I was so excited to ride the train to Madrid. For some reason, I had it in my head that train travel was going to be a blast, especially after we were talked into getting four seats instead of 2. When we bought our train tickets, the man informed us that it included a train ticket to the Madrid airport, but we declined as we weren’t flying out for 2 more days. I took less care in packing my pack that morning, knowing that I wouldn’t need to carry my pack all day long and we headed to the train station. On our way it started raining, not enough to make us stop and change into rain gear, but enough to get wet. This was the first day I didn’t have to wear my boots so I was in my canvas evening flats, which, while a relief to my feet, I promptly regretted when they got soaked through. We were good on time so we took refuge from the rain at a cafe which was near the train station and happened to be the first open cafe we came across. We enjoyed our café con leche and the warmth of the cafe as long as we could, then when it was time to get going we quickly went down stairs to the train station. We found the platform for our train and boarded. After being notified that we were in the wrong car, we made our way to our seats. In my imagination, there would be a table in the middle of the four seats and we would be able to play the cards I had carried for 150 miles and not used yet, but there was not. This was not a problem at all! The space was glorious we had four seats that faced each other and could spread out. The best part was that we could sit across from each other and put our feet up. I hadn’t sat for an extended period of time since our plane ride. It was amazing. I took off my wet shoes and put my pack up with the luggage and pulled out my headphones in anticipation for the movie that would be playing. It couldn’t wait for this journey and to see the sights as we zoomed from Santiago to Madrid. Of course I am picturing this to go like we were on the Hogwarts Express and that a plump woman would be offering us snacks from the trolley. It wasn’t quite that, but it also wasn’t completely off. Later in the four hour train trip a woman did come by with a snack cart, but we didn’t need it because we had already been to the dining car a few times. The dining car was so exciting! I love that you can comfortably get up and walk around on a train. We walked to the dining car (in my wet socks) right after taking off to get breakfast. I got the biggest kick out of standing up and eating in a café going over a hundred miles an hour. It was probably obvious that this was my first adult train ride as I was going all over the dining car and lifting myself up on the bar and stretching, just because I could.
I was facing backward and got the view from the other side. It was mostly countryside with few things to actually look at, but I can’t stress enough how good sitting down in a comfortable space with the ability to stretch was. I didn’t care if there wasn’t much to see, I was so happy. Train travel is the only way to go. Plus there was going to be a movie to entertain us. Headphones in and fingers crossed that the movie would have English subtitles, then it starts…. it was Justin Beiber’s Believe! Seriously, on my exotic train ride through the Spanish countryside, I’m watching this guy. It was in English though, which was nice to hear after not hearing it for so long. On one of our trips to the dining car we asked the engineer how fast the train went and he told us that we would go 130 miles per hour (he told us the kilometers and we did the math to figure it out), but the train could go up to 150 miles per hour. I spent a good chunk of our train trip talking about how much I loved train travel and that I wish we had more passenger trains in the U.S. and that they would be affordable.
When we got off the train we asked if we could cash in on that free trip to the airport and they gave us a light rail pass to get there. So far so good. We had a heck of a time at the airport trying to get to our hotel though, which involved, not being able to figure out how to use the pay phones, not finding the information desk, not being able to get any help once we did find the information desk, and finally asking the hotel to pick us up. This experience took a lot longer than I had the patience for.
It was so nice to have a room with a door that locked so I could leave my stuff out and not have to worry about it. It was nice to have space that was temporarily ours that I would not be leaving first thing in the morning and I could actually “unpack” and spread out. There was a shower that didn’t require me to push a button every 30 seconds to keep it going and I didn’t have to wear flip flops in. Though still no conditioner, maybe this is an American thing, I couldn’t get conditioner for the life of me over there. There was a bed that I felt confident wouldn’t have bed bugs so I could sleep in the sheets rather than my sleeping bag. We looked into the option for getting our clothes cleaned and it was going to be ridiculously expensive, so Paul washed his clothes in the bathtub and again we hung our stuff out the window to dry. Our journey to the hotel took up a large part of our day so we ruled out going to downtown Madrid. We used the internet to see what was around the hotel and it was not much. But, we did see that there was a mall within walking distance that had good reviews. I bought a new clean shirt that I could wear for our big day in Madrid and a dress and tank top to take home. Paul got some new pants and a shirt and we picked up a couple of face masks as an impulse buy that we’d entertain ourselves with that night.