philosophy of people’s life in Brazil and how they managed to live in that confusion with no respect to human beings. And I think that I got to the point when I felt that I couldn’t live there anymore and needed to find a better place for me, but I didn’t know where exactly. I didn’t have special feelings to any specific place in the world. I just wanted to leave Brazil.

I was at the beach in Santos, on the coast of São Paulo, sitting next to my mom. I turn to her and said: “Mom, I want to work outside of Brazil”. Because I couldn’t adapt to the chaotic way of life there and had a fear of my own shadow. She wished me luck, looking a bit sad and happy at the same time.


One month later I received a job offer from a friend. He asked me if I was interested in working in Portugal. I said: “why not?” He sent my CV to that company and in one week they contacted me. It was a Brazilian company with an office in Portugal. After a phone interview they got back to me asking if I could start working the following week. I said that I needed at least two weeks to get ready. So, I quitted my job, prepared all the documents. I called my mom and said: “Do you remember the talk we recently had about leaving Brazil? Come here for the weekend, as then I’m leaving for Portugal and I have no idea when I’m coming back”. So, she came and we had a great party, invited about 90 people to my place. That’s how I decided to move to Portugal.

Indeed, what I decided was to leave Brazil. And I didn’t choose Portugal. I believe that it was Portugal that had chosen me.

The first thing that impressed me in Portugal was.. the moon. I was going down by the Av. Engenheiro Duarte Pacheco heading to the Marquês de Pombal square and there was a huge orange moon above the other end of the avenue. And that was when I felt that I should live here. Like if I had already been here before. Believe me or not, I don’t even know if I myself believe in it, but I had a feeling that I had already lived here or that I needed to come here. Sense of place. It was my second day in Lisbon.

The first day I arrived at 8 am and at 9 am I was already at work. I worked at the Ministry of Justice. I remember that when I arrived, my colleagues were giving me some details about the project and I didn’t understand anything. So, I thought they lied to me saying that we were speaking the same language in Brazil and Portugal. And then I thought: if I say that I don’t understand anything, they will think that I’m stupid and will send me back to Brazil the same day. So, I agreed with everything they told me and then asked to send me all the information in a written form by email. And then I read it and realised that there was just a difference in the intonation and some words, especially the technical words, had a completely different meaning than in the Brazilian version of Portuguese.

For me, Portugal has everything I like in a perfect balance: it has a good climate, great food, nice people. Even though everybody complains about the economic situation, I’m coming from a country where the things are worse. Despite the economic growth in Brazil, there is a vast disparity of income and very high cost of living. It causes a lot of confusion, as you may have a lot of money but you have to spend a lot to feel safe. And it’s getting worse and worse. I never wanted to go back.

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Surfing is my great passion. And in Portugal we have one of the best waves in the world and no sharks. Usually, where there are big waves, it’s either extremely cold or extremely dangerous, while in Portugal even for surfing everything is in a perfect balance.

I believe in this country, that’s why I don’t want to leave. If I had to leave for financial reasons or for openness to the things, which I want to do, I would move to London or any of the nordic countries. But I don’t want to, I don’t see myself there. To leave all the things that I love here just for the opportunity to gain more money? I think, it’s not worth it.

Usually, I do things in a very pragmatic way. On the one hand, I love party, happiness and joy, like Brazilians, but, on the other hand, I’m very methodic and organised, and even strict in certain respects, like Dutch. That’s why I’m in the middle of Brazil and Germany: both geographically and culturally. I don’t consider myself Portuguese, but neither do I consider myself Brazilian. Brazil itself is a mix of nations and cultures, so I feel a mixture of nations and cultures in myself, too”.

Fado do meu coração

One day she will move to Lisbon (again) and I will write the story of a very special person with delicate soul and mesmerising talent, that instantly became my dear friend right after we met (in Lisbon, of course). I’m sure that one day she will find herself at home, as I did once, almost one year ago, doing what she loves most in our favourite city.

But today I would like to share her art, as besides being my friend, Claudia is my favourite modern artist. And her new series about fado absolutely blew my mind.

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Rodrigo is the director of the Desassossego bookshop. Originally from Chile, he worked as an editor in different magazines, on TV and radio. In 2000 he realised that the office work was not for him, sold everything he had and left Chile, travelling the world working on the board of a cruise ship. Here he found a way to make money and travel at the same time in search of “his place”, where he would have all he liked: beach, great history, culture and peace. Once Rodrigo decided to move from Chile to Portugal.

Rodrigo Manonellas

“Before that I had visited Portugal 3 times: the first time I visited Portugal I was spending my time just partying and having fun; the second time – I discovered the culture, the food and made new friends; on my third trip I also visited Porto and realised that Portugal had a lot of good things.

