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Portugal & Spain


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#1 Metra Electric Rider

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Posted 04 May 2018 - 01:59 PM

So I thought some AUer's might be interested in my rather exotic journey to far away Potugarl and Galicia (northwest Spain). While this was primarily a hiking trip, it did involve the various modes of rail available to us (vintage streetcar, modern streetcar, subway, regional and intercity rail). We were going to hike from Porto north to Santiago, Spain, on the Caminho Portoguese, which is the pilgrimage route (of which there are many from all over Iberia and Northern Europe) to Santiago de Compostela. We planned to walk about 150 miles, but ended up walking about 120 due to illness of one of our party.

 

We started out in good weather from O'Hare, but had were delayed an hour at the gate by "congestion on the east coast" and then twenty more minutes on the tarmac and then had to be towed ONE GATE over at Philly which meant running to the other end of the airport to catch our Lisbon bound flight (at least there were 15 people from our flight connecting to that one, so they held it). Our return flights via Madrid on Iberia were excellent (are you listening nameless airline formerly known as US Air?).

 

So we arrived at Lisbon and made our way to the airport subway station, which has the WORST vending machines of all time - too few in the stations and there were always people trying to figure them out, even locals. Once we had that sorted out, no problems to Oriente Station for the Intercity to Porto. Orient is a new open air station with Santiago Calatrave-esque design. I don't like his work enough to bother checking. But we bought tickets no problem and waited for our train in the sunshine.

 

The car we were in was older, but adequate (second class, obviously), but the fun was just starting. The train started to accelerate - and kept going. Soon were were zipping through the suburbs and country at 100 MPH plus, and we weren't even on the "fast" train! About three hours later we arrived at Oporto Campanha and walked through town to our pensione. Later we explored and took the Funicular (quasi-futuristic) up from the river.

 

I won't bore you with the hiking details, beyond, blah blah blah great weather, gorgeous countryside, charming towns, ripe oranges and lemons on the trees, etc.

 

When we got to Valenca, Portugal, one of our party took sick and we stayed put a day and decided to skip ahead three days, skipping the most urban and industrial part of the hike, which necessitated, yup, you guessed it, more trains! So we took a CP ticketed Renfe train (an older DMU)  from Valenca to Pontevedra (and an insane transfer off and back onto the same train, but it saved us some Euros)  and a bus to Caldas de Reis. Most of these stations were older, rather Victorian, but Pontevedra's had been heavily, expensively, renovated. Then two more days of lovely hiking to Santiago - a lovely and historic University and pilgrimage city.

 

So back south we went with two extra days to explore Lisbon. Our trip south was complicated by being too late to buy advance tickets at Santiago (I wasn't bothering with Renfe's "user friendly" website - the Portuguese think it's complicated too) - we were sent by the ticket agent to the "information point" (ah, Europeanisms) who told us to pay cash on the train, since the ticket office wouldn't be open that early. There's only one cross border train to Portugal.

 

So before dawn we trekked down to the station to catch the train. The Santiago station is an older historic station with modern interventions. So we boarded our train (coming from La Coruna to the north), which was full of local commuters, lots of government types. And waited for a conductor to come collect our fares. Well, sorry Renfe, you lost 18 Euro's on us. The train was a streamlined, articulated DMU which really howled when we got up to 140/160 km/h. The higher speed line looked like it had brand spanking new catanary that wasn't in use yet, when we crossed it entering Santiago. As the dawn broke we rode through towns we'd hiked the day before and caught glimpses of the fjord-like inlets that dot this area. Finally we pulled into Vigo after daybreak - I can't remember the station off hand, there are two. We had ocean views (and there is even a Golden Gate feel with hills, bridges, etc). The station was new and stylish with a nice cafe.

