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Since I was visiting Lisbon, I knew I wanted to make my way down south to visit the amazing beaches of Portugal. The question was how I was going to get there. My three choices were renting a car, catching the bus or riding the train. All three options were going to be the same amount of time, which was 3 hours.
At first, I thought about catching the bus and almost booked my ticket but after doing a little more research, riding the train seemed like a better option. The bus ticket was 33 Euros and a first class train ticket was 47 Euros, so it wasn’t much of a difference and you got a lot more benefits with the train ride: 1) you can walk around freely, 2) you can get your own seat, 3) certain seats had outlets, 4) there are better views and 5) they provided free Wifi on board.
I booked my ticket through Comboios de Portugal and selected a single occupancy seat with an outlet. I had to register an account before purchasing the ticket and it was a very easy process.
My next concern was luggage. I tried to do some research online about storing luggage on the train but couldn’t find much except that there were some luggage storing racks at the end of the carriages. I wanted to keep an eye on my luggage at all times because I’ve been hearing so many stories lately about travelers’ belongings getting stolen, so I booked a seat towards the end of a carriage. I also bought a wire lock so that I could lock my luggage to the rack if possible.
Well, turns out that I had plenty of room to store my carry-on suitcase right above my seat and even more space underneath my seat in front of me for my backpack. Just like an airplane but with more room. There were also luggage racks at the end of the carriages, as I read about, for the larger suitcases. I didn’t notice anyone locking their luggage to the racks, so I suppose it’s pretty safe. I was just glad I was able to keep all my luggage right by my side.
Before I go on with the train ride, I have to note that it was very confusing finding my platform at the Sete Rios station in Lisbon. I actually found it difficult in general to find signs and directions in Lisbon and there were no signs at the station telling me which platform my train to Albufeira was going to be. Luckily, I found one station agent walking around and asked him. He told me it would be on Platform 4. Once I got to the platform, I thought there would be signs indicating this but, again, there were no signs anywhere. I asked a couple standing on the platform if they were getting on the same train and they were just as confused. We just had to trust the station agent and assume that he directed us to the correct platform. After several trains passed by, the digital board indicating which trains were coming finally displayed our train and we were able to relax. I just find it odd that there are no signs or directions anywhere to confirm where you’re going.
Once the train arrived, we approached the train and I just assumed the doors would open automatically like the trains in Japan. I had no idea I had to open the doors myself until I saw another passenger doing this at carriage next to me. Pulling the door open and getting on the train is rather challenging, especially if you have a large suitcase because there’s a huge gap between the platform and the train as well. I got on the train safely and found my seat.
I booked a seat on Carriage 11 at Seat 92 since it was near the end of a carriage, a single seat and provided an outlet. There was a couple sitting at my seat and they asked if I could switch seats with them because they wanted to sit together. I wanted to use the outlet located there but my plug would not have fit anyway with the way the seat was situated, so I told them they could stay there. Later on, when the train attendant came to check our tickets, I found out that I was in the wrong carriage anyway. He said I didn’t have to move since the train was pretty empty. My train ride back to Lisbon was much more crowded but I found my correct seat and I was able to use my outlet.
The First Class train was very comfortable and relaxing. The fabric on the seats were soft and it reminded me of the nice bus seats in Japan. I had plenty of room to work on my laptop and the countryside views were nice. I tried to use the free WiFi but it rarely worked. It only worked in the more urban areas. I tried to use my Skyroam and cell phone data but those didn’t work as well, so it just depends on what area you’re in to use the free WiFi.
The bathrooms weren’t the best but not the worst either. There was just enough room for you to maneuver around to use the toilet and sink. They also provided an outlet if you want to use your shaver.
The three hours on my train ride went by super fast and I almost wanted to stay on a tad longer because I was enjoying it so much. I definitely made the right choice riding the train rather than the bus. I’m not sure what second class trains are like but I’m always going with first class in Portugal!