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.

Dateline Lisbon… Spies, Suspense, Action!

In the 1940s Lisbon must have been quite a fascinating place to be: the only neutral port in Europe, a gateway to the US and away from the terror of WWII, a place where spies from all over the world mingled with refugees from all over Europe. Remember Casablanca? They fled to Lisbon. James Bond? Well.. it seems even he was “born” in 1940s Lisbon. Here is another little ingot from those times: A radio play from the 1940s about a foreign correspondent, based in Lisbon and accused of murder.

Transfer yourself to 1940s Lisbon, to a lobby full of spies and some good old time mystery! And for more about this fascinating time in the history of the city… check out this post on Huffington.

LGBT Sports in Lisbon

In this recent post I lamented (or maybe just ignorantly assumed) that the list of LGBT+ sports clubs in Lisbon is “short”. Well… let me come clean: I was wrong, there are a few. So trying to bring them together, here are the ones I have found out about so far.

Basically from what I could find out, there are two main “groups” offering sports: BJWHF (Boys Just Wanna Have Fun) and ILGA. Each of these offer a variety of different sports options … so here is a handy list, listed by day, sports type and link to further information/address.

Day Sport Organiser Address
Monday Volleyball BJWHF http://bjwhf.weebly.com/info1.html
Football BJWHF http://bjwhf.weebly.com/futebol-bjwhf.html
Tuesday Rugby BJWHF http://bjwhf.weebly.com/info2.html
Dance (Tango) BJWHF http://bjwhf.weebly.com/tango.html
Wednesday Running BJWHF http://bjwhf.weebly.com/corrida-bjwhf.html
Swimming BJWHF http://bjwhf.weebly.com/info.html
Yoga (Lunch time) ILGA https://www.facebook.com/CentroLGBT/
Thursday Football BJWHF http://bjwhf.weebly.com/futebol-bjwhf.html
Dance (Kizomba) ILGA https://www.facebook.com/CentroLGBT/
Running ILGA https://www.facebook.com/CentroLGBT/
Friday Rugby BJWHF http://bjwhf.weebly.com/info2.html
Volleyball BJWHF http://bjwhf.weebly.com/info1.html
Saturday Running ILGA https://www.facebook.com/CentroLGBT/
Swimming ILGA https://www.facebook.com/CentroLGBT/
Sunday Tennis ILGA https://www.facebook.com/CentroLGBT/
Football ILGA https://www.facebook.com/CentroLGBT/
Swimming BJWHF http://bjwhf.weebly.com/info.html

 

As always: If you know of any other sports clubs/meetings… please share it below! Many thanks!
P.S. Thanks to @BJWHF for reaching out and updating some of the dates in the earlier version!

 

Establishment Day of the Republic – 05 October

OK, so yesterday I wrote all about scheduling – and here comes the first scheduling “mistake” – forget bank holidays! So… Little did I realise that today is “Implantação da República”, a bank holiday to commemorate the establishment of the Republic of Portugal in 1910 (if you are historically minded, here is a quick summary of the events). I only figured out that it was going to be a bank holiday after I had finished my work on Tuesday and was reading the news before heading to bed…  there was an article about 30ºC and going to the beach in one of the papers, and I thought it was rather strange that a newspaper would suggest to skip a day in the office… and head for the beach instead (especially in a country in which good weather isn’t exactly earth shattering news!).

Digging into the article a little deeper, I discovered that it was indeed talking about a mid week holiday: talk about a treat! Luckily I don’t have to go to an office – as I’m sure I would be very annoyed if I would have turned up there only to find out it was closed! This actually happened to me once while I lived in Spain, so it is better not to be repeated… I know, as a freelancing, writing kind of guy this doesn’t or shouldn’t immediately make much difference to me… but at least I now know a bit more! Intriguingly the holiday day was apparently scrapped in 2013 as part of austerity measures in Portugal. But, it has been brought back to life under the current government.

