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Sunday, 2 May 2010

Out To The Seaside

Today the city of Lisbon is quiet, even for a Sunday: yesterday’s holiday celebrations and all the rest seem to have worn out many of the locals. But there have been plenty of tourists on the move, as I found at the waterfront station of Cais do Sodré earlier.

Time was that the ticket windows were all removed, the idea being that everyone could use the machines: after all, only local services along the coast to Estoril and Cascais are on offer, the line being effectively self contained. What could go wrong?

Well, it seems plenty could, and visiting back in late 2007 I found a small ticket office tucked away at the south side of what was then a building site. Now, with all ticketing using the ubiquitous Lisboa Viva card (a rechargeable cardboard smartcard), it seems that even more manual intervention is needed. The machines don’t, in my experience, cope well with debit cards, or notes.

And within the long queues at this morning’s two windows were lots of Brits, heading for Cascais. It’s a pleasant resort, with boutique shops, pedestrianised streets, a marina, yacht club, and views out over the Atlantic. Eating opportunities abound. There are of course lots of green spaces to be enjoyed within Lisbon, but Cascais can be called a “proper day out”.

How much? The return fare is a princely EUR 3,40 per person. Compares well with London to Brighton or Southend, or Manchester to Blackpool. And the building site has now become a pleasant combination of supermarket, eatery and open space.

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