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Madrid-Barcelona Train

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One of our prospective traveling companions for our Jan 2021 Iberian Explorer cruise suggested doing the pre-cruise in Madrid, which fits well with our travel preferences (arrive early, "just in case" - and to rest from the flight from the west coast), but I am wondering about the transfer from Madrid to Barcelona provided by Viking. Since we can board at 11:00 (stateroom access later) does Viking schedule the 8:00 train, or can we leave at a more civilized time lit 10:00? We figure for a 2:30-3:00 duration ride, a 10:00 departure should be sufficient - has anyone out there done this?

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58 minutes ago, What was that? said:

One of our prospective traveling companions for our Jan 2021 Iberian Explorer cruise suggested doing the pre-cruise in Madrid, which fits well with our travel preferences (arrive early, "just in case" - and to rest from the flight from the west coast), but I am wondering about the transfer from Madrid to Barcelona provided by Viking. Since we can board at 11:00 (stateroom access later) does Viking schedule the 8:00 train, or can we leave at a more civilized time lit 10:00? We figure for a 2:30-3:00 duration ride, a 10:00 departure should be sufficient - has anyone out there done this?

 

IMHO, Don't bother using Viking for the pre-cruise in order see Madrid. Do your own.

 

  • It is cheaper.
  • You can stay longer for the same amount of money. Depending on the hotel you choose you could do another two nights
  • You can still use Viking Air (they will charge you 100pp to deviate). 
  • You can take the 10 am train --or any train you want
  • 2 nights pre-cruise means you have one only day for touring --and that simply isn't worth the money you are spending to do it (imho) -
  • the InterContinental Madrid is too far from anything you want to see -- except for the Sorrolla Museum (which is a personal favorite) -- and you will waste a lot of time just getting to the places you want to see (even if you arrange some sort of private tour, you will spend time sitting in traffic)
  • Yes, it is nice having Viking get you on the train, and then to the ship --but it just isn't that hard.

Personally, I love Madrid. When I go (which is not often enough), I prefer to stay in an older section of the city, near the Prado and the Thyssen (and Atocha train station)--but that is because the things I want to see are in that area.  I suggest choosing a hotel based on the places you want to see --mark them all on a map and choose a hotel that is in the center of the marks.

 

As for transfers, just grab a cab. From the airport, to the hotel, to the train station, to the ship.

 

Yes, I know that there is a certain amount of comfort in letting Viking worry about everything but I'm not sure that it is worth all the hassle (or the price) just to have one day to tour Madrid. Putting it another way, if you are going to go out of your way, at least let it be a satisfying visit--not a whirlwind kind of "If it is Tuesday, it must be Belgium" kind of a visit.

 

 

 

 

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That makes sense. People do that all the time, right? I did a quick check of the Madrid Atocha Railway Station area and see that hotels are densely packed around there, in the $100-$300 per night range. Looks like trainfare is about $30-40 so big savings.

Since our group will include some "mature" inexperienced travelers who have their own ideas about this they may prefer to go with what is perceived as a "safer" choice. But I will definitely put this option on the table.

Thanks!

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The Viking option is really expensive, as Peregrina pointed out.

My experience is that we have done extensions on our own, with better locations and nicer hotels, for about 30-40% of the cost of Viking. But we have no mobility issues and are comfortable handling our bags.

Look into the first class train tickets too---it will give you lounge access plus a meal and drinks on the train. I think we paid about $100USD each for Barcelona to Madrid on the high speed in April.

 

Maybe your travel companions would be more comfortable if you pre-booked  private car transfers? We have done that for late night arrivals when jet-lagged, and it was so worth the $$ to have someone standing there with our name on a sign and whisking our bags off to a private car for us. No taxi line or worrying if the taxi driver is ripping you off or doesn't speak English. Might be an option that would make it easier for inexperienced travelers who may be overwhelmed and tired.

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58 minutes ago, What was that? said:

Since our group will include some "mature" inexperienced travelers who have their own ideas about this they may prefer to go with what is perceived as a "safer" choice. But I will definitely put this option on the table.

 

In the end, you have to do what is right for your group.

 

 

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24 minutes ago, broker1217 said:

Maybe your travel companions would be more comfortable if you pre-booked  private car transfers? We have done that for late night arrivals when jet-lagged, and it was so worth the $$ to have someone standing there with our name on a sign and whisking our bags off to a private car for us. No taxi line or worrying if the taxi driver is ripping you off or doesn't speak English. Might be an option that would make it easier for inexperienced travelers who may be overwhelmed and tired.

Hmmm... that's one I hadn't thought of! We could probably make that pay, at least on the return home - late at night after 20 hours of travel!

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I totally agree with the private taxi- we use this frequently when arriving at a foreign airport and not using Viking transfers. Viking  is dependable, but you have to wait for all the passengers who might be arriving an hour or so after you. 

Relax and start with an option you’ve researched and chosen. 

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