Madrid To Barcelona By FAST Train

A new 2.5 hour train service has started between Madrid and Barcelona, run by OUIGO.

Finally, there is a choice on the route with both RENFE and OUIGO operating it.

We think the extra cheap train service from Barcelona to Madrid will help save the planet a little bit more, given the route between the two cities is the most popular FLIGHT in the whole EU!! Crazy hey!!

The 1st train from Madrid To Barcelona by OUIGO leaves Madrid-Puerta de Atocha at 07:05. The last train departs Madrid-Puerta de Atocha at 21:00.

Do consider joining Matt’s Patreon to help promote train travel.

Hit play on this video from Matt at NonStopEuroTrip and see how comfortable the OUIGO trains are.

Competition is heating up with Avlo (Renfe) launching on 23rd June, and also ILSA next year.

Perhaps you want to travel next weekend?

Looking at prices generally it looks reasonable and competitive, but at just a week ahead, they are not the very cheapest of prices between 29 and 45 Euros. You could also could upgrade to OUIGO Plus for another 9 Euros, as Matt did in his video.

Looking further ahead then, can we get the 9 Euro price? Yes, but in September.

Looking a more realistic 5 or 6 weeks ahead here are the prices. Some bargains at 15 Euros! Muy bien! More typically 19, 25, and 29 Euros.

READY TO BOOK?

Head on over to OUIGO’s website, and see what great value train tickets you can find from Madrid to Barcelona.

Why not let us know which Madrid hotel and other accommodation options you like? Either on twitter, or you can leave a comment below.

Please like our page on Facebook for more updates.
Or send us your travel pictures to include on our Instagram.

Berlin to Stockholm by night train.

There is a new service operated by established Swedish train company, Snälltåget. A night train from Berlin to Stockholm.

The basic ticket has reasonable price (from 49 Euros). However, with the current environment, you have to book a whole compartment to sleep in – this would normally be suited to up to 6 people. It can make it a little too expensive.

The train leaves Berlin at 19:02, getting to Stockholm, early the afternoon on the day after. On board there is a restaurant we can get brunch before we arrive. Snälltåget uses green energy from water, wind and sun.

Map of route from Berlin to Stockholm, via Hamberg, and Copenhagen.

We would have a (long) weekend in Stockholm, then return to Berlin.

Perhaps 196destinations can make it cheaper though, and connect a few people with flexible travel ideas.

Would you be willing to share with someone else to cut costs? Perhaps they have had a PCR test. Perhaps they have even had the vaccination?

Contact us if you are interested, or leave a comment below with roughly when you are wanting to travel.

196destinations founder Ian, is travelling the route in August or September, after getting his second vaccination in July. I welcome others with a negative corona test or vaccine on my trip. I would probably depart on a Thursday or Friday.

I would like to connect other people so that they can enjoy the night train experience.

Please comment below on when you would like to travel 🙂

Barcelona to Madrid By Train

A new 2.5 hour service has started between Barcelona and Mardid, run by OUIGO.

Finally, there is a choice on the route with both RENFE and OUIGO operating it.

Given the route between the two cities is the most popular FLIGHT in the whole EU, we think the extra cheap train service from Barcelona to Madrid will help save the planet a little bit more.

Work on the go, whilst travelling at high speed.

The 1st train from Barcelona to Madrid is at 0645. Last train at 2045.

Then coming back, the 1st train from Madrid to Barcelona is at 0705. And the last train at 2100.

Looking ahead 2-6 weeks we see plenty of 15, 19, and 25 Euro prices.

Great prices for June and July, 2021.


We are interested in talking to you about travelling. Perhaps we can help you with a transfer to the airport in Madrid, or accommodation in Madrid?

Soon we’ll have a review of the service, but for now please do feel free to leave a comment below, and make sure you enjoy both Barcelona and Madrid this Summer.

Ready to book? BOOK YOUR TRIP FROM BARCELONA TO MADRID NOW

Please like our page on facebook for more updates.
Get involved in the conversation about the train service to Madrid Airport on twitter.
Or send us your travel pictures to include on our instagram.

Thanks for reading.