It also has some bad things and “so-so” things. But it’s secure, and for me the security is the most important thing. Most of the countries I visited lack it, including Barcelona, where my parents are from.

I chose Portugal, because here you are surrounded with culture, which was the first thing I liked. Then, people here are nice, friendly and pleasant.

I chose Portugal, risked everything and came here. I tried to start my own business, but there is a big confusion with the bureaucracy. As I already had experience of working in restaurants as a supervisor and loved everything about cooking, I started working as a manager in a restaurant in Casino Estoril.

Here I faced a big battle for the language. I believe that it’s very important to speak the language of the land where you live. But there is also one perk in it: when you speak, as a foreigner, with a specific accent, people like it, and it creates a special relationship between people and you: the don’t say “let’s visit Rodrigo”. Instead they say: “let visit the Chilean”.

I was known in Cascais as the Chilean, and when I decided to leave Casino Estoril, one of my clients, who was the owner of Chiado Editora, invited me to work in his bookstore.


One of the five main reasons why I moved to Portugal is the Portuguese women. They are very difficult ones, but in a different way than, for example, the Polish or the Russians. A Portuguese woman is a very special thing. It’s a part of the Portuguese history and culture. They don’t believe in what they are. They always need to be reflected in another person.

Portuguese people risked themselves a lot when they conquered the world. But afterwards they remained here waiting for the world to recognise them, but it doesn’t work in life.

What Portugal gives me is the tranquility to live without worrying if I’m a millionaire, need to gain more money or to show off. Here I’ve found the liberty of not being known by anybody, where I could be discovered and valued for what I am.

What was the first thing that surprised me in Portugal? You won’t believe me but the coastline from Lisbon to the Guincho beach is exactly the same as the one from Valparaíso to Concón in Chile. Lisbon (as well as Valparaíso) is a port, a center of art, culture, music, graffiti, then Estoril Casino (Casino Viña del Mar in Chile), Cascais (Reñaca), and in the end of the route –  the Guincho beach with its hill (exactly the same as Concón).

I felt at home, but with a different language, different people and a better quality of life”.

Nele (and her food feeling)

Sometimes people we meet seem to have just been teleported from another magic universe. They seem to be fragile, but they are unbelievably strong inside and radiate love and lightness.

It’s all about Nele – a belgian lady I met in the beginning of my portuguese adventure, in a belgian restaurant next to my place near Assembly of the Republic.

Maybe, it was because of her that I decided to start this blog. I was surprised to see this belgian lady speaking portuguese: “I have lived so many years in Portugal, that I feel myself more portuguese than belgian”.


Nele is passionate about food and Portugal, and here is her story:

“I came to Portugal when I was 14 years old. Obviously, it was not my decision, but my mother’s. When I was 13, my mother and stepfather decided that one day they would move from Belgium to Portugal. I was always a super-bad student and had no idea, where Portugal was situated. I thought that it was Asia or something like that.

We moved to the North of Portugal and lived in a lot of little towns. As my parents separated, I decided to go back to Belgium to live with my dad. 3 times I went back to Belgium: when I was 16, 18 and 23 years old. The maximum time I managed to stay there was 2 years.

I believe that there is no country which you can leave Portugal for, unless it is a country that has more sun and light than Portugal does. For me, it is the most important thing. I need the luminosity and the sun. It brings me happiness. It gives me calmness.

There is something that Portuguese people have, which I consider very unique. They have curiosity about the strange and undiscovered things. It is a nation welcoming with open arms.

When I went back to Belgium, it was very difficult for me with the Belgians of Belgium. Unlike the Belgians from outside of the country which are much more friendly. Maybe that’s the reason they leave it.

It was very difficult to integrate: as I am an individual not belonging to any groups and not having a background in their environment, in Belgium I was excluded from the society.

Portuguese don’t do it. They are so affable. I think, they are fantastic.

Now I am 39, which means that I am here for almost 20 years. There are a lot of foreign people living here. And there are some foreigners that like talking bad about the portuguese and say things like: “portuguese don’t work hard” or “for a work done by a dutch you need three portuguese people”.

I so much like living here and love my nation [portuguese], that I get annoyed with that and think: “If you don’t like something, go away. If you complain, go away.”

Every person has his positive and negative sides, and we should try to absorb the best of every thing. I feel both portuguese and belgian, though I don’t have portuguese blood in me. It’s me who introduced the non-belgian roots in my family. I got married with a portuguese, so my children are luso-belgians. Now our family is not purely belgian anymore.


It took me a lot of time to start appreciating the portuguese food. I didn’t like anything. At my home in Belgium I had a privilege of eating the best food that exists, so my palate was very much used to very good and fresh food.

