We enjoy traveling by train in Europe.
The trains are predictable, almost always on time departing and arriving and much easier and faster than driving or flying. And the scenery can be quite spectacular (inspite of reflections in the large windows)
The 5 hour plus trip from Santiago to Madrid-Chamartin terminal passed quickly, mostly because we shared a four seat table with a delightful couple currently living in Denmark. Lillias, originally from South Africa, and Jonathan, originally from Zimbabwe, worked for an international construction company building bridges, roads, tunnels, etc.
We chatted about our Camino experiences (they had just completed the Portuguese Camino) and just about anything else that came to mind. The time passed too fast as we really enjoyed their company.
They are considering a trip to the US in a year or two to walk the Appalachian Train from Georgia to Maine. We encouraged them to contact us so we can possibly meet when they pass through NC.
We said our goodbyes as we left the train in Madrid as they were going back to Denmark later in the day.
Our connections from Chamartin station by local train to Atoche train station in downtown Madrid and an easy walk to Pension Barrera(95€). had us checked into our room by 2:00.
Our post Camino 2019 R&R continued for the afternoon and next day, reading, continuing to enjoy Spanish cuisine at nearby restaurants and taking brief walks around the city.
Madrid is one of our favorite cities with magnificent buildings and diverse architectural styles, treed streets and parks and spacious sidewalks, all carefully maintained and clean. Museums and historical monuments are everywhere,
but just walking around them is very entertaining and relaxing. Madrid is not as intimidating as many world capitals and large cities can be, especially if you are not fluent in the language. And also very important, its relatively easy and cheap to eat and get around.
On Wednesday morning, our taxi picked us up at Barrera at 9:00 and 45 minutes later, in heavy morning traffic, we were at the AA ticket counter in MAD, checking our backpacks. We were still over an hour before boarding time so we stopped for a snack before proceeding to our gate.
Our flight left on time and the 8 hour flight
to Philadelphia was without incident getting us into the terminal a few minutes ahead of schedule
A 3 hour layover gave us plenty of time to clear customs, recheck our packs and board the plane for our two hour flight to GSP.
Our neighbor, Ed, graciously agreed to pick us up at the airport and was waiting for us when we arrived 15 minutes early!!!
A ten minute drive by car had us opening our garage door and walking into our home after being away for 10 weeks.
It was a very smooth and easy finish for an extraordinary trip and good to be home!
Closing thoughts on Camino 2019 to follow.