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July 2, 2014

Lavra Tram – Ascensor do Lavra

Save steps on your way home to our holiday apartments by taking the Lavra Tram (Ascensor do Lavra) instead of walking.

Lavra Tram, top station

Lavra Tram, top station

Running from the Largo da Anunciada to the Rua Câmara Pestana (which is just off the Calçada de Santana, and only moments from our vacation rentals), the Lavra Tram allows you to ride, instead of walking up the hill. And it’s an interesting piece of Lisbon history, too.

The Lavra Tram is the oldest Ascensor in Lisbon. It has been in near-continuous operation since it first opened on April 19, 1884, and was declared a National Monument in 2002.

Interior of the Lavra Tram

Interior of the Lavra Tram

The tram’s antique interiors will make you feel you’re riding a piece of history, although all the ascensores in Lisbon have been modernized on the inside. Originally, they worked using water-weights and a pulley system: a tank in the car at the top was filled with water, making it heavier than the car at the bottom. When the brake was released, the heavier car would slide downhill, pulling the lighter car (which was attached by a cable) up as it went. Then the tank of car that had just gone down would be emptied, while the tank of the car now at the top of the hill would be filled. Over time, water shortages led to the modification of the system, and the Lavra Tram now runs on electricity.

According to the Carris website, on its first day in service the Lavra Tram offered free rides to all passengers. By the time the Ascensor finally closed on that day, it had been running for 16 hours straight and had transported over 3.000 passengers!

Lavra Tram Schedule

Schedule, click to enlarge

Currently the Ascensor do Lavra runs from 7:45am to 8pm, Monday to Friday, and 9am to 8pm on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. The on-board fare is 3,60€ (which buys 2 trips), but if you purchase a VivaViagem card in advance, a ride on the Lavra Tram costs only 1,20€. VivaViagem cards are available in any metro station.

Lastly, if you enjoy riding the Lavra Tram, you should look at the self-guided walking tour of Lisbon’s Ascensores and Elevadores (pdf) published by Carris (the company that operates and maintains them).

November 21, 2012

The Aeroporto (Airport) Metro Station is open…

…and while that’s a wonderful thing for the city of Lisbon, we still strongly suggest you take a taxi up to our holiday rentals.

Here’s why: in order to get those lovely views of Lisbon, and give you the feel of being right in the center, but away from the big-city commotion, our self-catering homes and apartments are located near the top of one of the city’s famous seven hills. The nearest Metro stations, however, are at the bottom of the hill. And while it’s a nice walk, normally, with luggage in tow it can feel like quite a slog!

And it might not even save you much money. One-way Metro tickets cost 1,75€ each, while a taxi to our holiday rentals should cost you only about 10€, or less. A group of three people would pay 5,25€ to take the metro, saving just 4,75€. That’s not much to pay for the convenience of being taken right to your door, and not having to maneuver your bags through often-crowded public transportation.

So we encourage you to take a taxi on your way to our holiday homes. We think you’ll find it’s the better value, and a more pleasant way to start your vacation. Plus, once you get to know the neighborhood, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can always take the Metro to the airport when you leave us. It’s much easier to roll or carry your luggage down the hill than up!

March 2, 2009

Taxis – Busted!

The March issue of DecoProteste, Portugal’s consumer advocate magazine, published a five page review of taxis. Their “foreigner” focused on an airport-to-downtown-Lisbon trip which should have cost €8.35, including luggage supplement: 

“Of ten trips by a foreigner between the airport and Lisbon, only two went perfectly in all regards.  On four trips, the final fare requested was higher than indicated on the meter.  In one of these trips, the meter read €13,85, with the trip supplement already included, and the driver requested €15.  On another, the client never saw the meter.  It could be covered by the glove compartment lid and, as soon as the passenger entered, the driver opened the compartment.  During the entire trip, the meter was hidden.  As if that weren’t enough, at the end, the driver requested €17…”

We find most Lisbon taxi drivers to be honest and pleasant (see our “Heralding Kindness” post), but the airport does unfortunately attract those who are all too happy to fleece a tourist.  That’s why we send very detailed instructions to all our guests on how to outwit the occasional bad egg!

Also from the article, a nice summary of useful Taxi Tips:

* Lisbon pick-up fee = €2.00

* Luggage fee = €1.60 for putting any/all luggage in the boot; this is NOT a per bag fee (If your bag is smaller than 55x35x20cm, there is no luggage charge and you may keep it with you in the taxi.  Bags larger than this must go in the boot, which triggers the luggage fee. Strollers and wheelchairs may go in the boot free of charge.)

* Call charge (for ordering a taxi pickup) = 0.80€ (Taxis scheduled via phone can arrive 15 minutes early and wait with the meter running)

* TAXI STANDS:  The standardized beige and black/green taxis have the same tarifs.  But be careful of the other taxis (of various colors) displaying a blue sign with the letter “A” or “Taxi”: these have higher tarifs than the standard beige and black/green taxis.

* CHANGE:  Drivers are only required to carry €10 in change.  Given Lisbon’s cheap fares, you might be stuck paying a very large tip if all you have is a €20 note in your pocket.

Information summarized from Proteste Magazine, March 2009


2013 Update: The pick-up fee has been raised the 3.25€, but your total trip from the airport should still cost no more than 10-12€.

October 20, 2008

Lisbon Conference Centers

Many of our guests head to the conference centers in Lisbon, either as presenters or attendees.  If you have questions about an upcoming conference in Lisbon, please visit our Lisbon Conference Center page for more information.

June 15, 2006

Taxis: Heralding Kindness

It’s a long way to Lisbon from Southern California so it’s no wonder Jerry (not his real name) was out of sorts when he and his family arrived for ten days at Casa Joaquina.

Taxi and Electric tramIn his weakened state, Jerry  didn’t know what to make of the Portuguese man gesticulating and remonstrating from the doorway until he recognized his computer in the man’s hand and the man himself as the taxi driver who had dropped them off twenty minutes earlier.

Jerry had left the computer in the back seat. The driver hadn’t noticed either until he picked up two young men who very quickly—inexplicably—asked him to stop and hopped out carrying a laptop they hadn’t had when they’d entered. “Wait a minute, that’s not yours!” the driver said, and wrested it away. Then he’d made his way back to Casa Joaquina—an heroic effort in its own right, given the labyrinth of one-way streets and unavailability of parking—in order to bestow upon Jerry the computer he had yet to miss.

“Nem toda a gente é má,” (Not everyone is bad) the driver said in explanation of his benevolence. Not every Portuguese taxi driver is so gallant either, to be sure, as a number of our overcharged guests will attest, so it pays to make sure the meter is running, but kindnesses like these should not go unheralded.
Foto: PrincesaVirtual

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