Crossing Spain by Train

September 16, 2015 - Barcelona, Spain

The plan today was to cross Spain from Ronda in the south to Barcelona in the northeast. This would involve seven hours of travel including half an hour to change trains. Our train would not leave Ronda until 1:35pm so we had breakfast at the hotel and left our luggage with reception before going for a last stroll around town. Our primary target was the little bakery near the Duquesa du Parcent restaurant. We tried their filled baguettes before and we thought we should get some for the train trip rather than trust the on-board service. On our way we passed the Municipal Offices and there was a notice about an exhibition so we paid our €1 each and wandered in. The first part we looked at was the old church which looks to be a community hall these days. Then we found the real exhibition which was of photographs of bullfights exhibited in 1983 by Fernando Nogues. The 42 photographs all used blurred movement and colour to depict the action and intensity of bullfighting. While neither of us are in favour of bullfighting we thought almost all of these photos were about the drama rather than the death of the bull and they were very striking.

Our little shop selling the bocadillos was only just cooking the lunchtime baguettes when we stopped in so we left her with our order and walked on around the corner where we ran into a police road block. Rather it was just the Local Police looking after the traffic while a truck delivered some item, by crane, into the roof space of one of the buildings. There was only just room for the truck and pedestrians so the traffic had to find alternative ways to get to the other parts of town. We watched until the delivery was completed, the crane jib retracted, and the truck extricated, then we went back to the shop to collect our orders.

Back at the hotel we ordered a taxi and went to the station to wait for our train. All was in order, apart from a minor panic when there was red writing mentioning el autobus next to our departure time but that was because of closures on the section between Granada and Antequerra Santa-Ana and did not affect us. Our train came to Ronda from Algeciras and it took a while for people with luggage to struggle down the steps and out the door and then others, like us, to similarly struggle up the steps and find places for our luggage. It took an hour to get to Antequerra Santa-Ana where we then changed to the fast train to Barcelona which left at 3pm. The train and particularly our carriage seemed crammed with luggage but we found room on the overhead racks for ours and settled in for the five and a half hours to Barcelona. We whisked along at up to 300 km/hr at times and with books and sandwiches and nibbles, as well as the views, the trip passed fairly easily and we arrived in Barcelona at 8:22pm. At some of the 7 stops, particularly those near Madrid and at Zaragoza the number of passengers and the amount of luggage reduced considerably.

This was our final trip on the Spanish RenFe rail system and we have found it very simple, efficient and easy. I think Margaret had trouble booking tickets on-line because it was all in Spanish but once she discovered a couple of sites that offer a booking service it was easy. The print at home tickets are all that is required and they are scanned before boarding. All the staff we have encountered have been helpful when needed.

Margaret had chosen tonights hotel for proximity to the airport and the free airport transfers so it was a long taxi ride to get there. It was the first time this driver had been there but Mr Google and his iPhone got it all together and got us to the hotel for €35. We were trying to spend the last of our Euros without having to withdraw more cash but decided to draw an extra €100 before leaving the station. That was just as well because none of our food and drink at the hotel could be signed to the room and we certainly needed the Patatas Bravos (must be a Barcelona thing) as well as a large beer for me and a red wine for Margaret. In fact we were so much in need that we had a second round of all three, food, wine and beer, while sitting outside in the warm, still evening. Our last in Spain really as tomorrow night will be in the airport. It is sad to be leaving, sobering to contemplate the 24 hours of travel ahead and yet a joy to anticipate arriving home.


Ronda municipal hall
View from the bridge
Tourist walk in Ronda
Home Delivery

1 Comment

Judy Crewe:
September 17, 2015
I have so enjoyed your blog.. Look forward to catching up soon.

Judy x
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