My Spanish Public Transport Nightmare


Before my Erasmus stay in Spain, which ended in three weeks, I didn’t plan on writing another blog post. Also, I didn’t plan on staying in Avila for the night. Spanish public transport, thank you.

Ok, so today was supposed be the day I flew home to Spain and then took a bus to Madrid from Salamanca. Badabing badaboom. As luck would have it though, there is a lot of snow in Spain right now. This made my travel plans very difficult. Here’s the story.

Disclaimer: This post won’t include any photos and will be quite short.

The original plan

My dad takes me to the station and I then take two trains to Brussels Airport. I board a plane to Madrid. I then take a bus from Madrid to Salamanca. It should now be obvious that this is not the way it worked.

1. My dad drove me to train station

Yesterday was a family Christmas event, so no one was excited to drive me to the station. We decided that my dad would drive me to the station at 6:30 a.m. (Dad if you are reading this: Thank you!)

So far, so good.

2. Two trains were taken by me

I was able to purchase a ticket for the train before it left the station. I then caught the train. It was one of the newer trains from Belgium that had an electrical socket. My phone wouldn’t charge last night, so I’m referring to it as ‘fortunately’. It was no problem, as I was able start charging my phone this train.

Two episodes of 11.22.63 were also viewed. It’s a story about an English professor who travels back to the past in order to stop John F. Kennedy’s assassination. If you are interested in conspiracy theories and history, I recommend this show.

3. I flew on a plane

Here is where things got bad.

It was nothing major. I didn’t miss my flight. However, it did depart about half an hour early. It was probably due to the poor weather conditions in Spain. This resulted in me missing the opportunity to eat lunch and find my bus, which caused an avalanche stress.

4. I ate at Burger King

I chose Burger King as my first choice because there was no other option. You can’t go wrong with this combination.

5. I waited patiently for my bus

I had reserved a seat on a bus that would take me from Madrid to Salamanca at three o’clock in the afternoon. I had lost half an hour on the plane and finished my burgers and fries around 2:20 pm. This gave me ample time to get to where my bus was due to arrive. And I did.

I went to the bus stop and started waiting for the bus.

I was here that the Spanish public transport system began to fail me.

6. My bus was canceled

After waiting until 3:20 for the bus, I noticed people leaving the bus parking and heading back inside. It wasn’t so cold outside and it wasn’t raining. It was quite odd to me that the bus hadn’t arrived so I checked Twitter for any updates.

That’s how I learned about the snow crisis that was sweeping Spain. This tweet informed me that all buses in Castilla y Leon, which is where I needed to go, had been canceled.

Informacion sobre corte de servicios y carreteras por temporal. Servicios AutoRes. Dia 7. Todos los servicios Castilla Leon y Galicia estan suspendidos en la AP6. Disculpen las molestias.

7. I took another bus

The “Googling viable alternatives for my phone” began. My phone desperately needs to get charged again. I considered taxis, buses and trains, Blablacar, hitchhiking and many other options.

In the end, I chose to follow a revised plan (plan #2), which included more public transport.

I take the bus to Terminal 4. I then take a train from Madrid Chamartin to Salamanca. This plan is possible. (It didn’t)

Although it started off well, things didn’t go as planned. I feel that I owe you some explanation as to the differences between Terminal 4 and Chamartin. Let’s look at Madrid Airport, full name Aeropuerto Adolfo suarez Madrid-Barajas. It consists of two buildings. The main building houses the terminals 1, 2, and 3. It is, naturally, the largest. Terminal 4 is located in the second building. It was built in 2006 and is smaller and more modern than its bigger brother.

My bus was supposed to be there when my plane landed. After finding out it was not going to arrive, I discovered that the train station was in another building. I had to transfer to T4 (which was completely free, thank you).

8. I took a train

I was very quickly taken to the T4 building by the transfer train. It was at this point that I was introduced the amazing world of Spanish trains, Renfe. I purchased a ticket to take me from Madrid’s main train station to Chamartin.

It was stressful because I couldn’t find any way to determine if I was on the correct train track. It turned out that I was.

9. I took another train

After arriving at Chamartin I began looking for a train from Madrid to Salamanca. I was told by the ticket machine that all direct trains between these two cities were full, so this wasn’t an option.

My father suggested that I take the train from Avila to Salamanca, then transfer to another train. This was exactly what I was planning to do.

I purchased a ticket for Avila and got on the train.

10. I am sleeping in Avila

I have arrived and realized that I won’t be able to make it to Salamanca today. All the trains were booked again, all the buses have not yet been driving, there aren’t Blablacars, and a taxi would prove too costly.

My family was informed, and they advised me to stay there and take the train tomorrow. Thank you again to my dad for booking a room in a hostel in my name. He gave me the address.

As I write this blog post, I’m in my bedroom. I just went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner and feel like I am about to fall asleep.

11. Tomorrow, I will take yet another train

I have booked a place on the train to Salamanca tomorrow morning. The train leaves at 9:15 and breakfast at the hostel starts at 8. It’s only a 15-minute walk from the station. We’ll keep you posted.

I will be arriving in Salamanca tomorrow morning with a little luck. I will keep you informed.

Public transport is a blessing, thank God. Right?

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