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21 July 2024
Madrid train station.

We checked out of our hotel in Madrid today to take the Spanish version of the bullet train to Barcelona. It was quite comfortable and a lot better than the Chinese one I went on just a few months ago.

Madrid to Barcelona.

After around 2 ½ hours, we had travelled just over 500 km to Barcelona. As we climbed off the train, Paul handed me my luggage and we left the train to get a Metro ticket for Barcelona. I soon realised I had no walking stick, and Paul admitted he had seen it next to my luggage but had forgotten to hand it to me. I guess that's what you get for bagging the window seat.

The Metro in Barcelona is nowhere near as good as the Madrid Metro. It was busy, hot and not what you would expect in a big city. Most stations did not have lifts. In one station, a large sign gave disabled passengers notice of a disabled ramp at one end of the platform to assist people in wheelchairs or prams to get on and off the train. It didn't help you get there, though, as the station had no lifts, no elevators, and had ups and downs at every level.

We soon got to our train stop and after asking for directions, found the hotel we were staying in. We were not impressed; it was a budget hotel in a completely different area from the one we had wanted to book. The room had two beds that were pushed together, no cupboards, wardrobes, safe, fridge or minibar. The bathroom was very small, had no bath, and the toilet was so close to the sink that you could have taken a dump and cleaned your teeth simultaneously. You had to twist at an angle to not bang into the toilet paper holder to sit on the toilet. All of the rooms on our side backed onto the roof of the underground car park and the yards of the nearby shops and apartments. The ones on the other side overlooked a building site with a rubbish dump. If you had kids, there was no way you could bring them here. The area outside was covered in graffiti and on a four-way junction. Two corners consisted of building sites and dumps, one a graffiti-covered restaurant and one an old school that had been turned into a church.

The hotel was in the Poblenou area of Barcelona and along the Poblenou Ramblas. There were many nice restaurants and bars, and they were all filled with Spanish. This is a better indication of good quality than what is served in tourist areas; it's a shame the hotel did not follow this train of thought.

We ate in a restaurant called 'Passeig 9', which gave us a great medium well, done T-bone steak, it was a shame I wanted a Rib-eye medium-rare. I hope it was a translation error, as they don't sell rib eye but advertise it. After a full meal, we retired to our rabbit hutch. Sorry, hotel. We're determined to find somewhere better to stay tomorrow.

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