London’s Public Transport Transporte em Londres: uma introdução

One of the questions I’m often asked is “What is the metro like in London?”

First, there are several public transport systems in London, most of which are now managed by the city council. There is the London Underground, which Londoners call the “The Tube”, and it has 12 separate lines. The tube network is mainly in the north half of the city because of London’s geology. This system starts operating at around 5:30am and runs until about 12:30am seven days a week. The trains depart central London stations at about 2-3 minute intervals during peak times, and 7-8 minute intervals in off-peak times. Contrary to general opinion, much of the Tube is above ground, particularly away from the central zones. See the tube map.
There are also plenty of London buses, including the famous red double-deckers. Their routes extend across the whole of London and operate for similar hours to the tube. However, there are also night buses. These night buses run along similar routes to some of the day buses but have a reduced frequency. You can get on a night bus from about midnight in central London and take it to your neighbourhood in the suburbs.
Additionally, there are also river buses in central London, but they aren’t generally used by Londoners.
Finally, and definitely not least importantly, there is the National Rail network or over-ground train system. This is operated by many different companies and the trains depart from many central London terminus stations like Waterloo, King’s Cross, St Pancreas, Victoria and Paddington.
The southern half of London is mainly served by this overland network rather than the Tube. Therefore, if you look at the famous Tube map, don’t be fooled into thinking this is the complete ‘train’ network. There are in fact, probably, twice as many stations with the other 50% appearing on the ‘London Connections’ map.
To use this network, you can buy single tickets to go from place to place, or you can buy daily, weekly or monthly tickets or even an oyster card from any of the stations or other points of sale such as newsagents. The cost of travel depends on how far you travel. The entire network is divided into 6 principal zones. These zones are arranged as concentric ‘circles’ around the centre of London. All you need to do is buy a ticket for the zones you want to travel to and from (and any zones you pass through en-route).

To navigate on the Tube is very easy. Each line is colour coded. On the map, the stations where you can change from one line to another are shown as a circle, the non-interchange stations are shown as a ‘tag’. The direction of travel is shown on the front of each train and on signs on each platform. Additionally, it is important to know your north, south, east and west despite the fact that the platforms are labelled as northbound, southbound, eastbound or westbound. To find your way round, you simple follow the colours of the lines/signs and have a general idea if you need to go north or south.
I hope this brief introduction of getting about in London is helpful.
For further information: Transport for London
Pictures: Wikipedia and Guardian.co.ukUma das perguntas que sempre me fazem é “Como é o metrô em Londres?”

Para começar, há vários sistemas de transporte público em Londres, a maioria deles gerenciada pela prefeitura da cidade. Há o famoso metrô “London Underground”, que os londrinos chamam de “The Tube”, com 12 linhas separadas. A rede do Tube está localizada principalmente na parte norte da cidade devido à geologia de Londres. O sistema começa a operar às 5:30 da manhã e funciona até aproximadamente 00:30, sete dias por semana. Os trens partem das estações centrais de Londres a cada 2 ou 3 minutos durante os horários de pico, e em intervalos de 7 a 8 minutos nos outros horários. Ao contrário do que muitos pensam, grande parte do Tube não é subterrânea, principalmente nas áreas afastadas do centro da cidade. Veja o mapa do metrô.

Londres conta também com um sistema de ônibus: entre eles, os famosos double-deckers (ônibus de dois andares) vermelhos. As rotas se estendem por toda a cidade, e o horário de funcionamento é semelhante ao do metrô. A diferença é que existem os ônibus noturnos. Os ônibus noturnos mantêm rotas similares às de alguns ônibus diurnos, mas a frequência é menor. É possível pegar um ônibus noturno no centro de Londres a partir de meia-noite para ir aos bairros nos subúrbios.
Existem também ônibus-barco no centro de Londres, mas eles quase não são usados pelos londrinos.
E por último, mas com certeza não menos importante, há a Rede Nacional de ferrovias ou sistema de trens de superfície. Esses trens são operados por diferentes empresas e partem dos diversos terminais ferroviários de Londres como Waterloo, King’s Cross, St. Pancreas, Victoria e Paddington. A parte de Londres situada ao sul é servida principalmente por este sistema de trens de superfície e não pelo Tube. Sendo assim, não pense que a rede de “trens” que você vê no famoso mapa do metrô está completa. Na verdade, deve haver pelo menos o dobro de estações e essas outras 50% aparecem no mapa de conexões chamado “London Connections”.