Amsterdam to Berlin

I was pretty happy to discover a direct train service from Amsterdam to Berlin, and at a reasonable price. Obviously it also operates in the other direction from Berlin to Amsterdam, four times a day.

It is fairly easy to arrive at Amsterdam Centraal station by tram, but if you’re coming from the Noord side then there’s a free ferry – it even takes bikes.

The 15th June saw the borders between Holland and Germany open. So, it was about time I completed my return to Berlin. Finally, I was on my way – this journey was originally to be completed pre-Corona, and from Málaga!

Leaving Amsterdam’s Central Station, you are quickly into countryside, with the expected number of canals, i.e. LOTS! There were a few towns we stopped at that looked like they’d be great places to live if you were commuting into Amsterdam. The train stopped at quite a few of them – confusingly, as there was a platform announcement saying it would not be stopping in Holland.

Onboard, the train attendant was very friendly and you could move from your reserved seat to an unreserved table. Upgrade! Though I wasn’t to realise there was free (working!) wifi until the last hour.

I recommend the NL International app. I used the Android version, and it helped me identify the platforms I needed at Amsterdam Centraal. If you are being met at Berlin Hbf (the central station), it shows the arrival platform for that as well. If you remember to set notifications for the train to ‘on’, it will also update you 10 minutes before the train’s departure time to show any delays. Ours was just slightly delayed leaving, but arrived on time.


I’d long been used to Berlin and Brandenburg being pretty much completely flat, but I was quite surprised to find nearly the whole of the route through Holland and northern Germany to also be as flat a (Dutch) pancake!!

Just one hill, in the distance, somewhere near Hanover. I suspect it was man-made, and built from the digging out of the canals in the area. There was also a small castle-like structure on the hill approaching Hanover.

I wasn’t sure exactly where the border crossing was, but the familiar hunting perch on the edge of a forest indicated we were now in Deutschland. Here the train’s Dutch engine was replaced with a Deutsch one.

Time for a coffee. I ended up chatting with the attendant – she seemed happy that I was spending my shrapnel and had the correct change. They had an actual restaurant carriage, but no more food until after Hanover.

Passed what turned out to be VW’s headquarters and museum.


As we arrived into Spandau, I realised that I could do some programming, as had free wifi. An in joke, it was obviously Ruby On Rails. On Rails!! Don’t worry, I’m laughing to myself – haha.

And so I arrived at Berlin Hbf. Finally. I was three months late, but here I am 🙂 WOOHOOOO! A smooth journey, direct from Amsterdam, and I could be happy that I used seven times less carbon than I would have flying that distance.


References

NL international
Deutch Bahn
NL International App

(June 2020) I paid 43.90 Euros, including the seat reservation fee for the journey, which was scheduled to be 6:52 hours long. 11:03 to 17:55

Contributing to 196 Destinations

Thank you for your interest in writing for 196 Destinations. We’re dedicated to sharing stories on overland travel, especially train travel, to help inspire people to find an alternative to flying.

With your help, we can make a difference.



To contribute:

Go to our contact form and send us a message. We’d love to know which journeys you can write about.

We’ll then add you as a contributor using your email address (which will not be made public).

You’ll be able to write a draft article and add pictures on our standard WordPress platform. 

Once the article is ready, please let our content editor, Jennie Hughes, know. She’ll be able to review it and approve it for publishing on Mondays. 

What should be in the article?

We want to encourage more people to travel overland, so any information that can help make this happen more easily is appreciated.

However, everyone likes a good story 🙂 

We want to hear about your favourite places you visited on your trip, what you enjoyed the most and any experiences that stood out to you. Did anything good happen that wouldn’t have if you’d flown?

We are happy for you to link to your own blog in the article if you have one. 

We look forward to having you on board the 196 Destinations contributor team!

Ian & Jennie

Copenhagen to Malmö

After a lovely weekend with my friend Dan at an adorable Airbnb in Copenhagen’s Meatpacking District, I wasn’t ready to go home. We’d spent the first day exploring on Donkey rental bikes picked up from outside the grand Central Station building. Cycling over to the Torvehallerne food market, we stocked up on fresh fruit, bread and cheese for the day. After returning to our bikes and loading them up with our purchases, we set off for a day’s exploring. Dan’s a lot more confident on a bike than I am, so he led the way and I wobbled along behind, hoping to avoid running anyone over and feeling hopelessly out of my depth among casually stylish Scandinavians who rode as if they’d been born on two wheels.

