Getting around Spain: TrainsApril 12th, 2010 | Posted by in Jodie | Transit and Transport | Traveling outside Madrid
As a Brit in Spain, I’m not that keen on long drives on the wrong side on the road. In fact, despite cheap car hire in Spain, there are a number of reasons I prefer trains. The train network in Spain is pretty good so if you want to travel around the country when you are living in Madrid, it’s worth checking out.
The place to check times and book trains is: www.renfe.com or at any major station. Even with minimal Spanish the website is fairly easy to get around (see useful language notes below).
There are a couple of things to note when booking trains:
1. Look for the train names and how long they take – several routes have regional trains, which are a little slower; normal trains; and fast trains (AVE). The difference in time can be enourmous, sometimes in price too.
2. There are a few special offers around if you book early. I booked Estrella (star) thinking that I had been very clever booking first class seats very cheaply. In fact this is just the name of a special offer which gave us cheap non exchangeable, non, refundable tickets.
3. There doesn’t seem to be any way of requesting seats so you may book two together which end up being a seat or two away from each other (not that far, but not necessarily together). As this happens to everyone, no one is bothered about changing seats and it’s frequent that people play musical chairs for the first part of any journey. I have heard people try and change seats before they leave but to no avail so I would save yourself some time and just rely on the goodwill of fellow travellers.
My favourite upside of travelling by train, especially when travelling in an evening with friends is the excuse to catch up over a glass of wine and some nibbles. All long distance trains have snack cars but as with most places that have a captive audience, prices are high and quality is low so it’s always worth the trip to the market or supermarket to stock up before you head off and enjoy your weekend away. It makes the journey so much more fun and the Spanish are pretty relaxed about eating and drinking on public transport as long as you respect others and tidy up after yourselves.
- Estacione – station
- Ida – one way or outbound
- Ida y Vuelta – return
- Viajeros – travellers
- Buscar – search
- Turista – standard/economy class
- Preferente – first class
- Podemos cambiar de asiento? – Can we change seats?
- Madrid(*) – means any stations in Madrid