blablacarAs I previous reported, Blablacar is the cheapest and fastest way to get from Lisbon to Madrid. So I booked a ride with a Portugese BMW driver who was visiting his girlfriend in Madrid. After exchanging a few messages I found that he lived near to my Lisbon lodging and could pick me up just a short walk away, along with one of the other passengers.

This worked out pretty well but as I’ve found with previous ridesharing experiences, having the ability to communicate with your driver is essential to a smooth pick up process. We were to meet at the Antjos metro station. But it turns out there is more than one entrance to the station, and of course I was at one and he was at the other. Fortunately I have t-mobile international service and so we were able to chat using Whatsapp and send pinned maps to each other. After discovering the problem he quickly swung up the street to pick me up. I don’t think I’d recommend using ridesharing in another country if you can’t communicate with your driver on pickup day: I’ve had too many experiences where finding the exact pickup spot was tricky.

 

Leaving Lisbon

Driving over the water out of Lisbon as the sun rises

Once we had all three passengers in the car we set off for Madrid. And the three women along for the ride promptly fell asleep (myself included). A few hours later, after a rest stop for bathrooms and espresso, we all perked up and got to know each other in our only common language: English. The car included a French woman living in Lisbon for school and work, a Dutch woman who spends one month in each city, traveling around while working as a translator, the Portugese driver who runs guesthouses in Lisbon, and myself. We had a nice time talking for a while, and the five hour drive passed quickly.

My destination was just a short distance outside of Madrid, and conveniently on the way into the city, so the driver agreed to drop me in a convenient s near the freeway.

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I found a picnic bench to set down my bag and sent a pinned map to my GoCambio host who drove to pick me up and bring me to her home.

It all went smoothly, mostly thanks to some nice traveling companions and my international data plan. All my ridesharing experiences have been quite pleasant: it’s a great way to save money and meet interesting people. The most popular region of the world for ridesharing is Europe but I am hopeful that it will expand elsewhere. You can check out my spreadsheet for a list of all the ridesharing services and the parts of the world they serve.