Madrid to Pamplona

By Friday morning Linda was already adjusting to the time change, evidenced by her sleep quality measured by her Fitbit. Jim however is still on Greenville time.

We had breakfast at a nearby restaurant (4.40€ total) taking a pass on the 25€ each for the Hilton buffet breakfast).

Around 10:30 we took a taxi (€8.75) to a nearby shopping mall (“Plenilunio”) to get snacks for the train/walking, prepaid sim cards for our cell phones, and Euros from a bank ATM to cover cash expenses for the next several weeks.

We used our Uber app and in 3 minutes were on the way back to the hotel (6.61€)and had lunch(15.50€) at this morning’s breakfast restaurant.

Our leisurely afternoon and evening was spent in the comfortable AC of our room and included a short nap (Jim), reading, repacking and a snack supper.

Outside temperatures were 90+ degrees
A very nice room for ~$110/night in a large city

We checked out of the Madrid Airport Hilton (104€/nt) at 7:00 a.m on Sat., July 27, took a taxi (25€) for the 15 minute ride to Atocha train station in downtown Madrid, and cleared security for the train boarding area with a smile, wink and ‘buen camino” from several security guards (big backpacks and no luggage are a dead giveaway).

We had breakfast (8.80€), cafe con leche and tostadas, at a cafe near our boarding gate.

Evidence of our typical Spanish breakfast.

Atocha is well organized with logical flow from street entrance to security to food court/loading platforms and individual gates for each boarding each train. Airport style departure display boards are located throughout. Trains will typically arrive and depart within 10-15 minute intervals.

We missed our train! … our first Camino 2019 “glitch”, but probably not our last .

After breakfast, Linda secured great seats adjacent to gate 4 and we waited patiently for 2 hours for our train to depart. During the wait, we got several different assurances from different train station attendants that our train left from gate 4.

Where we waited for our train
Where we should have waited for our train

At 5 minutes before departure, still no one had lined up to board at gate 4… we thought. It turns out that our train boarded from gate 4 Baja (bottom floor or basement) and we were strategically waiting at gate 4 Primera (first floor). Unfortunately we realized this at 9:41 as our train left the station.

So we are now waiting, not for our original noon train, but the 3:05 train, the next and last available train to Pamplona today with available seats and with an extra 37€ cost because the last seats available are in first class. (“preferente“)

Changing our original tickets, when we arrived at MAD on Thursday, to get us to Pamplona at noon instead of 3pm , while sounding like a good idea at the time, may have been an even better idea now. If we had kept our original tickets and made the same boarding error, we wouldn’t get to Pamplona until tomorrow, which would really have messed up our plans. Now, we’ll just need to be creative to decide the best way to spend the next 5 hours. And so much for getting to Pamplona earlier. We think the Camino is testing us.

More good news! Our new First Class tickets give us access to the Renfe Lounge up to two hours before our train departs. It’s like an airline lounge with free snacks, drinks, comfortable seating and better AC.

We boarded the train to Pamplona( 59.50€ x 2 + 37€) at 2:50 and settled in for the 3hr 12 min ride. The train didn’t leave at 3:05, but 3:12 instead! We missed our 9:40 train as it was just clearing the platform at 9:41. If only it had been 12 minutes late…. but we did nearly double our Spanish vocabulary by learning the meaning for Baja and Primera, which we’re not likely to forget!😉

Arriving at Pamplona at precisely 6:26, we took a taxi (8€) to Hotel Maisonnave (98.10€/nt) and checked in without incident.

We got showers, organized our stuff, had a snack supper in our room and got to bed early, as we plan to walk to Zariguegui at 7:00 tomorrow morning.

A common question we’re asked is what does it cost to do the Camino. Jim tracked our costs in 2017 and found the combined cost for the two of us averaged close to $100 per day. That breaks down to $50/night for lodging and $40/da for food and snacks and another $10/da for transport and other non-routine incidentals (taxi, train, occasional backpack transport, pharmacy items, etc).

We”ll initially note our expenses for Camino 2019 to give you an idea of the range of costs we experience for various items and then only by exceptional outliers. For simplicity, all costs will be in €, with the typical exchange rate being $1.15=1.00€.

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