Meeting Your Trip in Monforte

This page offers help (concrete or informational) on reaching your trip.  Topics include...

  1. Where you Join Your Trip (see immediately below)
  2. Our “Access Packages,” designed to help you to do so.
  3. Suggestions on how to time your trip to the trip, whether you are having us arrange your travel, or doing it yourself.
  4. Service information regarding train travel to your trip start location.
  5. Suggested pre-trip visits, especially when these are not geographically obvious, but are rendered economical and convenient by direct rail connections.
  6. Hopefully helpful hints for those setting up their own travel to the trip.

If you wish to arrange some or all of your travel through us, please tell us what by means of this response questionnaire, designed to collect all the information we need to be able to book your travel.


1. WHERE and WHEN Do You Join Your Trip?

You will meet your trip at our hotel in Monforte, in time for a late (Spanish) dinner on Sunday evening. 

Monforte is an isolated place, and hard to reach.  Be sure to consider “Service Information” in deciding your arrival route, and before you buy your air ticket.  Most choose to arrive in the evening, and the trip prices include accommodation in Monforte.  However, overnight sleeper trains from both Madrid and Barcelona allow for next-morning arrivals, and you may trade your bed-in-a-building for a bed-on-a-train if you wish to time things tightly.

We will send you details of meeting time and place with your final itinerary.

If you wish to make your own way to the trip (in other words, not to set up your travel arrangements through us), a couple of hints on getting there are offered at the bottom of this page.


2. Our ACCESS PACKAGES
as of August 31, 2013

Our package includes daylight train tickets from Madrid or Bilbao to Monforte.

Tickets from Barcelona or Lisbon are available at a small additional cost. 
The trip from Lisbon is a bit arduous:  3 trains and a taxi, with a long connection time at the Portuguese / Spanish border.

Overnight trains are available from Madrid, Barcelona or Paris (offering connections from London).


Base Access Package Price:  70€
To see what this means in your currency, look here: http://www.bluemarble.org/CurrencyConv.html

Availability is fairly certain at the listed price until 35 days prior to trip start.  Within 35 days, availability must be confirmed, and costs may be higher if discount fare codes are not available.

Included:

  • 2nd class Sunday daylight train tickets to Monforte from Madrid or Bilbao.
    Tickets are not refundable or exchangeable once ordered.  For extra cost of modifiable / partially refundable tickets, see below.
  • Seat reservations on trains which require them (local connecting services may not).
  • A printed schedule / itinerary, highlighting any connections.
  • Our “Route Sheet to the Trip,” helping you through your journey.

Alternate:  Sunday overnight train from Madrid (T-4 “Tourist” sleeper berth included, upgrades available).  No additional cost, night on the train replaces arrival night hotel and dinner.

Options Offered at an Extra Cost (subject to availability)
Prices are in addition to the “Base” Access Package Price.
For a general discussion of train upgrades, see here.  Topics include the relative comfort of 1st versus 2nd class, and different types of accommodation available on overnight trains.

• Tickets from London.  Travel from London is via Paris.  In addition to Paris prices (see below), add 69€ if you are also purchasing tickets back to London, 99€ if not, or if you prefer a changeable return (in 1st cl., add 99€ or 145€; 1st class tickets include meal service).

• Tickets from Barcelona or Lisbon, via Sunday daylight train.  +33€ 2nd class, 72€ 1st class, 51€ 1st class discount rate.
These are long trips.  Think hard about 1st class.  None of our business, mind, and we don’t hold stock in the railroad....
Prices include required seat reservations.  Train from Lisbon involves two connections.

• Tickets from Barcelona via Sunday overnight train.  +50€ double occupancy, +120€ for a private cabin. 
A deluxe sleeper cabin is provided, including ensuite shower and WC.  If you are travelling alone, you may ask to share (specify whether or not you are willing to share with someone of the opposite gender), but must be prepared to pay for the private cabin if no one else from your trip requests the same.

• Tickets from Paris via overnight train, departing Sunday midday, arriving Monforte Monday morning.  +139€ double occupancy, +209€ for a private cabin. 
Night on train replaces dinner and overnight in Monforte.  A deluxe sleeper cabin is provided, including ensuite shower and WC.  If you are travelling alone, you may ask to share (specify whether or not you are willing to share with someone of the opposite gender), but must be prepared to pay for the private cabin if no one else from your trip requests the same.

Overnight train from Barcelona or Paris a day early (so, from Barcelona on Saturday night, or Paris on Saturday at midday), to have a full day in Monforte before you join the bike:  + an additional 49€.