Our first stop was the appropriately named Round Tower, a seventeenth-century tower and observatory built by Christian IV. Climbing the sloping stone path inside brought us out on to the viewing deck at the top, where there’s a panoramic view across the city. There is also a small observatory, but that was closed the day we visited. You can also stop to peer down through a glass floor into the tower’s inner structure, which was fascinating but probably not recommended if you don’t like heights!

After the tower, we headed into the lanes and alleys of Freetown Christiania, exploring in a cloud of summer drizzle before stopping for a late but delicious lunch at Morganstedet vegetarian restaurant. After lunch, we spent a good while marvelling at the stunningly colourful work of Marios Orozco in the Christiania Art Gallery while the rain pattered down outside. Having made it safely home, we toured a few bars in the evening, sampling some of the local microbreweries’ finest.

On the Sunday, after a tasty Scandi breakfast at Bowl Market and a failed attempt to visit the temporarily-closed Carlsberg brewery attraction, it was time to check out. After getting hopelessly mired behind various legs of the Copenhagen Ironman in the pouring rain, we finally made it to Nyhavn. Dan hopped on the metro to the station, to get back to Amsterdam and his job. I checked into the quaint and welcoming Bedwood Hostel, a half-timbered building in a courtyard off the Nyhavn waterfront, and wondered what to do next. There were still a couple of weeks left of the summer holiday, and I didn’t want to spend them sitting at home, where there was a 90% likelihood I’d end up going into work whether I needed to or not.

The next day, sitting in a pavement cafe watching the boats on the canal, I opened Maps. Where to go next? Maybe I should move out into the countryside for a day or two, or start to make my way west towards Flensburg and the German border, the beginning of the way home. That was when I saw the bridge. Yes, that bridge. The Bridge, the bridge. Mind made up, I picked up my bag from the hostel’s front desk and headed for the station.

Properly named the Øresund Bridge, or Øresundsbron, the 16km bridge serves as a road and rail link between Copenhagen and Malmö. The journey between Copenhagen Central Station and Malmö Central Station takes very little time, about 40 minutes from end to end, and costs around 122 Swedish Krona, or 87 Danish Krone. Tickets were easily purchased from the machines in the station, or can be bought online at the Öresundståg website. It’s handy to know that Copenhagen Central is generally referred to as Kobenhavn H on ticket screens and the booking website, while Malmö Central will usually be shown as Malmö C.

Boarding the 029 Øresundståg train, I briefly wondered if I’d accidentally stumbled into first class, but it turned out that Scandinavian trains are just incredibly posh. Gliding out past the airport and on to the bridge itself, the view was obscured by the heavy iron girders. However, it was still possible to get a glimpse of the artificial island of Peberholm. Left undisturbed, it’s turned into a bit of an ersatz nature reserve, although we were going too fast to see much of the wildlife.

Of course, a spur of the moment decision to go to Malmö was going to involve sleeping somewhere. The first listing that came up on Airbnb was titled The Magic Bus. That was far too intriguing to pass up, so I was booked it, thinking that if it turned out to be a joke when I got there, at least it would make a funny story later.

It turned out to be an actual bus, a.k.a. camper van, sitting comfortably on a plinth in the garden of a local art gallery. Passing the plain wooden gate on an unassuming residential street in Norra Sofielund, it would be hard to guess what lies behind if it wasn’t for the sign. Galleri Tikotin, the brainchild of artist Christopher Nelson, is a wild and wonderful combination of cosy home and eccentric artist’s lair. Chris has spent a lot of time decking it out as a traditional salon, and coming back out afterwards, it was a genuine surprise to find myself in 2019 Sweden instead of 1920s Paris.

