Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Train in Spain!

Rolls Mainly on the Plain
About a month ago Peter and I started seriously considering our transportation options between Madrid and Barcelona: train, plane, or automobile? We were priced out of the latter option, leaving us to choose between the train and plane.

We chose the train for a few reasons:
  1. Though I will only have a suitcase and shoulder bag, Peter will be travelling with his bass, pedal board, and suitcase. It seemed easier to manage several pieces of luggage on the train, especially given the fragile nature of his bass. Discount airlines also charge for each checked pieces of luggage, so cost factored in when we weighed the two modes.
  2. When we calculated the time between the two modes of transport, train won yet again. To take the plane we would have to arrive early to check our luggage, security, etc. The airport Ryan Air flies into in Barcelona is located outside the city, so there was the added time involved in getting into the city itself. The flight was also mid-day, so it would have cost us a day in either Madrid or Barcelona. The AVE train leaves from within the city of Madrid and pulls into Barcelona two-and-a-half hours later.
  3. While I like the bird's-eye-view of the world below that a window seat on an air plane offers, I also like to watch the world going by the window of the train. I don't know what the view will be like, but the landscape between Lyon and Toulouse was one of my favourite to lose myself in. 
I was a bit unsure of myself in navigating the Renfe website. On the surface it seems less user friendly than the SNCF website. I found this Trip Advisor guide to buying Renfe tickets helpful and humourous. As the author writes:
The website is a bit surreal. It is like Alice in Wonderland, where nothing seems to be what it really is. Even if you are on the English page, you will find some items in Spanish. Sometimes the website will send you to a completely Spanish page! However if you persevere you may be able to save some money by getting the web discounts.
 But following the guide, and double checking those occasional Spanish words with Google Translate, it was really quite easy to buy the tickets online. I even scored them for almost 40 cheaper than when I looked into buying them in April!

The countdown to Europe is now less than one month! Stay tuned for an announcement on Wednesday.

No comments: