We donned our backpacks at 7:00 and walked the half-mile or so down to the train station. Our train leaves at 9:09 so we found a seat and ordered breakfast in the station cafeteria.
As we were slow-walking breakfast a couple asked if it was ok to sit at our table and of course, we said sure. It turns out that they were from Charlotte and had walked the Camino from Sarria. They were traveling with a group.
We chatted until the train arrived, boarded, and made the 4 hr trip to Madrid without incident. The trip from Santiago to Madrid is interesting because of the dramatic changes in scenery. Unfortunately it was quite foggy most of the trip so the view was limited. This was not a problem for us because our memories were still strong from previous trips.
We also had some interesting seat mates on the train. When we purchased our tickets to Madrid, the train was nearly sold out, so we didn’t get to sit together, not even in the same railcar. Linda sat across from a man who had recently had 7 surgeries on his arm and shoulder and several pins were visibly sticking out of his arm. Jim sat next to an American lady who had just finished the Camino and was living in French Polynesia. She had been living on a sailboat and ended up in her current home because she was sailing near Panana when the pandemic hit and after sailing to various islands in the Pacific, Polynesia was the only place she could gain entry.
We didn’t see the Charlotte couple again until exiting the train at the Madrid-Chamartin station, waved from a short distance and assumed we’d see them again on the plane trip home.
Yuwen, our friend whom we met at the Pamplona bus station in August,
….finished the Camino several weeks ahead of us and we have been staying in contact via email. She went on to Finistere ( the “end of the earth”) after finishing in Santiago and then traveled to Madrid where she had been staying in a hostel.
We learned in an earlier email that Yuwen was leaving for Barcelona on 11 October. When we made our final reservations and changed our return day from Madrid to the 12th, we contacted her and made plans for a rendezvous in Madrid.
Yuwen found a restaurant near the Chamartin station and we met her there a few minutes after our arrival and had lunch together.
After lunch, we said our goodbyes , promised to keep in touch via email and parted at the metro station entrance, where Yuwen left for her hostel and we got a taxi to our hotel.
We stayed at the Madrid Hilton Airport. We like the hotel, it has free, short transport to MAD and we used Hilton Honors point to significantly reduce the cost. It’s at least our 4th or 5th stay!
We spent two nights in Madrid and continued our transition process.