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We left home earlier today to travel to the other side of the world for four months, during our Northern Hemisphere winter.  The beauty of that, of course, is that it is summer Down Under!  Yaay!

We will be housesitting in Sydney from later this week until January 3rd 2013 when we fly off to New Zealand for a month or so.  We haven’t finalised our plans yet, and want to be as flexible as we can, depending on what crops up.  We will return to Australia sometime in February, eventually making our way to Melbourne for the Formula 1 Grand Prix, before heading back home to Spain on March 19th 2013.

Our journey from Málaga to Madrid was one we had been particularly looking forward to, as we had managed to secure some bargain-priced First Class tickets for the AVE train (which stands for Alta Velocidad Española,  and which also incidentally, is the Spanish word for bird).   High-speed AVE trains link major cities in Spain at up to 187mph and, if you book in advance online, you can find some great cheap fares at the official Spanish rail website.

On arrival at María Zambrano station in Málaga we were afforded the luxury of the First Class Lounge to await the departure of our train promptly at 11.05am, heading for Madrid’s Puerta de Atocha station, a distance of 512 kilometres.

The sleek, white, Spanish-built AVE train sports the kind of futuristic snout more familiar on Japan’s Bullet Trains.  With a journey time of 2 hours 35 minutes, no lengthy security checks or waiting at airport gates to contend with,  and ample leg-room with comfortable seating, the  AVE train is a vastly superior experience to any budget airlines over the same route, in terms of price, time and comfort. 

Carving our way through Spanish countryside, we watched the on-board speed indicator flicker ever higher, until we finally reached the maximum 301 kms per hour – 187 mph!  Rail company Renfe is so confident that its trains will reach their destination on time, that it will refund the full ticket price on any journey that is more than five minutes late.  How about that?

Needless to say, after a relaxing journey, we arrived in Madrid just ahead of schedule, leaving us plenty of time to catch the Airport Express bus to Barajas Airport (for only 5€ each) for our flight with Etihad Airways to Sydney, Australia

Talk to you again soon from Down Under.  G’Day!