No chance encounters or philosophical discussions on our journey but plenty to see. We caught the lunchtime train from Faro, and as recommended by many other travellers had booked ourselves a first class seat.
All seats are allocated on the trains to and from Lisbon, and unlike many British trains it is relatively easy to find your seat once on board. Finding your train at Faro though might not be as easy if you have not travelled by train here before as there is no destination information on the platforms. Each train though clearly has on the side where it is going, and beside every carriage door you will spot the carriage class and number.
It is well worth booking your seats 5 days or more in advance as not only do you get to select your seats online, you will also benefit from a 40% discount. If you are 65years or older then advance booking is probably not as essential as you get a good discount anyway, although if you are travelling during the holiday season you may find trains are fully booked if you leave it too late. Whatever you do don’t forget your ID as the guards will almost certainly check your ticket against it to make sure you are entitled to the 65years plus discount! For more information on how to book seats and train travel to, from and in the Algarve check out Tom’s excellent website. Another great site is the Man in Seat Sixty-One and a must read for anyone planning to go further afield in Europe.
Up until 1999 you could not have travelled by train all the way into Lisbon as the railway section of the Ponte de 25 Abril was only added in 1999, 33 years after the road bridge was open. Prior to 1999 trains from the Algarve terminated at Barreiro and rail travellers from the south had to catch a ferry into Lisbon. Sitting here writing this I still find it incredible that less than 20 years ago all trains from the Algarve terminated on the other side of the Tagus; still guess it would have been a great adventure.
Later when we were admiring the bridge from Lisbon it reminded me of the bridges in San Francisco. I have since discovered it is the same colour as the Golden Gate Bridge and the same design as the Bay Bridge. It was once the longest suspension bridge in Europe but now that honour goes to the Great Belt Bridge in Denmark. These days Ponte 25 de Abril is only the 27th longest suspension bridge in the world and the 4th longest in Europe. Still who cares about rankings it looks beautiful. The other bridge crossing in Lisbon which also adds to the Tagus River views is the Vasco da Gama Bridge. It is upstream from Ponte de 25 Abril and at 10.7miles long the longest bridge in Europe.
There are a few stations in Lisbon you can depart the train from, the closest ones to the centre are Sete Rios and Entrecampos. As you may have surmised from my final two photographs we travelled to the final stop of Oriente, which is a stunning station close to the Tagus River and still an easy transfer into the centre.
By the way I am sorry for the quality of some of my other photographs. I always find it a challenge to take good photographs from trains as either you are moving too fast or as in this case the carriage windows were in need of a thorough clean. That’s my excuse anyway! I hope though the few I’ve shared give you a flavour of our journey to the fabulous city of Lisbon. We thoroughly enjoyed the 3hr (ish) journey and can certainly recommend travelling by train to Lisbon. Cheap, easy and far more relaxing than the car or plane.
It wasn’t just the journey we enjoyed. We also loved Lisbon so there will be lots more posts from our weekend break to follow over the forthcoming weeks. Now though I’m off to read Night Train to Lisbon, my sister-in-law very appropriately was reading it on the journey up to Lisbon but I’m only just getting round to it.