The first thing that I liked in the portuguese cuisine was Chanfana – the old goat’s meat with red wine traditionally cooked in a ground oven. And it was the only portuguese dish I liked for a very, very long time.

But now, after 20 years, I have learnt to appreciate the portuguese cuisine, though I would prefer the fresh fish to the tradicional bacalhau (codfish). Portuguese cuisine is a poor one with rather rich raw materials, but in very little quantities. But there are fantastic things!

There are typical portuguese dishes that I try at my friends’ places and they are fabulous. And then you try it somewhere else and feel that it is different. I feel sometimes that the food in restaurants and tascas (typical portuguese taberns) don’t have soul. If I was able to capture that knowledge, I would be happy to work in a typical portuguese cuisine”.

And she definitely will. Maybe, someone of you has already tried food made by Nele in one of the most popular food spots of Lisboa. So, if you have a meal and feel that it has an unusual soul (because food made with love does have soul) – a luso-belgian one, know, it’s made by Nele.


How does one fall in love with a city?

You can’t find the recipe in any tour guide. There must be a perfect combination of circumstances, that might have nothing to do with your expectations. You just accidentally feel that your heart is arrested by that place. That’s when you get in trouble.

I didn’t expect at all, that the interiors of an ancient palace near São Jorge Castle turned into a boutique hotel, the soundtrack from the movies of Almodovar, the french monsieur Frederic Coustols telling me stories about how Marcelo Mastroianni stayed 6 months and Wim Wenders filmed his movie “Lisbon story” with a fadista singing in the hotel, would make me feel that little magic in the air.


Frederic is the wisest of all my friends and one of the most unordinary people I have ever met. Random curious tourists enter the big red wooden door to the right from the São Jorge Castle in Alfama and find themselves in the cafe of Palacio Belmonte. Accidentally, a man in pyjamas and inevitably with a cigar, chilling on a sofa, starts talking to them, telling fascinating stories they want to believe in. People usually have no idea that the man in front of them is the one, who back in 1994 “came out of the blue” to save the building and turn it into this magnificent boutique hotel: “The building called me. I was taken by the building”.


I first met Frederic in my first trip to Lisbon in 2012, when I went to interview him for a project of Aisha.Mir – Russian magazine about travelling. Since then Palacio became for me a very special place, that welcomes and comforts me every time I go there. Whenever I feel like it, I pop by surprise for a chat or a dinner with Frederic and Maria in the cozy kitchen of Palacio Belmonte.

I think Lisbon is special for the light, for the quality of the year, but also, mainly, for its rare architecture. The harmony of the colours. People feel in peace in Lisbon.

And then, what is strange in Lisbon is the pace of life: you are in a car, the car is going fast and somebody starts crossing, and you have to stop. And the people crossing, they won’t go faster. It will take one minute, maybe. But you have to stop. It’s not a stressed, speedy city. It’s a calm city.

Frederic is the biggest dreamer I know. Once he told me: “I like creating beauty, and when people come here, they become beautiful too”.

Lisbon is a beautiful city. But I’m sure that it’s not just about the nature, the architecture and the light, but also about the people, like Frederic, that can see the beauty in details and multiply it by sharing their vision with the others.

Amo-te Lisboa

Since August of 2014 I live in Lisbon, the best kept secret on the map of Europe. Once I discovered it, I understood that I desperately needed to live here and nowhere else in the world.

22 of March, 2012 – exactly 3 years ago I went to the Chamartín train station in Madrid to take the night train, that would take me to Lisbon for the first time. I had no idea about Portugal and had no expectations. I had a free week, a 50% discount on tickets and a rented room in Bairro Alto for 10 euros per night for a week. Lisboa was calling me. 

And not? When I went to the train station I found out that my train was cancelled because of the strike of railway workers in Portugal. So, I changed my ticket for the next day and one night later I found myself in Lisbon.

It was an absolutely mesmerising experience. I had been to different cities in my life, but never ever I had that weird and exciting feeling that… I was finally home.


I was born in Yerevan. I used to spend all the summer holidays there. But I always felt that I was different. It was the home of my close ones, but never was my home.

Since I was 5, I lived, grew up, studied and spent the most part of my life in Moscow. In no other place in the world I felt myself alien as much as in Moscow. I made a lot of attempts, I would fall in love with Moscow and its greatness every spring and then get disappointed with it once and again.

I spent 1 month in Malaga, 1 month in Barcelona and 1 year in Madrid. I love Spain and every part of it. Would I like to live there? Yes, probably. Did it feel like home there? Nope.

And then unexpectedly I found my home in this fantastic city, with the weird language that sounds like Russian but has nothing to do with it, with the myriads of hidden (and not) spots which simply take your breath away, with the smell of ocean, coffee and flowers, with the magnificent light that only Lisbon has.

That is how my story began.