Leaving the fishbowl?

ALL ABOARD: High speed trains from Malaga to Madrid take two and a half hours CREDIT: Shutterstock

HAVING lived and worked in Madrid for over 20 years I do have occasion to go back now and then for a visit.
Having a fast train service makes this very easy, although there is also a bus/coach that is very reasonable and comfortable for those with a tighter budget.
If taking the train we have the “AVE” which can get you from Málaga train station to Madrid in just two and a half hours in their non-stop journeys.  Trains start as of 6.20 am but the early trains are always the first to get booked up so it really is advisable to plan as far in advance as possible; it can be cheaper too.
If taking the early trains and driving to the station you will need to watch out for those drivers on their way home from the night before, maybe not with their best faculties or attention on the roads and then of course there are rush hours.
Leaving plenty of time to get to and from the train station is fundamental.  Driving to Málaga can bring its surprises plus you need to leave a realistic amount of time to park and hopefully you don’t get lost on the way.
Check your route before you leave; the station is in the city centre so there will be traffic, even out of peak times. As many international residents don’t have occasion or the desire to visit Málaga or to travel to inland Spain they can be quite unprepared for how Spanish it is once you leave Marbella or how much like a busy city our Spanish cities are.  If Marbella is your only comparable you could be in for quite a shock.
Firstly, people will talk to you in Spanish.  With so many locals having come to live in the sun, rather than to be part of the Spanish way of life, a trip into Spain can be quite overwhelming, particularly if no Spanish is spoken.
Upon arrival to Madrid the best option for getting around the city for me is to take the local trains or the underground, to get as close as I can to my final destination before getting a taxi.  This is particularly important in rush hour traffic in Madrid, as traffic can be atrocious at the best of times and you can literally sit at a standstill for hours in a taxi trying to cross the city to get back to the station panicking more about missing your train home than the extortionate fare ticking up on the meter.
It’s always a relief and a blessing when I get back “home” but I’m also always grateful for having briefly left this wonderfully sunny and surreal fishbowl to really appreciate just how good we have it!
Nb. One return ticket on the local trains is included in your standard AVE ticket at destination and first class passengers get free parking at Malaga station.

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Nicole King

One of Marbella's most glamorous residents, Nicole King offers a taste of the best of what's going on in the Costa del Sol.