Chris was a warm and welcoming host who regaled me over coffee with stories of the artists’ salons he held in the gallery. He was kind enough to show me the main room, where there are some stunning works to be seen. The beautiful weather meant plenty of time in the garden, picking tomatoes from a huge overloaded vine under the close supervision of the resident cat, and getting a shock from suddenly catching sight of my own reflection in a half-hidden mirror among the bushes.

The next day, I walked up the coast along the Ribersborg Beach to meet a local connection from a hospitality network at the Ribersborgs Kallbadhus sauna. The men’s and women’s sides of the sauna are segregated, so we made sure to have a good chat over coffee on the outdoor patio before we went in, staring out the the glistening sea with the Øresund Bridge in the distance and occasionally warding off marauding seagulls. The contrast between lounging in the heat in the classically Scandinavian wooden steam rooms and scrambling down a ladder directly into the Oresund Strait made for a refreshing and invigorating experience.

After another couple of days of lazy beach walks, rambling round the Kungsparken and through the backstreets and squares, seeing a live band at a courtyard bar at the Folkets Park, finding an adorable baby wild rabbit in the most unlikely of spots (see photo) and eating far too much lakrits ice cream and smørrebrød, it was finally time to say goodbye and make my way back to the UK. Until next time, Scandinavia!

Armenia to Ukraine Part 4: Odessa to Lviv

“You’ll love Odessa,” my Ukrainian friend Krystyna said, when I described the trip I was planning. “You’ll wish you had more time there.” She wasn’t wrong – it’s now yet another on my list of places I have to go back to someday. She also told me that Odessa is famous for two things – the sea, and cats. Having arrived via the first, it didn’t take us long to find the second – they were everywhere, from the souvenir shop opposite our hostel to the Potemkin Stairs. After checking into cosy Hostel 51, we went to explore the city, walking down to the Potemkin Stairs to admire the view of the harbour before looping around through City Park and past Vorontsov Palace with its impressive colonnade.

By then it was getting towards dinnertime, so we stopped off at the Amsterdam Hotel and Restaurant (cue silly jokes about how we spent the afternoon in Odessa and ate dinner in Amsterdam). After a delicious dinner and a lovely couple of hours people-watching on the pavement patio, we headed back to the hostel, where I got chatting to a Canadian international relations student who had been studying in Russia. We ended up going out for drinks and sampling the vodka at the Bourbon Rock Bar just up the road.

In the morning I headed out for a quick walk round the nearby City Gardens and Cathedral Square before catching my train. Luckily I’d brought a scarf to cover my head, so I was able to go inside the imposing Spaso-Preobrazhensy Cathedral and look around the stunning gilded interior. Apart from a few locals praying silently in one of the side chapels, I had the place almost to myself. I spent a peaceful twenty minutes admiring the art and architecture in the cool of the church. Stepping back out into the already-hot sun, I headed back to the hostel to collect my bag. It was time to say goodbye to Odessa, and to Lau Kaping, and make my way to the station.

Since I’d booked last-minute, I had ended up with a more expensive Lux-class sleeper ticket despite taking a daytime train. Handily, you can see which berths have been booked on the Ukrainian Railways website when reserving tickets, and I had chosen a cabin with both beds free. No-one had booked the other bed, so I had the two-berth cabin to myself for the day. Stretching out on fresh linen, sipping tea from a traditional glass and steel mug and flipping through the complimentary magazine, I decided perhaps getting Lux ticket hadn’t been such a bad thing. A girl can treat herself, right? I lay propped up on one elbow, staring out of the window at railway markers and level crossings flicking past, until we reached Zhmerinka, where the train stopped for a break.

On the platform, women walked up and down selling freshly baked pastries and plastic cups of berries from baskets and sports bags. Hopping down to buy something for later, I spotted a couple of familiar faces further down the platform – the German couple Kaping and I had walked to the bus station with when we got off the ferry. We stood for a while catching up in the hazy sun, sharing raspberries and plans as passengers ebbed and flowed around us, until the whistle blew and we wished each other safe travels, racing back to our carriages before the train departed.

