Adventures on Trains and Trams in Portugal
Just a short note to thank you for helping us through our second trip to Europe. We first used your books during our family three week trip to Europe in 1999. Our kids were 12 & 15. We visited France, Italy & Switzerland. Your books helped us a great deal during that trip.
Annie (my wife) and I just returned from a 16 day trip, Copenhagen, Madrid and various cities in Portugal including Lagos and Lisbon. Your books for all three countries were wonderful and very useful, you make things so easy.
We are the kind of people, both 55 years old, that put everything in a backpack and go for it, everything carry-on, so your books match our style in a great way.
Three quick stories:
We took a train from Madrid to Seville and jumped on a bus from Seville to Lagos, Portugal. After we got off the bus in Lagos and go into our hotel Annie asked me where I put the Rick Steves information on Portugal. After seeing my shock she said, "You left it on the bus didn't you, that's our entire trip in Portugal". We took all the pages that were relevant to our trip and ripped them from your book and put our own book together. This way you don't need to lug the entire book around. Annie dashed from the hotel room and ran to the bus station just in time to catch the bus driver while he was locking the bus up for the night. We really lucked out, your information does make a huge difference in one's stress level while traveling in these countries.
From Lagos we trained to Lisbon. We were getting close to our Lisbon stop and Annie was not real sure if we were to get off the train which had just stopped. She stuck her head out the door and saw the conductor two cars up the train. I was standing there with our backpacks inside the train car and Annie jumped off the last car of the train, onto the platform, and ran up the two cars to speak with the conductor. She was gone only seconds when the train started to move. I picked up the backpack and ran to the back of the train and started to look up the platform to see if Annie was there and noticed the train was beginning to move really fast. I needed to make a decision, the train was moving too fast to look for Annie and still get off so with a literal leap of faith I jumped off the moving train (real stupid), just about fell on my face (stayed on my feet wearing sandals) and immediately saw that Annie had gotten back on the train on a different car. She was running back to the last car, saw me while I almost fell, and waved good-by to me looking out the back door of the last car. I looked up and had one of the best laughs I have had in years, it was so very funny. I did have the hotel name but didn't know how to get to it but knew I could figure it out. Annie had all the trip info and I had her bag. I stayed put and Annie showed up a couple hours later to rescue me.
My last story is about tram #15 in Lisbon. You warned us in your book and we took your warning to heart. We usually leave all of the valuables in the hotel safe which we did this day. I do wear my very small camera case on my belt (backside) and I keep my wallet in my front pocket. The tram was getting very full when I felt a person pressing against my back and reaching for the handrail in a very strange manner. I turned around and faced a 5'5" pickpocket and stared him right in the face. He had gone for the camera and I let him know I was not happy about it with my look. I now had my right hand on the case and my left hand on the rail on the ceiling. He had a coat draped over his shoulder and you could not see his hand. I let Annie know what was happening and immediately noticed two others working with him (all had their coats draped over their shoulders). He started talking on a cell phone very loud (I think this was meant to be a distraction) while his buddies moved closer. I was looking at him (my tough look) and he offered me his phone (I shook my head no) and then he moved off while one of his buddies slid up real close to me and acted like he was not part of the gang. The first thief then went for a local women's purse and boy did the fireworks start then. She caught him and got really mad yelling so the entire large tram could hear her. Everyone on the tram could immediately tell what had happened and she didn't stop. The thief backed up against the door and started yelling back. Meanwhile, because of this distraction the guy closest to me moved closer, looked up at me and shook his head in disapproval like he was totally innocent. I kept my eye on him until our stop and when I turned to exit the tram he went for my wallet pocket, I caught his hand and turned back to him. If this would have been the U.S. I probably would have gotten myself in trouble but in this case Annie and I just jumped off the tram, nothing lost and gaining a story.
Thank you so much for making trips like this so stress free and enjoyable. We enjoy the self tours and all of the tips. Because of your tips we had a great Flamenco evening in Madrid, Fado in Lisbon, and got the most our de-valued U.S. Dollar.
John & Anne