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Going to Seville? Fly to Madrid.

Getting to Seville Image20180829 76980 q7grdo

At 7.30 this morning I took off with Easyjet from London Gatwick to go to Madrid. I was somewhere over the Bay of Biscay, it struck me that many people might not realise how eminently sensible it can be to go from London to Seville, via Madrid.

Here's how it works:

Fly to Madrid

Madrid is usually about the cheapest of the Spanish gateways because of the sheer volume of flights, direct from pretty much any UK airport. It also tends not to have the wild seasonal swings in price you'll find in more popular holiday type places like Barcelona or Malaga. Easyjet continue to impress me with their consistently high levels of service and punctuality, to the extent that it is now absolutely my airline of choice for short haul flights. Even the coffee isn't bad.

Catch the EMT

This is the municipal airport bus directly to the Atocha railway station. Come out of the arrivals hall (assuming you're landing in terminals 1 or 2) to the taxi rank outside. Walk right, all the way to the end, past the last taxis you'll find the bus stop.

The EMT runs pretty much all day and night and costs (as at 2014) €5 one way. Because the bus can use bus lanes priority routes, it's pretty reliable in its journey time of 30 minutes, it can be 20 minutes, could conceivably be 40 but in almost all cases, it will be faster than a taxi.

Get off at Atocha station

It's the last stop on the line so you can't but get off once you are there. You will be dropped off just at the back of the Atocha station so the thing to do is to head for the round brick structure just ahead of you, go down the stairs/escalators and follow signs or ask for help. Generally, the trains to Seville leave from the upper floor platforms so follow signs for 'Salidas Primera Planta'. You will then need to show your boarding pass/ticket then put bags through a scanner before you get on the train so you really want to aim to be going through the ticket checks at least 15 minutes before departure time.

Always buy your AVE tickets ahead of time

renfe.es is nowadays actually reasonably easy to navigate. The further ahead of time you book, the cheaper it will be. We highly recommend going for Primera Clase tickets because the price difference is often not so much and the cabin very much more peaceful and comfortable. Plus you get a really quite decent meal - this is Spain after all! Aim for a lunchtime departure (around 2pm is good) to get the best food.

Sit back and relax

...as you fly out of the city, across the plains of La Mancha and into Andalucia. The landscapes are wonderfully wide and open. They'll put a movie on, always with English translation, and before you know it (well, in 2.5 hours) you'll be pulling into Seville's Santa Justa station which is just outside the old city.

It's connected transport infrastructure at its best, so use it. Madrid's a really easy airport to fly into. The bus service is clean, fast, cheap and quick. The train is fantastic. Planes, trains & automobiles but in a good way.

And the best bit - Plug in a bit of time in Madrid to have a look around. Atocha station is across the road, literally, from the Reina Sofia Gallery - home to Madrid's 20th Century art collection. With everything from Dali through Braques and Bunol, the centrepiece still has to be the phenomenally important and moving Guernica by Picasso.

Alternatively, a 10 minute walk up the road is the Prado museum (out of the station and right up the wide, tree-lined Paseo del Prado). This is where Spain's old masters are kept, indubitably one of the great collections of art in the world, including Velazquez, Goya, El Greco, Murillo, Bosch.

Equally, there are some great places to eat or drink nearby. Particularly rich pickings are around the Huertas area, also a 10 minute walk from the station.

And your bags? More civilised infrastructure at your service. Follow signs inside Atocha station for 'Consigna'. It's actually at the end of the 19th century glass structure which used to house the platforms - now a form of greenhouse (nice and sweaty on a hot summer's day!). As you walk from the station platforms through the botanical gardens greenhouse, stay on the right hand side and you'll come to the Consigna at the end, nearly at the exit. It's on your left.

There's a security guard there and you'll need to scan your bags - everything whether or not you are leaving it. It only takes a second.

Inside the left luggage store you'll see rows of lockers with yellow, green and blue stickers on them. Yellows are numbered is G1, G2 etc, green M and blue P. This stands for grande (large), mediana (medium) and pequena (small). The small ones comfortably take a standard size airline carry on bag, plus a bit more. The large ones you can fit a body into, just about.

To secure yourself a locker, there are screens on the end of each aisle of lockers as you come in. Basically, choose a locker size, pay the money (I think it's coins or notes only) ranging from €3.20 for the small one, €3.60 for the medium and €4 something for the large. In return you get a paper ticket.

Take your bags, put them in one of the free lockers of the size you've chosen (the doors are ajar when they are available) then hold the door closed as you press your ticket against the sort of black glass circle in the centre of the outside of the door. It'll beep and a second or two later the red light will come on. Which means it's locked. Off you go. For up to 24 hours.

Keep that ticket though as you need to swipe it against the glass circle to get the door open!

Hey presto, a layover in Madrid unencumbered by your bags and ready to go explore. Now that's how to break up a journey and make it fun.

I should also say that Madrid is eminently worth a visit in its own right. I should also say that it's not just Seville you can get to so easily, it's Barcelona, Malaga, Valladolid, Valencia etc. Basically Spain's high speed train network is a real asset, and it keeps getting better.

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The Pothole is Pura Aventura's popular monthly email. We share what we love, what interests us and what we find challenging. And we don't Photoshop out the bits everyone else does. We like to think our considered opinions provide food for thought, and will sometimes put a smile on your face. They've even been known to make people cry. You can click here to subscribe and, naturally, unsubscribe at any time.

The Pothole is Pura Aventura's popular monthly email. We share what we love, what interests us and what we find challenging. And we don't Photoshop out the bits everyone else does. We like to think our considered opinions provide food for thought, and will sometimes put a smile on your face. They've even been known to make people cry. You can click here to subscribe and, naturally, unsubscribe at any time.

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