Those little yellow trams certainly seem to be following me. Or calling to me.
One week ago, I blogged a tribute to Oliva O’Brien’s blog post — and photography — celebrating Lisbon’s Tram 28 and Castelo de Sao Jorge. It was a fun post to write, incorporating one of Olivia’s gorgeous photos and a bit of background on the history of Lisbon’s trams — colloquially known as electricos — and in particular the canary-colored remodelados, 1990s rebuilds of classic cars which continue to wend their way through the city’s narrow, hilly streets.
For those who follow Tramways Monthly on Facebook (main page here; you must be a Facebook member to find their content on the social networking site), they featured a number of Lisbon photos over the past week.
Then, a few days later, fellow tram enthusiast Bill Robb emailed me to share some thoughts about the electricos, fresh from his May visit to Portugal:
After not taking a trip for ten years, I went to Lisbon in mid-May this year and spent seven wonderful days riding trams and funiculars.
You got the history right. Most traction fans seem to think if you go to Portugal you will find [vintage] semi-convertibles in the streets. Lisbon actually had relatively few semi-convertibles, mainly its bogie cars. Most Lisbon cars were Lisbon Standards and the Remodelados are an updated version of that design. Oporto on the other hand had semi-convertibles that went to American museums. Sintra still runs open cars in revenue service during its short summer season.
The remodelados give a great ride on the narrow, hilly streets. Its a modernized car capable of 50 kph (31 mph) but without the growling noise associated most older trams. The objectives of the rebuilding program included traditional appearance, quieter operation and faster speeds and all of this was achieved.
Lisbon also has a great tram museum located right inside the Santo Amaro shops and tram depot. There are two parts to the museum, a display area at the front entrance and then you ride back to historic tram collection on a St. Louis single trucker.
Bill also pointed me toward the Santo@Amaro blog, which features an impressive array of Lisbon tram photos. There you will encounter some truly inspiring tramway photography.
In closing, Bill mentioned that Air Transat flies to Lisbon from Toronto, that they offer package deals and that he hopes to return in the fall “for another week of tram and funicular riding and photography.”
I hadn’t seriously considered a trip to Portugal before this week …