I stared out of the window again, daydreaming as the train swished past quaint villages and isolated farms along the Moldovan border. Dirt roads crossed the track, and geese pecked among lush grass on the railway verge. Occasional guards in hi-vis jackets waved at us from trackside cabins at level crossings. Gradually, the sky darkened, and I switched on the cabin light and read as the sunset faded and it got too dark to see the outside world. We slid gently into Lviv Station at 10:30pm. My friend Oksanka greeted me with a smile and a hug on the station platform.

Lviv is a beautiful city. The centre is all winding cobbled streets, dotted with pavement cafes and hanging baskets full of flowers. Over the next few days, we fell into a comfortable routine. During the day, while Oksanka worked, I went out to see the sights, including the fascinating House of Legends with its rooftop car, the Shevchenkivskyi Park Museum, where traditional Ukrainian dwellings have been gathered to create an outdoor folklore museum, and the Park High Castle, with its glorious views across the city.

Oksanka is a wonderful host, and knew all the best places to go in the city. In the evening, we’d go for dinner, or to a jazz performance at Libraria, or one of the local bars. One of the most interesting restaurants was the incredible Most Expensive Galician Restaurant, only accessible through a fake apartment. At the weekend, we went for an amazing buffet brunch at Baczewski – highly recommended! Kaping, who was planning to go hiking in the mountains south of Lviv, came to visit us on her way. We met up over cups of hot melted chocolate at the Lviv Chocolate Factory, chatting until the place closed and the wait staff politely kicked us out. One day, I took a day trip to the nearby town of Ivano-Frankivsk to visit Krystyna at the youth exchange project she was running. All too soon, it was time to get my next and last train of the trip – the sleeper to Kyiv, where my journey would end.

Read the previous post in the series here.

Shift2Rail Webinar

On the 12th May, 2020, 196Destinations attended the Shift2Rail webinar to understand more about what others thought of the future of rail. This event was to be focused more on the traveller experience. We’ll be attending another on the 14th, this time with an emphasis on service providers.

What is Shift2Rail?

Shift2Rail is an EU initiative to increase train travel under the EU Green initiative. More information at: https://shift2rail.org

Webinar: 12th May.

Juan Castro introduced the IP4 initiative, which had a series of demonstrators.

Marco Ferreira (Thales) introduced the technical architecture, and discussed the Barcelona-Madrid Corridor by way of an example of how the app could work.

A scenario by Achim von der Embse (HaCon) in Hannover was introduced.

Then we went quite futuristic with an exciting look into an LBE experience on the Hololens presented by Souheir Mili.

The Shift2MaaS demonstrator was introduced by Daria Kuzmina (UITP). It was great to see Málaga mentioned, with the corridor to Madrid. Marco Comerio (Cefriel) also presented.

My-TRAC
Introduced by Ismini Stroumpou, who displayed two multi-modal illustrations of the app’s potential usage in Lisbon and Barcelona. The app covered activities available in travel destinations, tailored to the user’s habits. My-TRAC (or at least a 2nd stage pilot) will be available at the end of June on the Play store .

Questions from the audience

During the presentation, there were several chances for a live Q&A with the presenters.

196 Destinations’ Question: Thank you for introducing the demonstrators. Which of them would cover long distance international train booking i.e. Spain to Germany? i.e. Renfe + Oui + DB.

Answer: As yet, they were not able to say as the data is not available from France yet.

Andy B’s Question: If there is an open framework, will all of the interfaces between system components be documented & published? (to allow for choices at system/component level)

Answer: The system will be proprietary software but with an open framework.

Conclusions

It’s really exciting to be part of the webinar series, and hear about this great work that is going on within the European Union.

It’s important for the health of the planet that we reduce our dependency on flying. And initiatives like Shift2Rail have huge potential as we reboot post-virus, to really make a difference, and make taking the train a much easier experience when dealing with multiple different types of transport from bus, to train, to bike.

It made me feel that I need to do some further research on the high level goals of the project. I also wanted to understand where these new apps are positioned in what is a pretty vast landscape of localised transport apps, and national initiatives, as we try to go international with them. There’s great potential to amalgamate all these apps into one super EU app. I’m not sure yet if these apps will have as many resources as Google Maps has, but perhaps in time the UX can be refined, and there’s real potential for one of these apps to become one of the 5-7 that people regularly use on their phones.

