29th March - 7th April 2001
To The Land Of Ham & Cheese....

With apologies to anyone from Portugal reading this....the title of this Page reflects my experiences on my previous trip to Portugal when it seemed all we could buy in the way of sandwiches or rolls contained either ham, cheese....or both!

For this, my second trip to Portugal, I was in the company of David Russell who was also with me on our last trip back in April 1999. A bit of a different trip this time as we were combining a railrover with travelling on a series of  railtours run by PTG Tours. As per my usual practice, required traction is shown underlined in red.

Day 1 : Thursay 29th March
Getting There....
An 03.15 alarm call was order of the day in order that we could get to Stansted Airport for our flight - David having arrived the previous evening and having made use of my living room settee to try and get some sleep. With little traffic about at such an early hour the 100-odd miles were covered in good time and we were checked in for the flight by a little after 6am. A new airline ("Go") and airport for me! Boeing 737-300 G-IGOS was our home for the 2.5 hour flight to Lisboa in Portugal where we actually arrived a bit ahead of schedule. With the bags collected a taxi took us to Lisboa SA (Saint Apolonia) station and the start of a half days bashing - we arrived around 11.30am.

Our first move as to view the incoming arrival from Figueira da Foz at about 11.40 as this is a booked 1401 class turn (BR class 20 sound-alike). It duly arrived with 1452 at the helm so this as sampled (after a short return spin to Oriente station behind 2604 out for 5602 back) as far as Torres Vendras where a "+4" saw us off one train and straight onto a return working with 1431 in charge. What a good start - two winners! Got chatting to another couple of UK cranks on the way back who were also over for the PTG tours. One of them (Matt) turned out to be a previous contributor to "The Railtour Files" part of my Website! Always nice to put a name to a face as he said!!

The incoming service terminates at Cacém station so a unit move (in vehicle 992 366-2) was required to get us to Lisboa Rossio station. Good old foot-power next to the ferry at Terreiro do Paco from here "S Jorge" took us over the water to Barriero. On arrival into the station some beers and a selection of rolls were obtained (I'll leave it for you to work out the filling!). The rest of the evening was spent scratching in more locos and the odd DMU :

1933 : Barriero - Pinhal Novo
030 652-5 : Pinhal Novo - Barriero
1934 : Barriero - Setúbal

A move to a Chinese restaurant then with some others we met "on the way" - a decent meal and booze for not much over a fiver a head, superb value. Back to the station (10.30pm by this time) and a short  run on another DMU (030 611-1) to Praias Sado - a real "middle of nowhere" shack...but for a reason.....

....this was the meeting point for the tour participants booked on the first of the series of PTG Tours trains over this weekend - "The Estremoz Freighter" - a 21 hour ramble behind an 1801 class in the consist of a freight train!

Day 2 : Friday 30th March
"The Estremoz Feighter"
Follow this link for a tour review.

Day 3 : Saturday 31st March
"The Night Owl Co" & "The Marvao Marvel"

Follow this link for a review of "The Night Owl Co" and this one for "The Marvao Marvel"

Oh, I should add at this point that, until we arrived into Abrantes at a little after 10.30pm, we hadn't seen a bed to sleep in since Wednesday night!! The shower and bed were well welcomed I can assure you!!

Day 4 : Sunday 1st April
"The Entroncamento Rail Day"
Follow this link for a review of the day out.

Day 5 : Monday 2nd April
"The Alco Farewell"
Follow this link for a review of the tour.

Day 6 : Tuesday 3rd April
Southwards we go to Algarve and some bomb-bashing!
Early (ish) start with a 7am breakfast then a pre-booked taxi to Terreiro do Paco for "Alentejo" to Barriero to catch the 08.53 "IR" service down to the Algarve. Hopes for it producing an Alco (it had been rumoured) were however misplaced and 1931 (at least a winner for me) did the honours. We took this a far as Albufeira then dropped back onto R5713 with 1434 in charge. Baled at an un-manned shack (Boliqueime) for a short wait for 1422 the other way. Bit of a riot when the gripper appeared - he checked our tickets then asked (in quite good English) if we were from England. On discovering we were he promptly produced a brochure on canal boat holidays in the Midlands and we spent the next few minutes discussing where he should go if he chose to book up! 

Another un-manned shack bale, this time at Alcantarilha for a longer wait (but nice and sunny so not too bad) and yet another winner arrived in the shape of 1419. Only stayed on this to Tunes then time for a beer before dropping onto 1418 to Faro where it was time to go looking for our nights accommodation. First port of call was a place we stopped in previously;

"Hello - do you speak English?"
"No. No rooms".

Oh well....

