Postscript: Useful Tips

Over the past few years, I’ve found the German app Omio to be great for booking train tickets. They don’t charge a service fee and it’s helpful to have the .pdf on your phone so you don’t misplace the paper tickets, as I’m wont to do.

Another cost-saving tip regards using the ATM. European banks will always ask you if you want to accept the bank’s exchange. Always reject that option. Then they’ll ask it in another way on the next screen. Reject that, too. I’ve spoken to a number of visitors who incurred a €24 charge otherwise. The ATM’s UI appears to sow doubt about rejecting its options. When I withdrew €200 on Sunday, my alert showed me that I’d just withdrawn $197.25, benefiting from the great exchange rate.

If visiting Portugal, be aware that Lisbon has five train terminals and I’ve used four. Rossio has the suburban trains to Sintra and other spots. They run at one and thirty-one minutes after the hour. Cais do Sodré on the riverfront serves the upscale beach towns of Estoril and Cascais, on the Portuguese Riviera. Oriente serves the Algarve and Porto and its trains go as far north as Braga. Trains from the Algarve also stop at Sete Rios, which is also near the major bus terminal. Finally, Santa Apolonia, also near the waterfront in the Alfama area, serves the interior cities like Santarém and Tomar, as well as Porto. In most cases, intercity trains stop at several, so make sure you know where your hotel or Airbnb is before getting off.

Also, all intercity trains to Porto stop at Porto Campanha station. When you get off, take the escalator down to the concourse to Linha 2 and grab the train to São Bento station in the historic center. There’s no charge and it’s the final stop.

Uber is widely available in the larger cities and towns and is incredibly cheap. They drive funny little sedans that are unseen in the US, so you’ll be looking for a Fiat Tipo, a Renault, Citroen or Dacia. While you spend €6 to go from the Lisbon city center to the airport, you’ll spend around $45 to go the few miles from BNA to my house in central Nashville.

I also highly recommend getting Global Entry. Most high-end credit cards cover the cost and it includes the TSA pre-check benefit. The last two times I returned to the US I simply walked up to the kiosk and snapped a selfie and handed it over to the agent. No passports or custom claims required.

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