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Concierge.com

Trams, Porto

Porto
Portugal
www.stcp.pt
Concierge.com's insider take:

One of Europe's most exhilarating forms of public transportation, the Porto tramway formerly plied a network of routes across the city but now runs only between Ribeira and along the river to Passeio Alegre, in the old town of Foz, and from the Tram Museum (51 Alameda Basílio Teles; 351-226-158-185; museu-carro-electrico.stcp.pt) to Carmo. An extension of the latter—to the city center—is scheduled to open in September 2007. A tribute to the industrial excellence of an earlier age, these splendid machines (some dating from the late 1930s) not only remain in constant use by an appreciative public but have maintained most of their original fittings. The interiors are wood-paneled, with leather-covered seats and armrests. Blinds can be pulled down when the sun gets too strong, and a cord runs along the roof, connecting to a clapper and bell above the driver's head. The driver busies himself at the controls (they read "power" and "brake," in English) and gets irritated when cars and pedestrians obstruct the tracks (which is often). The car groans and creaks along the track, making its way at a moderate pace under the soaring new Arrábida bridge, and out toward Foz and the seaside.

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