How to be Unpopular in Portugal Being unpopular is an art many of us perfected in our school years by staring at the floor when we walked along the corridors, and being terrible at yo-yoing in the playground. However, one day it usually clicks that pointing and laughing at your peers, or forgetting your P.E shorts, may not be the best policy when making friends. The rules of etiquette are not always easy to follow in the UK & Ireland, let alone on the Iberian Peninsula. And, with that in mind, we have put together a list of things that are sure to help when you are trying to avoid alienating everyone you meet in Portugal. Some of these rules change depending on where you are in the country so, students, do pay attention ! The Beaches The main thing to understand about the beaches in Portugal is that they are some of the cleanest in the world and the locals take keeping them that way very seriously. In Albufeira this is particularly true because the 30km of beautiful coastline here has been awarded more Blue Flags than anywhere else in the world. The flags are awarded for Environmental Management, Quality of Sea Water, Environmental Education and Information, and Safety and Services. Being unpopular around the beaches of Portugal is easily achieved by littering and not respecting the natural beauty of the area. That natural beauty, though, is best not enjoyed in central Cascais, just west of Lisbon, because the water has been listed as unsafe for swimming. People do swim here but it is not advisable and there are many other great beaches in the area. Tipping As a rule of thumb tipping 10 percent is the way to go in restaurants and bars across Portugal. The attitude towards it is similar to the United States in that tipping is an unwritten rule that ‘decent’ people adhere to. A slightly larger tip in touristy areas is usually expected but 10 percent is not going to be too much of an issue. In the north tipping from the locals is slightly less frequent for some reason but, as a tourist, it is safe to say every place you go will expect a tip. Taxi drivers may also expect a tip but we will get to that in a second. Taxis It doesn’t really matter where you go in the world Taxi drivers are almost always colourful characters that can either be your best friend or worst nightmare. In Portugal the roads are known to be pretty dangerous so getting the driver onside is without a doubt a priority. Being unpopular with these guys is never a good idea. The common rule here is to tip 10 percent, just like in bars and restaurants. However, there is a little bit more to it than that. Taxi drivers in Portugal are usually keen to charge there foreign passengers slightly more if they can get away with it, as is the norm in country’s all around the world. The best way to get around this is to agree a price before you get in the car. Fares tend to be a bit cheaper than they are in northern Europe. With the money issue out of the way you can happily leave a tip and even get some local advice off of your friendly Portuguese cabby. Roads If you prefer to drive around Portugal yourself you can pick up a rental car really easily online, but remember that there are plenty of ways to be unpopular on the road. Parking in the middle of the road in rural areas is completely normal in Portugal so try not to start honking the horn in despair. A quick chat to catch up on gossip is more important than parking at the side of the road here so just have a laugh and drive around. On the bigger roads remember that crossing unbroken white lines is not allowed at all (even if you want to make a turn in a seemingly normal way. Instead, you have to keep on going until you get to a turn where the lines are dotted. Breaking this rule with have the locals shouting at you and even the police might get involved. Another way to get a fine is by driving through a ‘Via Verde’ sign, which means that you are on a toll road. You can purchase an electronic device online that gives you full access to these roads and helps you avoid a the €50 charge. And finally, whatever you do don’t hire an Aixam car. These little things only go 30mph and are the bane the sometimes impatient Portuguese drivers. If there is a number one way of being unpopular in Portugal then hiring one of these might just be it. A better idea is to get off the road and into Portugal’s famous nightlife. Going out Maybe you would like to visit the lively bars and restaurants at Santo Amaro Docks in Lisbon, or perhaps the Via Rapida in Porto. Whatever you do just remember that Portuguese folk don’t line up neatly when they want drinks or food. If you stand still expect to be moved out of the way and generally ignored. The best thing to do is clamber your way through the crowds like everyone else. When you get to the bar don’t forget to tip that 10 percent before you head off with your drink. After the first few drinks also take into account the fact that the Portuguese are a little less forgiving when it comes to heavy drinking. Nights here start late and subsequently end later, which means, if you are falling over chairs at 8pm, unpopular is exactly what you will be. When it’s all said and done Portugal is largely similar to the UK & Ireland when it comes to etiquette, with smiles and thankyous’ preferred to frowns and silence.
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September 22nd, 2014