I've never been a particularly frequent flyer, but I've been trying in recent years to keep my air miles low, mainly for environmental reasons. So, with the help of the magnificent Man in Seat 61 (www.seat61.com), I'm just back from Madrid by train. It was a journey of around 1300 miles, in three legs: Madrid to Paris (overnight 1812-0903 CET), Paris to London (1107 CET-1230 BST), then London to York (1308-1531). Total cost was around £230, but it would have been closer to £150 if I'd booked the Madrid-to-Paris leg a bit earlier. Meticulous details for prospective travellers are on seat61.com.
So what was it like? The first 90 minutes or so after leaving Madrid were truly stunning. Madrid is famously the highest capital city in Europe (if we forget about Andorra la Vella, which isn't hard), and the train passes through the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range just north of Madrid. After that, it got a bit dark, the landscape became less interesting, and the train picked up speed. I have to admit it wasn't the best night's sleep. Not because I was in a four-bed cabin, but because (as the chap on the bed opposite described it) the train ride was at times like being on a roller coaster or in a tumble drier. It wasn't that bad, honestly, but I don't sleep particularly well on trains.
The rest of the journey was absolutely fine and uneventful, and even gave me opportunity to get some work done.