Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Arrival in Lisbon; train to Porto

Arrival in Lisbon was at 8:15 a.m. Unfortunately, heavy cloud cover prevented much of a view. There was a long line at customs, but with eight officials working we were through the line in about 25 minutes. By that point, our bag was already on the carousel.

We checked in at a tourist information booth to verify which bus we should take to the Oriente train station then we exchanged some money. Ouch! The dollar is at its weakest point ever with the Euro. Perhaps next time we will just use our ATM card to get the best rate possible.

We got on a bus right outside the airport for 1.30 each, and seven stops later we were at the train station.

I had pre-purchased our train tickets as well, doing so conservatively for the train at 11:39. Since we were at the station before 10:00, we decided to change our ticket for the 10:09 train. This saved us two hours in time since the earlier train was the faster Alfa Pendular instead of an InterCity.

The coaches were comfortable and quiet as we cruised across the countryside at speeds up to 220 km/h (136 mph). We got into Porto, the country's second largest city with 235,000 people, at 12:45. The ride was actually kind of boring. I had hoped for some interesting scenery and changing landscapes, but it was mainly hilly farmland with a lot of poor-looking towns. The houses were white, but some were a pastel yellow or green. All featured tile roofs. A lot of them had laundry hanging from the balconies.

From the Porto Campanha train station, we walked a block to the metro and for 2.20 took the three-minute ride to the station near our hotel.

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