“The desire to return again and again” – Interview with Claudio Lopes
Born and raised in Braga, Claudio is a young college student. Although he misses some particular things from his Portuguese hometown, he really loves Budapest. Let’s meet Claudio!
Where are you from?
I am from Braga which is the third largest city in Portugal. In 2012 we were chosen as Europe’s capital of young people. The city has one of the largest public universities in Portugal with several Erasmus students. The locals are super friendly. There have been times when I’ve asked for directions and the person who helped accompanied me all the way. Being a totally Catholic city, Braga is the “Rome of Portugal”.
What is day to day to life for you?
I am in my early twenties, studying tourism at Edutus College. I also have an internship with a downtown hotel. I have to speak with new customers and clients daily in the city. In the evenings, one can find me out with friends, meeting new people from unfamiliar cultures.
What did you know about Hungary before moving here?
Before arriving to Budapest, I knew it was a very affordable city to study in. The drinks, meals and social events are attainable on a student budget. I also knew that locals generally have a “colder” attitude and aren’t so welcoming to foreigners. Lastly, I heard that the LGBTQ community is developing.
Have you had any cultural shocks?
I was most shocked about the homeless people since Braga does not have a lot of them. When I took dance classes in my hometown, there was one homeless person I’d pass by. Every day I would take a packet of cookies to give him or her. I feel Hungarians act differently towards homeless people than Portuguese.
What are your favorite things in the city?
For me, Budapest is the new city of love. The architecture is one of my favorites, especially at night. Also viewing the sunset on the Pest side near the Chain Bridge with friends. These sunsets are the most beautiful I’ve ever seen in my life. I also love the typical restaurants here and usually order the goulash.
What do you think of gay life in Budapest? Do you partake in it?
Before arriving, I thought Budapest was not so gay-friendly. Now I have a different idea about this. I see couples in the street and locals are respectful towards them. I feel the community should have more mixed parties with both straight and gay people. I like to go to gay parties such as Vibe and Garcons. However, sometimes these are not so good because I feel I’m seeing the same faces every time. I think this is happening because there is a large group of people still “in the closet” who feel more comfortable at straight parties.
How is gay life back in Portugal?
Gay marriage is legal in Portugal. The people are truly open-minded. The parties are amazing! We have gay cruises departing from Lisbon. We have a gay festival titled Circuit that takes place usually in July. This festival has several types of music and gay men attend from all over Europe. Generally, tourists love Lisbon because there are numerous gay bars, clubs and saunas. For locals it is quite normal to see advertisements supporting the gay community. I think this is what’s lacking in Budapest.
What do you think of Hungarian men?
Usually speaking, gay men from Budapest are not open to developing new friendships with foreigners. When we start chatting, I am frequently asked: “What are you looking for?” My response usually is “Let’s go out, drink a beer, possibly party?”, to which they say “I already have my Hungarian friends to go out with.” For this reason, I have only two Hungarian friends currently.
What do you miss the most from home?
Francesinha, a local Portuguese sandwich dish with magical sauce.
What kind of hobbies do you have?
I go to the gym several times a week. I love running along the Danube River. I am a big fan of a number of TV shows, such as How to Get Away with Murder or Sense8. Lastly, I enjoy finishing my day drinking a beer with friends.
What is something that you have learned here that you will take with you?
The desire to return again and again. And lifelong friendships.