Off to Spain I go to See the Running of the Bulls
Review: Air France Business Class, IAD to CDG to BCN
Review: Four Points by Sheraton Barcelona Diagonal
Review: The Gran Hotel La Perla, Pamplona
The San Fermin Festival
The Running of the Bulls
Review: Renfe Alvia Train, Pamplona to Madrid
Review: Gran Melia Fenix, Madrid
Spain’s national train system is run by Renfe, a government run train system.
They offer a variety of products and services, and I tried Renfe’s Alvia service from Pamplona to Madrid, about a 3 hour ride. Book your tickets on Rail Europe for the best deals.
I booked one ticket in their Preferente (Business) class, and paid about $100, which I covered using my Barclaycard Arrival+ World Elite Mastercard miles. In all, Business Class is simply a 1×2 train car seating, vs. the coach class which has a 2×2 seating. It’s about 30 EUR more than coach, and isn’t worth it, though I figured it would be something more. Amtrak even offers more service in it’s regional business class.
Pamplona’s train station is situated on the outside of the city, though it’s about a 20 minute walk to the historic center. I wouldn’t advise walking from the train station to the old city, so keep that in mind if you plan on staying in the center.
The train boards just inside the station about 15 minutes prior to departure. A long line forms to the side, though I found it easily marked to say “Madrid,” the city I was traveling to.
Onboard the train, you’ll find the Preferente class in a 1×2 seating. Unfortunately, that’s it. There’s an overhead tv, though all of the programming is in Spanish, and it’s a “communal” channel, everyone in the car watches.
My seat was directly across from a handicapped seating position, which mean it had extra legroom. 🙂
Upon arriving in Madrid, it was easy getting off from the train, and then back into the terminal.
I booked my ticket on Rail Europe’s website, and it was easy enough. Rail Europe books tickets on a variety of carriers across Europe, and I was able to get the boarding pass emailed to my phone prior to departure.
I wouldn’t splurge for the Preferente (Business) class, and would stick with coach next time, though I certainly can agree the train was the easiest way to get from Pamplona to Madrid Atocha Station.
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