How to travel in Spain? Where do I start. With 30 hours flying from Gold Coast to Madrid. But let’s start at the beginning.
The Camino De Santiago
So the big day arrived. My partner Joy Reynolds and I have been waiting for this day for more than 6 months. It all started about 7 or 8 years ago when we watched The Way, a movie about the Camino De Santiago in Spain. My mind was then thinking – How to travel in Spain? – The Camino De Santiago is a pilgrimage that started way back in the 9th century. Yes, the 9th Century! Now that is a hell of a long time ago. It is a walk to the shrine of the apostle, Saint James the Great, in the cathedral of Santiago De Compostela in Galicia in the north west of Spain. It is said that St James remains lie in the cathedral.
Pilgrims follow this route as a form of spiritual enlightening and spiritual growth. A way to find yourself. Hiking the path is the preferred way to travel but many also cycle. More than 200,000 people walk one of the Camino’s many routes over a year. So our own little how to travel in Spain question was answered. We walk the Camino!
Since watching the movie Joy and I both had a desire to take on a small section to start and maybe do the full Camino in 12 months. The full Camino is 800 kilometres from start to finish and takes around 35 to 45 days depending on how fast or slow you may be. Our walk starts in Sarria which will give us more than 115 kilometres over around 9 days. Our plan was to spend around 5 days in Madrid then catch the train to Sarria, complete our walk and then spend 6 days recovering in Barcelona. Of course this was all the more complicated after I broke a bone in my foot playing tennis 2 weeks before we were due to fly out! Not ideal timing. How to travel in Spain had now become very complicated!
Packing the Bags
Joy had packed her bags about a week ago whereas I am a last minute kinda guy haha! So Sunday morning I was up nice and early and completed the bag pack quickly and was all set to go. You need specific items when you walk the Camino so we had been planning and buying items over the last 3 months that were specifically for the Camino. Things like waterproof pants, woollen socks, fleece jumpers, raincoats, first aid kit and thermals. So packing was a little different than usual. We ticked all the items off and repacked twice just to make sure we had it all. We weren’t flying out till 5.15pm so we had a bit of a wait. So this was the waiting. Everything was done. Apartment clean and tidy and nothing else to do. (So my mind was racing -How to travel in Spain with a broken foot!)
Waiting and Sons of Anarchy
The waiting is a pain. You can’t do anything, go anywhere or cook anything as everything is done ready to leave. So we did what most people would do and watched an episode of Sons of Anarchy! How good is it? I’m not a bikie fan but this is so good. Anyway we watched an episode and then it was time.
Sons of Coolangatta
On the Friday before we left we had a meal and drinks at the Kirra Surf Club with some friends. I get a bit obssessed with certain shows I watch on TV and Sons of Anarchy was one of those shows. At dinner I was telling a couple of mates, Nev and Rossco that we should form a group like Sons of Anarchy and call it Sons of Coolangatta. Yes I know. I am a bit weird in my thinking. (Forget how to travel in Spain! I wanted to know how to travel with the Sons of Anarchy!)
We had a good laugh about it, a motorcycle club where we don’t ride motorcycles but act like we do. We could set up a workshop and become vigilantes in the town. Keeping the streets safe from violence and drugs as the police seem to have trouble doing that where we live. In fact they have trouble with it all over the world, not just the Gold Coast. I am an ex copper so I know how they work and there is no way I would want to be one in this day and age with all the cameras, iphones and political correctness around.
I have the utmost respect for the police and the law but I don’t envy their job one bit. So Sons of Coolangatta is there to bridge that gap between politically correct decisions and 1980’s policing. At least thats what is in my head. We all had a good laugh about it but part of me was deadly serious.
Chauffeur to the Airport with One of the Sons
Nev had offered to drive us to the airport and we graciously accepted. At 2.45 we went downstairs to meet our lift. As Nev drove into the reception area at Points North I started filming, “here is our Sons of Coolangatta chauffeur!” I thought it was funny anyway!
We said our goodbyes and went to Jetstar to check in. Instead of how to travel in Spain I was now asking how to travel to Spain! We had been told by our contact at Qatar airlines that Jetstar will check our bags direct to Madrid so we didn’t need to worry about them once onboard. WRONG! Jetstar staff assurred us that they only take the bags as far as Melbourne we would then need to claim them and check them in again at Melbourne with Qatar. We were on a really tight flight schedule as it was.
We had 1 hour 55 minutes once in Melbourne to check into our international flight. So having to grab our bags and run to Qatar airlines and check in was going to be a bloody rush. And any lateness on the part of Jetstar could screw us up big time. And me with a broken bone in my foot! I am not a stress head normally in fact I am extremely laid back at the best of times but… when it comes to flying I love being early and have to get an exit door or extra legroom seat. I was stressed!
The Rush to Make the Flight
Fortunately my partner, Joy, doesn’t stress over ANYTHING! She assurred me things would be fine and not to stress. I tried. Not very hard. The Jetstar flight was on time so that was a good thing. In fact we arrived in Melbourne 20 minutes early. Bonus!
Joy raced to the bags for collection and I raced…hobbled to check in. We both arrived at the same time and we were the only ones in the queue. We go extra leg room seats all the way through, up the front in the upper deck. Why the hell was I stressed?!
Onto the plane onwards and upwards. We were led to the rear stairs and up into the upper deck, front row. Perfect.
How to Travel in Spain? – Trains, Planes and Automobiles
It took us 30 hours plus in travel time to get from the Gold Coast airport to Madrid. A long time in anyones language! It had taken 3 flights, Gold Coast to Melbourne, Melbourne to Doha and Doha to Madrid. To say we were a little weary disembarking in Madrid would be an understatement but hey, this is overseas travel and we both love travelling the world so it wasn’t really a bother.
We managed to find our way to the train that would get us close to our apartment. I must admit Joy wanted to get a cab as she was spent and didn’t want the added time of working out how the train system worked. But being the tight arse that I am I talked her into the train idea. It did take a while but we eventually worked it out. As it turned out our Airbnb host told us it was a nightmare on the roads and the train was the way to go. Couldn’t wait to pass that news onto Joy! Haha!
We arrived at the apartment and I knew there were going to be a few stairs to scale with my broken foot and was prepared for it. However I was not prepared for 91 steps!
The stairs kept going up! Anyway we mastered the stairs and ventured out into the narrow cobble stoned streets of Madrid. How to travel in Spain? Up 91 steps with a broken foot! Our Spanish adventure had begun!
So I had learned how to travel in Spain. Very slowly till my foot was feeling better.