Amanda Bennett: A Year in Zaragoza, Spain

Trenhotel Ida March 9, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — psychohistoria @ 9:48 am

A fancy bedroom car of the TrenHotel. Hopefully it's not illegal to photograph RENFE trains...

Reclining in my grand comfort seat...

“Perdón, I have to go. I need to catch a train,” I excused myself from band rehearsal at 9:45 on Thursday night. I had arranged to meet my two friends in the train station at 10:15 to catch our 11 o’clock (this is 23:00, or p.m.) train-hotel to Galicia. The rehearsal had passed splendidly: first off, my violin teacher had said that I was improving, and then during the group practice, we received a new piece of music: Bryan Adams’s “I Do it For You”, which just happens to be, first off, one of my favorite songs, and second, has a violin solo pretty much throughout the entire thing! Since I was the only violinist there that night, I got a lot of playing in – and you all know how I just soak up the spotlight.

The evening took a turn for the sour when one of my friends realized, as we scanned our tickets to board, that she had bought them backwards: she had the same trip, but from A Coruña to Zaragoza rather than Zaragoza to A Coruña. She couldn’t sort it out in time to catch the train, so my other friend and I ruefully boarded without her. She ended up not being able to find an economical way to meet us there the next day, so Melanie and I made the best of things on our own. Luckily we were able to change our hostel reservation to two, and although we missed her dearly, we managed to go on with the trip and have lots of fun.

The train-hotel takes 12 hours to cross the northern edge of Spain from Zaragoza to A Coruña (La Coruña in Castillian…yet another regional language confusion!) and is composed of an elegant restaurant car, a café car, four “butaca gran comfort” (big comfortable seats) cars, one of which we were in, and seemingly infinite cars with four rooms each. Rumor has it that each room has two or three cots and even a shower, but we, on our student budgets, were confined to the seats. Not to say they weren’t comfortable – the degree of recline was astonishing!

We woke up the next morning to Galician landscape. In preparation for the SYA conference in Lyon I’ll be going to in a couple of weeks, I have to survey a medley of Spaniards regarding historical memory. I figured that these last couple of train hours would be a good opportunity, and made my way to the cafeteria car to corner some survey victims. I had success, and had racked up two more people surveyed when a RENFE (the train company) official came up to me and said, “Can I speak to you for a moment?” (In Spanish, of course.) He took me into the next car and informed me that taking surveys is illegal on RENFE trains! Luckily, however, I was able to explain that it was a history project, wouldn’t be published, I wouldn’t do it again, I’m not from Spain, etc, and the officer said that this time it could be “forgotten”. Oops.

Luckily we managed to arrive in A Coruña on time and without committing any more crimes, ready to enjoy a Galician long weekend!


2 Responses to “Trenhotel Ida”

  1. Gustav Jonsson Says:


    I’m searching the web for information about Renfe’s trenhotel and more specifically about the butacas gran confort. But there aren’t much info out there, I saw your picture it really does seems comfortable. But what i wonder, is there any possiblity to plug in my laptop (not internet, just power)? I have been travelling with renfe 4 times and only once was there an power outlet.

    I’m about to book my tickets, but since you have been seated in a butaca, you might be able to answer my question. I’m travelling alone, so my laptop is my only companion and without power the battery wont last long.

    Well get back to me if you can. It would be very appreciated.


    • psychohistoria Says:

      Hello! The trenhotel isn’t the most comfortable night I’ve had, and you could gamble that it will be over two hours late, get a more expensive bunk bed, and then get reimbursed if it is late…but the butacas aren’t bad at all if you are tired.
      I seem to recall a power plug, but I didn’t pay a ton of attention to it. I’m about 80% sure that there was, though.

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