Call An Ice Cream Truck On Demand Today With Uber

Today is the hottest day yet in New York City’s latest heat wave, and the summer weather is no less forgiving in many other cities in the western hemisphere. To help beat the heat, car service app Uber is offering ice cream trucks on demand, today only from 11-5 p.m. in 33 cities worldwide. The stunt is to help promote the app’s expansion to new cities in the United States and in Australia, Europe and Singapore.

Demand is expected to be high and waits may be long, but if you want to try for a truck, download the Uber app and connect with your credit card info, request the ice cream app, and wait for one to show up in your area. Prices and ice cream treats vary, average is $25 for ice cream for five people. The full list of U.S. cities includes: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco Bay area, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

New to Uber cities include Miami, Portland (OR), Houston, Toronto, Sydney, Melbourne, Amsterdam, Berlin, London, Lyon, Milan, Munich, Paris, Rome, Stockholm, and Singapore. Incidentally, those are all cities where you can get a car and driver on demand anytime with Uber.

See all the details and get your ice cream on Uber’s blog.

Forget Paris, Try Lyon

It was nighttime when I first pulled into France‘s second-largest city, by car, and the lights were on – a wash of royal blue shining up onto orderly rows of stately Renaissance buildings in ochre hues and reflecting in the river that bisects the city. Handsome was the word that came to mind. A masculine gold-and-sapphire answer to Paris’s ravishing, soulful beauty.

This was the postcard edge of Vieux Lyon, the old quarter of the city. Behind the grand, polished edifices lining the main avenue, a tangle of ancient, narrow streets delivers on the quintessential old-world European fantasy. At bistros called bouchons, people linger over slices of red praline tart, the city’s signature dessert. The same silver bikes roving Paris by the thousands slide through traffic. Graffiti is covered by pink tissue paper in the shape of a poodle.

Lyon, the gateway to the Rhone-Alps region, makes a fantastic alternative to the country’s famous capital for those interested in culture, food and enchanting surroundings. Located in the eastern part of the country, it’s reachable from Paris by the high-speed TGV train and the new budget service, Ouigo, which launched on April 2. (You can also rent a car and wander there via the chateau-rich Loire Valley.) Significantly smaller and more affordable than Paris, it’s easy to get around (by bike, streetcar or foot) and isn’t overrun with tourists.

Lyon isn’t Paris writ petit. It has charms all its own. These are the ones I’ve fallen in love with over the years visiting relatives who live there:Traboules
These 16th-century covered arcades and tunnels feel like secret passageways through the historic districts, and they are Lyon’s distinctive architectural feature. It’s said that the Allied forces used them to elude the Nazis during World War II.

Roman Ruins
Lyon was originally a Roman colony, and several ruins remain. The Pont du Gard (pictured below), one of the most spectacular preserved Roman structures outside of Italy and the highest Roman aqueduct in the world, is an easy day trip.

Trompe L’oeil Murals
Lyon elevates murals to high art. Of the 60-some murals in the city, the trompe l’oeil masterpieces are the biggest attractions. They cover entire sides of tall buildings, and some fool you into thinking the scene is real.

Public Bikes
Lyon launched the public-bicycle system that everyone associates with Paris – Paris’s Velib program is modeled after Lyon’s Velo’v. In fact, Lyon was the first European city to figure out how to make a municipal bike program sustainable.

Astronomical Clock
Inside Cathedrale Saint-Jean in Vieux Lyon, this mechanical wonder first constructed in 1383, and reconstructed in 1661, contains a 66-year perpetual calendar that will be accurate until 2019. It also includes the position of the moon, the sun and the earth, as well as the stars in the sky over Lyon.

The Shell House
Hidden along one of the alleys in the Croix Rousse historic district, best known as the center of the city’s famous silk heritage, seashells cover every inch of surface of a home and courtyard. There’s a no-trespassing sign, but it’s worth a quick peek through the fence.

Provence
Hilltop villages like Oppede le Vieux (pictured below) are only a couple hours away. Day trip bonus: stopping at French truck stops. My favorite one offered used of old-school fitness equipment like pull-up bars, and curvy concrete daybeds outside under trees.

[Photo credits: Gelinh, Damien (Phototrend.fr), Lorentey, Pug Freak abd Dominiqueb via Flickr, and Megan Fernandez]

Photo of the day – Lyon metro

photo day lyon metro

Every now and then an image shows up in the Flickr Gadling group pool that knocks my socks off. This is one such photo, snapped by Flickr user baby_mongster. It depicts a short woman in a light raincoat against the straight-forward 1970s modernism of the Lyon metro system. This composition, reduced to black-and-white simplicity, is starkly beautiful.

A modern setting that also looks old-fashioned is doubly appealing. It says: Here is the future, and it looks somewhat old.

Got an image that depicts something modern that is no longer all that shiny? We thought so. Submit it to the Gadling group pool on Flickr. If we dig the image we’ll select it for a future Photo of the Day.

London and Madrid to be linked by high-speed train

Starting in 2012, travelers will be able to go from London to Madrid in eight hours thanks to a planned high-speed rail link. The service, organized by a French and Spanish consortium, will link Paris and Madrid. It’s already quick and easy to get to Paris from London by taking the Eurostar. The trip lasts two hours and fifteen minutes. Travelers will then have to change stations before heading out to Madrid, a trip that will take five and a half hours.

There’s discussion of including Lyon and Barcelona in the route. A high-speed route already links Madrid and Barcelona.

This is a joint operation between Renfe, the Spanish state train operator, and SNCF, its French counterpart. Each will have an equal stake. The system will have ten trains and be managed from Spain, which is already a leader in high-speed trains.

Are the trains in Spain faster than the planes?

If you’ve ever had a chance to travel around Europe, you’re probably familiar with its various high-speed rail networks. In France, the TGV and AGV lines whisk passengers between Paris and points beyond including Brussels and Lyon at speeds over 200 miles per hour. And in Spain, the AVE rail system connects Madrid to Seville and as of 2008, to Barcelona as well.

According to a recent post at Wired, the new high speed link between Spain’s two biggest cities has had a dramatic effect on the country’s transportation network. In 2007, the airline route between Madrid and Barcelona was the busiest in the world, carrying over 70 percent of the passengers traveling between the two. Yet upon the opening of the new Barcelona rail line last year, that percentage has already dropped to 60 percent, and experts predict the number of plane and train passengers on the route will be equal within the next 2 years.

Aside from the obvious environmental benefits of traveling by rail instead of air, there’s a significant convenience advantage as well. As heavy airplane traffic continues to choke airport runways worldwide, it’s likely many of us will be turning to the railways for trips shorter than three hours. And when you think about it, by the time you’ve made it through TSA clearance, located your gate and fought for an overhead bin spot, your quick two hour plane trip has often turned into four or five. Here’s hoping the U.S. continues to look into similar high-speed rail solutions like Acela. It’s no AVE yet, but certainly a good first step.

[Via PSFK]