 

I bought us the tickets on the Celta, the only direct train to Porto from Spain, if I understood the schedule rightly. Eventually we boarded our train, an older, somewhat ratty DMU consist. Again it was fun seeing from whence we'd come, as well as the stunning northern coastline and then inland to Barcelos through the hills and on into Porto. We were delayed by trackwork (some for upgrades, some repairing water damage from the weeks before we arrived which had given the region constant rain). In fact, the upgrades were extending the reach of electric traction further north. However, this train wasn't exactly standing still either, we moved at a good clip excluding work zones.

 

Then we rushed to the ticket window in Porto to get our Intercity tickets back to Lisbon. A long, but pleasant journey back to Lisbon with a multi-line subway transfer to our hotel. By the of the stay we'd ridden pretty much all the modes of public transit in Lisbon, excluding suburban trains, public elevators and funiculars.

 

Then back to the airport for Iberia to Madrid (very modern, stunning aiport, if huge) and on back to ORD. Attached File  IMG_2689.JPG   259.89KB   7 downloads

Lisboa Oriente Station Attached File  IMG_2743.JPG   143.19KB   5 downloadsPorto FUNicular Attached File  IMG_2842.JPG   290.23KB   6 downloadsRegional DMU, in area to be electrifiedAttached File  IMG_2988.JPG   150.2KB   5 downloadsValenca, Portugal, with Renfe regional DMU Attached File  IMG_3193.JPG   112.04KB   5 downloadsRenfe regional (left) CP Celta (right) at Vigo, SpainAttached File  IMG_3208.JPG   347.42KB   5 downloadsRailfan Window between Porto and LisbonAttached File  IMG_3338.JPG   329.71KB   6 downloadsVintage Streetcar - LisbonAttached File  IMG_3368.JPG   199.39KB   5 downloadsVintage Streetcar Interior - LisbonAttached File  IMG_3441.JPG   179.68KB   5 downloadsModern Street Car - Lisbon Attached File  IMG_3363.JPG   98.44KB   5 downloads Lisbon Metro - note the left hand running


Edited by Metra Electric Rider, 04 May 2018 - 02:11 PM.

  • Misty., DoB, cpotisch and 1 other like this

SJ - Norra Stambanan, Nordvästra stambanan, Södra stambanan, Dalabanan

NSB- Bergensbanen, Kongsvingerbanen, Rørosbanen, Dovrebanen, Flåmsbana, Roa–Hønefossbanen

Amtrak - Floridian, San Francisco Zephyr, Southwest Limited, Illini, State House


#2 Mystic River Dragon

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Posted 04 May 2018 - 03:00 PM

Very nice--thanks for sharing the lovely photos. :)



#3 Metra Electric Rider

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Posted 04 May 2018 - 03:06 PM

Very nice--thanks for sharing the lovely photos. :)

 

You're very welcome. I was really taken with Portugal - it's really lovely, at least the part we walked through, very appealing, though not rail related, obviously.


  • DoB likes this

SJ - Norra Stambanan, Nordvästra stambanan, Södra stambanan, Dalabanan

NSB- Bergensbanen, Kongsvingerbanen, Rørosbanen, Dovrebanen, Flåmsbana, Roa–Hønefossbanen

Amtrak - Floridian, San Francisco Zephyr, Southwest Limited, Illini, State House


#4 v v

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Posted 04 May 2018 - 04:36 PM

Enjoyed the report and photos too, thanks.

 

What did you think of Lisbon and the Portuguese people? we think they come a close second to the Irish for friendliness. Try TAP if you ever fly to Portugal again, best airline we have used probably ever.



#5 Metra Electric Rider

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Posted 04 May 2018 - 04:45 PM

I liked them because they were, at least in rural areas, somewhat reserved. But nobody was what I'd call rude, people were very pleasant. We had, overall, very positive experiences with people.

 

It was an interesting contrast to Spain where people are, to say the least, gregarious.


SJ - Norra Stambanan, Nordvästra stambanan, Södra stambanan, Dalabanan

NSB- Bergensbanen, Kongsvingerbanen, Rørosbanen, Dovrebanen, Flåmsbana, Roa–Hønefossbanen

Amtrak - Floridian, San Francisco Zephyr, Southwest Limited, Illini, State House





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