Archive for the ‘Trains’ Category

Photos

Visit to les Arènes, Nîmes, August 2019

No visit to Nîmes is complete with a visit to les Arènes, the Roman amphitheatre. Although it has been modernised, repaired and rebuilt in part, the basic structure is as it was when completed around 100AD. It is still used for shows, events and bullfights. One immediate word of advice, if going in summer, get there early! By the time I left around 1130am, there must have been at least 100 people queuing to get in.

As with the Pont du Gard, there must also be a million photos out there. Here are some of mine. Staff were busy clearing up after a three day festival event.  Many of the stadium’s features will be immediately familiar to any sports fan. The original capacity was around 24,000 but in the present day it’s only about 13,000. Some sections were damaged during the Middle Ages when the place was a fortress and houses, even two churches, had been built inside. Those sections have not been completly restored. The work of restoration and rebuilding actually began as long ago as 1786. Wikipedia article here.

DSC08275

In summer a large retractable awning covered the seating area. Fitted to wooden posts, some of the post holes can be see on the parapet above the top row of seats, which were for women and slaves! The four rows of ringside seats were of course reserved for the nobility and those who could afford the price.

DSC08276

I bet the Romans would have loved to have had modern floodlights.

DSC08277

DSC08278

DSC08282

DSC08289

Slots all around the walls let in the breeze to help keep people cool. No air-con in those days.

DSC08295

One of the gladiators changing rooms. Surprisingly small I though. Modern reproductions of course.

DSC08299

DSC08300

DSC08301

The wooden seats are the modern ones used for current shows. The top tiers are the original stone. Bring your own cushion.

DSC08302

One of the interior passageways between the entrances and the steps up to your seat

DSC08304

I am sure that the design of the nearby Nîmes railway station is a deliberate recogition of the older place!

Nîmes railway station exterior

Visit to les Arènes, Nîmes, August 2019

Tagged: , on August 16, 2019 by cubsur51

Leave a Comment

Articles

Faro marina 30th March 2019

In Algarve,Portugal,Trains on March 31, 2019 by cubsur51 Tagged: , , ,

I travelled through Faro on the way to a football match yesterday. Sun was shining although it was windy. Here is the marina. In the background the old city walls.

This one is looking the other way, across the tidal marshes towards the airport.

Faro’s railway station is close to the marina. An Intercity train from Lisbon enters the station

DSC07514

Articles

Visit to Vila Real de Santo António 16th January

In Algarve,Portugal,Sports - football,Trains on January 17, 2019 by cubsur51 Tagged: ,

A nice sunny day and a trip to Vila Real de António to watch the England Women’s U-19 football team take on Norway. After a drab first half, there was some much better play in the second but England ultimately lost 3-2.

My train ride was somewhat marred by the fact the extensive vandalism had resulted in every single window of the train having been painted over. The authorities are either powerless or have just plain given up in the face of teenage vandals.

algarve-train-160119

Some more pictures taken the same day.


A distant view of the castle at Castro Marim.


And the other one across the valley.


The view across the river Guadiana to Ayamonte in Spain, with the little ferry making its way across.


Some fishing boats were in dock having some kind of maintenance. The one with the yellow funnel was French and did not seem particularly seaworthy!


The overgrown remains of the long abandoned Vila Real de Santo António – Guadiana station. The line was cut back when the docks closed and a new road built over the tracks. The only station in town is about 1 km away.

1806 -vrsa riverside 200498 s widdowson
Train at that station in April 1998, picture courtesy of Steve Widdowson.

Station interior showing customs desk.


The nearby area and much of the former dockside is now a huge mobile home park.


The town bus station.


The one time Guadiana hotel has re-opened as the Grand House Hotel. You will need a lot of money to stay there. Rooms start at €176! Opposite the marina area.


This large edifice nearby is for sale.
Above  – the marina of Vila Real de Santo António

Below – The sad state of the trains at the car shed in town.


Below – the famous lighthouse looming over the stadium roof.


The teams line up, the reason for the trip. This was a practice match watched by maybe 100 people. Norway in red.