I tried to find out a bit more if there are any traditions associated to the day, but it appears it is largely a ceremonial day for the political classes – rather than something that is more widely celebrated. So, no special cakes, pastries or drinks – but simply a day off – unless you are (un-)lucky enough to stand on the balcony of Lisbon city hall … The only other “regular” event I could find was the opening of the gardens of the Presidential Palace in Belém (am I forgetting something here? Let me know!)

Of course this year is a bit special, as it sees the opening of the new museum in Belém (MAAT Museu de Arte, Arquitetura e Tecnologia) – an absolutely stunning building in the touristic and somewhat political hotspot that is Belém. Coincidentally, it now also makes sense to me why the museum would open on a Wednesday!

So … even if it is “just” a nice and quiet day, it is lovely to find out that there is suddenly a bank holiday. I have now googled and entered all the holidays in my calendar … so next time I’m prepared (for All Saint’s Day as it seems, on the 1 November!). So… in that spirit: Happy Establishment of the Republic Day!

 

Praia 19 – The Gay Beach of Lisbon

Praia 19 – or Beach 19 – is the “must do” gay beach after partying all night in Lisbon – or maybe just to top up your tan (without the tan lines if you so wish).   I had been to Lisbon a few times, but as I’m not really a beach person (sorry, I get bored too easily), I hadn’t been to this mystical wonderland of sun, sand … and men.  Nevertheless, I decided to check it out – and so here is the “lowdown” on the beach some people call the best gay beach in Europe… Continue reading “Praia 19 – The Gay Beach of Lisbon”

The first 48 hours of Lisbon: Arraial Pride

IMG_7692Friday was finally the day, and it was “bye bye” to Brexit-land – and hello to Lisbon.  Of course, I didn’t expect my leaving day to be quite such a dramatic day in the British and European landscape… However,  Brexit certainly had quite an effect on what I planned as a quiet traveling day, and just before hitting the second of the Lisbon Pride celebrations, Arraial Pride, the day after arriving. Continue reading “The first 48 hours of Lisbon: Arraial Pride”

From Wuppertal to Lisbon – a Cultural Journey

SchwebebahnIf you are now wondering what Wuppertal is… I totally get you. Few people have ever heard about it… Wuppertal is actually my home town in Germany, and the place I grew up in, until I left for London in the 1990s. Wuppertal is famous a few things though: Aspirin came from Wuppertal, Engels, one of the original authors of the communist manifesto – and it has a railway that hangs upside down (and that is the defacto mode of transport in the city). As far as similarities with Lisbon are concerned, it is hilly, too. And that pretty much sums up the similarities.
So… what is Wuppertal doing in a blog about Lisbon? Well, just as Lisbon has inspired many artists, some artists with a connection to Wuppertal have been inspired in and by Lisbon. And here are two examples … Continue reading “From Wuppertal to Lisbon – a Cultural Journey”

How to find information about Gay Lisbon – online

Image-1If you haven’t heard much about gay life in Portugal it may be because it is actually quite tricky to find a lot of information online. Sadly, there isn’t an easily accessible array of magazines such as Boyz or QX in London, or Siegessäule in Berlin (with a well maintained English section). And even local websites are often hopelessly out of date (the local TimeOut website used to have events from three years ago… and now just redirects to their facebook page). So… it is a little more tricky to find out what is going on.

Sadly, a lot of information isn’t available in English. However, the good thing about Portuguese is  that, at least in the written form, you can probably make out the essential words by looking at them.

And for everything else… there is this hopefully somewhat complete and reasonable useful guide… Continue reading “How to find information about Gay Lisbon – online”

Lisbon by Half

What is better than one half? Three halfs! Or at least that is how many half marathons I could find for the next year taking place in Lisbon… All seem to have quite a different flavour – and routes, so it shouldn’t be boring going for all three…. Here is a quick overview:

Lisbon by half (marathons)

A photo posted by Urbangay (@urbangayblog) on

Continue reading “Lisbon by Half”