One of the secret pleasures of my first month in Spain has involved travelling between Madrid and Barcelona on the AVE train. Does this mean I’m becoming a dreaded TRAINSPOTTER?
Standing for Alta Velocidad EspaÃ±ola the name is also a play on words with AVE meaning ‘bird’ in Spanish. Travelling at speeds of up to (and slightly over) 300 kmh/h, the AVE goes significantly faster than birds, and takes 2 hours and 40 minutes to travel from the centre of Madrid to the heart of Barcelona – Barcelona Sants. The other route that the AVE covers is Madrid – Seville, which also takes about 2.5 hours. RENFE – the Spanish rail company – are so confident of the AVE’s puntuality on this route that they offer a full refund should the train arrive more that 5 minutes outside the advertised time.
Ticket prices have come down considerably recently, and booking your AVE tickets online through the RENFE website gives you access to some web-only fares – which are as low as 40 Euros one way for Madrid – Barcelona.
Having experienced this rather special train, and having an increasingly deep aversion to airports and air travel, I can safely say that I’ll be travelling by the AVE in Spain whenever possible from now on….