Tried the Hotel Faro next but couldn't find our way in to reception (it's above a shopping centre and the lifts weren't working!) then third choice was the nearby Hotel Eva.

"Any twin rooms available?"
"No, but we can let you have two singles"
"How much?"
"18,000$00 each for one night"

Erm.....£60 EACH!!!! No thanks!

Back to the station and we called into the cafe right outside which also advertised rooms. A twin room was duly secured for just 4,500$00 - about £7.50 each - that's better!! Somewhat basic (the sink in the room had no taps and emptied straight into a bucket!) but clean so it was good value. Time for a couple of beers on the terrace outside - and a chat with three other cranks who turned out to be from Wigan! Remainder of the evening was spend spinning to Tunes and back twice (with a beer stop in the middle!);

1425 : Faro - Tunes
1434 : Tunes - Faro
1434 : Faro - Tunes
1932 : Tunes - Faro

Not so profitable but nonetheless enjoyable. Was surprised the first time we arrived into Tunes to see 1808 waiting to leave on a freight working towards Faro - the days of 1801's on the Algarve aren't over just yet!!

Day 7 : Wednesday 4th April
Northwards now to Porto
A lazy start for IR870 (hauled by 1938), 09.09 departure from Faro which we took all the way to Barriero (an on-time arrival at 13.30 which was a bit of a surprise). "Algarve" took us over the wet bit then a walk (in the rain!) to Lisboa SA for 2607 on the 15.05 to Porto.

A long days travel as we didn't get to Porto Campanhã until after 19.30 then it was a DMU (000 463-7) down the hill into Porto São Bento and the short walk to the Hotel Peninsular. A room was obtained (just - the form we saw didn't have many spare ones left) but David was a bit miffed to find it was "dud" - being the same room he had stopped in on our last visit!! At least being a big triple room he was happy he was able to put some distance between his ears and my snoring (or was it between my ears and his snoring....).

Over to MacD's for a McMeal (about two quid) then a quick spin up the hill and back to Campanhã, 1405 out for EMU 002 217-5 back, a beer then retire for the night.

Day 8 : Thursday 5th April
Required (narrow gauge) track
Down for breakfast at 7.30am then over to São Bento for 1405 (oops - dud after last nights mini spin!) to Trofa. Half an hours wait here then we returned to Porto via the narrow gauge line to Trindade station (DMU 039 603-7). This line is due to close before the end of April in order to be "assimilated" into the Porto metro scheme, hence our reason for wanting to travel over it.

Quick walk to SB again (via MacD's!) then up the hill in 002 226-6 for a fester before heading south behind 2628 to Entroncamento where we baled to secure our nights accommodation - in the Carlos Lopez cafe right outside the station. Beer and eats time then the evening was spent 1931/2601 bashing along the line to Abrantes and beyond;

2604 : Entroncamento - Abrantes
1940 : Abrantes - Belver
1947 : Belver - Abrantes
2602 : Abrantes - Entroncamento
1941 : Entroncamento - Abrantes
2604 : Abrantes - Entroncamento

Quite a profitable evening with three 1931's and a 2601 scored.

Day 9 : Friday 6th April
Homeward bound....almost....
Down for breakfast at 7.30am (last day so I just had to do it - a ham and cheese roll for breakfast!) then the short stroll over to the station for the 08.00 departure (2609) to Lisboa Oriente. No time to do anything else and it was just a short taxi ride to the airport for G-IGOG back to Stansted. Arrival back was about on time and it was here that myself and David went our separate ways - me onwards to London (77018 in 317319) to meet up with the family in readiness for Saturdays plans. 6710 on the circle line from Liverpool Street to Victoria then 465204 (65753) to Sydenham Hill and the end of a decent trip...almost...

Day 10 : Saturday 7th April
Dad's Birthday - an excuse for some more bashing!
05.grumble start for a taxi to Waterloo International as we'd decided to treat my Father to a day trip to Brussels for his birthday (now, who's idea was that I wonder...).

Eurostar 3013+3014 was a welcome choice for me as it was a required one for haulage. A complete stagger at the English end (including going via Swanley and Maidstone East) plus a lack of crew at Ashford (!?!) left us 40 minutes late into Brussels but a decent afternoon was still enjoyed "doing the touristy bits" (plus a Belgian beer or two). We came back on the 21.02 working which produced 3013+3014 again!! Amazingly we were early into Waterloo a little before 11pm - mind you the services are all retimed at the moment so maybe it wasn't that amazing really....

I finally made it home (by road) at about 3pm on Sunday afternoon - the end of a really enjoyable holiday. Oh, I came home to find no less than 192 e-mails had arrived in my absence - I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion I really must get out more and get a life!!

Gary Thornton.

Back to "Europe"