I woke up this morning in a dark Madrid hotel. I washed and gathered my gear as quietly as I could, gave Sandy and the kids hugs and kisses, and headed out into pre-dawn Madrid. The sky was an amazing purple-pink and the air was cool. I carried my gear the kilometre or so to the nearest train station and prayed that my connections would meet properly and that I would make it to the Atocha station in time to board the train to Granada.
I anxiously rode south through Madrid accompanied by early risers off to work or school. The transfers went well, but as we rode I kept looking at my watch urging it to slow down. Not only so I could board my train at Atocha, but perhaps have some kind of breakfast as well. Well, I got half my wish and I arrived at my gate with just minutes to spare, no time for breakfast but the ticket taker assured me that there was a dining car on board. My mood lifted.
I found my seat and the train began its slow roll down the track. It was a comfortable seat and I had the luxury of a free seat beside me so I could spread out a little. I wish I had taken Kieran with me, he would have loved travelling this way, especially as flying hurts his ears so.
I was somewhat nervous last night about finding a place to stay in Granada. In the past we tended to over plan our vacations, so we are hoping to play this more by ear, so we have no reservations in Granada. But now on the train, I am in better spirits and I am feeling myself going into Camino-mode; positive, eager and willing to take what life presents. We are on our adventure and we will overcome!
I had a nice café con leche and a croissant in the dining car. It was lovely to sit at the counter and watch the Spanish countryside race past. When I come back to Spain, and come back I will, I intend to travel by train whenever possible. I felt good, relaxed, and excited about seeing my family in Granada. I want to show them and discover with them the marvels of this amazing country. The food, the architecture, the energy, the people, and the lifestyle.
Back in my seat I watched the terrain slowly change. I found myself looking for paths to walk, and there are many. I miss walking into unknown terrain, not quite knowing what waits around the bend. I think I understand why the Camino is so often a repeated event for so many. The sun would occasionally peak out from behind the clouds and I hoped that Sandy would get the sunny Spanish experience she was hoping for.
The feeling of loss of my former traveling companions is starting to lessen, but I do hope to maintain ties with them. I also hope to renew my ties with friends at home. I think that I have been distancing myself too much for too long.
Good news for Sandy! We passed under a mountain range and now the sky is a wonderful blue colour with a beautiful occasional white cloud. The sun is shining!
For lunch I moved back into the dining car and had a small but tasty jamon bocadillo and infusione de menta. I met an American lady traveling through southern Spain for ten days with a friend. We chatted about our travels for a while and then said our good-byes and I went back to my seat and she rejoined her companion.
The train went through more mountains – the views were impressive. The terrain reminds me of pictures of Arizona, but with more green poking out here and there. It is such a contrast with much of the North, especially Galicia, but it is lovely.
The porter came by and gave everyone some candy. This put me over the top of the happy scale.