Para usar todos esses tipos de transporte, você pode adquirir passagens únicas para ir de um lugar ao outro, ou pode adquirir passes diários, semanais ou mensais, ou o seu Oyster card. Eles podem ser comprados em qualquer estação ou outros pontos de venda como bancas de revistas. O custo da viagem depende da distância. A rede completa é divida em 6 zonas principais. Essas zonas são “círculos” concêntricos ao redor do centro de Londres. Você só precisa adquirir o bilhete válido para as zonas em que você quer se deslocar (e aquelas que estiverem no caminho).
É muito fácil usar o Tube. Cada linha tem uma cor diferente. No mapa, as estações em que você pode trocar de uma linha para outra são mostradas com um círculo, e as estações em que a troca não é possível não têm o círculo. O sentido da viagem é mostrado na frente de cada trem, e também aparece na plataforma. É importante saber em que sentido você quer ir (norte, sul, leste ou oeste), mas há indicação nas plataformas juntamente com os nomes das estações. Você verá “northbound” (para o norte), “southbound” (para o sul) “eastbound” (para o leste) ou “westbound” (para o oeste). Para achar seu trem, você deve seguir a cor ou o nome da linha que deseja tomar e saber mais ou menos se quer ir para o norte ou sul, leste ou oeste.
Espero que essa breve introdução ao transporte em Londres seja útil.
Fotos: Wikipedia e Guardian.co.uk

