Well, let me first finish the rest of yesterday (March 30) since I didn't say anything about the hotel. There were about a dozen rooms on the 4th floor of an old apartment house with all the other floors occupied as residencies with a tiny convenience store next to the entry. There was also a very old elevator in the middle of a staircase that went around it. There were many similar looking old houses on narrow streets in this section of Madrid.
After finishing yesterday's blog I fell asleep but was woken in the middle of the night by strong winds whistling around the tall buildings. It was a storm without any rain but in the morning it was over but it had got much colder.
I got up at about 7:00 and after packing the few things I had with me I headed out to the station for the train to the airport which I reached at about 8:30. I had some difficulty finding to go to look for my luggage and was told to just go the wrong way back into the customs area and tell the police you are looking for delayed luggage. It was no problem and there was my backpack still going round on the carousel. I was able to take it and now I was where I had hoped to be at this time yesterday.
Happily I returned to the train station to wait for the train to Mérida which would be in a couple of hours hours. I put my backpack in a locker area and walked in town a bit and found some lunch. Atocha station is amazing but also confusing. Trains can come and go on at least 4 different levels, and there seem to be several different brands of the main rail company " renfe" each with its own ticketing office and machines scattered around. Confusing for some but an amazing transformation of a very old station and incredibly busy. The train service is also clean, fast punctual and not expensive. My 4.5 hour trip today will cost 22 euros or $25 for a senior, otherwise about $40 but still less than rail travel in US.
There is even a "tropical garden" in part of it surrounded by shops and small restaurants
The train ride was very interesting. Out of the city and into the flat dry area where olive trees and cattle grazing took up huge areas with occasional farms and mountains in the distance. Not easy to get a good picture from a fast moving train.
I had bought a sandwich before I got on the train because there was no food available otherwise and would arrive at 9:00pm. Serrano ham and brie with lettuce and tomato- delicious!
Later we came through some of the towns I will pass on my journey and the landscape had changed. Hilly with rivers and lakes. Really very pretty.
I hope the weather will be as nice when I pass these areas at a more leisurely pace.
The train had to wait a couple of times to let other trains through because much of the track was single line with trains using it in opposite directions but we arrived in Mérida pretty much on time. I walked to the hotel I had booked for the night and tomorrow the Camino proper begins. So please wish me well.