Fast Train to Lisbon

Algarve Life - Amanda Gleaves
6 min readJun 16, 2023


When the fast train becomes the slow train..

My alarm went off at 5:30 am followed by my radio alarm, just in case. I rolled out of bed. A friend would be picking me up at 6h15 and taking me to the train station in Faro to catch the Alpha Pendular, so I had to be ready.

I had a cup of tea before I did anything and got a wash, cleaned my teeth and brushed my hair. That is as good as it was going to get.
Of course I got dressed too.

I had already prepared what I would be taking with me the night before. That is just not like me!

The only hiccup with this train was that I wanted to go to Sete Rios and the AP doesn’t stop there. Meaning I would have to change in the middle of nowhere — Pinhal Novo, and get a connecting train.

Before I purchased the ticket I had no idea at all about this. The original plan was to stay overnight in Lisbon and get the AP back on the Friday at 5:45, because I was going to go for drinkies in the Cais de Sodré, happy hour with the BRC.

But I would have to leave it for next time.

Especially after getting my reservation screwed up for a place to stay. In short, money left my account and no booking — I did get a refund and my breakdown that day was hardly worth the effort it took. Never the less I was not tempted to try and book anything else.

Now I wanted to change my return ticket to come back the same day and not the following day. I also wanted the later train that stops at Sete Rios and went directly to Faro, not the AP.

I got to the station and showed the lady behind the glass my printout.

“What’s this?” She asked, with the air of a school headmistress
“This is not a ticket. A ticket is a PDF like this one”

She held up a Pdf with a letterhead that would have used all the ink from my cartridge. I think she was having a bad morning, her knuckles were white as she gripped the pdf.

I told her that the content was exactly the same and I had just removed the letterhead. I asked her nicely if she could print out the tickets for me. As I handed her the printout.

“We don’t print out tickets” she hissed.

“Well can I at least change my return ticket?” I asked kindly again. I was getting a bit worried that I would be told that the ticket was in no way valid and that I would have to go back home.

She typed a few things out, asked me when I wanted to return. I told her and she printed out the tickets.

She hissed at me that I would be refunded for the difference. 3 Euros.
So it seems she could print out the tickets after all.

It is good to know that you can change your tickets up to 15 minutes before you use them.

The ride there was uneventful. I was texting my son on the way and he said to just get off the train at Entre Campos and get a taxi to Sete Rios. Seemed like a more logical plan and a good one as the train was running late. The nice thing about the AP is that they have a nice bar and a member of staff comes down the isle with exorbitantly priced snacks. If you want them.

After my appointment I went to the Lisbon Zoo. It was so nice! I had never been to the Lisbon Zoo and I was pleasantly surprised. The steep paths were not so great but I took my time. It seems to be run very efficiently and you can definitely see where the money goes.

Entrance fee is 27€ — a bargain really.

I had a McDonalds before I went in, I knew I would need the carbs to get around. Temperature in Lisbon went up to 33 degrees

Even the lions were too hot!

It was quite sad to see a noble animal like this in a cage. That is why I took the picture this way.

When I first saw this lion I though he had been attacked. Turns out, he is just a tatty lion.

I think that the animals who enjoy living there the most are the Monkeys. Their enclosure is not really an enclosure and I am almost sure that if they wanted to, they could just jump out, run away and cause a raucous at McDonalds.
I was secretly hoping they would. The peacocks did. They were stealing food from visitors!

There are electrified motes around all the primate enclosures, and that seems to do the job. You can take a look here!

I wanted to go on the teleferic but it doesn’t stop. Meaning that you have to take a run and a jump at it. I didn’t fancy that in my current state. Plus it was too bloody hot!

Even the camel was in the shade — that must say something!

I had a few hours to spare after the Zoo and needed to sit down for at least 2 hours. I had walked a bit too much, but I will walk all I can, while I can :)

I sat in the station and got to know the time of every train to Coina. They are very regular and packed full. I half expected somebody to push the passengers on while the doors closed behind them. Like they do in China — or is it Japan?

Finally got on the Slow Train and to be honest I think it is actually more comfortable than the Alpha.
There was a family of four sitting in front with a very noisy child. He stood in the isle when the train was moving and stamped his feet. His favourite word seemed to be “no”.
This is going to be a great ride home, I thought to myself.
I plugged my headphones in and listened to music.

I also read a little. I actually read a whole book during this trip. One I got from the museum called the Lockdown Diaries by Lady Dawn Annadale. It was a light read and didn’t take long to get through. I am not a reader, ( I get distracted and start thinking about other things!) but I have to admit, it does encourage me to write more. And that is what I want to do.

The little boy was now on the table. His sister, who I had no idea was there, was now starting to join in too. The parents seemed aloof. But as the trip went on this little family fascinated me more and more.

Nobody was on a mobile device, or a tablet.

This was a real family.

The children were reprehended lovingly and the parents were calm and wise.

There were lots of giggles, games and tears, when Lucas’ sister accidently hit him in the mouth. No raised voices, no swearing just lots of love and laughter. Talk of getting to grandmas and eating canja. It is times like these that I really appreciate knowing how to Speak the Portuguese Language.

Such a nice little family

And Portuguese tongue twisters!

Can you say them?

O rato roeu a rolha da garrafa do rei da rússia

Três Tigres Tristes

See you soon!




Algarve Life - Amanda Gleaves

I have been living in the Algarve in Portugal since 1989! I have been teaching Portuguese to foreigners for nearly 20 years!