My move to Brazil – a personal account

Below, I’ve copied a page from my static site.  I’d like comments and feedbacks to share with others
I am writing this page to perhaps help others in a similar situation to myself. I often found it difficult to locate information about rules and regulations when moving and when I did I often found it differed considerably. Whilst the info below is based on my personal experiences, you should confirm details for yourself as well. I am not a lawyer and can’t offer legal advise only opinion.
I believe that some of Brazil’s regulations vary from city to city and state to state. My experiences are based on moving from the United Kingdom to Belo Horizonte in the state of Minas Gerais.
A little about my story. I met a Brazilian lady whilst she was studying in the UK. After carrying on a long distance relationship we decided to get married and for me to move to Brazil. I am currently living in Brazil since May 2005 and now have a permanent visa, RNE (identification card for foreigners), carteira do trabalho (official booklet that records employment details) and driving license.
The first point of research should by your local Brazilian Consular office. You can visit the UK one here.
Please read the info below. You can contact me if you have any specific questions that I may be able to help you with.
General Points
I have been told by other British people I have met in Brazil that it worth getting any and all documents (and some you don’t think you’ll need) that you even think you may need legalized at the consulate in the UK. Without a stamp, UK documents are no use in Brazil (eg birth certificate, driving license, qualifications etc) and you can only get them legalized at the consulate in the UK and not in Brazil. These documents will also then need officially translating into Portuguese once you are in Brazil.
You are allowed to remain in Brazil on a tourist visa for 90 days which can then be extended by a further 90 days at the Federal Police Station. I understand that the maximum duration you can stay, continuous or not, in Brazil in any 365 day period is 180 on a tourist visa. These figures are the official ones, but I have met several people who have over-stayed there time and not had any problems when they did come to leave. However take this chance at your own risk.
Marriage
The guide from the consul about documentation that was required proved to be accurate. We had no problems at the local cartorio (registry office) with any of the paperwork. Although we had been told in advance that we would not need a non-impediment to marriage certificate I obtained one in the UK anyway and had it legalized As with many things in Brazil it is better to have too much paperwork than not enough. Because I am a UK citizen staying in Brazil, the application for the marriage license did take longer than it would for a Brazilian couple. For us it took around 6 weeks from date of application.
Visa Application
I returned to the UK after we got back from honeymoon for a short trip to apply for permanent visa (family re-union) at the consulate in London. I was repeatedly told that it is much easier and a shorter process to apply in your own country. I was told it would take approximately 2 months to process in the UK, whereas to apply in Brazil could take up to 2 years. I have met several people who applied over a year ago for a permanent visa in Brazil are still waiting for it to be issued.
The consulate accepted all the documents I provided except one. On their web site they say you need proof of residence in the UK and give as one of the examples of accepted forms as a letter from a GP. However this was not allowed so I then applied to my electoral register office for a letter which was accepted. I believe documents such as this and the police statement detailing any criminal record remain valid, once legalized, for 3-6 months.
Despite the early indications that it would take 2 months or more to process my visa application, in my case it took only 24 days. Please do not count on your application being so fast but be aware it could be. When I returned to the UK I had to leave my passport with the consulate. When I arrived they told me to come back in 4 days time, despite it saying 3 days on their website, however when I showed them my return air ticket they agreed to process visa in 3 days.
RNE Application (ID card for immigrants)
The RNE is probably the most important document you need in Brazil as a foreigner. You can not apply for one until you have a visa other than tourist.
Once I had returned to Brazil with my permanent visa, the application process for the RNE was quite simple. All I had to do was go the the Policia Federal (DPF) with my passport (including photocopies of ALL pages), 2 passport size photos and one copy of my visa application that the UK consulate gave me back when I collected my passport with visa. There is a limited period from arriving in Brazil on permanent visa during which you must apply for the RNE or start the whole process over again. There was also an application fee that needed to be payed.
After completing the forms, handing in documents, having finger prints taken etc, I was given a temporary paper ID card which remained valid for 180 days. I was told the final ID card would be ready in 60-90 days, but mine actually took over 160 days. I think this was due to some problem in Brasilia though and was an exception rather than usual. When we tried to chase the application after 4 months, the Policia Federal didn’t believe it was taking so long.
There is an intermediate step in the process between being issued with temporary ID and getting final ID. After a few days, the details of the application are logged on to the computer systems. Once this has happened you are able to get another form, which includes your final ID number, called a SINCRE. In reality I found I needed both the SINCRE and temporary ID for other official applications (eg bank account). The SINCRE is just an A4 printout and took just a few minutes to collect.
When my final RNE was ready I was able to tell by checking the DPF website. Literally as soon as the website said it was ready then I was able to collect it that day.
Bank Account
In Brazil there are several forms of document required (eg CPF, ID card). In order to open a bank account you will need at least a CPF number (Tax ID similar to National Insurance number in UK I think), ID card (eg RNE) and proof of address (or as I used my wife’s utility bills with our wedding certificate). The CPF number you can obtain by applying at either Banco de Brasil or another bank called Caixa. You pay a small amount, fill in some forms and then eventually you will be asked to visit the local tax office (Receita Federal) to show your passport before the number is officially issued. I guess this is to check your ID. To get a CPF you do not need a permanent visa even though it will be easier if you do have one. The CPF is about the only permanent document you can get before having other forms of ID/paperwork. There may be other ways to open an account but I didn’t have any success.
However I wasn’t able to obtain any of the other forms of ID until after I was married.
Carteira do trabalho
The carteira do trabalho is actually a booklet that looks a lot like a passport. Although this document is not required by all employers (it depends on type of work and contract basis), I think it is very good to have. In this booklet your employer records details of your employment . When work is recorded in the booklet it means you and your employer are making contributions to the government to cover things such as pensions. It is not this document that allows you to work in Brazil as far as I understand it. You are able to work once you have applied for RNE but you may not get all the benefits until you have the carteira do trabalho and some employers will require one.
In order to get the permanent version of this document , you need the final RNE. However our research indicated that you can apply for a temporary one (like the driving license) once you have your temporary ID and SINCRE.
As I never needed and hence never applied for a temporary one, I am not sure of the details or how long it remains valid.
The application for the carteira do trabalho was very simple. It was even easier for foreigners than Brazilian nationals as there was no line for foreigners and there was a room full of Brazilians waiting to apply. For the application all I had to do was take a passport size photo and a photocopy of my RNE. I also showed passport, proof of address and original RNE. Once everything was completed, I was told to come back in 4 days to collect the document. When I returned to collect, I received the booklet after a short wait with no problems. This application was also free!
Driving
This is perhaps the area that I found most confused. I was told that an international driving permit issued in the UK is not acceptable in Brazil. The consulate questioned why I had bothered to have my UK driving license legalized as they said it was not valid.
The application for this was indeed the most troublesome of all the documents.
After arriving back and in possession of temporary RNE and SINCRE we went to DETRAN to apply for a driving license. We were directed to a small office hence avoiding the long lines. In order to apply I needed to show and have photocopies of proof of address, CPF card, temporary RNE plus SINCRE, UK driving license and the official translation of it. The application was processed immediately and I was given a piece of paper that entitled me to drive for 1 year. For me at least, there was no charge for this temporary document. I just needed to keep this document as well as my UK license and official translation of UK license (or official photocopies of) when I was driving.
Once I had my permanent RNE we returned to DETRAN. This time we had to wait in the line with the Brazilian’s applying for their licenses. Once we were seen by an attendant, she completed a few details on her computer and printed out a form for me to sign, a form for me to pay for the license application and details of a clinic to visit to complete the medical examination that is part of the application process (see below for more on this).
After this I went to the bank to pay the fee and then to the medical clinic where I was seen almost immediately. Having passed the medical and with receipt of payment I returned to the small office to apply for my actual proper printed Minas Gerais license. Once again, as above, I need to show original documents and have photocopies of proof of address, RNE, CPF and UK license. This time however I had to leave my actual original copy of the translation of my UK license (so make sure you have one or more originals/notarised photocopies!). I also needed one passport size photo of myself. Again the application was processed immediately and I was told to expect the license to arrive by post within a week. It is valid for 5 years, and then you need to take another medical exam (not the psychological test, though).
The medical exam consisted of a psychological test which mainly involved drawing lines and shapes on a bit of paper with eyes covered. I found this test very strange and felt sure I had failed it as had another person I knew. However I passed so don’t worry too much about it. The other part of the medical was with a doctor asking questions and checking things like eyesight and blood pressure. Again no problem and a much more expected medical examination.
I think this is one of the things that varies with where you live in Brazil. Be careful and check.

