Traveling to Barcelona
To get to Barcelona, we decided to take the RENFE AVE high speed
train. It was faster than going to the airport, checking in,
flying, and getting to the hotel, though it probably cost about the
We took the Metro
to the Madrid Puerta de Atocha station, which is a
very nice station in appearance. It is a central station for not
only the high speed long-distance trains, but also a variety of slower
We asked a few people who directed us to a small ticket office in which
you took a number in one of two lines, and waited for your number to be
called. It wasn't moving very fast, and there were a lot of
people waiting. The screens in the room showed a lot of trains,
including some to Barcelona, but they didn't seem to be the high speed
trains. While I held our place in line, Jen went to see if there
was someplace else we should go. Eventually she found that while
we had been directed "to the left" to the ticket office, there was a
second ticket office further on in the station, also on the left, for
the AVE trains. We went over there and got in another couple of
lines, and eventually got our tickets. We upgraded to First Class
so we had nicer seats and a meal. All told, our two one-way
tickets cost US$464. If you're using our notes to book your own
trip, be sure you don't go
to the ticket office with the A and B lines!
We had a little while to wait before our train so we got something to
eat and waited in the nice station. We headed to the train about
10 minutes before its departure, and found it wasn't as straightforward
as we thought. First, you had to go up a level to the departure
area, go through a security checkpoint, put your bags through an
airport-style metal detector, then go (run!) down a long ramp to the
train and find your assigned car. We got in with about 1 minute
But the cars are really nice, and reminded us of the Shinkansen.
The food was good, a nice hot meal and your choice of Spanish wines.
The train made several stops along the way, including Zaragoza, where the Space
Shuttle could land if need be.
It's a fast ride, and pretty smooth, but not smooth enough for me to
take a clear picture of our 280 km/h speed.
It's a pretty country. We saw quite a orchards which we suppose
After about 3.5 hours we arrived at Barcelona, on time.
At the Barcelona-Sants train station (nice and clean), we took a taxi
to the hotel.
From there we went to take the Barcelona Metro, called the TMB.