This has been a quickly put-together blog, and we welcome corrections, and additions, in the comments below. We’ll do an update, and also write up the 2nd webinar.

We see 196Destinations as part of the community of international train (and other overland) travellers, and we want to help people travel more this way. This requires a good booking and travel experience with the aid of technology. We would love to get involved and partner with others in this area.

Further Information

Home page:
shift2rail.org

There’s quite a confusing array of Twitter accounts. But here goes:
https://twitter.com/Shift2Rail_JU
https://twitter.com/S2R_CONNECTIVE
https://twitter.com/Shift2MaaS

S2R Connective Project
https://projects.shift2rail.org/s2r_ip4_n.aspx?p=CONNECTIVE

The Future Of Train Travel

March 2020 Edition: mid-quarantine, can we think past the current situation?

Will the future be shiny and fast? Or something else?

The current situation may mean there’s not much travel going on, but we’ll soon be back on the rails.

The world might be looking a little different by then, though. Many airline companies have been struggling as a result of the travel restrictions.

This could mean more trains. Different types of service will be needed to fulfil changing demands – more sleepers, perhaps, or different customer needs such as business travellers needing wifi.

What are your thoughts? We would love to hear them.

Ian/we recently got involved in conversations about this on Twitter. Here are some interesting aspects that came up.

We value your opinions and thoughts here, and would love to know what you would like to see for the future of train travel.

Please comment below with your thoughts.

Málaga Escape: To Ronda

It feels funny to escape from Málaga. After all, it’s what most people consider a tourist resort, and with good reason. I am lucky enough to think of it as Winter Home (for now)… and sometimes, you need to escape your home!

I decided to return to Ronda: a place I visited on my 2016 exploration trip to Málaga. Back then I was only there for a few hours, and felt I didn’t have enough time. The bridge is famous, and is quite amazing. I resolved to return and do a proper walk around ‘the ridge’. Four years later, then, it was time to return.

I booked a night in a fairly cheap hotel that was classically Spanish styled – especially their restaurant. The room was away from traffic noise, and had a modern bathroom. I found a coach company I had not heard of before, that took me on the 2 hour journey up. We passed through some pretty stunning countryside, allowing me to take a few more notes of places I’d like to come back to ‘one day’ – hopefully in less than four years!

I had arrived in time for a sunset view, and a wander around the old town. Then it was time for some food 🙂 But first, a craft ale and some rock tunes. A good discovery. After, we found a great tapas bar. I had a Ribera red wine, and numerous tapas that were all around the €1.50 level. Great service too. Perfect.

Then, the walk. Well, walk of my own making, as it seems there was no official path around ‘the ridge’. Going off via San Francisco Barrio I soon lost any path, and was in the middle of a field looking at the famous bridge from miles away, with just the birds for company, perched in the shade on a rocky outcrop. I ventured towards a tower back on the ‘ridge’, up through an olive grove that felt pretty ancient, then picked up the trail towards the distinctive oak trees that perched on top of the hill. This style of tree can be found atop a lot of ridges in the region, and always call to me to go and sit in their shade. On the top was a cluster of #vanlife folk, with one of the best views in the area. I proceeded onwards to a small chapel that had been built at one end of this ridge, before again having to make my own path…this time down the side of a pretty steep hillside. Not really recommended!

Picking up the road at the bottom, I was amused to find it going through a stream. With the sun out strong that day, it was actually pretty refreshing to walk through it without shoes and socks, and I dried off quickly. Sadly, the nearby winery didn’t seem to be open, and anyway it says to book in advance on their website. Probably for the best, as I had a train to catch out of town.

Arriving back in the centre of Ronda, the main square was alive with people celebrating Andalusia Day. I was just in time for a cana and a couple of small sandwiches sitting at my hotel bar, before heading out of town on the train.

Gracias Ronda, you were a good escape 🙂

Useful Information About Ronda And The Trip

More photos

Coach from Málaga to Ronda with Damas

Train from Ronda to Málaga

Tapas Bar

Craft Ale Bar

Puente Neuvo – The Bridge History

More Established Walks

Budget Hotel Accomodation