Photos

Royan and Le Train des Mouettes

Cloudy day yesterday but managed to fit in a trip across the river to Royan and Le Train des Mouettes. Their website is https://www.traindesmouettes.fr/ my pictures a little later. Here’s one as a sample. It is the oldest working steam locomotive in France, dating from 1891. A couple more samples added, I have the remainder of the pictures in the album at this moment – https://1drv.ms/f/s!Am0w7qp9HCpqhJhK9hARD1Vlfox9gQ

Royan-310718-005

Royan-310718-025Royan-310718-006

My itinerary :- cycle 9km Soulac sur Mer to the ferry at Pointe de Grave. Tie up the bike to a fence post. Luckily a ferry was waiting, so a 20 minute crossing to Royan, costs €3,30. Pleasant walk across the town for about 20 minutes to the bus station. Time to have a look around the area. Royan has an excellent beach right in the town, but the town itself has no architectural merit whatsoever. An ‘error’ by the US Air Force late in World War Two resulted in the town centre being bombed rather than the docks. Most of the town’s population had been evacuated, but nevertheless 442 civilians were killed and about the same number injured. Forty-seven German military were also killed.

The reconstruction of the town was in the modern brutal style, apart from the very unusual church. It was partly covered in scaffolding, but here’s a picture grabbed from the web.

royan_eglise_ensemble_0112_

After that, a bus to Saujon, cost €1,60 it was a little late then held up in heavy traffic. But no worries. At Saujon a slight navigational error meant it was a 20 minute walk to the tourist railway rather than about 12.

After the train trip, which took an hour and 20 minutes, time for a little look around La Tremblade, a little town not quite on the coast. Then another bus back to Royan, a 45 minute ride but at the same flat fare of €1,60, followed by the same walk back across town to the ferry. Ferry was just arriving, not much of a wait to get back across to Pointe De Grave, untied the bike and an easy 9km back to Soulac and some well needed beer.

Royan and Le Train des Mouettes

Tagged: , on August 1, 2018 by cubsur51

Leave a Comment

Photos

A few more pictures taken around Porto city centre , along the way to Matosinhos, to Póvoa de Varzim on the metro. Click the box to go the album.

Best value sightseeing trip in Porto is the number 500 bus, from Praca da Liberdade to Matosinhos market. For just €1,95 cash or using your tourist or Andante 24 pass, you can enjoy a 35 minute ride along the river and to the beach area at Matosinhos. And it is a double decker bus, so there are great views. It’s a normal city bus but tourists have obviously latched onto it.

At Matosinhos you can enjoy the huge beach on a sunny day, maybe watch the ships entering and leaving the docks and in summer there might be cruise ship at the flash looking terminal.

If you are there for lunch or dinner, there are any number of places to eat along the Rua Hérois de França, which is the road more or less from the docks and market area into town. There you will see cooks preparing and grilling fish in outdoor kitchens.

For a different way back into the city, you can take a metro tram from the Matosinhos Market or Matosinhos Sul stops. The metro is above ground almost all the way.

If you do that, you will pass through the Senhora da Hora station. In its time it was an important junction on the narrow gauge network of lines that served Porto’s northern suburbs and places further afield. Opened in 1875, it operated until 2002 when some lines were replaced by the modern metro. Steam trains were running as recently as 1968. I found some old pictures which are included in the album.

Off to Póvoa de Varzim, at the far end of the metro (have to get my money’s worth from the 3 day pass!) where I chanced upon a little food fair and an urban farm. At the food fair a small team was grinding flour on a mini windmill, an elderly woman was making the dough (rather expertly it seemed to me) and a younger chap was baking Pão de Chouriço – basically sausage in bread. As well as other stuff. And very nice they were too.

Visit to Porto area, third part

Tagged: , , , on March 28, 2018 by cubsur51

Leave a Comment

Photos

A few pictures from an afternoon out to Espinho and Aveiro taken March 2018.

Espinho is a popular seaside resort about 20km (12 miles) south of Porto. The beach is no doubt very inviting in summer, but on the day of my visit it was very windy and pretty cold. There was a junior surf pro competition under way. Espinho was at one time cut in two by the main Porto to Lisbon railway. Trains had to slow to a crawl because of many crossings. A few years ago the line was buried in tunnel, leaving a ‘green space’ above which has yet to be filled with anything meaningful. I spotted some old pictures on a mural. Espinho is easily reached from Porto by frequent local trains.

Then to Aveiro. Aveiro is a pleasant city with many canals. The old railway station is noted for its tiled murals, some of which are pictured in the album if you click the box below.

They are unfortunately in a poor state of repair, with those on the front of the building in a pretty poor state. The area was cordoned off at the time of my visit, let’s hope these excellent pictorials are to be restored.

Finally, in this batch, a few shots taken inside the modern station.

And some pictures of Aveiro town itself :

 

Visit to Espinho and Aveiro March 2018

Tagged: , on March 26, 2018 by cubsur51

Leave a Comment

Photos

Soulac sur Mer 1945 and 2017 comparison; trip home from Bordeaux via Lisbon

I finally solved a mystery that had been bugging me for years! Turned out to be quite simple in the end.

