6 October 2013

From Biarritz to Seville by coach and two trains

This was not the way that we were meant to get to Seville but something happened on the original route that made us divert via Biarritz and stop overnight there.

We had a prompt start on the second day and a short coach ride over the border in to Spain and a damp station in Irun where our Great Rail Journey continued.

The ride was easy enough and we were at Madrid Chamartin just before lunchtime.

We rushed through the station a little and I was snapping away as we did so, as were some others as, understandably, there were a few train fans on the tour. The stations most attractive features were the metal pillars supporting the roofs above the platforms, the semi-circular arches over the main building, the long simple roof on the front of the station and the graffiti-like art on the steps down to the platforms.

Another short coach ride took us across town to Madrid Atocha station, which was a big surprise.

A large shed with intricate metal-work I expected, the tropical forest I did not. I loved it in just the same way that I like the large glasshouses at Kew Gardens, and for exactly the same reason - the contrast between the natural and the constructed.

Lunch was less successful and the only vegetarian option that I could find in the multiple cafes and shops was some chips from Burger King. That was good enough and it was somewhat enjoyable to eat pure junk food for a change.

There was more success in the lounge that we moved on to and I helped myself to a couple of free beers and some power to recharge my phone that had been feeding me podcasts all morning.

Descending to the platform for our train to Seville revealed tall concrete columns supporting a simple roof. This was very practicable in the hot weather, even in October it was approaching 30c, with plenty of space for the air to circulate.

As with all the other trains we were in first class for the ride to Seville which meant plenty of comfort for looking out of the window as Spain reeled past, reading comics on my iPad or just listening to more podcasts on my iPhone.

This was a hot dry Spain that we rode through and most of what we saw was gentle hills covered with olive trees. We would be seeing a lot of those on this holiday. There was nothing special to see but the difference between the dry brown Spanish landscape and the usual wet green one was interesting in itself.

We arrived in Seville around 8pm.

We had to walk the last 100m or so to the hotel as the coach could not get through the narrow streets leading to our city-centre hotel, and I took that opportunity to explore a little of the city. OK, I got lost.

Having found the hotel and dropped my bag off I went for a quick walk to see what Seville does at night and also to find something to eat. I hit one of the many cafes just off Plaza Nueva where I found something with spinach in it. And beer.

It had taken two full days to get to Seville but the journey was very much part of the holiday and I was rested and happy.

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