1st class train tickets from Madrid (daylight train):  +27€ discount rate, +41€ if discount rate not available.
A meal service provided in first class on the train leaving Madrid (first 90 minutes of the run).  It's worth somewhat depends on which train you take:  the early one doesn't run during a meal hour.

Night Train Upgrades

  • Private double sleeper cabin (included in fare from Barcelona).
    Prices are per person, but only available if both beds in the cabin are booked (solo travellers cannot book single beds in double cabins).
    - +19€ from Madrid (add 30€ for a “deluxe” cabin including private WC / shower).
    - +75€ from Paris, or from Lisbon to Bilbao (also available to solo travellers on these international trains).  Add 62€ for a “deluxe” cabin, including private WC / shower, and dinner in the train’s elegant restaurant.
  • Private single cabin:
    - +70€ “deluxe” cabin, including private WC / shower, from Barcelona.
    - +105€ regular cabin, from Madrid or Paris, or from Lisbon to Bilbao
    - +135€ “deluxe” cabin, including private WC / shower, from Madrid or Paris, or from Lisbon to Bilbao.

Modifiable / exchangeable / refundable tickets:  +29€ from anywhere in Spain or Portugal, +45€ from France. +69€ if you have upgraded to a sleeping car berth from Barcelona or Lisbon.

• Additional Bilbao hotel nights, if you are subscribing to our Bilbao package:  see “Suggested Pre-Trip Visits,” below.


Alternate Arrangements, in lieu of our usual packages
Prices are complete (in other words, they are not in addition to the “Base” Access Package Price).  Arrangements are subject to availability.

• Overnight train from Madrid or Barcelona, to Monforte on Sunday night (arrive for the start of the ride on Monday), or to Ourense on Monday night (arrive for the start of the ride on Tuesday):  no cost.  Night on the train replaces hotel night in arrival city.
Price includes sleeping accommodation as specified.  Upgrades to superior cabins are available as specified above (“Night Train Upgrades”).  But if you are coming from Madrid, arrival is early, and you won’t enjoy your additional comfort for long....
- Trains from Barcelona include a sleeper seat.  The Barcelona train does not carry any sort of shared-cabin sleeping car that a solo rider can book.  It only offers sleeper seats, and private deluxe (single or double) sleeper cabins.
- Trains from Madrid include a berth in a single-sex, 4-person sleeper cabin.


3. TIMING Your Trip

Your arrival will be dictated by train schedules.  These places are pretty isolated, and getting to them is not simple....

Like airplanes, Spanish trains require reservations.  Allow ample time to connect from a flight:  the railroad is not responsible for (chronically) late planes.  Moreover, it can take intercontinental travellers up to 90 minutes to clear customs, immigration and baggage claim upon arrival.  If you are attempting a tight connection, be prepared to pay for new arrangements should you miss your train.  And, note when that next train is!  On some lines, it will be the next day....


4. Service Information
Schedules are approximate – exact timetables can be consulted at
http://www.raileurope.com/index.html
Best trains are mentioned.  Others are slower or have multiple connections.

  • From Madrid:
    Daylight:  depart Madrid 11a (ar. 5p — one connection), 12:30p (ar 6p — direct), or 2:30p (ar 8p — one connection required). 
    There is also a utilitarian local, depart 10:30a, arrive 4:45p, no connections.  But it offers neither first class nor a café, and is a long slog sitting in one seat.  We recommend the 11a, with a 3-hour stop in Leon for lunch, arrive Monforte 8:15p.
    Overnight (Sundays only, no Saturday overnight service):  depart Madrid 10:30p, ar Monforte 6a.
    From Barcelona:
    Daylight:  depart 9:20a, ar Monforte 8p.
    Overnight:  depart Barcelona 8:20p, arrive Monforte 8:30a.
  • From Bilbao:  depart 9:15a, arrive Monforte 5p, or 8p if you would enjoy a lunch stop in Leon.
  • From Lisbon
    - Depart 10a, arrive 8:30p:  2 train changes and a short taxi ride between stations at the Portuguese / Spanish border.
    Trip time is actually an hour shorter:  there is a one-hour time change.
  • From Paris. Dp Paris 10a on Sunday, arrive 8:30a on Monday morning.
    Early evening train change in Barcelona.



5. Suggested PRE-TRIP VISITS

Bilbao.  We offer a packaged visit to Bilbao.... Travel to Bilbao by Friday train, from Madrid or Barcelona.  Spend Friday and Saturday nights in Bilbao (and, of course, all day Saturday).  Sunday train on to Monforte, with a lunch stop in Leon if desired.