During the closing weeks of World War Two, mid-April 1945, Soulac sur mer and the surrounding area was the scene of several days close combat between French forces and the occupying Germans, who were in no mood to surrender without a fight.

Many books have been published about these battles. One I bought a while back contained a couple of pictures of close quarter action. I was pretty sure I knew the place, but somehow couldn’t figure it. So this year I scanned the pictures and went looking. It didn’t take long as it turned out. Here is the result.

soulac_3

Soulac sur mer in 1945 and 2017

The location is just to the south of the railway station, the line crosses the road to the right where the two tall masts can be seen. the new tree obscures the view of the electrical substation, the equipment of which can be seen to the left of the psot above the soldier. Google view, the red mark shows where I stood. Not quite the same place as the chap in 1945 as the road was a little busier when I was there!

soulac-5

Location for comparison photos, Soulac sur mer

The German forces was pushed back from Soulac on the 17th and 18th April 1945. Their last stand was at the fortfications of Le Verdon a few km to the north. Surrender came on 20th April 1945. The two sides lost 1050 men during the week’s combats.

I have a few more photos from a bike ride around Royan, Vaux Sur Mer and La Palmyre. These I shall add in a day or two.

My train ride home from Bordeaux was very agreeable. Here is what I posted on Trip Advisor :

I travelled on the Sud Express from Írun to Lisbon Tuesday night / this morning.

Some observations – the train was full. I was expecting the farce of heavy handed security and lines for baggage checks at Írun as per my previous trip a few years ago. No such thing, people in seated cars simply walked on board and those of us in sleeper cars showed our tickets to the hostess who made sure we went in the right one – some obviously didn’t! No one demanded to see my passport or made me take my shoes off. All very civilised.

Train left 2 minutes late. The first hour or so of the trip is through the Basque country with its station signs and almost everything else in that incomprehensible language. Nice wooded and hilly scenery, some rain and mist on the tallest peaks.

There are no announcements on board, so if getting off before Lisbon best set a good alarm. One thing will cause despondency among the internet junkies – there is no wifi, no electrical sockets other than a shaver socket in the sleeper compartments, no USB sockets, no nothing like that on board. Your 3G roaming will work for a good while, but once out into the remote country areas, forget it.

I know this may mean actually having to engage in conversation, the hardship is noted.

The train does rumble and clank, although I did sleep reasonably well most of the way. The exception was around 2am (Spanish time) or 1am (Portuguese time), when it sounded like we were running over corrugated iron sheets for quite a time.

The air con /heating system worked well, neither too hot nor too cold, but then the outside weather wasn’t exactly summer. There is no longer a full meal service, just an on board café / bar car. Almost everyone, myself included, was well supplied with their own stuff.

Arrival in Lisbon Oriente was 1 minute ahead of schedule. I then waited for my train down to Albufeira.

I arrived exactly on time in Albufeira this morning after a trip of a 21hrs 57 minutes involving four different trains and crossing two national borders. All tickets bought on line except for the 3 minute ride from Hendaye to Írun on Euskotren’s nice new train, which cost me €1,70 from the machine.

Yes it costs more than flying and is slower, but a much less stressful way to travel IMHO. A nice winding down it was for me after a six week trip around various places.

I started my journey on the TGV from Bordeaux. This was one of the new Duplex (double deck) trains introduced upon the opening of the new high speed line between Tours and Bordeaux. It was absolutely full on leaving. There were no ticket checks at all, my upper deck window seat was occupied by someone with a vaid ticket but in the wrong coach. He had to move!

Passengers alighted in numbers at every stop, by the time we reached the end of the line at Hendaye few were left. Arrival was on time but the schedule has been padded to allow for a few miles of painfull slow running between Bayonne and St Jean de Luz.  Subsidence has caused some minor track damage which has yet to be repaired. Trains must therefore run slowly, for that reason (but excuse actually) SNCF no longer extends most of its trains the extra distance across the border and to Írun.

So, at Hendaye it’s a short walk out of the main station to the Euskotren station. A couple of staff were on hand to assist the many foreigners with the ticket machines (there is no ticket office) and my €1,70 ticket across the border was easily obtained. The trip to the Euskotren station at Írun Colon takes 4 minutes, from there is it 3 minutes easy walk to the main station.

 

Soulac sur Mer 1945 and 2017 comparison; trip home from Bordeaux via Lisbon

Tagged: , , on August 12, 2017 by cubsur51

Leave a Comment