Ah, the AVE. “Es una maravilla!” proclaimed Carmelo, my loveable and ever-opinionated doorman. I’ll be the judge of that, I thought. My aunt and I decided to travel to and from Barcelona via AVE, or Spain’s high-speed train, mostly due to convenience and luxury. It’s not cheap: We could have both flown to and from Barcelona for the price of one round-trip journey on the AVE, but the AVE is less of a hassle, a lot nicer, and a cool experience.
- easy check-in. Once you have a ticket, the check-in and boarding process is a cinch. You only need to arrive at the station 15 minutes before departure, pass through a complete and utter joke of a security check-point, and board the train up until 2 minutes before departure. There are no delays…in fact on Friday, we were set to leave at 11:30 and took off at 11:28. Yess.
- pretty stations. Madrid’s Atocha station is a pretty cool sight to behold, even if you’re not traveling via AVE or Renfe! The station itself has a pretty brick motif inside, as well a green-house type garden in the center. Also in the station is an intricate memorial to the victims of the terrorist attack in Madrid, which occurred on an Atocha-bound train, on the 11th of March, 2004.
- onboard amenities. While the AVE doesn’t have wifi on-board just yet (or at least it didn’t for us), they provide passengers with a movie, super plush seats, and a dining car (the food wasn’t half bad, and not as pricey as airplane food, in my opinion). We also go fast – upwards of 250 km/hr and get to pass by some pretty Spanish cities and picturesque country-side.
- time-saving. The journey takes 3.25 hours, and since the AVE runs city-center to city-center, travelers don’t have to worry about getting into the city from a far away airport or off-the-beaten-path bus station.
All in all, I’d say Carmelo was right, the AVE is a “maravilla” and I’d definitely recommend traveling this way, at least for a Barcelona to/from Madrid jaunt.
Have you ever traveled by high-speed train? Where? What was your experience like?