Prices:  259€ single, 189€ / person double or twin.  Includes:

  • Friday train to Bilbao from Madrid or Barcelona.
    Trains depart Madrid at 8a or 4p:   5-hour trip.
    Trains depart Barcelona at 7:30a or 3:30p, a 6.5 hour trip.
  • Friday and Saturday night hotel rooms in Bilbao.
  • Sunday breakfast.
  • Sunday daylight train to Monforte.

Additional hotel nights in Bilbao:  98€ for a double or twin room, 74€ for a single room.
Includes tax and our booking charge, but not breakfast.

Alternate, extra cost options for reaching Bilbao:
- Friday overnight train from Lisbon:  no additional charge single, + 35€ / person double or twin.
You reach Bilbao on Saturday morning, in time for a full day there.  Sleeper berth in a shared, single-sex, 2-person cabin included in lieu of Friday night Bilbao hotel.  Add 59€ for a private, single cabin.
- Friday overnight train from Paris:  savings of 32€ single, +19€ double or twin.
You reach Bilbao Saturday late morning, in time for a full afternoon there.  Couchette included in lieu of Friday night Bilbao hotel. “Comfort couchette” available instead:  +19€ / person.
If you prefer, you may travel by Friday daylight train to Bilbao:  in this case, add 49€ 2nd class, 69€ first class, regardless of single / double / twin occupancy.
- From London.  Service is via Paris.  Add the following to Paris prices.  +69€ if you are also purchasing tickets back to London, +99€ if not, or if you prefer a changeable return.  In 1st class, add 109€ or 149€.
1st class tickets include meal service on the Eurostar between London and Lille or Paris.
A Paris stop-over is available without additional cost.



6. Hints on TRAVELLING INDEPENDENTLY to the Trip
Guests subscribing to an “Access Package” need not read this section.

See also “Timing Your Trip” and “Service Information,” above, as either of these may additionally help.

We gladly provide travel consulting (schedule or routing information) concerning pre-trip individual travel. In particular, we have invested a great deal to become railway experts.  Our service fees are reasonable:  a 20€ charge for all but the most complex projects – or the most simple (for instance, only a 10€ charge applies if the service is limited to the preparation of a routine rail ticket).  You will generally find them well-justified by the time they will save you in research, standing on line, overpaying for your tickets, or all three.

But, for some, this type of research is fun.  So, here are some hints, intended to start off hardened “do-it-yourselfers.”

Trains. Schedules for all routes can be consulted on this web site:
http://www.raileurope.com/us/rail/point_to_point/triprequest.htm

Monforte, though a big enough town (and an interesting place), is surprisingly isolated.  It does not have a commercially-served airport, and long distance rail services are sparce.  Part of its charm, we suppose, but a bit of a problem when you are trying to get to them.

It is on an east-west rail line running from Barcelona to the west coast of Spain (this line offers connections from France and from the rest of Europe), but north-south direct service is limited to an archaic overnight local from Madrid, which reaches Monforte early in the morning (service with a connection operates several times a day).  Regional services are available from the coastal cities with airports, discussed in the plane sections.

Planes.  In addition to the obvious airports (Madrid and Barcelona), four regional airports are close enough to be potentially of use:  Vigo, Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, and Leon.  Vigo, A Coruña, and Leon have essentially domestic Iberian service.  Santiago offers limited intra-Europe service, including (at this writing) a daily flight from London (on Ryanair), and one from Paris.

Regardless of how you arrive, do not book any flights until you have made sure your plans take into account the ground trip from your arrival airport to Monforte or Ourense.  These rail lines have service gaps of up to 8 hours, which may make it impossible to continue from some flights.

A few hints on local train services:
- The line from A Coruña to Monforte only sees three trains a day, two of which run early in the morning (the third departs at 6p).  At other times, round-about routes with connections are available.
- The trip from Santiago to Monforte generally involves a connection, in either Ourense, Vigo, or Redondela de Galicia (there is one daily direct train, at 9:30a).

In the end, it is usually faster to fly to Madrid, and take the 6-hour train trip to Galicia, then to connect by plane to a regional airport and spend 6 hours waiting for the next train to your final destination.  Or than spending the next 8 hours starting from now trying to figure it out, even if you save 2 hours’ travel time once you do.

No good web site regroups this information.  But if you have a good rail map, and are armed with patience, you can figure out what you need from www.renfe.es.  Try the “regional” pages.

If you want to fly into a regional airport, and aren’t looking forward to the research, we will help you to figure out the schedules, and ticket purchase, for our usual fee.

In addition to Santiago, Ryanair serves Valladolid, 5 hours away by train with one connection (last departure of the day from Valladolid is at 2:30p.


If you wish to arrange some or all of your travel through us, please tell us what by means of this response questionnaire, designed to collect all the information we need to be able to book your travel.

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