1and1.co.uk – A rant

Stay clear of 1 and 1. They are cheap, but I’ve never had much success with them. I’m still waiting for answers to various questions I’ve posed over the years

When I updated my website I moved the hosting from 1and1.co.uk to a Brazilian host and I wanted to cancel my hosting package but not domain registration.  No big deal you’d think.  However, they have not allowed me to cancel my contract due to extremely poorly devised systems, in my opinion.
The situation
I normally pay by credit card.  However for separate non-related reasons, the registered credit card was no longer valid.  Originally, I chose not to update paymenr details until I had a guarantee I would not be charged.  I then wrote requesting cancellation and I was repeatedly (over a period of over 2 weeks) sent the same email with instructions on ‘how’ to do this.     
The problem
As per the instructions, I navigated to a page to change my package.  I selected the option I wanted, and hit the continue button.  This directed me to a page asking me to update payment details.  However, I don’t have a credit card with a UK address.  I have various credit cards, both English and Brazilian, but 1 and 1’s system would not accept the address.  I have phoned and emailed on numerous occasions.  On one occasion on the phone, I was told that 17th August was a holiday in England and to call back later…  The real reason was the time of the call!  I’ve sent screenshots documenting the problem
After a long phone call earlier today being forwarded 3 times to the ‘billing’ department (This is whom I thought I was speaking to), I eventually discovered the answer.
The solution
There is no solution.  It is a Catch 22.  You can’t cancel unless you ‘pay’.  I can’t ‘pay’ because they refuse to accept perfectly valid credit cards because their inane error checking doesn’t allow me to enter my address.  Even the person I spoke to was unable to do anything.  She was using the same system that I was.  How idiotic is that?
My advice
Stay clear of 1 and 1.  They are cheap, but I’ve never had much success with them.  I’m still waiting for answers to various questions I’ve posed over the years. 
 
