“Well, I’m not absolutely sure, because I don’t take the train every day, but what I understand is that you now also have to make reservations for the IC online… “I say while we look at Astrid’s phone.
We are on the site of Comboios de Portugal – the Trains of Portugal
“Let’s do it on the laptop,” Astrid suggests, “this is such a hassle with that small screen!” We look for the train she has to take for the journey home. This means that you have to calculate a lot back. 06:10 PM flying – “Is that in the afternoon or in the evening?” We are not used to that, we Europeans, we use the 24-hour clock.
Much easier, but I have now memorized it. AM: before, PM after. (My mnemonic: post-natal depression – nice association, you may say, but it works.)
Astrid was here to help with a big mosaic project – as always. (Once that wall is finished, there will be more. Patience please, it’s raining.)
Fortunately, the Comboios de Portugal have remembered that foreigners also want to take the train
They have an English version. “Let’s see how it goes when you travel with the Alfa Pendular (AP: the train with wings, WiFi, passing food-and-coffee trolleys and reserved seats; very luxurious).
I know that for sure: you have to make a reservation for the AP. Now this is October, and you can take the risk of just going to the station, but then you have to go to a station where they sell tickets. They don’t do that everywhere, and when they don’t, there are also no ticket machines there. The idea is that you simply buy your ticket from the official on the train, and you don’t have to panic about that.
The conductor just comes by, at his leisure, and sells you a normal fare ticket, without immediately assuming that you are a cheap cheat. Please note: this is only if you board at a station where you really cannot buy a ticket, otherwise you may become the victim of a bad-tempered employee.
Most CP conductors are very polite, friendly, helpful men in uniform, but sometimes one has a toothache
I click on an AP train, which is not eligible because it’s too late, and see what happens when you want to buy a ticket online. “Oooo, gosh, you have to register. You don’t have …? No, me neither…“ First, do you want a priority chair. No. Do you have a bicycle with you. Also not. We declare with hand on our hearts that we have truly and honestly read the terms & conditions, and are allowed to proceed.
Name, makes sense. For gender you can choose from male, female or other. Very modern, Comboios de Portugal! Then they want to know what nationality you have, your tax haven, your tax number, your date of birth, what your type of ID is plus number…. and we’re increasingly starting to doubt the relevance of all that information for a train ticket.
Your profession, the reason for your trip…. yes, hello. Would you like to know the size of my knickers too?
It goes even further: how many family members do you have, and how many sons? “What?!” We look at each other in bewilderment. One train ticket and you have to clarify almost everything you are? And why on earth do they need to know how many sons you have??
With all this war everywhere I’m getting all paranoid – stay away from my sons! Astrid is less concerned about this, she has two daughters. They are usually not immediately called up for military service, and this line of thinking naturally goes much too far. Especially for a train ticket.
“We’ll just go to the station, we’ll see, it’ll probably be fine,” Astrid says decisively and I immediately click away the entire registration page in agreement. As if they are already watching everything you do with binoculars. Boo.
I contact the bot because I want to know what happens. Fortunately, it is not a blunt bot, but one that explains very understandingly that the CP wants to know how old you are (discount) whether you have children (Ooooo, it’s just been mistranslated! They translated “Filhos” as sons, but it just means children. Mystery cleared up. Phew.) and if you have a NIF – a Portuguese tax number – you can put your train ticket on your tax return as an expense. Saves money on your IRS.
The next day we are at the station in Soure – where you cannot buy a ticket, not from a human nor from a machine, and where no one worries about it – but things don’t go fine. The arrival time is perfect, but the corresponding announcement for the arriving train is completely wrong. I’m not used to that.
You can say what you want about the CP, but they don’t need a dictatorship (anymore) to keep their trains running on time!
The sultry lady’s voice is talking about a train going to Coimbra, and that is not the intention at all. It has to go to Pombal. Nowadays, at stations without a ticket machine or manned counter, the timetable is usually missing – so I have no idea whether this was the right one or not. The conductor is apparently on t he privy, no one to be seen, and getting on and off goes so smoothly that we have not yet recovered from our surprise when the train is moving again.
OK then. “You know what? Then we pretended that I was a taxi and that you had to go to Pombal,” I say, “how long do we have? Tight hour? Should be possible. Run!”
We moved here in 2000 from Rotterdam, Holland to the Termas-da-Azenha, Portugal.
A big step, especially with two small children.
You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere.
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Each week a little blog about what is happening around us. An easy read. A few minutes in another world. A little about what it going on in Portugal. If you plan your holiday to Portugal, it might be a nice preparation
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