Has anyone else had similar experiences?  
If anyone from 1 and 1 reads this, I would love to discuss this more, but it is impossible to get through the defensive barrier erroneously called the ‘help desk’.  This a very much abridged account.

The Hoxton – um hotel bacana em Londres

The Hoxton
The Hoxton

Algumas pessoas nos pedem indicação de hotéis em Londres com uma boa relação custo-benefício.  O The Hoxton é um que eu sempre indico. É um hotel novo (foi inaugurado em 2006), com design moderno, e tudo que a gente gosta: wi-fi grátis, um chuveiro possante, cama super confortável e espaço no quarto para esparramar as malas, que são sempre maiores do que gostaríamos.
O hotel está localizado em Shoreditch, próximo a City, o centro financeiro da cidade, na área leste de Londres. É uma área que passou por um processo de revitalização, e hoje não tem nada do astral barra pesada que a região tinha uns anos atrás. Na verdade, Shoreditch é cheia de bares e galerias de arte descoladas. O próprio bar/restaurante do hotel  nem parece bar de hotel de tão animado e cheio de gente bonita. Aberto desde cedo, serve desde café-da-manhã até grelhados e tira-gostos por um preço justo.
As diárias do hotel variam conforme a procura. Segundo o site do hotel, vão de ₤59 a ₤199 libras,

O lobby do hotel
O lobby do hotel

dependendo da data em que você se hospedar. Nos finais de semana é sempre mais barato, pois é justamente quando a City fica deserta. Mas não se engane, as pessoas aparecem à noite. No site do hotel, você pode conhecer também umas mega promoções que eles às vezes fazem, com preços a partir de ₤1 (uma) libra. Mas essa é difícil de conseguir!

A diária inclui um café-da-manhã digamos assim bem saudável: um iogurte, uma banana e uma garrafinha de suco de laranja. Mas se você quiser experimentar um autêntico Full English Breakfast, peça no bar do hotel por ₤10. Ou ainda, para outras opções, vá andando ao café Pret-a-Manger .

O the Hoxton fica a dois quarteirões da estação de Old Street, na Northern Line.  Se estiver vindo de Heathrow com malas, é aconselhável pegar o Heathrow Express até Paddington e de lá um táxi para a Great Eastern Street, onde o hotel está situado.
E quando voltar, escreva pra gente dizendo o que achou.
The Hoxton Hotel.
81 Great Eastern Street, London, EC2A 3HU
info@hoxtonhotels.com
Fotos: divulgação
Para ver outras dicas de Londres, visite nosso blogue Londres para Principiantes.

The last month

I need to get into the habit of writing something…
There hasn’t been much news the last month.  Eneida and I have been busy working, me teaching English and proofreading some academic papers whilst Eneida has been busy translating and is back at PUC now.  Thanks to the swine flu, Eneida had an extended holiday from PUC after the Brazilian government asked all the schools and universities to delay the new semester for a week or so.  That’s the good news, the bad is that the week will be added in December.
Talking of the swine flu, I haven’t heard much about it in Belo Horizonte.  I know it is here, but I’ve yet to meet anyone who has knowingly had it or knows someone who has.  I guess it will reach us in vengeance at some point.
The plans?  There isn’t much to report.  We’ll probably travel to Governador de Valadares next month to attend the ceremonial opening of a new part of Regina’s factory which will produce dried milk.
That’s all folks….